Mary’s message at Fatima, and wherever she appears, is foreshadowed in today’s Gospel. 

A woman calls out a blessing to Jesus’ mother after hearing him teach. In return, Jesus states, “…blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” This becomes Mary’s message to us throughout the ages: listen, believe and be faithful. 

Mary’s message at Fatima is relatively simple. As complex and overwhelming as the problems of the world appear, they are, at their core, spiritual. Our response to those complexities and the difficulties we face, should also be spiritual. Mary promises, “My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” 

So how do we do that?  It starts with prayer. Our Blessed Mother asks for a rosary each day. If you aren’t used to praying the rosary, start by praying one decade. Reflect on the mystery and allow the repetition of the prayers to guide you into the life of Christ. As an elementary school principal, I know even our youngest students are able to learn the “Hail Mary” and recite it along with the rest of the school. They may not understand how to use the beads to keep track, but they like to hold them and can understand they are a sacred tool, not a toy. 

We are asked to pray for conversion and do penance. We need our own hearts to be converted to God’s will on a daily basis. We can do penance for ourselves and others. Catholics are no longer required to fast from meat on Fridays in Ordinary time, but we are asked to fast from something. Do we fast from dessert? television? time-consuming games? When we practice self-denial, even on such a small scale, we are training our bodies and our spirits to more closely follow God’s will. These seemingly small practices provide the fertile ground for our hearts to grow more like Jesus’ heart.

The triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart starts now, with you and me, when day by day we choose to listen, believe and be faithful, when we pray, open our hearts to conversion, and do penance. These may seem like small, insignificant acts, but remember, when we approach Jesus through Mary, she increases our prayers and offerings when she places them before her Son. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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