The first apparition of Our Lady took place on 13 May 1917, followed by four others until 13 October of the same year. The Indian archdiocese is organising special celebrations for the centenary, particularly on the five dates of the apparitions. The message of Fatima is still relevant. Penance remains important to sanctify the Christian life.
Panaji (AsiaNews) – The Diocese of Goa and Daman in India announced that everything is ready for the centenary of the apparitions of Fatima, on 13 May. Special ceremonies will be held to mark the feast of Our Lady of Fatima who appeared the first time in 1917 to shepherd children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.
The local Catholic community is ready to join “wholeheartedly in this celebration, so dear to the Catholic world, and recommits itself to living out of the Message of Fatima, which draws us to the core of the Gospel message, by calling us to a genuine conversion of heart and the practice of prayer and penance,” said Mgr Filipe Neri Ferrao, archbishop of Goa and Daman.
For the prelate, the apparition of the Virgin is "undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions". Hence, "our pastors, rectors of institutions and heads of religious communities” must “encourage those under their care to participate actively in the various pastoral activities and devotional programmes organised by the Goa unit of the World Apostolate of Fatima” (WAF), an organisation approved by the Holy See in 2005.
For the occasion, the archdiocese, together with the Asian Regional Centre and the Indian National Centre, has approved a number of pastoral activities to be performed during the entire year.
One of these is called the Communion of Reparation on the five first Saturdays. It includes moments of penance and prayer, confession, communion, the recitation of five decades of the Rosary “with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the sins committed by mankind.”
For WAF vice chairman Celcio Dias, the reason for the five Saturdays is to be found in the “five kinds of offences and blasphemies against Mother”, namely rejection of her immaculate conception, virginity, divine maternity, as well as offences against her and her holy images.
As part of its activities, the archdiocese will promote the Rosary in every church and chapel, from 13 May to 13 October, to mark the days in 1917 in which the Virgin met the three Portuguese shepherd children.
In a statement, the archdiocese notes that the message of Fatima is valid to this day because "Fatima shows our modern society the need for conversion of the human heart. [. . .] In Fatima, the little shepherds contemplated the Holy Trinity through the immaculate heart of Mary and were transformed by the experience of love because they were immersed in God as in an ocean of infinite love, grace and mercy. "
In light of this, God’s mystery "can be contemplated through prayer”. Thus, “Those who want to grow in their spiritual life must practice the prayer of meditation." Indeed, the lack of prayer is precisely "the cause of the spiritual and moral crisis that assails the world today."
However, prayers are not enough; penance and sacrifice are also needed. "It is possible to be saintly and experience the joy of God and peace on earth through the daily offering of our duties to the sacred heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is the way to sanctify our lives and offer the witness of our Christian faith to our fellow human beings."