One of the most painful things a child can hear is for a loving parent to express disappointment; to feel we have in some way let down the one who loves us, and whom we love in return, is a heavy burden upon the heart. It is far worse than a parent simply being angry with us – anger usually passes quickly, once the emotions cool down and rational thought returns. Disappointment, however, tends to linger – it is not the result of a single moment, but a realisation whose cut ever deepens as the moments pass. It is a wound upon not one heart, but two.
How much worse, then, when the one complaining to us is none other than the Lord – and the Heart to which He refers, the wounded Heart, is that of His own Mother. I can only begin to imagine how painful it must have been for Sister Lucia to listen to this pitiful complaint from the Lord. Sister Lucia was deeply devoted to the Lord and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the events at Fatima in 1917 instilling within her a love of that Immaculate Heart which would remain with her in every moment of her earthly life.
Of course, the words of the Lord regarding this wounding of the Heart of His Mother are really addressed to every single one of us – to those of us who profess to love Him and the Blessed Virgin; to those of us who have no sense of love towards Them; to those of us who – directly or indirectly, deliberately or without thinking, offend Them in whatever way by our sins.
Every sin is a thorn piercing the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Why? Because She knows full well the price Her Son paid for our ransom from those sins. It cost Him everything, giving His life for us upon the Cross; and She stood there beside that Cross and watched Him die for us. As surely as His Sacred Heart was pierced by the lance in the order of nature, so was Her Immaculate Heart pierced by the sword of sorrow in the order of grace, such was Her mystical union to His Passion and Death.
Coming to Lucia in 1925, the Blessed Virgin complained of the offences committed against Her Immaculate Heart –
“Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.”
Returning four years later, She would say to Lucia –
“There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I have come to ask reparation; sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”
How then, are we to make reparation to this motherly and Immaculate Heart, so outraged by the sins of humanity?
The full message of Fatima gives us the answer.
Firstly, we need to stop offending God, recognising that our sins gravely offend His holiness. We need to improve the way we live, so that our lives reflect our belief in God and the values of the Gospel. Our Blessed Lady will help us in this, if we ask her assistance.
Secondly, we need to live a sacramental life – making frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion as often (and as worthily) as possible.
Thirdly, we need to pray as much (and as well) as possible. Prayer is the key that unlocks the Heart of God, the bridge that connects the human to the Divine. Above all, pray the Rosary every single day – the prayer of the Rosary is unbelievably powerful; this is why the Mother of God constantly asks us for it’s prayerful recitation.
Fourthly, we need to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – follow the example of Saint Francisco, who spent hours before the Tabernacle, praying hard for souls. In Eucharistic Adoration, the Lord grants us innumerable graces – for us and for others.
Fifthly, we need to expressly make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – sins comitted against Her are the cause of the loss of a great many souls. We also need to encourage others, by our example, to come to Her, to know her better and to love Her with the pure love of little children. She has already given us the particular way She recommends in order to do this – the devotion of the Five First Saturdays. Undertake this devotion over and over again.
Sixthly, we need to embrace our particular lives, and the daily duty this demands, as a path to holiness; it is where we are, that we will find the way to Heaven, for here the Lord has prepared for us all the graces we need. Offer everything as a sacrifice in reparation for sins and to beg God’s mercy and grace for souls, and especially for poor sinners – that is, every single one of us.
In doing all of this, day after day, in humility and with great love, may the Lord bless us and may His Mother grant us the sure refuge of Her Immaculate Heart in life and at the moment of death.