EDUCATION: Formed in His Communion

VBS Day Two:  Our Lady of Fatima

 

It was another scorching day at SJE VBS 2017.  Our students, dressed in yellow t-shirts, rotated through activities where they learned about Our Lady of Fatima, heard a Bible story, played games, had snacks, did a craft, and learned songs for our Closing Assembly on Friday.  

The children learned today about the visit that Mary paid to her cousin, Elizabeth, whose pregnancy the Angel Gabriel had told her of as a sign that nothing is impossible for God.  We call this event the Visitation.  Imagine the young and pregnant Mary travelling to see her cousin, past child-bearing years, yet pregnant with the baby who would become John the Baptist.  Elizabeth was known as a barren women in a society where the number of children a woman had gave her life meaning and worth.  Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah had despaired of ever having a son.   As a priest of the temple, Zechariah had reason to think that he knew the will of God.   Yet, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to HIM to tell him that his wife would have a son, he did not believe.  Contrast this with Mary's unequivocal "yes" to the will of God.  Zechariah lost the ability to speak as a result of his unbelief and only was able to talk again when he made clear that HIS will was in line with the Lord's will and agreed with Elizabeth that the baby's name would be John.  

When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped in Elizabeth's womb.  John the Baptist, even as an unborn child, recognized that he was in the presence of Jesus, the Messiah.  This beautiful moment of recognition has given us Mary's beautiful prayer of praise, the Magnificat.  Mary shows us what it means to have our wills completely aligned with the will of God.  When we put our lives in God's hands, we experience joy and the fullness of his mercy. We see him lift us up and sustain us throughout any trials we may have.  A beautiful medidation on the Visitation and its meaning in today's world can be found here.

Today, the children also learned about the apparition of our Lady at Fatima in Portugal.  As in Lourdes, Mary chose to appear to poor peasant children, the siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their first cousin, Luisa Santos.  In 1917, the First World War was raging in Europe.  Later that year, the Russian Revolution would depose and murder the last czars of the Romanov dynasty which had governed the nation for 400 years and established an atheistic, communist regime.  Times were truly bad.  Yet Mary appeared to the children offering them a message of hope, offering herself as a mother to whom we can turn and telling us that God wants us to be devoted to her Immaculate Heart.  

In May 2017, Pope Francis travelled to Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's apparition and to canonize the children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, who died in the flu pandemic of 1918-1919.  Servant of God, Lucia Santos became a religious sister and passed away in 2005.   

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