August, Month of Sacrifice In Fatima
Accept What God Sends To You With Joy
Living in Fatima I have tried to live the messages of Fatima to the best I can with the graces God gives me. However, on thing I am not good at is sacrifice and I never go out of my way to offer up any sacrifice. This was one of the messages of Fatima and in fact Our Lady told the children that they would have much to suffer which happened right away with laughter by their friends and non acceptance by the priest and their relatives.
In August the children's sacrifices came in a real trial when on August 13, 1917 they were arrested and kept in custody for three days. They were not only in jail with some hardened prisoners but were threatened with being boiled in oil. In fact Lucia thought that her two friends, Jacinta and Francisco were already dead, when she was sent out to be also boiled in oil. They did not want this and they were very frightened but they accepted this as God's will and did not give in to the threats.
The Portuguese people seem to take this as a month for sacrifice since it is the month were more Portuguese people come to Fatima and walk on their knees to the Cova then any other month of the year. Some walk on their knees carrying a child, some crawl on their bellies, some go both ways and some are very old to be doing this.
Saint Francis of Assisi said that the only thing in the world that we could take credit for is our acceptance of the trials God's sends to us with joy and thankfulness. Everything else is done by God through us. But this is very hard to do. When we have the smallest and even natural problems in this world we all start complaining to God as to why.
I am no different than the rest of you. I go to Mass everyday and I say my Rosary and prayers everyday but this is a joy and not a sacrifice. But when it comes to giving up my daily wine or a good meal, forget it God. I just do not do sacrifice very well. I try to do some good deed for someone everyday here in Fatima even to my own detriment, but I get a lot of earthly reward for this as people are very thankful for the help. However, this is good deeds and not sacrifice.
This August, however, God has decided to send to me some sacrifices and see how I handle it. Not so good I must say. But I have decided to inform my readers of these unwanted sacrifices so that they can learn as I did how to handle them. I hope you will also learn as I did that in the long run these things are good for us not only after life but here on earth.
Every August I give up my car to some nuns who have need of a car four times a year and do not have one. For this reason I own a car and a truck. When I give my car to the nuns, I then drive the truck and the truck also is useful for hauling things that cannot fit into a small car.
God Sends Sacrifices
Just before giving up my car to the nuns, I was driving back from Nazare with a friend when someone coming from the other direction at a very fast speed swerved out of his lane into mine to avoid some construction on his side. He came so fast I could not get out of his way and he hit the rearview mirror of my car. He did not stop and sped away as fast as he could without looking back. I had my window open and the rearview mirror came through the window and hit me in the face. I pulled off the road and my friend told me to look at my shirt, which was full of blood. He pulled glass out of my face for 1/2 an hour and then we went on to Fatima. What I did not know is that it had also broken a top front tooth, which came off after a few days. Because of lawyer fees in another mater I was concerned about the costs of fixing my tooth and needed to save up for it. The dentist put on a temp. and I gave up my car to the nuns a few days later and began to drive my truck back and forth to Mass and the gym.
Some ladies wanted some help in getting permanent residence and Portuguese drivers licenses, so I took them around for 12 hours in 110 degree temperature and this was too much for the old truck. The block cracked and I no longer had enough money to fix it. Besides the truck is not worth as much as it would have cost to fix it. I was now on foot and it was 110 degrees in Fatima. Fires started braking out all over Portugal and on two sides of Fatima. Many people lost their homes and many died in the heat and the fires. In the mean time I was walking to Church and the gym (five miles each way) everyday. After a week of this, Father William saw me and suggested that he had a bike I could borrow. For the next three weeks I was riding a bike back and forth to Mass and gym. I am almost 65 years old with weak legs.
After two weeks with a temp tooth and riding the bike my face started swelling up on one side to the point that it seems it would pop. My Portuguese friend saw me on a Portuguese holiday and took me to emergency at the Hospital in Ourem and they gave me antibiotics on the feast of the Assumption. Just before the High Mass I took the antibiotics and before the three hour Mass was over the swelling started going down. I rode my bike home and took more antibiotics and within two weeks I was back to normal. I went back to the dentist and told her what happened and she removed the temp tooth and told me to keep it out for another two weeks until the infection went away because it was turning my tongue black.
After getting my car back from the nuns a little rain came to Fatima and everyone was happy. Unfortunately for me it made the roads slick and some poor old lady could not stop and skidded into the back of my parked car and pushed me into another car. So now I am back walking again until the insurance company gets me a loaner car to drive until mine is fixed. From two cars to none in one month, the Month of Sacrifice.
The dollar has dipped to the point that $1000.00 USA dollars is now worth 800 Euros and this is causing me to loose 200 Euros a month. Therefore in order to save for the dentist and a new car I must sacrifice in the little things. This I must do and do not have a choice in the mater. Something I would not do on my own.
Funny thing though, I have tried to take one inch off my waist for over a year now and never could. However, three weeks of riding a bike back and forth to Mass in 110 degree temperature has done what I could not do in a year. My bad legs are now cured and I walk up and down stairs like a young man. Perhaps even when I get my car back, I will go back to the bike again just to keep me young. In truth I am in better shape now at 65 than I was at 35, maybe even at 25.
God does not send sacrifices to weak men like me without sending His consolations and He did. Sister Isabelle called me to invite me to the Convent in Coimbra because on of the nuns had died and they were having a funeral the next day. This may seem like a funny consolation but the death of a nun at Coimbra is not a sad thing. They, of course, will miss her, but this is what we are all born to do. We are here to get out of here. She died in the arms of Our Lady, in the arms of Our Lord, and in the arms of the nuns in Coimbra including Lucia of Fatima. The Funeral Mass allowed me to be in prayer around the coffin with all the nuns of Coimbra offering her our love, our prayers and a goodbye until we meet again in Heaven.
August give us four Marian feast days to celebrate our love of Her, August 13, the day She appeared over the tree but the Children were in jail and August 19th, the day She appeared in the village after they were released on August 15th. We also have the Assumption and the Coronation.
Again a few days ago (after I got my car back) another nun at the Convent in Coimbra died and again Sister Isabelle called me to attend. Being around the nuns at Coimbra is like being in Heaven to me. Maybe it is Lucia's influence, or maybe all Carmelite nuns are like this, but I feel the joy of the Holy Spirit just being around them. They have a look of pure joy about them as though everything in the world is pure and holy and we know this is not true. We know they have problems just like everyone else. But they accept these problems as though they had none.
Having these two funerals, one before my problems and one after, has taught me a good lesson. What does it mater that we have these little trials and inconveniences in life? All that matters is that we stay faithful to God and He will be faithful to us. We love Him and we will die in His Arms. What else matters? Nothing. I still have no tooth and cannot smile at people. I still must find a way to get a second car before time for the nuns to use mine again. I still have to save money each mouth in sacrificial ways, but I have not lost the joy I have in living in the Arms of Our Lady of Fatima. "What do you want of me?" That is all we should pray for ourselves and She will take care of everything else. After all, She is Our Mother.