by John C. Preiss
Whenever the Blessed Virgin appeared at Fatima, she had a gold ball at her waist. People came to understand that this ball represented the world and signified that the message of Fatima was for the whole world. If we put ourselves in the place of Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, we too, can do what Our Lady asks of us. Through the Fatima message, we can be shaped into what God desires for us, just as the humble shepherd children were.
We don’t have to be especially “holy” or educated. The apparitions at Fatima prove that God chooses the simplest people to carry out his greatest works. Sister Lucia stated in later writings, “The Lord shows that the work is his and not that of weak instruments which he has chosen; for God it is enough that these instruments allow themselves to be molded and transformed and moved by the grace at work within them, engraving in their pure hearts and innocent hearts the reflections of his presence, the touches of His grace and the impulses of His love.” God still wants to speak to us through Fatima. If we open ourselves up to him, a transformation of grace will take place.
The three most recent popes have recognized the urgency of the messages of Our Lady at Fatima for our world today. Pope Saint John Paul II developed a spiritual bond with Sister Lucia, one of the three little shepherds of the Fatima apparitions. He even donated the cornerstone, taken from Saint Peter’s tomb beneath the Vatican, for the new Fatima church, which was dedicated on the 90th anniversary of the apparitions. This gift of the Holy Father was a sign of his deep conviction that he owed his life to Our Lady of Fatima, whom he credited for saving him from an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI entrusted his pontificate to the Virgin Mary at Fatima. Pope Francis has done the same.
The message of Fatima has unfolded over time, further confirming that it has lasting significance for us today. In his assessment of the Little Shepherds, the late Father Luis Kondor, SVD, former postulator for the canonizations of now Saints Francisco and Jacinta, noted: “The full content of the Fatima message and its mission was not given all at once at the time of the apparitions in 1917, but in the course of the various preliminary private and public interrogations of the visionaries.” In fact, Lucia—the only one of the three seers to survive into adulthood—only wrote about the apparitions and the various messages of Our Lady when told to do so, many years after the apparitions occurred.