"Aunt Anna and Our Lady of Fatima" by Mary Wallace (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2017 Mary Wallace. All rights reserved.

Let me answer this riddle for you right away – Aunt Anna is 101 years young, and Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the little children in Portugal 100 years ago. 100 – that’s a lot of years.

1. The number of pennies we glued to a poster board for my daughter to illustrate the 100th day of school.

2. The number of blog posts I’ve done since starting The Working Catholic Mom blog.

3. The number of sit-ups I huff and puff through each night (when I remember).

4. The number of years (plus one) that my most devoted living saint of an aunt has been alive (she’s seen plenty – see my blog about her at 99).

5. The number of years since the Marian apparition at Fatima, Portugal to three uneducated beautiful future saints.

It’s a lot of years. I pray that one day I experience my 100th birthday party, surrounded by all my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, thinking how wonderful my life has been, but how anxiously I await the strong physical embrace of my Savior, Jesus Christ. As one of my older wiser friend used to say, “God willing, and the creek don’t rise.”

During this 100th year anniversary of the Marian apparition, I have devoted time to understanding the rural landscape of the area in Portugal, learning about the shepherd children, and renewing my consecration to Jesus through Our Lady of Fatima. As luck (I don’t believe in LUCK!) would have it, I was asked to review a book about Our Lady of Fatima by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, titled Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of stories, prayers, and devotions. This book was the perfect complement to how I was spending my time studying Our Lady. Donna-Marie’s telling of the history of Fatima was not new to me, but the way in which she presented the material, through the eyes of St. John Paul II or our beloved St. Teresa of Calcutta, made the message of Fatima as modern as our beloved saints. The message of Fatima of repentance, conversion, and prayer are a message needed right now – as much as it was needed 100 years ago. Donna-Marie presents the 100-year message, framed in the needs of our own time. It was as if my heart was seeing Our Lady of Fatima with new eyes – with eyes of hope, faith, and love.

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I have always been devoted to Our Lady. This 100-year anniversary of the appearance at Fatima presents us many opportunities to learn even more about Our Lady. I have found there is more to learn about her, even when I believe I have reached my outer limit of knowledge. Dig deeper . . . dig deeper. There is more to know, as I am finding every single day.

One large message I learned about the Blessed Mother this year concerns her Immaculate Heart, and how it was pierced as a mother. My own journey of faith has its share of piercings, most of the time from places I would never expect. I sort of ignored that part of my journey, or put those moments of suffering on the back-burner. Now, I want to bring them forward and study those piercings from all angles. One of my prayers is asking Our Blessed Mother to grow my virtue through the connection with her Immaculate Heart, with my ultimate destination in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What a beautiful thought!

Might I suggest a few practical ways we can focus on Our Lady of Fatima in this 100th-year anniversary? I promise to walk on this journey with you, as I pray for each of you who are reading this post.

1. I try to pray the Rosary each day. Sometimes I do this while driving on my way to work each morning, and at other times, I pray during my lunch hour. No matter when you pray the Rosary, meditating deeply on each mystery of the Rosary helps me to connect my heart to Jesus’ wounded heart.

2. I am committed to practice the First Saturday Devotion. I did not understand that Saturday was a devotional day to Our Blessed Mother. Donna-Marie’s book explained the deep devotion of the First Saturdays to Mary, and why keeping this practice is something so needed today. What a beautiful way to spend 5 consecutive Saturdays.

3. Confession helps me to stay close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by shedding the vestiges of sin and brokenness. This Lent, I made a confession each week. The graces through the sacrament are carrying me as a wife, a mother, sister and a friend.

4. Sometimes I have only a few moments at a time to pray. Practicing short ejaculatory prayers each day help me to focus on Jesus throughout the day. Try some of the following: Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Jesus, I trust in you.

5. Reading Scripture each day, even when I think I have no more energy to give, helps me to build a strong bond with Jesus, whom I love above everyone. Reading Scripture renews my baptismal promises to know, love, and serve God with my whole heart, mind and soul. Our Blessed Mother walks this road closely with me, and usually is pointing me in the direction of the Scripture speaking to my heart at the moment.

6. BONUS: On May 13, 2017, I am renewing my consecration to Jesus through Our Lady of Fatima. If you have never completed a consecration, I would suggest starting with Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.

Our Blessed Mother wants to draw us close to her Immaculate Heart. In 2017, her messages of repentance, conversion, and prayer are as powerful as they were in 1913. I cannot imagine where I would be without Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco, and beautiful Lucia. Thank you for answering the call at such a young age, and teaching us through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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Copyright 2017 Mary Wallace