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Our Lady of Fatima: A missionary by attraction

Following an old tradition, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated in the parish of Panaji with great fervor and devotion

Fr Walter de Sa

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is invoked by different titles. In the litany of the Rosary, one comes across around fifty titles attributed to her, highlighting her outstanding virtues and various roles she plays. And she continues to provide her maternal protection to all those who implore her in trust and
confidence.

In the liturgical celebrations in her honour, the titles are manifold like, the Mother of God, the Visitation, the Mother of the Church, the Immaculate Conception, the Immaculate Heart, the Assumption, the Queenship, the Nativity, Our Lady of Rosary. She is also given the names of the places where she appeared. For instance and, more importantly, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

At Fatima, Portugal, she appeared to three little shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francis. In Lourdes, France, she appeared also to a peasant girl, by name Mary Bernadette Soubirous. Both the places attract hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe. Nowadays, special tours and pilgrimages are conducted to the Marian basilicas to enable people not only to visit them, but mainly to seek her divine assistance and protection.

In Goa, Catholics and others have a special devotion to, and piety of, Mother Mary. The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated with great religious fervour in May as well as in October.

In the parish of Panaji, following an old tradition, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated on October 13, with a solemn Mass in the open air presided over by the Archbishop-Patriarch at Archbishop’s House. Not only parishioners of Panaji but also the faithful from the neighbouring parishes participate in the celebration of the feast. At the end of the Mass, a candle-lit procession is taken out with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, decked with flowers and mounted on a car, wending its way through Fr Agnelo Road to the Church. The procession is characterised as a penitential procession and all along the way, the people pray the Rosary interspersed with the singing of Marian hymns.

At the steps of the Church, where a large crowd is gathered, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration, and an Act of Consecration of the Panaji parish is made, followed by the
benediction.

In this current month of October which is declared by Pope Francis as an Extraordinary Missionary Month (EMM), the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima assumes a great significance. The theme of the EMM is ‘Baptised and Sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World.’

In the context of this theme, we look at Mary, who is the type and a pre-eminent member of the Church, as a missionary par excellence who proclaimed the good news to the people of her times and, even now, through her intercession, the missionary activity is being carried out not only by the priests and religious but also by the lay faithful of Christ.

Mary’s ‘Fiat’ and ‘Magnificat’ inspire and impel us to proclaim God’s love to every creature here on Earth, particularly by what Pope Francis calls it the “proclamation by attraction;” in other words, the proclamation by witness. Everyone is indeed a missionary as well as a mission by life.

The message that we draw from the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is that every Christian believer is called to be a missionary by life.

On this gracious feast of Our Lady of Fatima, let us strive to renew our faith and our missionary commitment to the mandate of Jesus Christ, her Son, who commissioned us to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

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