By Peggy Weber

IMG_8596Those familiar with social media know that there is a new term “FOMO.”  It means “fear of missing out.” It is defined as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.”

I have not experienced FOMO  but as a young girl I had a different kind of worry. I had “FOMA.”  This is not as well-known but it means “fear of Mary appearing.” I had often read of the young children and others who had the Blessed Mother appear to them and I always worried that she might show up and start talking to me. I would walk past the giant stature of Mary in my school yard and say hello. I  smiled and said a prayer, but I never wanted that statue to come to life or to see her in the lilac bush in my back yard. Oh, I wanted to be a good and holy girl but I did not want to deal with all of the difficult things that happened to those who were blessed with a Marian apparition.

For example, the children of Fatima, Jacinta ,7, Francisco, 9 and Lucia, 10 were questioned over and over by their parents and parish priest. As more and more people came to the site where Mary appeared the government grew uneasy.  On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator jailed the children. He interrogated and threatened the children to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. It is reported that Lucia’s  mother hoped the official could persuade the children to end the affair and admit that they had lied. Imagine how difficult it must have been for those youngsters. 

Bernadette Soubirous, who saw the Blessed Mother at Lourdes, was mocked and questioned about what she saw and even told not to return to the site where she encountered Mary.

And Juan Diego had to prove to the bishop that Mary was real. Thanks to a cascade of roses and the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on  his cloak he got approval, but of course it took courage for a poor man in Mexico to speak up to the bishop. He did, though, have Mary on his side.

It takes a lot courage to speak out about the faith. It is not easy to be holy. And as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother appearing at Fatima, let us applaud the courage of those who shared their blessing and withstood doubt, hardship and even prison. It is good that they didn’t have FOMA.

Weber is a former columnist for Catholic Communications. 

 

 

 

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