By Barb Ernster –
In each of the six apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, she appeared dressed all in white and as if made of light and the light that radiated from her made the children see themselves in God and experience His presence in the depth of their souls. What a phenomenal gift for these three very young seers, who could never put into words what they experienced, because, as St. Paul states, “Who can comprehend …the love of God that surpasses all knowledge?” [cf Eph. 3:18]
Two flashes of light, almost like lightning, always preceded Mary’s appearance. When she departed, she serenely ascended toward the east, surrounded by a light that “seemed to open up a path before her in the depth of the stars,” Lucia wrote. “We sometimes said we saw heaven opening.” When the children were asked why they lowered their eyes frequently and stopped looking at the Lady, they answered, “Because she is often dazzling.” The Apostles also had to lower their eyes when they witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus who became dazzling white as light and shone like the sun.
From May 13 to October 13, Mary appears directing and communicating God’s light with her hands, dispensing His grace effortlessly and exhibiting her role as Mediatrix of all graces. And God responds.
In the first apparition, just after the children readily agreed to offer themselves to God in sacrifice as Mary requested, she told them that they would have much to suffer “but the grace of God will be your comfort.” Just as she pronounced these words, she opened her hands communicating a light so intense that its rays penetrated their hearts and innermost souls, making them see themselves in God more clearly than in the best of mirrors. The children then fell to their knees in adoration of the Holy Trinity and expressed their love for God in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
In June, she again appeared with the customary two-part flash of light. She promised heaven to all of them, and gave Lucia a mission to spread devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Although distressed by her earthly mother’s unbelief, Lucia was comforted by the gentle words of her heavenly Mother: “Are you suffering a lot? Do not worry. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” At the exact moment she spoke these words, she again opened her hands and from them communicated the same intense light that penetrated their hearts. They were completely immersed in God and saw themselves in this light.
Francisco marveled at this light on more than one occasion. “I was very glad to see the angel, and much more to see the Blessed Virgin,” he would say, “but what I loved most was to see God in that great light the Lady put into our heart.”
So impressed was he with the Divine presence, he exclaimed, “We were on fire in that light and yet we did not burn! How wonderful God is. He is so beautiful that we can’t express it.” He often left the companionship of Lucia and Jacinta so he could pray alone and concentrate on its memory.
They also began to understand the role of her Immaculate Heart in God’s plan for the salvation of the world and the authority of this beautiful Woman who radiated the glory of the Holy Trinity. They had seen her Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns, and understood interiorly that these were caused by sin. On July 13, Our Lady revealed a more vivid image of the power of devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the three-part secret, including the horrible vision of hell. We learn that:
- Reparations made to her Immaculate Heart can save souls in danger of hell
- Consecrations made to her Immaculate Heart can prevent wars, famines, persecutions of the Church and even the destruction of whole nations. It can also bring peace to the entire human race.
- Our response to this devotion to her Immaculate Heart can prevent God from striking the earth with His sword of justice.
In the third part of the secret, we see Our Lady raising her hand and radiating again God’s light toward the angel with the flaming sword, rendering him helpless in carrying out the command. Rather than a vision of God’s justice, this is an incredible view of God’s unfathomable mercy; that He allows His own creature – a Woman, clothed with the sun and radiating His pure Light – to prevent His hand from striking a disobedient people. Upon her intercession, God lowers His arm and gives us another chance to follow Him, to take up the devotion to the Immaculate Heart and walk with Mary toward its triumph. The devil may look at this vision, with the world half in ruins and the Church heading toward the Cross, and think he won, but he has not. God has a greater plan, and it involves His own creation in defeating evil.
Mary radiates the light that is God, and the children of Fatima even experienced this light differently than the light of the angel. The angel produced a supernatural aura that was so intense they were scarcely aware of their own existence. They felt the acute and intimate presence of God, which physically annihilated them, leaving them unable to walk steady or even speak about it for days, Lucia recalled. “It was not easy to speak of so intimate a grace…it made so strong an impression upon us.”
Mary, on the other hand, produced a more gentle effect. A feeling of peace and effusive gladness that did not prevent them from speaking about all that had happened. Like the Apostles at Pentecost, they were infused with the Holy Spirit, and were compelled to tell the world.
O Light of Our Lady of Fatima, penetrate my heart so that I can proclaim the glory of God.