By Prof. Micheal. Ogunu
A “Centenary” means 100 years. The year 2017 is the Centenary of the Apparitions of our Lady at Fatima because this is the 100th year since our Lady appeared in 1917 to three shepherd children — Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta in Fatima, Portugal.
The Message of Fatima
The Message of Our Lady of Fatima can be summarised as follows: First is our Lady’s requests for prayer, reparation, penance and sacrifice, and the abandonment of sin. Our Lady stressed the importance of praying the Rosary in each of her apparitions. She told the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace. Another principal part of the Message of Fatima is devotion to our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, which is terribly outraged and offended by the sins of humanity. She showed her Heart, surrounded by piercing thorns (which represented the sins against her Immaculate Heart), to the children, who understood that their sacrifices could help to console her. The children were also told to pray and sacrifice themselves for sinners in order to save them from hell. The children were briefly shown a vision of hell, after which our Lady told them: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace”.
The Purpose of the Centenary of the Fatima Apparitions
A quotation from the Letter of Most Rev. Antonio Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, helps in explaining the purpose of the celebration “……In the Centenary of the Fatima Apparitions, we express our praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity for the love poured out, through Mary, on humanity in need to be reconciled with God…… to hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the Glory of the Most Holy Trinity!” The objectives of the celebration of the Centenary of our Lady’s Apparitions at Fatima include the following:
• To stress the importance of the apparitions of Fatima for the Church and for the world.
• To spread the message of Fatima worldwide.
• To deepen our knowledge of the theology of the message of Fatima.
• To develop pastoral proposals in the light of the message of Fatima.
• To promote the living out of the spirituality of Fatima.
• To develop the Marian dimension in the Christian expression of the faith.
Manner of Celebration
The The Fatima Centenary is to be celebrated in accordance with the programmes of celebration at national, diocesan and parish levels recommended by our Bishops. It is hereby suggested that the celebration includes the following:
Eucharistic celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Fatima in the Cathedral or other appropriate location in the diocese at which the Bishop is the Chief Celebrant in union with all the priests of the diocese as Co-Celebrants during the official opening and closing of the Centenary Year and on the anniversary days of the Apparitions (May 13th, June 13th, July 13th, August 19th, September 13th and October 13th).
Daily Rosary in all parishes.
Eucharistic Adoration with Benediction/Holy Hour of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Rosary procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in which at least 20 decades of the Rosary are devoutly recited round the town, accompanied with Marian hymns.
Talks on the Message of Fatima and how to live the message in today’s world as well as on topics that explain Catholic devotion to Mary for the enlightenment of non-Catholics and Catholics who have poor understanding of the role of Mary in the salvation of mankind.
October 13th is strongly recommended for the national celebration as many bishops, priests and lay faithful may be making a pilgrimage to Fatima for the May 13th celebration there in which the Pope will be present.
The Fatima Centenary is significant because “the Centenary of Fatima Apparitions is a historical occasion on which we will express our praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity for the love poured out, through Mary, on a humanity in need to be reconciled with God and longing to get up from the abyss”. The message of Fatima is as relevant and significant today as it was 100 years ago. For even though the world has witnessed the demise of the Soviet Union, we find ourselves faced with many of the same evils as faced the world in 1917. We have only to look around us to see how the world is engulfed in sin. An unparalleled explosion of sexual immorality, contraception, abortion, divorce, cultism, corruption, mindless bloodletting across the world and a host of other crimes abound today because too few people are fulfilling our Lady’s request at Fatima.
We should renew our dedication to the Holy Rosary and pray it at every opportunity. Prayer and penance can bring our sinful world back to God.
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