May is the month Catholic devotion to Mary increases. Praying the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and the May Crowning by children who received their First Holy Communion are common devotions throughout the diocese. Just this past weekend many of our young children received the Eucharist for the first time. It happened on a significant day: May 13th. On that day in 1917 Mary appeared to three children in Fatima: Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. Providentially the day of First Communion was tied together with one of Mary’s most important apparitions.
Before these three children encountered Mary in 1917, they had another visit in the spring of 1916 with an angel. The angel appeared three times to them. The first time he taught them to pray for the conversion of sinners. The second time he taught them to offer sacrifices to help people convert. Finally, at the third visit the angel gave each child Holy Communion. Jacinta had already received Holy Communion, but for Lucia and Francisco, this was their first time. Each visit was meant to strengthen the children for their encounter with Mary a year later.
While we often associate these three children with Mary’s apparition a year later, it was the encounter with the angel a year prior that changed and prepared them. In particular, their reception of Holy Communion would enable these young children to do great deeds for the conversion of the world. This year, God reminds all those families and children who celebrated their First Communion about the power and need of the Eucharist.