Inspiring Reflections as WYD pilgrims head to FátimaMonday 7th August 2023
As the World Youth Day pilgrimage draws to an end, young adults from our diocese have one more unforgettable experience in store as they pay a visit to Fátima.
The trip will take our young people back more than one hundred years, when three small shepherd children shared an experience that would captivate people the world over for years to come.
Catholics right across the world still celebrate the legacy and the story of Fátima to this day and today, we join our young pilgrims in spirit by revisiting this incredible story and reflecting on how these events can inspire and nurture our faith today.
Canon Paul Daly, Episcopal Vicar for Formation for the Diocese of Salford, said: “The story of Fátima is one that continues to amaze and inspire people to this day but this remarkable event carries huge significance and encouragement for our young people in particular.
“It’s no accident that it was three young children who witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady in Cova da Iria, and it’s an important part of the story we need to consider, especially in the light of World Youth Day.
“Just as it was the voice of youth that sowed the seeds of faith in 1917, it is the voice of youth that will continue to spread the Gospel in the years to come.”
We invite you to join us today in praying for all of our young people, especially those visiting the shrine of Fátima today, and we hope the ideas below will inspire us all as we continue on our journey of faith.
Click here to read or download The Story of Fátima, as well as information about the legacy of the apparitions and the Three Secrets of Fátima.
5 Inspiring Reflections on the story of Fátima
The powerful impact young people can have in the Church
Our Lady chose to appear to three young shepherd children and it was their testimony spreading across the region that enabled as many as 100,000 people to witness the Miracle of the Sun. These three young children were quick and willing to believe what they saw – a childlike characteristic that inspired thousands at that time, growing to millions in the years to come.
It can be easy to worry about the future of our Church but the story of Fátima gives us hope that the Spirit will continue to work through and inspire our young people for generations to come.
Not being afraid to proclaim the truth
Despite being such a tender age, the three children were unshakable in attesting to the truth – even when mocked, disbelieved by their own families, chastised, and even arrested by secular authorities. Although we are unlikely to face such drastic circumstances in our own lives, our baptism still calls us to proclaim the Gospel and bear witness to the truth in our everyday lives today.
Importance of praying the Rosary
Our Lady was clear in her request that the children should pray the Rosary every day. In every apparition to the shepherd children, Our Lady was adamant of the importance of this prayer in our faith lives, particularly when praying in reparation for sins. This remains as relevant to us today, as it did to those three shepherd children in 1917.
The love of God
It could be argued that the visions and messages of Fátima are a little grave – particularly when considering the ages of the young visionaries. But beneath the gloom of sin, war, and visions of hell, we can actually uncover a wonderful assurance of God’s love for us. God doesn’t just abandon us to sin and the consequences of our sin. He sends Our Lady to us – repeatedly – to urge us to turn back to Him and to pray for sinners. The vision of hell is certainly terrifying, especially for such young children, but by sharing the message, we are able to understand more of God’s merciful love that, even at this stage, he doesn’t simply abandon us to that fate.
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Numerous times during the apparitions, Our Lady made reference to her Immaculate Heart, but what does this devotion teach us in relation to Fátima and how can it strengthen our faith lives today?
The answer to this might be found in Our Lady’s second visit to the children on 13th June 1917. In response to Lucia’s worry that she would be alone, Our Lady said:
“My Immaculate Heart will never abandon you, but will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
Mary’s calming words of comfort serve as a wonderful reminder of her role as our mother and intercessor. It teaches us that, as the ultimate symbol of motherhood, Mary is always present, always watching, always ready to offer comfort, to take our joys and sufferings as her own, and to show us the way to all that is good.
The key to understanding this is in the devotion of the Immaculate Heart. Firstly, the familiar image of the bleeding, pierced heart of Mary portrays her role as our mediator, as well as symbolising her sorrow and broken heartedness of humanity’s sin and rejection of God’s outpouring of love – which is represented in the analogous devotion of the Sacred Heart.
Moreover, the devotion also teaches us the antidote to that: it teaches us that it is through Mary and through imitating her Immaculate Heart that we can respond to God in love, by turning away from sin and devoting our hearts to Him.
However, we all know that’s not quite as easy as it sounds but we find the greatest help in our mother, Mary, and her Immaculate Heart. By growing closer Mary and dedicating ourselves, our needs, failures, worries, and hopes to her and her Immaculate Heart, we can trust that she will lead us ever closer to God.