Victim For Sinners
by Frère François de Marie des Anges
Of a temperament and character very different from Francisco, Jacinta is distinguished from him perhaps still more for her spiritual make-up. If Francisco endeavors to be the consoler of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Jacinta wants to be their co-operatrix.
The Total Dedication to
the Salvation of Souls
Sister Lucy has summed up in one sentence this difference of vocation which is illustrated in every page of her Memoirs: «While Jacinta appeared preoccupied by the unique thought of converting sinners and of preserving their souls from Hell, Francisco appeared to be thinking only of consoling Our Lord and Our Lady Who had appeared so sad to him.39»
«Jacinta, Lucy writes, took sacrifices for the conversion of sinners so much to heart that she did not let any opportunity pass her by. There were some children, sons of two families of Moita, who went from door to door begging. We met them one day, when we were going out with our flock. Seeing them, Jacinta said to us: "Let us give our meal to those poor children for the conversion of sinners!" She ran to bring it to them. In the afternoon, she told me she was hungry. There were some holm-oaks and some oak trees. The acorns were still rather green. In spite of that, I said to her that we could eat some. Francisco climbed a holm-oak to fill his pockets, but Jacinta had the idea that we could rather eat those of the oak trees to make the sacrifice of eating something bitter. And that afternoon we savored a delicious food! Jacinta made that as one of her habitual sacrifices ... "Jacinta, don't eat that, it is too bitter!" — "It is because it is bitter that I eat it, to convert sinners."
«It was not our only fast. We had decided that, when we met those poor little ones, we would give them our meal. And the little ones, happy with our alms, sought to meet us and they waited for us on the road. As soon as we saw them, Jacinta ran to bring them all our provisions for the day, with great satisfaction, as if she had no need of them herself.
«Jacinta seemed tireless in the practice of sacrifice. One day, ... on the road, we met our dear poor little ones, and Jacinta ran to give them the alms. It was a very beautiful day and the sun was very hot. In that arid and dry moor, everything seemed to want to catch fire. Thirst made itself felt and we did not have a drop of water to drink. At the beginning, we offered that sacrifice generously, for the conversion of sinners, but with the arrival of noon, we could not resist any longer. I then proposed to my companions going to a nearby place to ask for a little water. They accepted the proposal and I knocked at the door of an old woman who, in giving me a pitcher of water, gave me also a little bread, which I accepted gratefully. I ran to share it with my companions. Then I gave the pitcher to Francisco and I told him to drink. "I don't want to drink", he replied. "Why?" — "I want to suffer for the conversion of sinners." — "You, Jacinta, drink." — "I want to offer this sacrifice for sinners too." I then poured that water into the hollow of a rock so that our sheep could drink it and I went to bring back the pitcher to its owner. The heat became more and more intense. The cicadas and the crickets joined their singing with that of the frogs of the neighboring pond and made an unbearable noise. Jacinta, weakened by hunger and thirst, said to me, with a simplicity which was natural to her: "Tell the crickets and the frogs not to sing any more, I have such a headache!" Then Francisco asked: "Don't you want to suffer that for sinners?" The poor child, holding her head between her two little hands, replied: "Yes, I want to, let them sing."40»
«Jacinta, Lucy relates again, had quite a special affection and a great deal of gracefulness in dancing. I remember that one day she wept because of her brother who was in the war and they thought he was dead on the field of battle. In order to distract her, I prepared a little dance with two of her brothers, and the poor child danced everything while wiping the tears that ran down her cheek. In spite of this special love that she had for dancing (it was sufficient for her to hear the instruments of the shepherds to begin dancing, even all alone), at the approach of Saint John and the Carnival (of 1918), she said to me: "Now I will not dance anymore." — "Why?" — "Because I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord." As we lead the games played by the children, the dances which had taken place on these occasions ceased.41»
Jacinta always had that thought, which had become habitual to her, of suffering for sinners, in making reparation in their place, while substituting herself for them in order to obtain for them pardon and the grace of conversion.
«When, through mortification, she did not want to eat, I would say to her, "Jacinta, let's go eat now." — "No, I offer this sacrifice for sinners who eat too much." When she was already ill, she would go to Mass one day a week, I would say to her, "Jacinta, don't come; you do not have the strength; it is not Sunday today." — "It matters little, I am going there for sinners who do not even go on Sundays." If it happened that she heard one of those too liberal words that some people glory in pronouncing, she would cover herself with her hands saying: "My Goodness! Do these people not know in saying these things, they risk going to Hell? Forgive them, my Jesus, and convert them. Certainly they do not know that such things offend God. What a pity, my Jesus! I pray for them." And she would repeat then the prayer taught by Our Lady: "O, my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."42»
«Jacinta frequently repeated those sacrifices, but I cannot continue to relate all of them, Sister Lucy concludes, otherwise I will never finish!43»
The Confidante of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary
«In my opinion, Lucy remarks, Jacinta is the one to whom the Blessed Virgin had granted, with a greater abundance of graces, a better knowledge of God and of virtue.44» In fact, although she was the youngest of the three seers, she is the one who seems first of all to have benefited from the greatest intimacy with the Most Holy Virgin. The cycle of the six public apparitions being closed, Jacinta continued up to her death to receive extraordinary supernatural favors. Through the official report which Father Ferreira drew up on the events of Fatima, we know that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her at least three times, in the short lapse of time between October 13, 1917, and August 6, 1918. That is the date on which the Parish Priest of Fatima completed the first part of his Memoir.
«Jacinta, this report tells us, affirms that Our Lady appeared to her three more times. The first time was in the church of Fatima, during the Mass, on Ascension Day. The Virgin then taught her how to recite the Rosary. The second time was at night, at the door to the cellar, while the whole family slept. The third time, She appeared in the house, above a table; the Virgin was silent, staying at that place up to the moment when Jacinta said to her mother: "Look! ... do you not see, here below, the Lady whom I saw above (at the Cova)?! Look! ..."45»
Unfortunately, of these three apparitions, Lucy tells us nothing in her Memoirs. On the other hand, she relates several prophetic visions in which Jacinta could contemplate, as in so many living pictures, some events announced in the great Secret of July 13, 1917. We will present and interpret these visions later, in the last chapter of this work.
When, at the end of October 1918, the "Spanish flu" struck Jacinta, then, shortly afterwards, Francisco, it was for the two the beginning of sufferings which were going to direct them soon to the supreme sacrifice. It was not in vain that on May 13, during the first apparition of Our Lady, they had consecrated themselves voluntarily to suffering, offering themselves as victims of love to console the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary outraged, in order to convert sinners and to make reparation for their crimes. Since that day, how many prayers and sacrifices had Jacinta offered at the grotto of the Cabeço! How many tears all three had poured out near the well where the Angel had promised that they would have so much to suffer!
To renew their fervor, Our Lady had come, at the end of the year 1918 or at the beginning of January 1919, to visit Jacinta and Francisco: «One day, Lucy relates, she (Jacinta) had me called so that I might go to her quickly. I went there running:
«Our Lady came to see us, Jacinta said. She said that She would come soon to get Francisco to take him to Heaven. She asked me if I wanted to convert still more sinners. I said yes to Her. She told me that I would go to the hospital and that there, I would suffer a great deal; that I am to suffer for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for love of Jesus. I asked if you would come with me. She answered no. That is what is going to be the most difficult for me. She said that my mother would take me to the hospital and that then I would stay there all alone."46»
Another day, Jacinta was more precise in confiding to her cousin: «Our Lady wants me to go to two hospitals, but it is not to be cured, it is to suffer still further for love of Our Lord and for sinners.47»
JACINTA AND FRANCISCO
|Jacinta and Franciso during and after|
the Fatima Apparitions of 1917.
|Jacinta's body incorrupt.|
This photo was taken on April 30, 1951,
at Jacinta's second exhumation.
In June, 1999, Pope John Paul II announced that Venerable Jacinta and her brother Venerable Francisco would be formally declared Blessed. This is the last stage before they are canonized as saints. This is another great victory for Our Lady of Fatima and Her apostles. They were inspiredto stretch themselves toward holiness by the Vision of Hell seen on the occasions of Our Lady's visit on July 13, 1917.
Towards Perfect Immolation
For a long time Jacinta knew, as a certain and absolute truth, that the more she suffered, the more numerous would be the souls she would snatch from the eternal flames. Instructed by the infused grace which accompanied the words of the Angel, she had understood «the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to God and how much out of consideration for it, God converts sinners.»48 And she gave her generous "yes" to the hard sacrifice which was asked of her, the one she had doubtlessly not even imagined: to suffer and die alone, far from her father, far from her mother, and what is more, far from Lucy, her only confidante, her intimate friend, whose presence was a solid comfort to her and the one great consolation which remained to her.
«Then, Lucy continues, she remained for some time pensive and she added: "If you at least could come with me! What will be the most painful for me is to go without you. Perhaps the hospital is a very gloomy house where we don't see anything, and I will be there to suffer all alone! But that doesn't matter, I will suffer for the love of Our Lord, to repair the offenses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Father."49»
It is always the same intentions, the same great themes of the Secret which dwell in her and incite her to heroic sacrifice. These are also the same outbursts of love which return on her lips. With joy, she would repeat: «"Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation! I love so much the Immaculate Heart of Mary!50" Sometimes, while kissing a crucifix, she would press it in her hands saying: "O My Jesus, I love You, I want to suffer a great deal for Your love!" And she would often say: "O Jesus, now You can convert many sinners, because this sacrifice is very great!"51»
Through delicacy towards her mother, so that she would not worry too much for her, and to offer that sacrifice, so costly when one suffers it a great deal, Jacinta forced herself never to complain. Only to Lucy, from whom she felt disposed to hide nothing and to share all the graces received, she would dare to confess her veritable sufferings: «I feel such a great pain in my chest, she confided to her. But I say nothing to my mother. I want to suffer for Our Lord, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Holy Father, and for the conversion of sinners.52» Those terrible sufferings which she bore «with a resignation, and even with a joy which was surprising,»53 were caused by purulent pleurisy.
The principal reason for her uneasiness in staying at the hospital which Our Lady had announced to her, was that she could not go to Communion there. One day, Sister Lucy relates again, «I brought her a picture which represented the sacred Chalice with a Host. She took it, kissed it, radiating with joy, and said: "It is the hidden Jesus! I love Him so much! Who will give me permission to receive Him at the church! Do they go to Communion in Heaven? If we can go to Communion there, I will go to Communion every day. Ah! If the Angel came to the hospital to bring me Holy Communion again, how happy I would be!"54»
In fact, although she was more than eight years old, Father Ferreira, not docile to the recent prescriptions of Saint Pius X, showed himself always so inflexible. In the summer of 1918, he had not yet granted the little seer the favor of approaching the sacred altar rail.
Nevertheless the Lord is free with His gifts and, answering the love of a soul who desired Him with so much ardor, He gave Himself to her spiritually, and gave her the grace of feeling His Divine Presence. «I love so much to say to Jesus that I love Him, she confided to Lucy. When I told Him that several times, it seems to me that I have fire in my heart, but that fire does not burn me.55»
In the first days of April 1919, at the moment when Francisco was going from bad to worse and feeling his end to be near, his little sister gave him some recommendations for Heaven. Lucy was there, she remembers it and reports to us the words of her companion: «Greet in my name Our Lord and Our Lady and tell Them that I will suffer everything They wish for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.56»
While waiting for the Church to soon grant Jacinta the glory of canonization, we can already make our own the beautiful prayer Sister Lucy wrote to Jacinta in the beginning of her Memoirs:
Swift through the world
You went a-flying,
In deepest suffering
Forget not my plea
And prayer to you:
Be ever my friend
Before the throne
Of the Virgin Mary,
Lily of candor,
Up there in Heaven
You live in glory,
Seraphim of love,
With your little brother
At the Master's feet
Pray for me!
[Taken from Book Two, FATIMA: Intimate Joy, World Event]
39. Sister Lucy's Fourth Memoir, pg. 136.
40. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg.32.
41. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 37.
42. Sister Lucy's Third Memoir, pg. 107
43. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 41.
44. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 33.
45. Father John De Marchi, pg. 243; Novos Documentos pg. 7.
46. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg 42.
47. Sister Lucy's Second Memoir, pg. 97.
48. Sister Lucy's Fourth Memoir, pg. 152
49. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 42.
50. Sister Lucy's Second Memoir, pg. 111; I, pg 39.
51. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 42.
52. Sister Lucy's Second Memoir, pg. 91.
53. Father John De Marchi, pg. 262.
54. Sister Lucy's Third Memoir, pg. 111.
55. Sister Lucy's First Memoir, pg. 39.
Ibid., pgs. 43-44.