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Fatima Centennial Bulletin Reflections

All are welcome to copy and paste this text for inclusion in your parish bulletin or ministry newsletter. A new reflection will be posted for each month of the Fatima Centennial Celebration (May – October 2017). 

May 2017 Reflection 

(Published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for the New Evangelization)

The Centennial of Our Lady of Fatima: Mary Continues to Speak to the Church

Beginning this May, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia joins with the Universal Church to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal.  Our Lady’s appearances and the messages that she gave were a means by which God called man to prayer, sacrifice, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  

God’s Revelation, begun in the Old Testament, was brought to fulfilment in the Life of Christ and the witness born to Him by the Apostles and the New Testament.  In this public revelation, God has spoken all that He desires to communicate to man.  The apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima are examples of private revelation.  Private revelations are helps that God grants to His Church to enable it to live more fully by Christ’s definitive revelation in a particular period of history.

“God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” In Fatima, Our Lady asked specifically for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, but she also promised that Christians who would turn to her in prayer, especially through the recitation of the rosary, would be granted the grace they need to overcome sin and would be led by her Immaculate Heart to God.

The Practice of Reparation on the First Saturdays. Our Lady of Fatima asked for this devotion specifically to prevent God’s punishment upon the sins of the world, and for the conversion of Russia. The First Saturday devotion makes reparation for the offenses committed against Mary’s honor by those who reject her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and Divine Motherhood.  It also offers reparation for those who reject her spiritual maternity or who outrage her in holy images.

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” The unique message of Our Lady of Fatima continues to shape the lives of Christian believers.  She promises peace to the world and salvation to sinners through prayer and through the sacrifices that Christians offer to God.  The prayers of the children of Fatima are simple yet profound pleas for the conversion of the world that all of us are invited to integrate into our daily prayer life.

To join in the Archdiocesan Fatima celebrations, visit

June 2017 Reflection

(Published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for the New Evangelization)

The Centennial of Our Lady of Fatima: The First Saturday Devotion and the Dogmas of Mary

Our Lady of Fatima asked Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, to spread devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Our Lady also asked the children for the First Saturdays Devotion. The First Saturdays Devotion invites Christians to go to confession; receive communion; recite five decades of the rosary; and meditate for an additional fifteen minutes on the mysteries of the rosary. This practice is to take place on the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months. 

 Sr. Lucia later explained that these five Saturdays are to be offered in reparation for the five kinds of offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception, her Perpetual Virginity, her Divine and Spiritual Motherhood, as well as dishonoring her images, and failure to implant in the hearts of children a knowledge and love of Mary.

The Marian Dogmas – Why They Matter
Three of the five sins that we seek to repair through the First Saturdays Devotion concern offenses against three of the Marian dogmas. They are:

Mary’s Immaculate Conception – that Our Lady was, from the first moment of her conception, preserved from all stain of sin, including original sin

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity – that Our Lady’s virginity remained intact throughout the course of her life and she knew no sexual intimacy with a man

Mary’s Divine Maternity – that Our Lady is not just the Mother of Jesus’ humanity, but because Jesus is both God and man, Mary is rightly and truly the Mother of God

Dogmas are truths given to us by the Church to anchor our faith. They are guaranteed by Jesus Christ to be infallible.  Catholics are obliged to believe dogmas with an “irrevocable adherence of faith” [Catechism of the Catholic Church 88], with the full assent of our wills. Why such an obligation? Because dogmas represent truths that God himself has revealed, truths that God wants us to know in order to bring joy to our hearts. Dogmas guarantee that our relationship with Jesus and Mary is authentic, that we truly know who they are. Dogmas define the true path to Eternal Life and prevent us from going astray. To join in the Archdiocesan Fatima celebrations, visit

July 2017 Reflection

(Published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for the New Evangelization)

The Centennial of Our Lady of Fatima: Mary’s Immaculate Conception

As we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, we take a moment to reflect on our belief in Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.  This is especially fitting because in Fatima, Our Lady asked all of us to observe the First Saturday devotion specifically in order to repair the damage done by offenses against the Marian dogmas, that is, the truths that we believe about Mary.  One of them is the Immaculate Conception.

At the Annunciation, Mary was addressed by the Archangel Gabriel as “full of grace.” The Church echoes these words of the angel by firmly professing faith in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

“The Most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854)

This dogma was solemnly proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. However, the Christian faithful had understood Mary to be preserved from the stain of original sin for centuries, as attested to by Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the desire of the Christian faithful.

Mary was from the early years of Christianity known as Panagia: the All-Holy one from whose virginal purity the Son of God took flesh.  The Church saw her prefigured in the book of Genesis (3:15) as the woman whose offspring would crush the head of the serpent; whose immaculate purity and intimate unity with Christ would permit her, too, to triumph over Satan. The Fathers of the Church praised Mary in the words of the Psalms and the Prophets as the Enclosed Garden, the Tower of David, and the Temple of God. The Fathers wrote often about her privileges of innocence and sanctity that prepared her to be the dwelling-place of Christ when He was born in the flesh.

Oftentimes, secular culture criticizes the Church for emphasizing the purity and holiness of Mary, as if her perfection made her unapproachable. In fact, the opposite is true. Mary’s sinlessness is precisely what makes her the most approachable, the most understanding of our weakness, the most near to us. It is sin that creates distances, making us harsh and judgmental towards each other. Our Lady, in her sinlessness, is free from all of the taints of sin.  Her Immaculate Conception means there is no barrier in her heart between her and us. She is perfectly open to us, perfectly loving towards us, perfectly understanding. Our Lady’s perfection is not the false perfectionism of the world. It is the perfection of love.

To join in the Archdiocesan celebration of the Fatima Centennial, visit

August 2017 Reflection

(Published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for the New Evangelization)

Fatima Centennial Reflection: Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Sr. Lucia, one of the shepherd children to whom Our Lady appeared in Fatima, explained that Our Lady requested the First Saturdays devotion to repair the damage done by offenses against her Immaculate Heart. One of these offenses is the denial or mockery of Mary’s perpetual virginity. 

Catholics have believed from the very beginning of the Church that Mary remained a virgin throughout her entire life. Jesus was conceived in Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit and not through spousal relations. After the conception and birth of Jesus, Mary remained a virgin and never had sexual relations with a man. Now in heaven, body and soul, she continues to be Ever-Virgin. This is the dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity. 

Why is the perpetual virginity of Mary so important to our faith? The Catechism teaches us that Our Lady’s perpetual virginity anchors the truth that the incarnation of Jesus, that is, the Son of God taking on human flesh and becoming man, was wholly God’s initiative. It was not a human action that brought it about, but God Himself. Along with this, Mary’s perpetual virginity upholds the identity of Jesus as Son of the Eternal Father. Jesus has no father but God the Father. His virginal conception in Mary’s womb reveals this.   

Mary’s perpetual virginity also reveals to us the profoundly intimate and tender way that God relates to us. When God acted upon Mary and the Son of God took flesh in her womb, her virginity remained intact. This teaches us that when God relates to us, it is always with deep reverence for our nature. Far from being a violent or disruptive action, God’s manner of coming near to us is always a healing, preserving, and integrating experience.     

Our Lady’s virginity, maintained throughout her entire life, expresses in her body her perfect and sustained union with God. Mary’s “yes” to God in the annunciation was a total and unreserved gift of herself to Him. Through her “yes,” Mary made both her soul and body completely available to His plan. Our Lady’s perpetual virginity is the sign that Mary continues, throughout her earthly life and in her heavenly existence, to be she is who wholly given over to God with an undivided heart and a body that belongs only to God. Let us ask Our Lady, through her perpetual virginity, to obtain for us an ever-deeper purity in our bodily actions and an increasingly undivided heart wholly given over to God and His plans! (To learn more, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #496-507)