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By Cathy G. Knipper, Catholic Stand, 8 December AD 2018
For those with a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle provides the perfect opportunity to journey through the season with Our Lady in active prayer and quiet reflection. The reader travels through the four weeks of Advent with devoted friends and companions of Our Lady, many of whom O’Boyle had the chance to know personally in her own faith journey.
Advent with Our Lady of Fatima
Each daily Advent reflection contains a story for reading based on the life and teachings of the four travel companions. Following the reading is a brief reflection, a short prayer and a call to pray a daily rosary for world peace. Each day we are then asked to make a sacrifice in reparation for sinners, along with a call for a conversion of heart.
Beginning in the first week, with its message of hope, O’Boyle introduces us to the late Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and Fatima expert. It is said that Fr. Andrew wore down the floorboards in his chapel friary, as it was his habit to walk back and forth while saying the rosary. The reader spends the week in the presence of a man united in his heart to the message of Fatima. O’Boyle brings the reader stories each day of how Fr. Andrew’s ardent desire to heed the message of Fatima affected the lives of those around him. We feel the zeal of Fr. Andrew’s conviction that following the clear plan and promise of Our Lady’s message at Fatima—especially the Rosary and the First Saturdays—would lead the world to peace and bring about the salvation of souls. “Fr. Andrew doesn’t want us to be wishy-washy in our faith,” writes O’Boyle. “We need to be convinced of its truth.” (pg. 16)
In week two, with its theme of peace, we are brought into the stories and lives of the three shepherd children. Beginning with their encounters with the Angel of Peace, O’Boyle gives us a fresh look at Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia and their struggles in faith to keep the message of Fatima. The author weaves together the children’s relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, their zeal to save souls from hell and their unshakable desire for all to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “We must teach our children and grandchildren the message of Our Lady of Fatima, the importance of prayer and sacrifice for sinners, and encourage them to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” writes O’Boyle. (pg. 94)
In the joyous third week of Advent, we journey with Saint John Paul II, whose papacy reflected his love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother, especially in relation to her message at Fatima. O’Boyle brings us to a deeper understanding of this pope and his relationship with the shepherd children, quoting frequently from his homily during the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta. His conviction that the hand of Mary guided the bullet that was meant to end his life on May 13, 1981, and saved him from certain death, was for him a clear call for the whole world to convert to the message of Fatima. “St. John Paul II told us that Mother Mary prays with us when we pray the Rosary,” writes O’Boyle. “We should find this to be quite amazing!” (from the reflection, pg. 126)
Through The Eyes of Love
It is through eyes of love that we journey through the final week of Advent, guided through the days with St. Teresa of Calcutta. O’Boyle was blessed to consider this saint a friend and spend time in the presence of Mother Teresa, who encouraged her and those around her to develop a “fervent” desire for the Rosary and Our Lady. “Still, every letter that Mother Teresa wrote to me pierced my heart with a tender and profound love that I cannot explain properly,” the author writes. Throughout this week we read stories of courage from this small, saintly woman who spread the message of Fatima throughout the world, even asking for and receiving help from Raisa Gorbachev!