Mary's Little Office

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Our Lady of Fatima - Chapter 4 - Return of the Angel

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Several months had passed since they had seen the angel in human form. But the mystery of it still weighed upon them, and the message he had given them had not been forgotten. Then one day during the quiet of the siesta, they were talking together in their favorite retreat in the garden behind the well, when the angel appeared at their side.

"What are you about?", he asked. His manner was grave. Pray, pray a lot! Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you in their holy heartsKeep on offering to the Lord prayers and sacrifices to make up for so many sins against him, and to obtain the conversion of sinners. Offer them to obtain peace for your country.  I am its guardian angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept humbly whatever sufferings Our Lord will send you . . .

As the angel's words fell upon their ears, their minds were mysteriously illumined, so that they saw how God loved them, and how He wished to be loved by them in return. They saw also how great is the value of sacrifice and how powerful it is to obtain the conversion of sinners.

A deeper effect was wrought in the lives of the children. They became intent on sacrificing all the little comforts and delights they could. Their lives had been simple and frugal as they were, for peasant children have not many things to deprive themselves of, but they were ingenious in inventing ways and means of doing penance. The principal one they preferred was to remain for hours, their heads bowed to the ground, repeating the prayer which the Angel had taught them when he first appeared.

All summer long, the young shepherds tended their sheep and seemed outwardly just like the other children of the village. Secretly they were engaged in the special mission they had received from Heaven. Their days of penance and prayer went up as an agreeable incense to their Heavenly Father.

Autumn brought a third and momentous visit of the angel. The little trio had finished their meal at noon, and had come to the place where the angel had first appeared to them while they were sheltering from the storm. They had finished their rosary and had been reciting the Angel's prayer for a while when suddenly they found themselves surrounded by a brilliant light. Lifting their heads, their eyes grew round with wonder at what they saw. The angel was there, and this time he held in his hand a chalice. Above it was suspended a host from the whiteness of which drops of blood were missing and falling into the chalice.

The angel came and knelt beside them, the chalice and the host remaining where they were in the air. He made them recite three times this prayer:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore profoundly, I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in re- paration for the outrages by which He Himself is offended.
By the infinite merits of His Sacred Heart and by the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conver-sion of poor sinners.
Then the angel rose, placed the host on Lucy's tongue, and gave Jacinta and Francis drink from the chalice, saying at the same time: 
Receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by thankless men. Make up for their sins, and console your God.
At the end he knelt again, repeated the prayer another three times, and vanished from their sight.

The children remained a long time on their knees, murmuring the angelic prayer to the Holy Trinity, their souls in a profound and luminous peace, their hearts throbbing with the effects of the mysterious communion which they had made. They felt the bliss of it immensely. Francis was the fist to come to himself and to think of getting back to the village. It was late. The children got the sheep together and started homewards in great joy. But they went slowly, for their small bodies were weary.


*       *       * 

It was a Sunday in the spring of the following year. May 13, 1917. The children had come home from Mass, and were taking the sheep out to pasture in a sort of dale, or basin-shaped depression not far from the village, where the Santos owned a field. The place was called Cova da Iria, which in English would be st. Irene's Cove, in honor of a saint who lived in the region in the 7th century. At noon, after eating lunch, the children knelt in the shade of an olive tree to say the rosary. They prayed with a fervor and piety nourished by months of compliance with the angel's wishes. Next they became absorbed in one of their favorite games, that of building a house. The girls brought the stones, and Francis made an enclosure of them, the floor of which was strewn with pine needles.

Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of lightning. Startled, the three looked up, but not a cloud was to be seen anywhere in the sky! Still, thought Lucy, perhaps a storm was brewing behind the hills, and she voted to taking in the sheep. The other two, nervously agreed, and quickly bringing the flock together, they moved off across the cove towards the village. Just in the middle of the cove, they were brought to a sudden stop by another dazzling flash. They glanced at one another fearfully, then again moved on. They were just passing near a young oak tree when this time they were fairly blinded by a brilliant light which enveloped them. Opening their eyes, their gaze was drawn to the tree from which light was radiating. And the source of the wonderful light was a beautiful young woman, clothed in the purest white, light poised on a branch of the oak.

A veil, bordered at the edge with a delicate gleaming gold thread a little more brilliant than the radiant whiteness of her apparel, covered head and shoulders and fell to her feet. The children could scarcely bear the vision of beauty, and wanted to flee. But a sweet maternal gesture and a gentle voice restrained them. Lucy reassured, had courage enough to ask a question:
~"Where are you from, Madam?"
~"I am from Heaven."
~"Why are you here?"
~"I come to ask you to be here on the 13th of each month at this time, every month for six months. In October, I shall tell you who I am, and what I wish from you."
~"You come from Heaven! . . . Shall I go to Heaven?"
~"Yes, you shall go there."
~"Jacinta also?"
~"And Francis?"
~"He too. But before he must recite many rosaries."

In saying this, the Lady, whose every movement sparked with light, turned a regard full of goodness and compassion on the young boy.
She turned again to Lucy:
~Are you willing to offer sacrifices to God and to accept all the sufferings that He will send you in reparation for the nuberless sins which offend His Divine Majesty? Are you willing to suffer to obtain the conversion of sinners, to make reparation for the blasphemies as well as for all the offense done to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?"
~"Yes, yes, we are willing," the child replied.
The unhesitating generosity of the children was rewarded by a smile of tenderness, and the Lady said: "You will have much to suffer then, but the grace of God will help and sustain you always."

Up to that moment, the Lady had held her hands joined at her breast. Now she parted them in an exquisitely gracious and maternal gesture, and the movement caused a flood of mysterious light, sweet and intense, to pour into the depths of their souls and to make them see themselves as they were in God. They fell to their knees exclaiming:
~"O most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! . . . My God, my God, I love Thee! . . . "
The lovely regard of the Lady rested silently on them for a while. One more request she made of them ~ that they recite the rosary devoutly every day for the peace of the world and for the conversion of sinners ~ and then the children saw that she was moving away, and their eyes followed her until she disappeared in the light of the sun.

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