It is interesting to note how often God uses children to spread the faith. Most of us would never dream of entrusting our young children with huge responsibilities. After all, they are our responsibilities – we are entrusted to care for them and bring them up in the faith.
Yet, time and again, God calls upon the faith of a young child, and He uses that child to carry out His will. Ponder for a moment the Blessed Mother, whose memory we hold especially dear during this month of May. She was but a young 12-year-old to whom, once she uttered that simple “yes,” God made the mother of His only Son. What weighty responsibility that was – and yet, God knew that there was no better Christian to bear that responsibility than she.
This month, in particular, we celebrate the feast of Mary’s appearances at Fatima, and we honor the three young children to whom she entrusted them with the message that “God… is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of a war.” She showed them a vision of hell – “a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth.” Then she told them, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world a devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”
From then on, the young children – Lucia, age 10; Jacinta, age 7; and Francisco, age 9 – were to pray and make sacrifices for sinners while they spread the devotion to her Immaculate Heart. Can you imagine seeing hell? Surely that would be a most terrifying vision for any of us. And then, to be told that you must pray and make sacrifices – spreading devotion throughout the world or many sinners won’t be saved?
Well, these young children heeded her warning and took the task on themselves. But not without some trouble.
The children were soon kidnapped by the atheistic mayor and put in jail. Yet, they were not slightly deterred. They had taken on the task that Mary laid before them – no matter how young they were at the time or how much Satan would try to get in their way, they were committed to carrying out God’s will.
While in jail, the children converted the men imprisoned there – a mark of their commitment to the mission.
Then, on Oct. 13, 1917, the day on which the Blessed Mother had promised the children that she would reveal her name to them, Lucia told the public that Mary would perform a great miracle – testifying to the truth of her apparitions.
At noon, the sun appeared as a disk that gave off various colors. The people looked straight at it. It spun like a fireball and looked as if it would fall to the earth. The sun then broke free from its orbit and began to plunge to the earth, and the people screamed “God, have mercy on me.” Suddenly, the sun returned to orbit, and it turned into a beautiful day. Then, Mary appeared with St. Joseph, holding a brown scapular. “I am the Lady of the Rosary,” she proclaimed.
We now celebrate the life and work of these young children on May 13, the day of her first apparition. Young as they were, they carried out a great task of God, and now they are great among the blessed. May we be so courageous if God one day calls us to be!