Nevertheless, Fatima represents an urgent message for the world confirmed by a massive miracle of the sun seen by over 70,000 people. Some weren't even at the site, but saw the dancing sun from miles away. Not only that, but the miracle was prophesied months before it happened and many who came to scoff, including atheists, were converted on the spot.
Other apparitions are associated with miracles. Many confirmed miraculous healings occur at Lourdes, for example. But the miracle of the sun at Fatima is unique in the history of the Church. It was publicly announced beforehand as a message so that people might believe.The miracle set Our Lady's call there to penance in reparation for sin in bold relief. Listening to and obeying her message is crucial if we really desire peace in our world.
If you haven't studied Fatima, I urge you to make it a priority in these months before the 100th anniversary of the dancing sun in October. The best book with which to begin, in my opinion, is historian William Thomas Walsh's Our Lady of Fatima, published originally in 1947. It is heavily based on Lucia's memoirs which at the time had not been published. Walsh also interviewed many family members and friends of the little seers and other witnesses to the miracle of the sun. His book was among the first in English and promoted the Fatima message among millions of Americans. He says in the preface that "The book is not 'fictionized,'" but it reads like an adventure story.
The impact on Professor Walsh of his visit to Portugal was profound. He came to believe that "The future of our civilization, our liberties, our very existence may depend upon the acceptance of her commands." And the messages had a profound impact on his own life as described by Rev. William C. McGrath who wrote the Foreward to Our Lady of Fatima:
Dr. Walsh's tremendous achievement was uppermost in my mind the day we brought the Pilgrim Virgin statue to the room in St. Agnes Hospiatl,White Plans, N.Y., where the great Apostle of Fatima lay dying. We spoke of the reception accorded his book and its important bearing upon the very survival of America. Knowing him as we did, we spared him the embarrassment of referring to something that for him was now of even greater import, the exemplary manner in which he himself had lived the message of Fatima.
As he spoke to us, quietly and cheerfully, his gaze steadily fixed upon the incomparably beautiful Pilgrim Virgin that had come to him this day from the shrine of Fatima itself, we were impressed as rarely in our lives before with the radiant peacefulness of his expression, a peace that was truly not of this world. After all, we told ourselves, it was not hard to understand. It brought suddenly and arrestingly to our minds the promise of Mary at Fatima to those who would be faithful to her requests that she would assist them at the hour of death "with all the graces necessary for salvation."After you finish Walsh's book on Fatima, read Lucia's Memoir, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words. Her descriptions of her little cousins are poignant and reveal clearly the heights of holiness these babes reached in just a few short months after Mary appeared to them. Looking at the state of our world today, Mary's warnings should ring the tocsin loudly urging us to action. Let us all try to imitate these children whose sacrifices were truly inspiring!
St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, pray for us.