Lent, that time of the liturgical year when Holy Mother Church calls on Catholics to fast and abstain from meat in the spirit of penance and self-denial, also encourages the faithful to meditate on the dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In this penitential exercise, Our Lord Jesus Christ serves as our supreme model- He led the way of mortification by denying Himself sustenance for forty days and forty nights in preparation for the commencement of His public ministry. He, who has most tender compassion for humble and repentant sinners, assures us, “I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.” Luke 5:32. And in a supreme act of immolation, Our Lord offered Himself in sacrifice for our salvation and accepted His suffering humanity for the redemption of the world.
In light of the above, how are we to model our Lenten practices in the spirit of the Fatima message?
1. During Lent, Fatima’s constant theme of prayer, penance and amendment of life becomes ever more relevant in our daily lives.
Nowadays, many are accustomed to the conveniences that technological progress provides. Fast food, TV dinners, cell phones, ATM’s, express delivery, Internet, email, on-line shopping, etc – modern inventions that fuel that frenetic desire to get things done quickly and easily. Everything comes at one’s fingertips at one’s beckoning. And voila! The recurring mantra jumps out, “I want it and I want it NOW.” In short, no fuss, no delay; period!
The Angel of Portugal taught the children the virtue of asking pardon for evildoers through prayer and offering sacrifices. He impressed upon them the compelling need to make reparation for the insults, sacrileges and indifference committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady of Fatima consistently asked the children for prayers of reparation and sacrifice for poor sinners which culminated in the vision of hell that had a profound and lasting effect on them. Having seen the horrors and torments of everlasting infernal fire, the seers were transformed into heroes of mortification and penance.
Let us take all these to heart and apply them to our own situation keeping in mind the widespread decadence corroding the moral well-being of our contemporary times. It is undeniable that much penance and prayers are needed to atone for all these transgressions. One needs just to open the newspaper or watch the nightly news to find proofs.
3. Adopting realistic resolutions appropriate for our condition and times
The messages revealed in the apparitions to the three Portuguese children by the Angel of Portugal and the Queen of Heaven and Earth all speak of the gravity of the sins and crimes of mankind - a tragedy that begs for serious and resolute atonement and conversion to appease the wrath of God. To avert a terrible chastisement, Our Lady asks men to pray ardently for the conversion of sinners and to offer many expiatory sacrifices.
The current situation and the message of Fatima place the above reflections in a different perspective. Whatever self denial or sacrifice we choose to practice, we must perform with humility and prudence. Lent or otherwise, we must imbue ourselves with a lasting penitential spirit in face of the unabated moral chaos besetting mankind for, indeed, we are in extraordinary times!
And lastly, let us turn Our Lady for inspiration, strength and fortitude, always hoping in Her promise at Fatima,