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Celebration reminds the faithful of the power of penance

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Prayer and sacrifice helps save souls, says theologian
By Josh Tng
Photo captions: Angelyn Dee photographed a float during the 75th anniversary of the Our Lady of Fatima in Coimbra, Portugal. Dee gave a presentation to attendees at St. John the Apostle Parish about the message Our Lady presented to three shepherd children near the village of Fatima 100 years ago. (Special to The B.C. Catholic / Angelyn Dee)
The teachings of the Blessed Mother in Portugal 100 years ago are just as important today as they were then, says a Vancouver theologian.
“The message of Fatima is an urgent call to conversion, a message of hope in a very divided and desperate world,” said Angelyn Dee, speaking to more than 80 attendees at St. John the Apostle Church. “It is ultimately a message of great hope and mercy no matter what trials we face.”
It’s important to be “absolutely convinced of (the message’s) importance and urgency,” Dee said. “Each of us is called by Our Lady and is necessary in her mission of saving souls and drawing down God’s peace. The future of the world depends on our response to her requests.”
Dee gave a presentation on the history and meaning of the message of Fatima during the parish’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions to three shepherd children in 1916.
“Nine-year-old Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep near their home village of Fatima when Our Lady appeared to them,” explained Dee. “All of them could see our Lady, but only Lucia would speak to her, never Jacinta, and Francisco could not even hear her, he could only see her.”
These luminous apparitions would appear to the children six times, with the Blessed Virgin Mary requesting prayers and granting them visions that included the horrors of hell and the rise of communism in Russia.
“To really live the message of Fatima, we have to learn the message,” said Dee. 
At the time of the Marian apparitions, Portugal had a new secular government led by the Freemasons. “They wanted a godless republic with secular ideals imposed on Portugal.”
Many of the laws the government passed were anti-Catholic. “This was the land of Holy Mary, and the Church reigned there for hundreds of years unimpeded,” Dee said. “But now we have the Masonic order banning many religious orders, confiscating religious properties, and closing many convents and abbeys.”
Dee laughed at the irony of a half million people gathering May 13 for the Fatima anniversary celebration and canonization of visionaries Francisco and Jacinta Marto. 
The messages Mary gave the children included requests to pray the Rosary every day to save sinners, a prophecy noting Russia would be God’s chosen “instrument of chastisement” if they did not convert to Christ, and several apocalyptic secrets confided to the children.
The first was a vision of hell “where the souls of poor sinners go,” the children recounted. Mary pleaded with the children for acts of prayer and sacrifices to save souls. The second part of Mary’s message prophesied the outbreak of World War II and the Holy Mother’s request for the consecration of Russia as a condition for world peace.
Despite the 100 years since Mary’s messages, their meaning still holds importance Dee said. “No matter who the president or prime minister is, or how dark and divisive our world becomes, Mary assures us that a heart of prayer and penance is more powerful than bombs and bullets. In the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph and peace will be granted to the world.”
Stephen Wong, an attendee of the presentation, noted the message was “surprisingly relevant today. The importance of saving souls is something we as Catholics often forget in our daily lives. It’s good to be reminded.”

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