Sis. Ângela de Fátima Coelho, asm
Fr. Alexandre Palma
Everything began with an answer. Because everything began with a request: «Are you willing to offer yourselves to God»? So it was, on the 13th of May 1917, in Cova da Iria, at that first dialogue between the Virgin Mary and the three little shepherds of Fatima. And the answer, filled with that daring generosity so typical of children, was full of future: «Yes, we are willing». Today, their future is also our present. For thus, a fecund path of lived holiness was opened. An authentic biography of a personal and total, committed and faithful Yes. That Yes that is now recognized, in a public and affirmative way, as an expression of evangelized life. That Yes that is now, through a gesture of the whole Church, canonized as a face of holiness.
The biography of this «yes» tells us that holiness begins by being a calling. God invites to a life with Him. In the beginning of this biography, as in the beginning of everything, there is God, who calls everything into existence. Holiness is, in its genesis and structure, the excellent fruit of a vocation. But all interpretation asks for an answer and commitment. The «yes» of the little shepherds is, simultaneously, expression of a present trust and prophecy of a new relationship with God. Because that was the itinerary of life of Francisco and Jacinta. A first yes, as big as the calling that «convoked» them. A yes repeated in so many small gestures with which their short lives were woven. A spoken yes, prophecy of a lived yes. For us today, an accomplished prophecy and, therefore, the right expression of life sanctified by God. Because it is the identification with that eternal «yes» that introduced us into a new relationship of alliance with God: «the Son of God, Jesus Christ, […] was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes”» (2Cor 1, 19-20).
After one hundred years, it becomes clear how the biography of that «yes» has not finished yet. It continues to resound, as it continues to interpellate. Because what is being canonized in Francisco and Jacinta is, precisely, this «yes» and the new life in God that he made possible and generated. What is being canonized is the identification of this «yes» with the «yes» of Christ. What is being canonized, given as a model for the Church and for the world, is the committed freedom, the faithful commitment and the happy fidelity that, with this answer, became lived life in the little shepherds. What is going to be canonized, re-reading with gratitude this centennial history of Fatima, is the love to the will of God, so cultivated by Francisco, and the gift of the self for the brethren, so deepened by Jacinta. Here is why their «yes» is still alive. Their biography lives now a symbolic moment of particular intensity: after 100 years, in the same place, the whole Church meets, around «the bishop dressed in white», to canonize the «yes» of Francisco and Jacinta. And in this way, that simple response is no longer only memory of the past. It is also an invitation for the present, prophecy of a new future. Because now, as we know, the Virgin has them at her side, when she addresses us with a maternal voice and, from Fatima, asks us anew: are you willing to offer yourselves to God?