|© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro via Wikipedia|
This feast day is special to me. I learned about Our Lady of Fatima 16 years ago in RCIA. The adults were talking and my sister and I were watching this old video of the story of Fatima. And we were eating cake. Why, I have no idea. My memories are a little fuzzy on the why and big on the cake. And Mary.
I was particularly struck by the story of Fatima. The three peasant kids. The sun swirling in the sky. The fact that Lucia was still alive at that point and that the third secret had not yet been disclosed. The retired priest, Fr. Hannon, overheard my enthusiasm and offered to lend me some books. I arrived at the rectory the next week to find a huge bag of books and DVD's on the Blessed Mother and St. Therese. I credit Fr. Hannon for providing me the tools and encouragement to start my journey of loving the Blessed Mother and finding Jesus through Mary.
Back to this morning. Loving offspring #1 was having a challenging time focusing on finding his socks, putting on his shoes, actually everything that was not Legos. After ten minutes of much gritting of teeth (on my part) and running around talking about Legos (on his), he finally put on his shoes while singing me a ditty on controlling my anger from Daniel Tiger. Le sigh.
The morning truly crescendoed when he discovered which church we were attending mass at (our usual church) and he just started flailing, screaming, with a few tigerish roars thrown in for good measure (I guess Daniel Tiger was still on his mind). A lady in front of us angrily shushed us. I ended up bursting into tears before the penitential rite when we ungracefully departed.
I wasn't quite expecting a scene such as this picture
But I also was not quite expecting an apocalyptic tantrum.
I angrily blasted marian hymns on the way to our next errand. Cause that's how angry Catholic mamas roll. I was embarrassed, frustrated, and angry. I was saddened that I could not share my faith in the way I wanted with my children.
Then I thought of what Mary had communicated to the children of Fatima. She appeared to the children and taught them over time, not in one big chunk. Mary begged the children to offer everything as a sacrifice. She asked them to say the rosary. As far as I've read, the Blessed Mother did not angrily stomp around when the Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia prayed a short-cut rosary only naming the prayers and not saying the whole thing. She is gentle and kind, slow to anger. Sound familiar?
In the end, the message of Fatima is a story of a mother gently loving and instructing her children. And my job as a mother is to be a little missionary to my brood, to follow the Blessed Mother's footsteps. Mary is not famous for spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, but "simply" for mothering, raising our Savior and for always pointing us back to Jesus. To spread the message of Fatima means not to force-feed it to my children, but offer it gently and beautifully. Most of the apparitions of Mary make mention of how beautiful she is, how viewers can not look away. I want to offer truth, discipline, and love gently like our Blessed Mother.
So after that very gentle reminder from Mary on teaching my children, we bought a tree, planted it, got very muddy from watering every living thing in the garden (including each other), and took a bubble bath. Now we are watching The Day the Sun Danced by CCC of America. A short, sweet cartoon about Our Lady of Fatima. My son may have even mentioned how he wants to see the Blessed Mother.
The Pardon Prayer (given to the children by the Angel of Peace):
And we hope and pray we can share this belief and love with our children with love.