The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima that I purchase in Fatima Portugal
(and a lovely tribute to the Hail Mary handcrafted by a friend.
It reminds me what Among Women is all about.)
It is with great pleasure that I offered my thoughts on the rosary at my column today, as well as on the podcast this week. And to have the rosary article appear today on the anniversary of "the miracle of the sun" is a blessing I did not plan, but one I think Mary must have had in mind.
Today is a rainy, dark day in Massachusetts, and I could not help but think of those Fatima children as the rain comes down, and 70K+ soggy people gathering on a hillside wondering if the Lady would show up and grant a miracle. They, of course, had no idea that it would be a miracle that would not only astound them, but also change the weather conditions immediately!
Here's a video from the film "The 13th Day" that dramatizes that day. Go watch it!
So today, I just want to thank Momma Mary for the miracle of her love and presence in my life.
Today I recall my first trip to Fatima in August of 1998. It was a wonderfully intimate pilgrimage of the heart on my part to travel to thank Jesus and Mary for their love and care, as I marked an anniversary of being 2 years cancer-free. Bob had given the gift of frequent flyer miles to travel with my friend, Jane, to pray, think, and begin to get on with my life with renewed joy after all the junk and grief of cancer recovery... after which I kind of got stuck in the mud of self-pity. Despite my faith in God's great mercy, I still had need of some emotional healing. Some kind of inner healing took place while I was there in Portugal because I returned very much changed on the inside... tho' it took several years for it all to surface in different areas of my life.
From my journal, dated Sept 1, 1998:
On Saturday morning I spent time on my knees interceding for my husband and children, and for the friends and family that had sent along their petitions [to be brought to Our Lady of Fatima.]
I felt honored to be the courier of such heartfelt prayers from my family and friends. I was on a mission to deliver these letters to Our Lady.
I purchased a stack of fifteen candles to light in the votive area [it was all I could carry]. Then I sat down to write out the petitions that others had told me about. I left the intentions with the guard/acolyte of the Chapel of the Apparitions, and he put them directly into the base of Our Lady of Fatima's statue [in the exact location of her appearances.]
I then made my way next to the chapel to light those candles. I had to wait my turn to get close to the rack that holds the candles. There were so many pilgrims there! When it was my turn, I carefully lit and placed them, burning in a group, and said a brief prayer -- that I continued minutes later in the basilica.
I found a quiet pew, and prayed over the names, individually, of every one of those petitions. It took quite a long time, but what a grace to have that opportunity.
Then I prayed for Bob and the each of the children: Bobby, Katie, and Peter. I cried for love of them. I wished them to know and love Jesus in a deep and powerful way. I longed for the grace to show them with my own life. Lord let me continue to teach them!
Then I thanked the Holy Trinity for my recovery from cancer, and I placed the rock of self pity that I had carried around for so long on that altar, and into the hands of Jesus and Mary. It was an emotional meeting with the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart.
What a thanksgiving! What a gift! Indeed what John 3 said: "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven."From my journal, dated August 28, 1998, from Fatima, Portugal:
Today I celebrate two years cancer-free. I thank God and I thank the Blessed Mother... for there were literally hundreds of rosaries and prayers lifted on my behalf. I am so grateful to be alive. To feel the wind, to smell good food, to put my feet in the ocean. I am so happy to be married, and to continue my life with Bob and the family we have. I am so thankful for another 2 years with my children.
Tonight we closed our day with Mass, and then an outdoor rosary and candlelight procession (at night under the stars). People from various nations led the prayers and singing. We responded in English as best we could. When we processed around the colonnade before the basilica, we were led by a lighted cross, and Mary's statue lifted high on a bed of flowers came, carried by 8 men.
We were all singing and raising our candles singing "Ave, ave, ave Maria!" As we followed Mary in this simple fashion, I felt that Mary was walking along with her children... holding our hand, walking slowing beside us as if in conversation. Just a loving Mom, loving her children in that moment.
Prior to returning to the Mission House, I stopped into the adoration chapel to say goodnight to Jesus, and to thank him for this day. I just kept thanking him for all he has done for me.----
One little story about the power of prayer, and putting things, even trivia things(!) in Momma Mary's hands...
Back in 1998, I asked Mary if I could come back to Fatima one day, and would she kindly arrange for each of my children to come as well? After all, Blessed John Paul II called Fatima "Mary's throne on earth," so I figured it couldn't hurt to ask the Queen, you know?
Well in 2002 I returned with my husband Bob, and oldest son, Bobby. What a double blessing!
Then in 2008, my daughter's high school proposed a European trip to Spain and Portugal. Well, it was kind of expensive, but I told her if the tour included Fatima we would strongly consider it. Turns out the trip did not include a Fatima destination. My daughter, Kate, took her case to the tour leader -- and this being a Catholic Academy that she attended -- the tour leaders arranged it -- and all the women on tour got to go with Kate to Fatima!
So, Momma Mary... we've got one more son, Peter, who needs a plane ticket.... and I have full confidence that this will be arranged at an appropriate time. But so far 4/5 Gohns have made it! Thanks be to God!
+Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!