My Fatima Testimony
I can't wait until we all get to heaven and can sit around and listen to everyone's faith story. There will be as many ways the Lord used to bring us to salvation as there are people! Because we are all unique, each of us will have a one-of-a kind testimony to share. Won't it be just incredible to hear the stories?
With that in mind, I'd like to share a bit of my testimony. It is no better than anyone else's, but interesting enough that I think it's worth sharing this month of May. On May 13 our Holy Father will canonize Jacinto and Francisco Marto, the children who received apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. As you will see, my testimony is very much wrapped around the messages and prophesies of Our Lady of Fatima.
My name is Mary Jane and I was born on February 18, 1950. In my Catholic baby book my family wrote that I was named after the Virgin Mary. My mother was named Anita, after St.Anne, the mother of Our Lady. In the old church calendar February 18 was the feast of St. Bernadette. Mary and her apparitions were part of my life before I was aware of it.
As a child I attended St. Gabriels School in Priaire du Chien, Wisconsin and was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. They prepared us well for the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. To this day I can recall my First Communion as a day of fervent recollection, almost no different than the communions I receive now as an adult Catholic with a proper disposition. So prepared for that blessed event by the good sisters! How I loved my faith as a child!
It was Sister Charista who told us about Fatima. An elderly little sister, bent and wrinkled but with the bluest eyes and the strongest faith, she didn't mince words. We were told about the fires of hell, the annihilations of whole nations and the whole thing! It was enough to make any child thinking of stealing a pencil in the classroom think twice about it! No one wanted to commit even the tiniest venial sin!
We were told to pray the rosary for the conversion of Russia, of course, so that's what I started to do on my little First Communion rosary. Often I prayed it, not only for Russia, but when I was afraid of one thing or another over the years. It seemed to help.
The sisters told us about the Third Secret of Fatima, which was given to the visionary Lucia, and was to be read by the pope in 1960 and revealed to the world. How anxiously I awaited that day! Not anxious in a good sense, but with great fear and trepidation. I was only nine years old when New Years Day of 1960 rolled around and yet I remember it well.
In my young mind I conjured up all kinds of things that could be contained in the secret. Maybe an atomic bomb would go off somewhere and whole nations would be "annihilated", as the Virgin Mary prophesied. It would be a chastisement from God because the world hadn't listened to the message of Fatima and fulfilled the requirements.
Or maybe, there would be signs in the sun, or the moon, or the stars. Nature would be overturned and Jesus would come back to judge the world. Maybe the End of the World was near. Thus were my thoughts that New Years Day.
My parents didn't know the terror I had in my heart. I couldn't tell them, shy child that I was, but they must have wondered why I kept peering out through the venetian blinds all day at the sky above.
Nothing happened, of course. I rationalized that day that the Secret would be revealed soon and I needed to be on guard, keep my soul in the state of grace and prepare for a chastisement. The days, weeks, and months passed. Nothing was revealed to us about the Third Secret of Fatima. I wondered why then, and I still do today.
So I grew up, got married and had two children. Never forgetting Fatima, I often prayed my rosary for the conversion of Russia. Whenever I was afraid, I'd turn to God in prayer. He always seemed to be there, but I never felt his presence.
Now this is where my testimony begins. On an early spring day in March of 1974 I picked up the Cedar Rapids Gazette off the breakfast table and began to read it. On the bottom of the front page was the headlines "Sign of the Cross Seen Over Moon". It caught my attention immediately.
In the article it said that the sign of a cross had been seen over the moon the night before and that a Coe College professor explained the phenomenon as ice crystals in the atmosphere. Say what they will, that's not what I thought it was!
It was one of the SIGNS taking place in the heavens to usher in the return of Jesus Christ. All the thoughts and fears I had as a child came back to me in a flood. Fatima and End Times scriptures filled my mind.
Nation would rise against nation........ the stars would fall from the sky........the sun would be darkened.........the moon turn to blood..........and everything else in the bible was surely coming to pass before my eyes, I thought.
Now what was I to do? I was no longer the nine year old child peering out the windows, but a twenty-four year old woman, married with children. I did the first thing that came naturally to me as I'd done all my life. I got out my rosary and began to pray.
For three days I prayed and did penance of various kinds, preparing myself for whatever was coming. If it was a chastisement, I'd be strong enough to handle it. If it were the Lord returning in the clouds I'd be ready for that, too.
The interesting thing was this: I didn't know how to feel right with God. Although I was a Catholic of good standing, I realized that something was missing if I was feeling the way I was. Surely, trying to follow the Ten Commandments was all there was to do, but my inablility to keep out of venial sins was weighing me down. How could anyone be perfect and ready to meet God? I knew all about Jesus, and I was trying to serve him, but there was something wrong that I couldn't put my finger on.
On the third day of prayer and penance it happened. I had just put my children down for their naps and I was coming down the steps from the upstairs when I noticed that it looked dark downstairs. Going to the kitchen window I looked out. It was a cloudy day, but not as dark as the darkness that seemed to be in the house. I again looked out the window trying to understand what was going on.
I stood there in silence, discerning. What was it? The darkness was so real, yet it wasn't in the room. It was a darkness so real I could almost feel it. I was scared. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. It was in my spirit, a spiritual darkness that was getting darker by the moment until it felt like it was going to envelope me.
What should I do? I thought to myself. Where should I go? Who can help me? I knew the only one who could help me, the one I turned to in prayer all my life. So I got down on my knees on the kitchen floor. Looking up I imagined I was kneeling before the very throne of God.
I put my hands out opened and palms up. This was my prayer.
"Dear God, all my life I've tried to be good...... I've tried to do the right things and to follow the Ten Commandments, but I can't do it..... I give up........ I give you my life. Do with it as you please, but please don't leave me alone!" A simple, heartfelt prayer by a silly woman afraid of the dark, but the most powerful prayer I'd ever prayed to that moment.
I would have added more to the prayer, but before I could do so the most gentle love filled my heart to overflowing. Jesus loved me. I knew it. I could feel it well up within me and tears began to fall from my eyes. "Jesus loved me!" I said right out loud as I sat down on the kitchen floor and let the feelings wash over me.
The darkness was gone and the most brilliant light filled the room. It was as if the roof had been ripped off the house and the very sun itself had come into the room. Yet I couldn't see it with my eyes. Just as the darkness had been so dark, now the sun had never seemed so bright.
And the joy! What was this joy all about? I started to laugh through my tears. Jesus loved me and I could feel his presence and his love and an incredible joy. I sat there for the longest time enjoying the whole experience. Whatever it was, I didn't know.
When I finally did decide to get up I asked myself what I had been so upset about the past three days. I remembered. It all started with the article in the paper. Fumbling through the papers on the table I found it and read again the article about the cross behind the moon. The fear was completely gone. I went again to the window and looked out at the sky. If Jesus were to return in glory soon I was ready to meet him!
Before I put the paper back down on the table a picture formed in my mind. It was of a large crowd of people wearing white robes and holding palm branches in hands.
It was from the Bible. I knew it was. Now where was the bible I had in college? I wondered. It had to be in the house somewhere. I had to find it and immediately. Going through the house room by room my eyes searched until I found it on the very bottom of a bookcase.
Literally blowing the dust off the cover I opened it and began to look. Not knowing where it could be found in the Bible, I flipped randomly and read as I went. Soon I came across Revelation 7: 9.
"After this I saw a great multitude which no man could number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.' And all the angels were standing round about the throne, and the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, 'Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen.'
So there it is. This child named Mary was led to the messages of Fatima. There the Virgin Mary led me to pray the rosary. The rosary led me to the throne of God. At the foot of the throne I prayed and found the peace I had been seeking all my life. I learned later that what I had experienced was called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Now that the two Fatima children, Jacinto and Fransisco will be canonized this month, on May 13, 2000, I feel most honored to be alive to witness this wonderful event. Although I've never been to that little village in Portugal, I feel like I'm a part of it all. Afterall, my life was changed because of it and I will never be the same.
Mary Jane Keppler
Back to Catholic Testimonies