IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
By ALEX M. EDUQUE
All Souls’ Day for me this year was spent differently – in a rather unexpected way, actually. I found myself in Portugal that weekend, and on that very Saturday, decided to go on a day trip to Fatima. Having been to Lourdes a couple times, I have always wanted to visit the place where our Lady of the Holy Rosary appeared to three shepherd children – Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia – which my grandmother would always talk to me about, growing up. As a child, my mom too had visited Fatima together with her parents, and it was this experience that my grandmother would so fondly recall and vividly describe to me when I was younger, which, I suppose, had always sparked a curiosity within me. That, together with the fact that in my grandparents’ room then, my parents’ room now, stands prominently the quintessential figure of our Lady of Fatima in an apparition with the three children.
It is hard to describe, but I felt an air of holiness and sacredness, if you will, the moment I entered the grounds. I do not know if it was psychological, but I was automatically calmed, and felt the peaceful positive energy and tranquility the place of prayer brought about. I was fortunate enough to catch a mass held in the site of one of the actual apparitions (where a grotto now stands) and though it was in Portuguese, it was a reminder that in prayer, we all speak the same language and stand unitedly. These simple reminders are the beauty and meaning such places are able to bring evoke and bring about.
I then entered the church where the remains of Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta lay in rest. I noticed that there were children everywhere – a lot of them actually, and young ones at that – yet, they all somehow seemed to be silenced as they either sat on the pews or walked around with their parents. To be honest, I was surprised. But that is the energy of sanctity and calm the place brings about. Devotees are everywhere, making their way to the altar on their knees while praying the rosary – a showcase of faith and devotion so admirable, most especially those in the outdoors as it was raining. I can imagine the energy of the place can be overwhelming to some, but to me, it was uplifting. And most importantly, a reminder of the importance of faith in ones’ life.
After saying some prayers and lighting a few candles, I made my way a few kilometers away from the actual grounds of the apparition to the town where the houses where Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta once lived stand. To see where they grew up so carefully preserved and restored almost just to its original state was impressive. It was then I learned that Jacinta and Francisco sadly passed away because of the flu as young children (after which their parents moved to the house across the street which is also now available for viewing) and that Lucia went on to be a nun, who had passed away in 2005. In fact, when my mom, her siblings and parents went to Fatima 55 years ago, they had the honor of meeting Lucia.
When I spontaneously made the decision to go to Fatima (as I already happened to be in Europe for a trip) for the weekend, it did not dawn on me until I was on the way that I would be spending All Souls’ Day in a holy place. Though it was very different from my normal way of celebrating the day, it was a most meaningful one. In such a beautiful and special place of prayer, I was able to give thanks for so many wonderful things, and offer up my intentions not only for myself, but for my nearest and dearest. It was also the perfect place to pray for our dearly departed, and it was then that I realized that with faith, and living a life of daily prayer really does allow things to fall into place even when you do not always do things intentionally. In other words, “Life does happen when you are busy making other plans,” as the famous saying goes. Yes, but the best of it happens when you put aside a few minutes in your every day for prayer – in whatever way or language you know best.