Fatima, Father Peyton, and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
In 1917 the world was at war and Europe was the battlefield. On the periphery, far from the centers of power, Our Lady chose to reveal her message of Peace to three young shepherds in the Portuguese countryside. On another part of that periphery, in rural western Ireland, lived another boy about the same age. He too was being schooled in that message in his poor but happy home as they prayed the Holy Rosary every night.
In Fatima, Our Lady spoke of the War and promised peace. World War I indeed soon ended. Yet her message that humanity is traversing difficult times still speaks to us now. We need to turn/return to Christ! We need to pray! We need try to repair the damage we have caused by our self-centeredness!
Yet the heart of the message goes deeper and opens horizons to our true hope. Actually, looking around the world now, we don’t need an apparition to know that humanity is traversing difficult times. We DO need help to understand more deeply what is going on. The key is the conclusion of Our Lady of Fatima’s message to the children: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!” This is a startling promise that should inspire authentic hope. I have long understood this as akin to the prediction of Saint John Paul II of the coming of a Springtime of the Holy Spirit. God is with us indeed, especially when we seem covered by a cloud like Covid 19. There will be serious challenges (look at the last hundred years or so!) yet the Lord, with Our Lady, will bring us through to something new, some condition of renewal and peace in the not distant future. What that will look like is not clear to us – and how it arrives depends on humanity’s choices. This a promise to cling to and to inspire our actions.
1942, twenty-five years later: two of the shepherd-visionaries of Fatima, Jacinta and Francisco, had died young but in holiness. Lucia was continuing her mission as a nun. The boy in Ireland, Patrick Peyton, had become a Holy Cross priest in the United States - but only after a sudden recovery, as a seminarian, from a nearly fatal case of Tuberculosis, through prayer to the Holy Virgin. Knowing he, too, was called by Our Lady for a special mission, he prayed that it be revealed to him. The world was again at war. A crisis in the family loomed on the horizon. The answer came with simple clarity: the Family Rosary. The family prayer he learned in his home was to be a powerful instrument for family unity and for world peace.
Each time Our Lady had appeared in Fatima, she repeated, “I want my children to pray the Rosary every day”, as part of her call to conversion and her promise of peace. The mission she gave to Father Peyton brought the message to the home! Father Peyton took his message that the Family that Prays Together Stays Together around the world with surprising speed that indicated that Our Lady wanted it heard!
Father Peyton died in 1992 and Sister Lucia in 2005. She had said 20 years previously that marriage and the family would be the great battlegrounds in our times between Christ and Satan. The world and the family traverse difficult times. Yet we have the promise that the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph in the coming of the Springtime of the Holy Spirit. That is good news, living HOPE!
Our way now is not in fear: rather trust, love, unity, strength, peace, and joy that come from knowing Christ. It requires a firm resolve to turn away from sin. The Rosary, the School of Mary, is a prayer requested by her to help us to live this way in our homes. Renewal of faith in the home is of pivotal importance for the world.
Sister Lucia knew that. Father Peyton knew that. It is so simple that it can seem simplistic to some. On the contrary, it is akin to Saint Therese’ “little way”: quite profound and even radical. Live it in your home. Invite others to do the same. Trust that “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!