All three children were born in Aljustrel, approximately five miles south of Fatima, Portugal during the pontificate of Pope Saint Pius X. The youngest of the three was Jacinta Marto, born to Manuel and Olimpia de Jesus Marto on March 11, 1910. Jacinta was a very sensitive soul but extremely intelligent. She followed her brother Francisco who had been born two years earlier on June 11, 1908 and a frail youth. They were both cousins to the oldest of the three seers Lucia dos Santos who was born on March 22, 1907 to Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos. Little Lucia was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. Always the precocious one, she was popular in the village manifesting a cheerful disposition and a leader with the other children. They were normal children. They went to Mass on Sunday in a nearby town, but their prayer life was haphazard at best. But then, what child under ten wasn't? Saying the Rosary for them, prior to the apparitions, meant taking the easy route and saying merely the words "Our Father" and "Hail Mary." Surely not prayers from the heart.
Lucia's own family was experiencing hard times financially and emotionally. Maria Rosa, Lucia's mother was overworked, and longed for the needed help of her husband. Unfortunately Lucia's father Manuel had entered upon a period of drinking and of detachment from the affairs of his family, his household, his responsibilities as a provider. Mama Rosa couldn't see her way clear to bringing her family back into a semblance of regular life. Her efforts were geared to being both father and mother, and trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, while dispelling, possibly, the gossiping tongues of neighbors who made the cross of the family all that much heavier. Little did the family realize how their lives were to change forever as the day of May 13, 1917 approached. Prior to this date, the three children had already been prepped by Heaven for an angel had appeared to them three times. It was, of course, a preparation for the apparitions of the Mother of God which were to last seven months, and which would bring untold suffering, persecution and a radical change in life that affected their souls rather than their daily income.
The angel whom the children saw came as a young man of fourteen or fifteen years of age. He was absolutely radiant. He said he was the "Angel of Peace." It was from this Angel of Peace that the three children, through the latter part of 1916 and into 1917, learned to pray. Many believe it was Saint Michael the Archangel who also appeared to the visionary children at Garabandal some forty plus years later and their situation was also similar to the two La Salette visionaries Melanie Matthew Calvat and Maximim Giraud some seventy years before. The Fatima children heard the words of the angel and they repeated them. From this same angel, these visionaries learned the importance of sacrifice and frequent prayer. The seeds of conversion of heart had already begun before the Blessed Mother came to the Cova de Iria. The pre-occupied relatives of these children did not seem to take note of the change in these children, or if they did, were grateful that they were, at least, not hampering the day-in, day-out flow and ebb of life in the respective households. Like another visionary 59 years before in Lourdes, the family would not be supportive of the children's claim at first. It is important to note in their lives that the Angel of Peace began their conversion but the fullness of this conversion did not happen on the first or even their apparition of the angel. No, the fullness of conversion, like so many today, took many days, weeks, months and years to achieve in each of the three children. It was their willingness to accept this conversion of heart that so pleased God and strengthened them to persevere. It was certainly not their worthiness. As it is with all of us, it is our willingness that counts, not our worthiness.
In the many books that have been written about Fatima and the photos of the seers, and people of the village and relatives at that time all had serious faces, marked by a harsh life of hard work, little reward and little hope of circumstances turning toward the life they might have envisioned - that of a more easier lifestyle. What can be noted is that the early pictures of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, while depicting simple peasant children who underwent the suffering of the skeptics of their own time, their faces developed a serenity that can be seen in their eyes, if not on the entire features of their respective faces. In later pictures when they were photographed, their eyes are looking not at the camera, but at something beyond the eye, something beyond the mind. And that Something was God! Their eyes were on Heaven for that was where their treasure lie, and no earthly enticement could take them away from this.
That sense of peace made it more bearable to put up with the persecutions, hardships and physical suffering after the final apparition of October 13, 1917 when the miracle of the sun occurred. Though the children had become international celebrities as word spread of the phenomena, they were all victim souls. Francisco was the first to die. Both he and Jacinta were offered the opportunity to go to school to learn to read and write. Since Francisco knew from Our Lady that God would call him home soon, he declined the offer. On April 4, 1919 less than two years after the Mother of God first appeared to them, he died of bronchial pneumonia. He was not quite eleven years of age at the time of his death.
By this same time little Jacinta was also sick. She was devastated by Francisco's death, but nevertheless rejoiced that he was in Heaven. Over the Summer and Fall of that year she developed pleurisy which became very serious. Finally, she was sent to a hospital in Lisbon, many miles from her home. As she had foretold, as had been foretold to her, Jacinta died on February 20, 1920, alone when Our Lady of the Rosary came to take her to Heaven. Before she died, Jacinta disclosed some of what Our Lady had told her, comments that reflect the United States more than any country: "More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any reason and certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much." The Blessed Virgin also imparted, "Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God. Priests must be pure, very pure. They should not busy themselves with anything except what concerns the Church and souls. The disobedience of priests to their superiors and to the Holy Father is very displeasing to Our Lord."
Those last words from Our Lady to Jacinta just before she died strongly reflect what is happening around the world today, especially here in America where priests, bishops and members of the laity are openly defying what Pope John Paul II is decreeing. It began with many rejecting Pope Paul VI's brilliant and inspired encyclical Humanae Vitae and continues today. Sister Lucia confirmed this in an October 11, 1992 interview, "He that is not with the Pope is not with God, and he that wants to be with God, has to be with the Pope." Finally, Our Lady echoed to Jacinta that which has been repeated by countless visionaries and messengers ever since, "The Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the world with just punishment for its many crimes."
Lucia, who knew beforehand that God would take her two cousins, remained at home for several years. When she was fourteen she left Aljustrel to enter a school run by the Sisters of St. Dorothy at Porto. In 1925 Lucia entered the convent of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, but no one in the convent knew that she was the remaining visionary of Fatima. No matter what suffering she would forego, she was encouraged by the visits of Our Lady periodically throughout her life. On December 10, 1925 while in prayer in the convent chapel, the Blessed Mother appeared once again, this time holding the Christ Child in her arms. Two years later Our Lady again appeared to Lucia, granting permission to the young nun to reveal the first "Two Secrets" of Fatima - first, their vision of hell which included Mary's promise to take the visionary children to Heaven, the prophesy of another world war, martyrdom of Christians, destruction of many nations, the persecution of the Church and her Vicar of Christ, and the spread of the hammer and sickle; and second, the devotion she had imparted for all to honor her Immaculate Heart. Prior to this Lucia had kept it hidden at Our Lady's request. Two years later the Mother of God once again returned on July 12, 1929 entreating Lucia to ask the world for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
On January 25, 1938 as Sr. Lucia was looking out from her convent window she saw an apocalyptic red glow in the evening sky. It was later revealed that people all over the world also saw this ominous phenomena which scientists tried to explain away as the Aurora Borealis, but Sister Lucia knew it was a fulfillment of what Our Lady had prophesied on July 13, 1917. A month later Adolf Hitler invaded Austria and the rest, as we know, is the tragic history of World War Two.
Known in her Carmelite convent as Sister Maria das Dores (Mary of Sorrows), Lucia penned her first account of the events of Fatima in 1936. Other accounts were written in 1937, and two in 1941. In the fourth account, Lucia revealed the third part of the so-called "Third Secret of Fatima" for the eyes of the Holy Father alone. It was not to be opened until 1960, or earlier in the event of Lucia's death. Since Lucia is still alive, the secret has not been revealed though all the Popes since John XXIII have read it. Many suspect the Third Secret deals with apostasy and schism within the Church but no one has confirmed it. Others say it deals with the Warning and the Miracle foretold at Garabandal. His Holiness John Paul II is intricately linked to Fatima through his Totus Tuus to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Godincidence of his being shot on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the First Apparition at Fatima on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square. While he faced those critical days of recovery from a very serious wound he studied in detail the Fatima story and messages along with the revelations to Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska on Divine Mercy and could see the definite link between the two in the prophesies imparted.
Both Francisco and Jacinta will be beatified soon, after years of investigative work researching their lives and documenting miracles attributed to their intercession. Many expect Sister Lucia to receive a special dispensation to travel to Rome for the ceremonies. She is presently 92 years old residing in the convent at Coimbra, Portugal. Whether Our Lady promised her she would live to see the Triumph is speculation, but it is a strong possibility, especially with the claim that the visionaries of Garabandal would live to see the Warning and the Miracle promised there which closely correlates with Fatima. In addition, four of the six visionaries at Medjugorje have been given ten secrets, the tenth still a mystery like the Third Secret of Fatima. Another coincidence? We think not. Though Garabandal and Medjugorje have not officially been approved by the Church, their association with Fatima is overwhelming. Our Lady herself confirmed this in her August 25th Medjugorje Message to the world in 1991 when she conveyed, "Therefore, I call all of you, dear children, to pray and fast still more firmly. I invite you to renunciation for nine days so that, everything I wanted to realize through the secrets, which I began in Fatima, will be fulfilled."
As we stand on the brink of the next millennium, the Fatima message is more important than ever. There is so much more to Fatima, the most pivotal apparition of this century. There is no denying Fatima's link from all eternity in God's plan of salvation and His messengers Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia played a pivotal role in the drama that has unfolded ever since.
It is truly amazing the course of events God has guided us through and how the DAILY CATHOLIC has grown so rapidly in two years purely through word of mouth since we have no budget to advertise and refuse to turn this publication into a commercial venture where we would put in banner ads and link exchange because we want to keep the focus on Catholicism and what Catholics need each day - other than Holy Mass - to gird for battle as members of the Church Militant. We can remember writing in this column back in August 1998 how ecstatic we were at reaching one million visits for that year. Yet, we only ended up with 83, 832 visits or hits that month. Since then the figures don't lie - the faithful like what they see for the number of visits have increased steadily month by month. We ended 1998 with 204,252 for December and started January with 265,336 for that first month. February, the shortest month of the year garnered 303,974 hits followed by 431,840 in March and exceeding that by 15 in April. In May we dropped to 350,545 which was still triple what we did in May 1997. June showed a rebound of 400,895 followed by July's 412,665 hits and August's 451,854. Those are phenomenal numbers for the summer months. September showed yet another increase with our all-time high of 464,637 visits. That will be surpassed by over 50,000 this month for as of Wednesday, October 28 we had registered 485, 851. To date we have had 5,921,295 since going on line, quite near six million total. We have increased the number of visits this year by 2,224,171 more than the entire 1998 total of 1,809,684.
Naturally numbers can be misleading for "hits" do not mean number of people logging on but how many pages have been accessed. Through our detailed records and stats kept electronically, we have deciphered that each person clicks on an average of five to ten different pages. Some only read the front page each day, others go right to the Text Only Section to print out the entire issue immediately, others surf throughout the site, while others scan back issues and articles in archives. Therefore, computing the numbers accurately with an average 7.5 hits per person it would average out to nearly 800,000 people who have logged on since the DAILY CATHOLIC went on line two years ago and 540,000 persons this year alone. Who wouldn't want to have those kind of numbers for circulation?! We think those numbers are staggering for a publication that does not advertise and depends totally on word of mouth satisfaction and the Providence and Mercy of God for it is He that is doing it. We are merely His instruments and pray every day not to get in His way. So despite our human frailties, the ministry of the DAILY CATHOLIC has continued to succeed only because God desires it. Consider if you will, that though our links are increasing, we are not listed on as many other sites as you might think and we can't understand always why. But then, if they are as swamped as we are and backlogged with so many requesting links, we can understand. We ask those who have submitted links to be patient. We can only do so much in the time allotted and researching and adding links is very time consuming. If we didn't have a daily to put out Monday through Friday, we'd have time to put all the links on-line, but in weighing the options we think everyone would rather have that advantage of the daily news and features geared to Catholics.
We strive to provide around 250 issues a year, publishing Monday through Friday with exceptions being the weekly hiatuses twice a year and special holidays and Holydays. This year there will be only 248 issues because of the remaining Holy Day of All Saints, the Immaculate Conception and the Nativity. Therefore this weekend issue incorporates, if you will the "Communion of Saints Weekend" celebrating the Church Militant on Friday and Saturday with Ordinary Time; the Church Triumphant with All Hallows Day celebrated this year either Sunday or Monday; and Tuesday the Church Suffering with All Souls Day. Therefore, we are combining Monday and Tuesday with this weekend issue for a five-day weekend, resuming with Wednesday's issue for November 3, the Feast of Saint Martin de Porres. It will also give us a breather to catch up on correspondence and recalibrate the computer, defrag the countless files, scandisk the drives, etc. These are all costly but they need to be done and this five-day break is an ideal time to get it all done.
That brings up another point. One would think that with over half a million people plugged into the DAILY CATHOLIC that we would be swimming in funds, but that's really our own fault because we seldom have taken the time to solicit donations to keep the DAILY CATHOLIC on line. We've trusted, as we've said, in God and everything so far has fallen into place according to His Will, but He also expects us to seek help for Our Lord says in Luke 11: 9-10, "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened." So we're asking for all readers to pray and discern if they can send one dollar, two dollars, five, ten or whatever they are moved to donate to help keep this apostolate going. We operate on a shoe-string budget with outdated equipment but are still able to churn out issue after issue. And every issue is available in archives. That's over 500 issues with the front page of each issue available in both the enhanced full color graphics edition and the Text Only edition for that day. To store all these files takes a tremendous amount of server space which is very, very costly in meg storage costs. We would love to add a search the site program but it is just not possible on the budget we operate with presently. To provide more features and keep all these issues on line for review and research takes money, lots of it and we are totally dependent of our readers to help in whatever way they can.
As Jesus says in Luke 19: 2, "The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest. Go. Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry neither purse, nor wallet, nor sandals, and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if a son of peace be there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they have; for the laborer deserves his wages." We are sent into the cyberworld to carry the Word and the truths of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to all we meet. If, in your own house you enjoy and are edified by what is imparted through the DAILY CATHOLIC, then we respectfully ask you to continue reading this publication, pray for us, and remember Our Lord's charge that "the laborer deserves his wages."
Why I don't like Halloween is what it has become: the montrous and satanical ramifications of the day. Halloween is the great high feast of satanic worshippers. Why should I like it? Why should I look forward to it or want anyone else to look forward to it? I don't! I won't! I couldn't and I shouldn't!
As I've indicated in an earlier article, I don't watch much television. But when I do, it is quite impossible not to notice the previews of movies showing in theaters. It appears that Halloween with all kinds of monstrous and scary portrayals are on the screen all year round. Halloween has become a year round "celebration," and how people can find such "thrillers" as entertaining is beyond me.
Perhaps one reason for people accepting the monstrous and satanic thrillers and chillers is because they really don't believe hell exists. I think it was Padre Pio who once said that if you don't believe there is a hell, you'll believe it when you get there.
Why toy with hellish things? Think it's fun? I see teenagers wearing clothing with different pictures denoting the satanic. Why do parents allow this? And how can these kids "glorify" this evil? It is because of ignorance. They really don't know what they are doing. They have not been adequately instructed as to what they are displaying. They may call it "cool." The diabolic wants the attention it gives him. Do you want to feed satan's ego?
Dear reader, whether it is with your children or yourself, if you are going to a party, please eliminate what pertains to the monstrous or evil. There are plenty of costumes one can wear apart from those.
I might also recommend that you do not represent the holy habit of religious or priests as your costume. I've had friends ask to borrow one of my veils. I've refused. The holy habit is not for such secular use even for fun. It becomes sacriligeous when used for such purposes.
Since Halloween is just a few days away, I felt a need to share the above with you. I shall continue next week with the second part of the conversion story of my friend, Kathy. Until next week, God bless you and please ... enjoy Halloween as though Jesus were right beside you all of the time. He is! Take extreme care not to do anything that would displease Him.