Jacinta: a spiritual masterpiece
Fr. John de Marchi is one of the great experts on the Fatima apparitions. He spent many years in Fatima investigating and documenting the lives of the three children who saw Our Lady. He came to the remarkable conclusion that these three children – especially Jacinta – reached an advanced state of sanctity within a very short time, and did so unaided by anyone.
How was it possible that these little children were able to achieve so easily and quickly what many an adult dedicated to an entire lifetime of spiritual struggle was unable to achieve? What was their secret?
Our Lady as spiritual director
Fr de Marchi concluded that it was Our Lady herself who undertook the spiritual cultivation of these very young souls. “The true spiritual director of Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia was in fact Our Lady of Fatima,” he wrote.
The benevolent Lady of the Cova de Iria assumed responsibility for forming three spiritual masterpieces. Once Our Lady began this task a successful outcome was certain. From her hands came three angels clothed in human flesh. Under the appearance of three simple children were three heroic spiritual warriors.
This reminds us of the words of the great apostle of Marian devotion, St Louis de Montfort. He says that in the school of sanctification of Mary a soul progresses more in a week than in a whole year outside of this school. In two short years the Most Holy Virgin succeeded in elevating Francisco and Jacinta to the highest degree of Christian sanctity.
All the signs of sanctity
Of course it is true that the raw material Our Lady worked with was of good quality. Moreover, the children offered no resistance to divine grace. In this regard the following description of Jacinta is telling, written in the firm hand of Lucia: “Jacinta had a serious deportment, modest and pleasant, which seemed to communicate the presence of God in all her doings. This is something usually found in people much more advanced in age and virtue. You would never see in her the giddiness of children and excessive enthusiasm for games and jokes. I would not say that the other children ran to her as they did to me, maybe because the seriousness of her expression was so above their age.
“Jacinta had a serious deportment, modest and pleasant, which seemed to communicate the presence of God in all her doings.”
“If any child, or even an adult, said or did anything bad in her presence she would reprove them saying: ‘Don’t do that because it offends God, Our Lord, and He is already much offended’ ” (A Woman More Brilliant than the Sun, de Marchi, St Paul, Minnesota, 1956).
The rapid and prodigious spiritual development of the children shows the extraordinary grandeur of the action of Our Lady in their souls. Mary transforms these little ones quickly, but gently, into great saints.
A sure and fast way to God
As mentioned above, this reminds us of St Louis de Montfort’s ‘Secret of Mary’. He explains this is a profound action of grace over a soul that sanctifies the soul almost effortlessly. This gentle action of grace makes one feel more and more free to practise virtue, while the defects that hold one back and lead one to sin seem to dissolve imperceptibly. It is a ‘sure, fast and easy’ way to God, says St Louis de Montfort. Moving rapidly along this path of sanctity, the soul grows in the love of God and in detachment from all earthly things.
All this happens in a marvelously suave way in the interior of the soul. It is not the classic way to sanctity, the way of long and methodical spiritual combat over many years. Instead Our Lady transforms the soul from one moment to the next.
We can well ask ourselves if there isn’t a deeper meaning in this. Was Our Lady’s action over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco a foretaste of her action over all of humanity once she has fulfilled the promise she made at Fatima that, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Will her coming triumph be characterised by a special and intense action of her Immaculate Heart over all mankind in the same way it was over Jacinta and Francisco?
The reign of Mary
The saintly seers of Fatima are our natural intercessors to request Our Lady to bring her triumph as soon as possible. We should ask them with insistence that they pray for us to receive the gifts that they themselves received. In this way Our Lady will become the Queen of our souls just like she was the Queen of their souls. Then we should ask with insistence for them to intercede so that Our Lady will do likewise with all of humanity and begin her reign in the world.
Through Francisco and Jacinta we say to Our Lady: “May thy reign come O Lady, and may it come now!”