“Towards Fatima 2017” — Second commentary of the First Apparition of Our Lady (by Fr. Stehlin)
The Immaculata amongst us — May 13, 1917 (part II)
"Thou art all beautiful, O Mary" our liturgy chants. This was also what Jacinta kept repeating after her contemplation of the Heavenly vision: "O what a beautiful Lady! O what a beautiful Lady!". So beautiful that all images, all statues of the apparition disappoint her: "it is impossible to depict Her as she really is, and we cannot even describe her with words of this earth".
No doubt, the children of Fatima (as well as Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, Saint Catherine Laboure in Paris, Melanie and Maximin in La Salette) had the privilege to see the glorious body of the Immaculate Virgin, Queen of Heaven and Earth: that body with which she was assumed into heaven. The saw Mary, as she is now and for ever sitting at the side of her divine son!
It is worthwhile to contemplate her, as she appeared to the visionaries with all the details mentioned by Lucy: it will help us to approach and to love her much more than before!
1/ As in Lourdes before, in Fatima, too, Our Lady appeared very young, Lucy said around 15 years old. This astonishing youth evokes one aspect of her mystery. If we see children or young people, we often think of their parents — the youth of Mary reminds us, that she is the "eternal Daughter of the Heavenly Father". This aspect brings us to think about her origins, her creation, her birthday, but above all her conception, her Immaculate Conception. She comes somehow from the depths of the divine light out of the 'bosom of the Most Holy Trinity" and she receives always freshly his power and light and beauty.
"Young" means purity and beauty — the Immaculata! Mary is always fresh in her soul, heart and body, because full of light and life of God. We should often lift our eyes to this eternal beauty, the masterpiece of God's works, the living mirror and icon of his own eternal LIGHT.
2/ Again as in Lourdes she appeared very small, scarcely five feet tall, Lucy said. This littleness also has its meaning, it says something to us. In the breviary we sing about her: "When I was a little one, I pleased the Most High, and in my womb I brought forth God made man!" Before HIM she wants to be small, so small that she would disappear completely if possible. This is her humility which attracted God so much to choose her to become the Mother of God.
What a difference to us, who only desire to become 'great', visible, known, estimated, appreciated and cannot tolerate to 'disappear'! The way of holiness however is here: to become small and to wish to disappear, so that God may be glorified.
3/ Another detail: she came very close to the three children. For a pedestal she had chosen a little holm oak, about a meter high. "We were so close, that we found ourselves in the light surrounding her, or rather emanating from her, about a meter and a half away, more or less." She always looks to the children, "her voice is soft and pleasant". Do we not desire to come close to our beloved, if we really love them? And the more we love them, the more close we want to be to them! And when we are in their presence, we keep attention not to speak anything or to behave which would disturb the atmosphere of intimacy and love. Exactly this happens in Fatima. But attention! It is Our Lady, who comes close to us, She loves us so so much. It would be one of the greatest benefits for our life to understand and appreciate, how much Our Lady wants to come close to us, to our heart, to our life, to each moment of our life.
4/ "ERA DE LUZ": But the most important word to describe the figure of our Lady is "light brighter than the sun". Lucy often declares: "We saw a Lady all dressed in white, more brilliant than the sun", a light so sparkling that it dazzled themselves: "She came in the midst of a great light. Again this time she blinded me. From time to time I had to rub my eyes".
In short, it was Her risen body in all the splendor of its glory in which She manifested Herself at the Cova da Iria. And Her body is similar to that of Jesus himself during his transfiguration: "His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light" (Mt 17, 2). In the great vision of the glorious Christ at the beginning of the Apocalypse, Jesus appears "as Son of man, whose face was like the sun shining at full strength" (Apoc. 1, 16). When he throws Saul down to the ground on the road to Damascus, it is once again in the same light. "At midday I saw on my way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me" (Acts 26, 13). The light was so intense, that he lost his sight.
The sun is only the image of the divine light which the risen bodies of Jesus and Mary shine. It was thus that the Virgin appeared at Fatima, like the Spouse in the Canticle of Canticles: "fair as the moon, bright as the sun (Cant. 6, 10), and also like the apocalyptic Woman: "a woman clothed with the sun" (Apoc. 12, 1). By her apparitions at the Cova da Iria, the Blessed Virgin confirms for us, that as mother of the "Sun of Justice", she has been clothed with the divine Light since her Assumption. While remaining a creature and fully human, she has penetrated, so to speak, into the sphere of the divinity.
5/ The glorious body:
Although "all shining with light", the Apparition nevertheless seemed to be a real human person, of ineffable beauty: Her body seemed like different "undulations of that ineffable light". When praying to Her, we should sometimes first have a deep spiritual look towards her and try to imagine how the children saw her: "the face, with infinitely pure and delicate lines, shines in an aureole of the sun. The eyes are black. The hands are joined on top of the breast. From the right hand there hangs a beautiful Rosary with white beads, brillant as pearls, ending in a little cross of silver, which also sparkles. The feet gently come down onto a little ermine cloud which comes over the green banches of the shrub. The dress, which is snow white, falls right down to the feet. A white veil (a veritable mantle), with edges adorned with fine braided gold, covers the head, the shoulders, and falling almost as low as the dress, envelops the whole body".
The Church sings at the feast of the Immaculate Conception: "May soul shall be joyful in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He has covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels" (Introit). Is it not this way that she appeared in Fatima? Clothed with a robe of light, a symbol of the singular privilege by which she would benefit more than any other form the grace of salvation, since in view of the future merits of her Son she was preserved from every stain of sin. Draped in a sparkling white mantle, resplendent in the golden flashes of light, She is the image of original justice rediscovered and restored in greater splendor: "He has covered me with the robe of justice".
In the further descriptions Sister Lucy also sees, how Our Lady is "adorned with jewels". She speaks particularly of one of them like a "ball of light" but without further explanations. Visibly Our Lady of Fatima wants to be recognized and identified exactly as the Spouse of the Canticles and the Apocalyptic Woman. The apparition is the visible expression of the Catholic doctrine about Mary in contradiction to any other religion: She is the Immaculate Conception (spouse of the canticle), the Virgin assumed into heaven with body and soul (light), the mediatrice of all graces, Queen of heaven and earth, who crushed the head of the dragon (apocalyptic woman).
SUMMARY: Fatima is not only a "message", it is an overwhelming REALITY: the very presence of the Queen of heaven here on earth. And she wants to approach us and let us approach her. The more we have her in mind, consider her in this appearance full of light and majesty, but also full of humility and delicacy, the more she can protect and guide us, preserve us from the dangers of error and sin. When looking to her with the eyes of the children of Fatima, we can only be fascinated by such a vision, 'blinded' by so much light! And living in this light, we will easily discover the false lights which tempt us by their worldly brilliance, and not any more being impressed by them.