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No miracle in modern history compares to that of Fatima in Portugal, which took place on Oct. 13, 1917. As numerous media reports attested in the aftermath of the great miracle, the Sun danced! Thousands watched; estimates range from 70,000–100,000 souls of all classes and types witnessed this celestial event. The Portuguese newspaper O Dia in 1917 reported:
At one o'clock, solar time, the rain stopped … The sky had a certain greyish tint of pearl and a strange clearness filled the gloomy landscape, every moment getting gloomier. The sun seemed to be veiled with transparent gauze to enable us to look at it without difficulty. The greyish tint of mother-of-pearl began changing as if into a shining silver disc that was growing slowly until it broke through the clouds. And the silvery sun, still shrouded in the same greyish lightness of gauze, was seen to rotate and wander within the circle of the receded clouds! The people cried out with one voice; the thousands of the creatures of God, whom faith raised up to Heaven, fell to their knees upon the muddy ground.
Then as if it were shining through the stained glass windows of a great cathedral, the light became a rare blue, spreading its rays upon the gigantic nave ... Slowly the blue faded away and now the light seemed to be filtered through yellow stained glass. Yellow spots were falling now upon the white kerchiefs and the dark poor skirts of coarse wool. They were spots which repeated themselves indefinitely over the lowly holm oaks, the rocks and the hills. All the people were weeping and praying bareheaded, weighed down by the greatness of the miracle expected. These were seconds, moments, that seemed hours; they were so fully lived.
The tens of thousands of witnesses to what is called the "dancing of the sun," in addition to proclaiming what they saw with their eyes, also reported how — in a matter of a few brief moments — their drenched clothing from the morning's downpours miraculously became dry. The sodden, muddy ground on which they stood prior to the sun's dance was now no longer muddy, but firm and hard! In the ensuing days after the great miracle of the sun dancing, many would report other healing miracles, connected with the Cova da Iria and the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.
As written about extensively over the last century, Our Blessed Mother's message at Fatima was straightforward. Father John de Marchi, I.M.C., in his extensively researched book, The True Story of Fatima, relates that Our Blessed Mother made just a few simple requests of the visionaries during the great miracle of the sun.
Lucia related to Mary, "I have many things to ask of you: to heal some sick people and to convert some sinners." To this, our Blessed Mother responded, "Some, yes; others, no. People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins."
Growing even sadder, Mary continued, "They must not offend Our Lord anymore for He is already too much offended."
She then asked Lucia, "Do you want anything more?" Lucia responded, "Nothing more." The Blessed Mother in turn replied, "Then neither will I ask anything more of you."
Before departing, Our Lady opened her hands from which rays of light streamed. She gestured towards the sun with the light from her hands being even brighter than the sun. Lucia cried out, "There she goes; there she goes!"
The fundamental message from Our Blessed Mother to the three little shepherds during Fatima's multiple apparitions was simple. As the Blessed Mother told Lucia during the Miracle of the Sun, "People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins."
In every respect, Mary's message at Fatima is essentially the same as the one given by Her son, Our Lord, at the beginning of his public ministry. At the beginning of Mark's Gospel, Jesus proclaimed: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). It's really quite simple. A closer relationship with Our Lord starts with repentance. This message, albeit a simple one, is not so easy to act upon, as fallen men have a penchant for sin and even likes his sins!
For the three shepherd visionaries of Fatima, their grace of seeing Hell during the third apparition motivated them to pray their Rosaries and to atone for the sins of others. Innocent all three, their fervently said prayers and freely offered atonements moved Heaven to shower down graces upon those individuals for whom the three prayed! If only people would take to heart Our Lady's description of Hell as reported by Lucia in the aftermath of the third apparition.
Lucia described the scene:
She opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.
Many are quick to believe the great Miracle of the Sun because of the thousands attesting to its veracity. But when it comes to the specific content of Our Blessed Mother's messages from the apparitions, to say a daily Rosary, to fear Hell, to atone for sin, and so forth, many just ignore the Blessed Mother's heartfelt pleas — as if she had not said any of these things at all.
Take, for example, Bp. Robert Barron, who despite the Church's full approbation of the Fatima apparitions, proffers such drivel as: "We have a reasonable hope that all men are saved."
Christians must maintain their virtue of hope by faith and prayers, while Barron would have them blindly believe their family, community and generation are all just automatically saved! It's ludicrous to think that all will be saved as if freely willed actions don't matter in the determination of a man's final destination. In contrast to Bp. Barron, Our Lord Himself said, during the course of his active ministry, "How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it" (Matthew 7:14).
So, as you remember Fatima this October and the great Miracle of the Sun that took place there, please take to heart Mary's numerous pleas as well. Repent from all sin, atone for the sins of others and say your Rosary daily. If only the world would act upon what Mary said, as the three shepherds did, and not get superficially caught up in miracles themselves or in such speculations as to whether the third secret was revealed.
Take Mary's spiritual message to heart and live it. In the end, Christ will save us by our faith and through blessing our actions that substantiate what we believe. These actions include receiving Holy Communion after making a good confession, doing works of charity for our neighbors and making numerous sacrifices in atonement for our sins and the sins of others. Reaching Heaven is not easy, but it is certainly worth all the struggle and sacrifice.