Apocalyptic visions get our attention, but we still have to answer the call

by Barb Ernster –

Image taken during the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, Oct. 13, 1917

The most important aspect of the Fatima message is how we respond to the only question Our Lady asked the three children on May 13:  “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you as an act of reparation and in supplication for conversion of sinners?” 

By the time of the Oct. 13 apparition, we see perhaps in that great miracle of the sun, a foreshadowing of chastisement that awaits us if we are not willing.  This is reinforced in the image of the third part of the secret where the Angel is about to strike the earth with a flaming ball of fire from the tip of his sword, crying for “Penance, penance, penance.” 

On Oct. 13, 1973, Our Lady appeared to Sister Agnes Sasagawa in Akita, Japan, presenting again an image of chastisement in the form of fire falling from the sky: “As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one has never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful…Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary.”

I don’t like to focus on apocalyptic things, but Our Lady herself shared these visions with us to remind us of what we are truly about – we are children of God, and that demands our love, our wills, our adoration and righteous living.  As calamitous and frightful as these scenes are, we have to remember they are preceded by gentle invitations to respond: “Are you willing?”   

At Akita, Our Lady asked Sister Agnes, “My daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you.”

It is the same approach that Jesus took with everyone He encountered during His ministry.  His mother and brothers are “those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Lk 8:21). His true disciples are those who deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him (cf Mt 16:24). The road to perfection requires that we relinquish our earthly attachments—“Go, sell what you have and give to the poor” (Mt 19:20)—and build up treasure in heaven.

Jesus commanded His disciples to “put out into deep water and lower your nets” for a big catch. (Lk 5:4). Do we not need a big catch these days?

Where is God calling you?

We are at a serious point in our lives here in the United States in which God is asking us to go deeper. We may be asked to walk away from riches and the comforts we enjoy daily to follow Him. Are we willing? We may be asked to pick up heavy crosses, whether they are illnesses, deaths, broken homes, natural disasters, lost jobs, pensions and savings that disappear. Are we willing?

We may be asked to plunge deeper into God’s call for us, to cast our nets further. We may be asked to stand boldly for truth and risk being shunned by neighbors, colleagues or relatives—even members of our church and clergy—who otherwise have always liked us.  

Yes, we are all called to daily prayer and sacrifice. But what else is God asking of you? Our Lady is leading this battle. We have to be willing to listen to her.

The practice of the First Saturday devotion can help us in this quest because it requires that we submit ourselves to regular examination of conscience. God cannot use us if we are not willing to look at ourselves and root out that which causes us to stumble.  He needs people of pure hearts and intentions – not perfect, but willing and humble before Him. Then we can operate under the power of Almighty God. It also draws us closer to Our Lady and a deeper love for Jesus. Without this intimate bond, we are easily distracted by the things of earth.

Let us also pray for courage, especially in our daily Rosary. We need God’s grace to stand up to all fear, and accept and bear patiently with all that He wills to send us.

And finally, the Blessed Sacrament will strengthen us. As often as we can, we need to be close to Jesus in the Holy Mass or in adoration. Below is a beautiful prayer of adoration and surrender to Jesus, taught by Our Lady to Sister Agnes Sasagawa.

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen.”

Barb Ernster is the Communications Manager and Editor for the World Apostolate of Fatima USA.

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