3 Things Fatima Taught Me

It has been one crazy month! And here I am, writing my heart away. I can’t even begin to explain what happened because time just flew by.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. 

It was difficult for me to write about what happened this month because for me, writing about it means “it ended”, “it’s done”, “it’s over”. Oh how I wish I could go back in time! However, after reflecting upon the last few weeks, I can’t help but feel so blessed, so loved, and so joyful. God is so good!

I have been blessed to have been able to join a pilgrimage to Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady! It really was a memorable experience and I will always cherish the people I’ve encountered, the joy I’ve felt, and the desire to live life anew. It is not enough for me to put my experience into words, but to actually start living it. Living holy is to live life.

Let me begin by emphasizing three key points I have learned:

1. “Do not be afraid.” 
The first apparition of the angel to the three children at Fatima began with the words, “Do not be afraid.” How fitting it is today to say those words and to mean it. Do not be afraid! In our lives, there are multiple instances where we are afraid. It’s the human thing to do, but we must remember that trusting the Lord means fully surrendering ourselves to Him even if we might be afraid. Do not be afraid to live like Christ and to share Christ to others!

2. “…You will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.”
I am reminded by what my dad once told me: “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” Living like Christ is not an easy thing to do! We are reminded by Our Lady that offering ourselves to God involves suffering. Being Catholic does not entitle you to a stress-free, always-deserving-of-blessings kind of life. It does, however, entitle you to a joyful, spirit-filled, meaningful life. Suffering is part of life and we must always remember that it is when we are suffering that we are closest to Jesus. We must never lose hope in Jesus. Jesus, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not hope, and do not love You.

3. Pray the Rosary everyday.

It was a great privilege to meet Blessed Lucia’s niece – Maria dos Anjos. Joy radiates within her! She kissed and hugged me! We didn’t really get to talk, but just being in the same room as her had left me feeling like I need more. What was her secret? The rosary! She once said in an interview that her aunt (Lucia) would really stress that she prays the rosary, but being young at the time, she would always say it is tiring to pray the rosary.

Maria dos Anjos: Sr. Lucia’s niece.

Blessed Lucia said something that resonated with me, “Pray the rosary. Start it. Even if you do not finish praying, Our Lady will finish it for you.” The key message of Fatima is the rosary. I believe that it is one of the most powerful prayer out there and it can save so many souls that have not been prayed for. Want to start living like Christ? Pray the rosary. It’s powerful.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

The last thing I wanted to leave behind with you is this: I am not perfect. I will struggle. I will fall. I will doubt. Know that, if I have you, I will never lose hope. I believe that the people around us make us the better versions of ourselves. So surround yourselves with people who make you the best version of yourself.

Originally posted in cfcsflcalgary.org/fatima/

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Madrid and Guadalupe

I can’t get enough of this country… to the point that I have started researching how I can move here. No matter what the commotion around me everyday there seems to be a sense of peace inside of me–probably because of the blessing of all the churches I enter. They’re all beautiful… I cannot even pick a favorite because honestly I would not know which one to pick. As we went around Madrid today, one thing I started paying attention to, are the people. No matter how many tourists they have probably encountered–no matter if they know the language or not–they seem to have gotten used to it.

It’s amazing! We went on top of a mountain (I think) to visit Guadalupe where the Black Madonna resides, believed to be carved by St. Luke the Evangelist. We got to touch her relic too! (I really think I will be called Blessed Maria soon… haha) When I touched the relic, my heart skipped a bit and suddenly I felt the feeling when I pray in tongues. It’s like the Holy Spirit breathe through me. I’m not being dramatic here… we could not take photos or videos inside but the place itself is beautiful. The feeling is like a breath of fresh air after holding your breath under the water. I can’t think of better anecdotes. Must be the wine. I’m too tired. I miss home, but I also don’t. Now I am just out of it.

Lord help me find peace in my surroundings.

Avila & Toledo

We’ve been moving around so much in the past 5 days–moving from different cities and timezones–that sometimes we forget to take a breather and listen to how God is trying to reach out to us today. Being the youngest in the pack, people I am with tend to tell me things I should not even hear. I shrug it off and enjoy the trip anyway. However, I do understand where they are coming from. I love it and I hate it. I love it because everything is well prepared and done for you. I hate it because I simply don’t even have time to sit at one of the beautiful churches we visit in silence to pray. Even for just 5 min. There’s so much history in these cities… but really there’s so much of God you see in these places as well.

People, artists, architects, painters, etc. who made these are all God-inspired people. God is magnificent indeed.

Help me to focus on You alone.

 

Salamanca

One of the things I am most thankful for during this trip is the daily mass with Fr. Jan, he is our spiritual director during this trip. He said during his homily today that Jesus always challenges us to look beyond the physical and towards the spiritual. He challenged us to open our faith and to live it like it’s your name. “Show it to the world and do not be afraid.” I can honestly say that it is one of my weakness… showing my faith and living it beyond closed doors… but I am working on it.

As we left behind Fatima (for now), we drove to Salamanca to see this beautiful city (I might even consider going to school here). It holds one of the oldest universities and the architecture is just amazing! I cannot help but feel in awe of this creation! God truly works through amazing people!

I do feel a bit tired, we lost an hour again, so I am 8h off my body clock now. A pilgrimage is not a vacation at all. You learn a lot about the city and also increases your faith through the journey.

Thank You for showing Your magnificence through these amazing art and architecture.

Fátima

Had a nice 6h sleep.. all good and ready for an exciting day today! I’m the youngest in the group… like way younger (younger people should really consider joining these pilgrimages) to the point that my group treats me like I’m their child or something. They give me snacks, always tells me to stay with the group (I tend to wander off a lot), and since I’m by myself… they always invite me to sit with them. I’m practically in every photo because they invite me to also take pictures with them… not “of” them, but with them! God really is taking care of me, because that is one of my worries–being a loner in the corner.

Today, we drove around Fatima and visited the houses of the three children! It was a humbling experience… one for sure I would remember forever. I don’t know why but when I met Sr. Lucia’s niece… I felt teary-eyed and peaceful. She was so sweet! She even kissed me! I might be the next Blessed Maria… haha!

Today’s experience made me realize how blessed I am. We should always be thankful for experiences because through these experiences we are made to be better.

Thank You for helping me be a better version of myself.

Oh Lisbon!

I have been travelling for approximately 18h and counting. As I sat on the plane waiting to land in Lisbon airport, I could not help but say to myself… why is everything not going according to plan?

This is my first time to travel internationally by myself… and I’m kind of, sort of–freaking out. We had a delayed flight to Toronto so they had to reroute us to London instead. In London, I had almost missed my flight to Lisbon (got held up at security because of a yogurt I got on the plane), waited approx 1h and 30 min to get out of customs clearance in Lisbon, prayed really hard and asked for the intercession of St. Anthony, Mama Mary and St. Joseph for my luggage to appear at baggage claim. (I can handle anything but a lost baggage.) Thankfully, it was there waiting for me after an excruciating wait to get a stamp on my passport. Whew!

We got to our Fatima hotel and it’s right beside the Basilica! Oh how lovely! I fell in love with the place! As I sat and celebrated mass at the Basilica, where you can find the tomb of Jacinta and Francisco (isn’t that so cool?), I prayed and let go of all my troubles and worries and frustration. I told the Lord to help me be closer to Him during this trip no matter what happens next.

I can feel Your presence around me. Help me be more like You.

Portugal

I am going on a pilgrimage to Fatima. I am asking for your prayers. This is the first time that I will be traveling by myself (not really by myself because I am with a group of people I have not met yet). I am not a social person, used to be an anti-social, now I’m just a semi-anti-social (if that’s even a thing). I am feeling a bit worried, anxious, and excited all at the same time. Since I read the story about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, I had since been intrigued about it. As I wait here today before I fly out, I can’t help but feel a little worried.

My flight to Toronto is delayed for another 2 hours… This means I will miss my Lisbon flight. I don’t know what to do so I’m just hoping and praying for the best. I know the Lord is with me in this trip so what could possibly go wrong right?

Here we go…