Saint Catherine Laboure' Image via WikipediaPenance and reparation also hasten The Triumph. The ones who saw the Blessed Virgin were called to special ways of penance and reparation. The sufferings of Saint Catherine Laboure were lifelong, but mostly interior and hidden completely from others. Saint Bernadette went through excruciating agonies of body and mind in the last years of her short life. The children of Fatima suffered not only during the apparitions, but afterwards also. Jacinta and Francisco both embraced self-imposed penances which Our Lady approved, but which were very difficult indeed. Both of these little ones suffered terrible physical pain because of the diseases to which they eventually succumbed, first
Francisco, then Jacinta. Our Lady took them to heaven, which she had promised to do, but not without their first enduring much suffering "for sinners." She had asked them on her first meeting with them whether they were willing to accept all the suffering God would send them for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sin. All three had answered "Yes." To this Our Lady rejoined, "Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort." And so it happened. When she returned later to announce to them that the First World War would soon end because of their prayers, they knew they had hastened the peace. But it was prayer, penance, and reparation that had turned the tide of evil, not the arms and might of men.
None of the messages given to the visionaries is for themselves alone. They, in their experiences with their heavenly visitor, always in some way represent us. Some of the suffering they endure is exceptional; to make the point that suffering has meaning and power---power to redeem the world. We ought to understand this simply by our looking intently at Jesus crucified on the Cross, but we seem to need reminding that the lesson applies to our sufferings as well. We, the members of the Body of Christ Jesus, like the children of Fatima and the others who saw Our Lady, are called into the penance and reparation which can hasten The Triumph and bring peace to the world.
[To be continued . . .]