On May 13, 2017, it will be 100 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, with a message of peace, but a grave warning as well. Unlike many of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which all are obviously serious in nature), this particular apparition seems to stand out above the others in its intensity and gravity concerning the future of mankind. The world was (and still is) embarking on the path of disaster. The turn of the 20th Century was a time of great progress with the advent of the automobile, moving pictures (cinema), radio, television, aviation, industry, etc. It was a time that brought tremendous change in the way we lived our lives. The so-called “Roaring Twenties” ushered in a time of economic boom and a new type of rebellion, expressed through fashions and behavior. We saw women break from the conventions of the Victorian era (e.g., the flapper) and display a flagrant disregard for social mores through their dress, or lack thereof, in addition to the heavy consumption of alcohol triggered by the Prohibition laws of the time.
The Blessed Virgin Mary came to warn mankind that if we did not change our lives and return to God that a great punishment would befall the world, and many souls would be lost forever. God was greatly offended by the sins and blasphemies of the day and was warning the world, through Mary, to cease offending Him. Was her message heeded? Did mankind cease offending God? What about today? It is now the year 2017 and 100 years have passed since Our Lady of Fatima appeared and imparted to the world her message of peace.
We are now experiencing an accelerated level of technological advances that the world has never seen. The internet and television have brought almost everything into the privacy of our own homes, even grave moral evil such as pornography for those who seek it out. The distractions of today are enormous, we have the iPad, iPhone, iPod, video games, internet, streaming, movies, robots, etc.
But where do we stand with God today? Have we changed our lives and returned to God? Has our technological progress brought us closer to God? Are we any different today than we were 100 years ago?
What about making amends to people that we have harmed through our sins? Our Lady of Fatima asked for atonement and reparation for sins and blasphemies. As a former alcoholic who attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, I was struck by the emphasis on the need to atone for past wrongs through making amends, when possible or appropriate, as directed by the 12 Steps of A.A. This was a vital step that was not to be taken lightly if one were to achieve a healthy level of sobriety and spirituality. I later became a Catholic and quickly discovered that many Catholics repented of their sins through the sacrament of confession, but would not necessarily make reparation or atone for their sins through the making of amends when applicable. Rather, they would just recite the prescribed penance, often a few Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, and be done with it.
This is not good. Sometimes we can make reparation through prayer and private penance, but when we harm each other in the public forum we need to follow up our repentance with sincerity of heart and honesty. It is often humiliating to approach someone and admit to them that we were wrong and apologize. But, it is most pleasing to God and extremely beneficial to our souls and to the societal harmony when we atone in this manner and make reparation through making amends. Moreover, making amends can contribute to the expiation of our temporal punishment in the next life as well.
Is there anyone you have harmed that you have not made amends to? Is there anyone who resents you because of something you may have done to them? Is there anyone who has harmed you that has not made amends?
God is calling the world to return to Him with humility and sincerity of heart. The message of Fatima is a very serious message that will have terrible ramifications for those who fail to heed it. But, returning to God is not just merely returning to church once a week, no, it is a complete and total changing of our hearts, and our very lives, in which we endeavor to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
God is calling us, everyday, to come back to Him. The message of Fatima, even though 100 years old, is still as relevant today as it was when it was first communicated in 1917. Are we listening?