Lent begins in a few days. We may be deciding on the spiritual observances we will add to our day and making a final decision on what we will sacrifice. Small sacrifices such as giving up a favorite food or TV program are ok for children, but as adults we need to sacrifice something that we can offer up to God and use to grow in our relationship with Him. The apparitons of Our Lady can teach much about what is pleasing to God. Before Our Lady appeared, the shepherd children were being prepared by the appearances of an angel the year in 1916.
Our spiritual journey begins with the apparitions of the The Angel of Portugal.
In 1916, an angel appeared to the three seers of Fatima, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. They were the small shepherd children that were tending the sheep for their families. Compared to today, that alone is a much austere lifestyle than even adults endure now. They would rise early with just a small amount of food to begin their day. They set out early to lead their sheep to the pastures so they could graze for a large part of the day and return early enough to avoid the late afternoon heat for their animals. They carried a small amount of water and a few morsels of bread or cheese for their lunch. No coolers or insulated cups in which we are accustomed. They stayed out until mid afternoon when they brought the sheep back home to rest under the trees near their homes.
In the Spring of 1916, while the sheep grazed, the children were praying a shortened version of the rosary so they could save time before they ate their meager lunch. An angel appeared to them and said, "Do not be afraid, I am the Angel of Peace. Pray withe me." The angel taught them what is now called the Pardon Prayer,
"My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you." It is to be repeated three times.
"Pray thus, The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your suppliations."
The prayer is asking that Faith, Hope and Charity will be renewed in our world. It is needed as much now as it was in 1916. The Lord and Our Lady are attentive to your prayers now. They are waiting for you to share your joys, your sorrows, your gratitude and your needs. They long to bestow the many graces that await those who seek God in their lives.
During the summer, the angel appeared to the children in the late afternoon as the children played near a well and the sheep settled into a small barn to rest in the shade. The angel mildly scolded them, "What are you doing? Pray, pray very much, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High."
The children would repeat the Pardon Prayer throughout the day. We can begin our day with a Morning Offering, dedicating our day to God. We can invoke our Guardian Angel to accompany us and guide us. Throughout the day, short prayers of thanksgiving can be brought to mind or a pray a short blessing to those we encounter.
Lucia asked the angel how they were to make sacrifices. The angel replied, "Make everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will draw down peace upon your country. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you."
During Lent, we can offer sacrifices each day by surrendering our will in everyday circumstances we encounter with our family, friends and co-workers. We can deny ourselves a desire for food or comfort and offer it to God. Deny yourself to give God a sign of your love for Him. When a small trial or difficulty arises in our day, we can offer them up for reparation for sins and the conversion of sinners. When we honor God by our faithfulness, trust and sacrifice we are sending Him our blessings.
In the Fall, the angel appeared for third and final time. While the sheep were grazing, the children were praying the Pardon Prayer on their knees with their foreheads on the ground.
In the Angel’s left hand was a chalice and over it was a Eucharistic Host with drops of blood falling from the host into the chalice.
Leaving the chalice suspended in the air, the angel knelt down by the children and began to pray.
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners."
Then the angel rose, took the chalice and host and offered the Eucharist to Lucia as she was the only one who had received her First Communion. He then offered the chalice to both Francisco and Jacinta.
The Angel said: Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.
A third way we can enhance our Lent it to focus on the Holy Eucharist whenver we are at mass and meditate on the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Make an effort to receive the Eucharist as often as you can. We make accomadations for all sorts of things, so it may be possible to attend extra masses during this Lent.
Following the example of the children of Fatima, we can begin our Lent by praying more throughout the course of our day, sacrifice more in our physical comforts and in our interactions with others and lastly, focus more on the beauty and gift of the Holy Eucharist