In 1917, the Blessed Virgin appeared to three little children near Fatima in Portugal. Lucia was 10, Francisco was 9, and Jacinta was 7. While they were watching their sheep a dazzling light flashed in the sky. Suddenly, Our Lady appeared and told them: "I come from Heaven." There were six appearances between May and October in 1917. The last appearance was accompanied by the miracle of the revolving and pulsating sun, the vision of the Holy Family, of Our Lord in His manhood blessing the crowd, and of Our Lady wearing the Scapular of Mt. Carmel. Too many thousands, I believe between 70 and 100 thousand who witnessed these wonders.
Now, whether Fatima excites you or not, you will be interested in what little Jacinta did in later years. She would go to the mountains and pray the Hail Mary, stopping after each word. She would say "Hail" and then wait for the word to echo back from the mountains. Slowly and reverently she called out each word of the Hail Mary in this unique way. This little child realized, as you and I must realize, that the words of the Hail Mary were brought to us from Heaven. The first part, "Hail, full of grace," was spoken by the angel who told Mary she was to be the Mother of God ; the second part: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." were spoken at Heaven's inspiration by Elizabeth in today's Gospel; the last part of the Hail Mary :"Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death" was added by God's Church, our Catholic Church, but in a sense was brought from Heaven too, as Our Lady in her appearance on August 19th, 1917 when she told the three children of Fatima to "pray for sinners." "Now and at the hour of our death" is especially appropriate on this Feast of the Assumption, which means that Mary, at the end of her life on earth, was taken, assumed, soul and body into Heaven. Jesus did not want His spotless Mother to be subject to the decay and corruption of the grave. That is the bright and beautiful truth we celebrate today.
We rejoice with Mary. We want to tell her how joyful we are because of this feast. We want to talk to her from our hearts, but better sill, in the words of the Hail Mary, the words brought down to us from Heaven. Like little Jacinta we want to pronounce every word with love and thought. We want to hear every word echo back to us from Heaven. The Assumption of Mary is the fourth truth of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary; the Visitation, the story of today's Gospel, is the second decade of the Joyful Mysteries that we can hear echo back in our hearts when we pray it.
We can say that our words will echo back from this mountain or from this altar of sacrifice. Here, the Lord is with us. Here the Blessed Fruit of Mary's womb is born again and becomes present amongst us. Here we will ask to be in Heaven with the Mother of God. Here we celebrate the death and resurrection of Mary's Son, Our Lord and Our Redeemer.
May Mary the Mother of God help us to celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ with everything we have. Oh Mary, assumed into Heaven, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.