Jacinta Marto died on February 20, 1920 alone in a hospital room many miles away from her family. She was preceeded in death by her brother Franceso who died 10 months before on April 4, 1919. These siblings are pictured here with Lucia, their cousin, in Portugal during the time of the Fatima apparitions in 1917. They are the youngest non-martyrs to ever be beatified by the Catholic Church.
A common misconception occurs when people assume that these (or any) seers were elevated by the Church because they claim to have seen Blessed Mother. That is never the case. Jacinto and her brother were beatified for the same reason any other saint is beatified: they led lives of heroic virtue. After the Angel and our Lady appeared to them in successive visitations, the lives of the children began to reflect the realities of the afterlife which they had glimpsed during the apparitions and which are determined by the way we spend our time on earth. They gave away their meager food to those who were hungry, they offered their sickness and pains for those who were in spiritual need (Our Lady called them “poor sinners”) and they accepted the taunts and ridicule that came their way with peace and equanimity. In short, they lived Therese’s Little Way, which is the plan of life I’ve been trying to follow assiduously since January 1 of this year.
It is a great error to assume, like the secular world does, that only the glamorous, well off, or highly educated of this world count for anything. St Paul chides the Corinthians for treating those with money with more respect than they treated the poor. It is a common assumption that those who look better (drive a better car, have a better education) are better. This belief demonstrates that we are “thinking as men think and not as God.”
Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, died in 1983. When asked how she was able to maintain her peace in the midst of all the trials in her life, she said she had made it a practice all of her life to see “great things great and small things small.” She said that the devil always operates by enticing us to do the opposite: to see small things as great things and great things as small things.
Let’s pray through the intercession of these child-saints today for the grace to hidden lives of simplicity and daily docility to God’s will. Let’s ask for the grace to stop thinking about what others think of us and only be concerned about making sure that God is pleased with us. Then we will be living the Little Way that leads to heaven.