Several years ago one of my very dear "church" lady friends gave me a large framed picture depicting Mary Kissing baby Jesus. The picture is known as "Kissing the Face of God" by Morgan Weistling.
I often find myself gazing and allowing myself to be absorbed by the woman in this picture. I can sense my own kiss on the cheeks of this baby. Having nine children of my own it is not hard to recall the softness of a baby's cheek and the warmth of a little body pressed against your heart.
Parenting is an ongoing life experience that can take you from the
peak of joy to the pit of distress, all because of love. A love that has no boundaries. What parent would not exchange their life for their child if they could spare them from danger or suffering? Mary must have had this yearning in her heart for Jesus; yet, she knew that she must bear all suffering and trust in God.
When I stop to gaze at Mary I find we have so many things in common that it makes it so very natural to take my prayers to her. She knows and understands the heart of a mother and she is a champion for fathers. She loved and respected St. Joseph so much that she has a desire to have men be like her Joseph; kind, respectful, protective and committed to God. But her greatest desire is for all to know and love her son, Jesus. My sister and I made a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal this past May to celebrate the 100th Centennial of her appearances to the three
children and the canonization of two of these children, Jacinta and Francisco. It was a mystical experience for all that were there. The presence of heaven caused great joy among the multitude of people that made the journey...perhaps this was a taste of the peace Mary speaks of in her messages.
It all sounds so simple, so altruistic but the truth is that God chose this perfectly holy virgin to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be the
mother of our Savior, and our Mother. How many times have we recited the Hail Mary and said, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you" ? These are biblical words, they are truth. So in contemplating them one comes to a better understanding of her role and of the requests she makes in order that the world may have peace. Everyone is looking for a solution - look to Mary, the Queen of Peace, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
Throughout the centuries God has generously allowed her to come to us in apparitions with important messages that are always true, urgent and relevant to the time and circumstance she is addressing. At every authentic apparition
individuals have been enlightened and "conversions" experienced. The fact that she draws us to a closer relationship with Jesus is a testimony to her importance in the role of salvation and her pursuit of all God's children.
When I was a child of about nine, the good sisters of Saint Mary Namur made it possible for the entire school to watch the movie version of "Our Lady of Fatima" and later that year we watched "The Song of Bernadette". I am sure that many Catholic baby boomers can recall watching these movies. They made such a profound impact on me that as a child I remember promising I would try to be perfect for Jesus so I could be like the children of Fatima or Bernadette.
That promise dissipated in time as I found more interest in activities in school and a cute Chinese boy that I liked to chase on the playground. My teenage years were spent being concerned with everything but my faith. Having two saintly parents did not
keep me from applying my strong willed nature to challenging their rules; thank goodness that within the thirteen children of our family there were saintly siblings - like that first born son in my dad's arms.
Like most families, my own family of nine children experienced various challenges. But raising a large family with a commitment to raise them sound in their Catholic faith was more of a challenge than I ever expected. I came to wonder how I and my twelve siblings all kept our faith as well as over 135 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What was the secret?
It was eye opening after studying the messages of Fatima over the past several years to discover that my parents, without ever knowing our Lady's messages to the children, were actually living the core requests of our Lady. By the grace of their daily prayer life and reception of the sacraments they had quilted a life of grace with God. At some point in their lives they had been taught and had adopted a path to Jesus through Mary. The daily rosary, which was Mary's request at every single apparition to the children of Fatima, was witnessed in our home to be of importance.
Mom had a 4th grade education, her reading skills were limited, and Dad had an 8th grade education but he later studied and received his GRE degree that helped him achieve other professional goals. My dad was a very quiet man, but when he spoke all listened. His words were full of wisdom and he had a very joyful humor. There was never a doubt in our minds that mom and dad had a great love for Mary and Jesus and each other as they walked the walk. They were not perfect, but they were a true model of good Catholic parents.
Lucia of Fatima also spoke of the need for families to strive for sanctity and the need to learn to sacrifice - to make everything a
sacrifice for the love of God. Here too we had witnessed from our parents the daily sacrifices of time, materials, food - nothing was wasted and all was in the guideline of moderation yet, they never held there hand back from giving and we never felt we were lacking for anything (well, most of them). Lucia often spoke of the happiness of her own family while living a life of simplicity and modest means.
(Here we see her cousin's, Francisco's bedroom, where his coat, scarf and hat hang)
My dad left us for a new life in eternity in 2012 and my mother joined him earlier this year. At my Dad's funeral the lines were long and even a Bishop stood in line to express his condolences. They left quite a legacy of love. When my mother passed away after two years of being bedridden, most of her children and her pastor were at her bedside. On the morning of her death we continuously prayed the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for three hours. It was near 12pm when we recited the Angelus, and at precisely at noon we said "Amen" and she left us. Time seemed to stop, we had a beautiful moment of silence and then we tearfully kissed our mother goodbye. She died in her home and in those final moments and for three hours following her beauty radiantly returned to her face.
We believe the fulfillment of the promises of the rosary had been bestowed to both our parents for their life long faithfulness to our Lord and our Lady. (See bottom of post)
So what has this to do with Our Lady of Fatima? I have used my own observations in life as primary example of the fruit of living our faith as our Lady asks so that we can complete the sufferings of Christ. For when He died, God did not abandon us and leave us orphans to wander around not knowing what to do. No, Jesus remained with us in the Eucharist and He gave us His own mother to assist us through these perilous times and to provide us a plan to restore peace and retain it in our hearts. It is a heart to heart plan. Jesus did his part, now we must do ours.
Lucia's words in the book "CALLS, FROM THE MESSAGE OF FATIMA" (Pgs. (164-166) she states "Parents who do not instill a knowledge of God and of his commandments into their children from an early age, teaching them to keep them in mind and to observe them, are failing to fulfill the mission entrusted to them by God....Parents who disregard this law (Deut. 6,6-7) make themselves responsible for the ignorance of their children...Parents are the ones who must raise their innocent hands and to pray, helping them to discover how to find God on their way and to discover the echo of his voice. This is the most serious and important mission that has been entrusted by God to parents; and they must fulfill it well so that throughout their lives, the memory of their parents will always arouse in their children the memory of God and of his teaching."
The children must never forget or set to one side the respect, gratitude and help which they owe to their parents, who are for them the image of God.
This is how a family sanctifies itself, grows and prospers in that unity, fidelity,mutual understanding and forgiveness which generate peace, joy, mutual trust and love. Ave Maria! - Sr. Lucia
Through her Immaculate Heart, we can know, love, and serve Jesus in a very secure way, which points to the direction of heaven. The messages of Fatima are a call to conversion and Mary provides this plan in which we can obtain our own
conversion, grace for others and obtain peace for the world. Let us respond faithfully to what she asks - say the Holy Rosary daily while meditating on the gospel messages which will reveal to us all that Jesus taught for our salvation.
"The gift of Mary to the Church was Jesus' last human act from the Cross. He placed His mother's care in the hands of the only apostle present at the cross, the Apostle John, "Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, 'Woman, this is your son.' Then to the disciple he said, 'This is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." [John 19:26-27
This is Mary's role in Salvation History: ever virgin and yet fruitful mother. It is Mary, a daughter of the Old Covenant, who is not only the bearer of Christ in the Annunciation but Mary also "labors" in prayer in the Upper Room with the other disciples for the birth of the Church at Pentecost for the New Covenant believers will become her spiritual children. She stands as the Christian model, which we should all emulate. From her obedience at the Annunciation to the events of Christ's passion she illustrates for us a model of Christian virtue, faith and obedience as she remained true to Christ and His word. Her fidelity shows us that true faith can be preserved in one individual and down through history the Church has honored her for this by considering her the mother of the true remnant of Israel in the New Covenant Church. It has been as Mary prophesized, filled with the Holy Spirit, 'Yes, from now onward all generations will call me blessed!' "(Agapebiblestudy.com)
This post was written solely to inspire
To Jesus through Mary
To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.
The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
The rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.
Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.
True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.
What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.