Our Lady of Fatima

We’d been married for only three days. 

 

I was reclining on the beach, soaking in the sun and watching my husband bobbing in the waves offshore. After a while, he came up to the beach to grab a towel. As he was patting the towel to his face, I glanced up and noticed that his wedding ring was missing.

 

Immediately, he grabbed the snorkel gear and shouted, “I’ll look in the water, you look along the beach!” Without hesitation, he raced back into the waves. 

 

But I just sat. 

 

My eyes went up and down that beach, and all I could think was, “We have been walking up and down this beach all afternoon, and we’ve been in and out of the water. There is no way this ring will be found — without Mary’s help.

 

At that point, I did get up — but I didn’t look for the ring. 

 

I began walking calmly up and down the beach, praying the Rosary. I must’ve gotten through almost a decade, when suddenly I saw my husband waving frantically at me from the water.

 

He’d found the ring. In the ocean. The ocean!

 

As we exchanged stories, it came out that he had no idea where to begin looking, but something in his mind had prompted him to begin snorkeling around at the rocky ledge and then slowly move outward. 

 

He’d almost given up, when suddenly he looked down and saw something glittering on a rock next to a deep crevice under the water. As a wave abruptly swept over the area, the silver glint was washed over the edge. My husband had just enough time to sweep his hand down and grab at the small piece of metal, right before it sank deep into the crevice to be lost forever.

 

It also came out that, upon realizing the ring had been lost in such a vast area, my very first thought was “Mother Mary, full of grace.” 

 

It was instantaneous. 

 

In times of difficulty and desolation, it’s such a consolation to be able to turn all of our hope toward our Blessed Mother and our Savior, her Son. 

 

I knew without a doubt that if I could implore Mary to intercede on our behalf, then we would find the ring. I knew the outcome was completely out of my hands, and I was at peace with God’s will — whatever that might be. So, when the ring was returned to us after only a few Hail Marys, I was honestly not surprised — it was as if I somehow already knew it would be found.

 

Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima, said, “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” 

What are some of the biggest problems we see in the world?

I’m not sure we could list them all if we tried, but if we focus on the Prayers of the Faithful during mass, we will probably hear some of the most common world problems: violence, hunger, poverty, natural disaster, disease… 

 

In the Mass, we pray together for an end to these “problems” week after week.

 

Now, I understand that the “problem” of a lost wedding ring is miniscule when compared to the majority of the problems we face in the world today. But the beauty of the Rosary is that, by continually meditating upon the mysteries of Jesus’ life, we can begin to take on His way of thinking and acting. 

 

To put it more biblically, we put on the mind of Christ. He increases; we decrease. 

 

So, whether our problems are big or small, with a Christlike outlook we can begin to take them on. 

How does this help us to solve the problems of the world?

Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 

 

In opening our hearts to Jesus through this Marian devotion, we are taking steps toward becoming the change we’d like to see — and thus, solving the world’s problems, one person at a time.

 

Remember the story of the mustard seed. 

 

If you’ve ever held this impossibly tiny seed in your hand, then you know it’s smaller than the head of a pin. Yet it grows to become one of the largest shrubs. 

 

Similarly, when the tiny seeds of change become planted within our hearts and minds, we’re suddenly capable of taking small actions toward great changes.

 

The Rosary is formative. We become habituated to turning automatically toward Mary in times of desolation, looking to her as our perfect, holy Mother and guide, as Jesus essentially asks us to do from His place on the cross:

 

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” (John 19:25-27) 

How is the Rosary formative?

According to St. Louis de Montfort — one of the most influential promoters of and profound writers on the Rosary — here’s how:

 

  • It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The more we come to know Jesus, the more we’ll be like Him; we tend to become like the people with whom we associate ourselves most closely.

 

  • It purifies our souls, washing away sin.

The more we desire to be like Jesus, the less tightly we’ll hold onto those vices and passions which keep us away from Him.

 

  • It facilitates our ability to practice virtue.

The more we desire to know and to be like Jesus, the more we’ll desire to imitate Him, and to practice the virtues that He demonstrated in His life.

 

  • It sets us on fire with love for Our Blessed Lord.

The more we know Jesus, the more we’ll love Him.

 

  • It enriches us with graces and merits.

The more we love Jesus, the more He’ll pour His divine life into us.

 

  • It gives us victory over our enemies.

 

We are speaking of those spiritual enemies that lurk in the depths of our hearts.

 

Think of a positive relationship you’ve had in the past — perhaps with your spouse, a best friend, or a mentor. Initially, you were attracted to this person for certain qualities he or she possessed. But the more you hung out and got to know this person, the more the attraction grew. At one point, perhaps you couldn’t wait to see this person again. The more you were together, the more you wanted to be together.

 

The Rosary can help you cultivate such a relationship with Our Lord — and the most awesome part of the deal is that Jesus is already in love with you. 

 

He knows you. 

 

He knows your heart, your mind, your stories, your fears, your desires, and your worries. He’ll never abandon you or leave you alone or lonely. 

 

When we know we aren’t alone, we grow in strength and courage — and are those not qualities that might be used toward the good of the world?

But sometimes praying the Rosary does lead to miracles.

These stories often give me goosebumps.

 

For example, at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Christian sailors appealed to Pope Pius V for his prayers — their forces numbered 80,000 troops to a Turkish force of 120,000. 

 

Pope Pius V encouraged all Christians to pray the Most Holy Rosary for the outcome of the battle.

 

At dawn, the weather suddenly changed. 

 

Formerly in favor of the Turks, the sudden shift in weather allowed the Christian forces to overwhelm their enemy and release 12,000 Christians from Turkish slavery. Those who witnessed the battle first hand held no doubt that God had intervened, and they attributed the victory to the intercession of Our Lady.

 

Fast forward to 1983, a year after Pope John Paul II made the Act of Entrustment, consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a ceremony to close out the Holy Year of Redemption. 

 

The Cold War had reached its tipping point. 

 

President Ronald Reagan had placed short-range missiles in Europe. Should a U.S. missile strike occur, the Soviet protocol was to retaliate. Stanislav Petrov, an officer in the Soviet Air Defense Forces, was at his post in a command center outside of Moscow. His job was to monitor the Soviet computer system that tracked possible U.S. missile launches. 

 

Shortly after midnight on September 26th, the alarm sounded.

 

All Petrov had to do was reach for the phone, raise the alert to his commanders, and a nuclear retaliation would be underway. 

 

But he was physically frozen in place. He felt as if he couldn’t move. Something (or someone?) was holding him back from reaching toward the phone. 

 

Then, a thought came to him: This was a fairly new system. Reaching for the phone, he made the declaration to headquarters: The system had malfunctioned; this was a false alarm.

 

It turns out that the radar was picking up a flock of birds and misinterpreted them to be a nuclear missile strike.

 

Had it not been for Pope St. John Paul II’s consecration to Our Lady, would there have indeed been a nuclear war? Sr. Lucia of Fatima has revealed that Our Lady affirmed this supposition!    

 

In these examples, Our Lady’s intercession had massive impact on the lives of countless people and, frankly, the history of the world. As you can see, there is truly no limit to the power of our Marian prayers for intervention. Big or small, Our Lady’s heart is open to any and all of our prayers for the good in this world. How those prayers will be answered is up to her wisdom and our Father’s will.

 

The point of the Rosary, as with any form of prayer, is not that we’re changing others, or even changing situations or circumstances. The point of the Rosary is that we’re allowing the Lord to transform our hearts, and by transforming our hearts, He makes us a light to shine for others. 

 

And when His light shines through you into the darkness, the darkness of the world can’t overcome it (cf. John 1:5).

 

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