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Catholics mark 102nd year of Fatima apparitions.

The Catholic Church celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the famous Fatima apparitions reverberating the same message made by the Blessed Virgin Mary, calling mankind to repent now for the world to attain a genuine and lasting peace.

'The apparitions of Mary in 1917 at Fatima happened for six consecutive months, from May to October, every 13th of the month,' Fr. Omer Prieto of the Immaculate Mary Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City, said in a recent interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

'Here, God is revealing to the world that Mary is indeed the 'woman who will crush the head of the serpent,' as written in the Bible [Genesis 3:15],' Prieto added.

It was on May 13, 1917, that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before three young shepherds-Lucia, 10, Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7, in Fatima, Portugal.

So timely was the apparition of this 'woman-in-battle,' because, that year, 1917, atheist communism started to reign in Russia.

God sent Mary through these apparitions to lead humanity to fight and conquer Satan and all his cohorts.

Her apparent triumph was manifested amazingly during her last apparition on October 13 with the miracle of the 'dancing sun,' a biblical image of Mary as 'woman clothed with sun' [Revelations 12:1],' Prieto pointed out.

He said it is about time people should heed the call of the Blessed Virgin to repent and return to God.

Prieto added that the troubles in the world like wars in many countries, terror attacks, man-made and natural disasters, and crisis in the church are part of the purification process for mankind to heed the call for penance.

Church documents on the Fatima apparition disclosed that Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were playing at Cova da Iria when they saw two flashes like lightning, with the Mother of God appearing above a holm oak.

According to Lucia, 'A lady dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun...her face, indescribably beautiful, was 'neither sad nor happy, but serious,' with an air of mild reproach. Her hands, joined together as if she was praying, were resting at her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand.'

'The seers were so close to Our Lady-about a yard and a half away-that they stood within the light that radiated from her,' Church records show.

It was also during the apparitions that the Virgin Mary relayed to the three shepherds, the 'Three Secrets of Fatima.'

In the first message, the Blessed Mother said that World War I, which was then raging in Europe, was about to end, and World War II would erupt if man continues his sinfulness that angers God.

According to Aleteia, an international Catholic network, in 2000, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became who later became Pope Benedict XVI, clarified the signs and symbols found in the Marian apparitions.

'For the past century, individuals around the world have developed theories meant to decipher the hidden message of the three 'secrets' of Fatima. Yet, Sister Lucia said herself that 'the interpretation belonged not to the visionary but to the Church.' It is up to the Church to interpret the various signs and symbols of Our Lady of Fatima to give the faithful a clear guide in understanding what God wants to reveal to us,' Ratzinger said.

Aleteia said that Ratzinger, who was then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote 'a lengthy theological commentary interpretation of the famous 'Third Secret.''

Ratzinger was tasked 'of clarifying the signs and symbols found in the visions of Our Lady, and made some striking discoveries,' it added.

Here are five surprising revelations found in the 'Third Secret' of Our Lady of Fatima as interpreted by Ratzinger.

'Penance, penance, penance!'

'The key word of this third part is the threefold cry: 'Penance, penance, penance!' The beginning of the Gospel comes to mind: 'Repent and believe the Good News' [Mark 1:15]. To understand the signs of the times means to accept the urgency of penance-of conversion-of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the images that follow.'

'The central message of Our Lady of Fatima was 'penance.' She sought to remind the world of the need to turn away from evil and repair the damage done by our sins. This is the 'key' to understand the rest of the 'secret.''

Everything revolves around the need for repentance.

'We have forged the flaming sword'

'The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgment which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword.

'The vision then shows the power which stands opposed to the force of destruction-the splendor of the Mother of God and stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance.'

Aleteia added: 'This particular part of the apparition tends to be the most distressing. It appears that God may strike us all down with a 'flaming sword.' However, Cardinal Ratzinger makes the point that the flaming sword would be something that we create [like the atomic bomb] as opposed to any fire that comes down from heaven. The good news is that the vision records the flaming sword 'died out in contact with the splendor [of] Our Lady' in connection to the call of 'penance, penance, penance.' The Blessed Mother has the final say, and her radiance can stop any cataclysm.'

Future not set in stone

'The importance of human freedom is underlined: The future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image which the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction...[the vision] is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction.'

Contrary to popular belief, the intense visions granted by Our Lady of Fatima are not a preview of what will come to pass. They are a preview of what could happen, if we do not respond to Our Lady's call to penance and conversion of heart. We still retain our free will and are urged to use it for the good of all humanity.

The blood of martyrs

'The concluding part of the 'secret'... is a consoling vision, which seeks to open a history of blood and tears to the healing power of God. Beneath the arms of the cross, angels gather up the blood of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making their way to God....

'As from Christ's death, from his wounded side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the Church. Therefore, the vision of the third part of the 'secret,' so distressing at first, concludes with an image of hope: No suffering is in vain, and it is a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, which becomes a signpost for man in his search for God.'

It is true that the vision contains much suffering and peril, but it is not in vain. The Church may have to suffer much in the coming years, and this should come as no surprise. The Church has undergone persecution ever since the crucifixion, and our suffering in the present time will only produce good effects in the future.

'I have overcome the world'

''My Immaculate Heart will triumph.' What does this mean? The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind...The Evil One has power in this world...he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God.

'But...the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word ... the word that prevails is this: 'In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world' [John 16:33]. The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.'

The secret of Fatima, Aleteia said, 'gives us hope in the midst of world torn by greed, selfishness and war. Satan will not triumph, and his evil plans will be thwarted by the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There may be suffering in the near future, but if we cling tightly to Jesus and His mother, we will remain victorious.'

Filipino Marian devotees celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the Fatima apparitions with fervor by praying the Holy Rosary continuously in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the world to be saved from perdition, where tentacles of terrorism have spread to various parts of the world, the most disastrous of which was the 9/11 terror attack in the United States on September 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000.

Many countries, including the Philippines, have been under terror attacks, such as the Marawi City attack in 2017, and the most recent attack in a Catholic Church in Jolo, Sulu.

Despite all the troubles around the world today, God has not abandoned His flock by calling man to repent now, and by turning our way to God now, not later, before it is too late.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:4EUPR
Date:May 19, 2019
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