Husband & Wife Articles


Our Family’s Fatima Birthday

Our Lady has a central place in my motherhood and our family life

By Sabrina Arena Ferrisi

My first son was born on May 13 in Rome, Italy. The day was significant for so many reasons. First, it happened to be Mother’s Day. As I beheld my first-born son, my husband, nurses, doctors and relatives congratulated me for this adorable little baby and “Il Giorno della Mamma.” It was also the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. When I look back at the last 13 years, I see how important the rosary has been to my motherhood.

I first learned about Our Lady of Fatima when I was 16. I was studying physics at the Academy of the Resurrection, and having a terrible time with it. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get excited about gravity, force and motion. But there was something special about my physics teacher. Mr Purporra was an elderly and deeply Catholic man who cared about us students. One day, when we sat down at our desks, each of us found a book about Our Lady of Fatima in front of us. He told us that the book was a present and he hoped we would read it.

I went home and read the book in three days. I never spoke about it with any of my classmates, nor did they speak about it with me. But after reading the story about Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, and their encounters with Our Lady, I took the rosary far more seriously. The story made me realize that children are capable of holiness and heroic virtue. Somehow, the rosary – if prayed with honesty and diligence – can help us grow in virtue. But more importantly, Mary really listens to our prayers and intercedes for us. Throughout my life, I have seen countless prayers answered through the rosary.

As a mother of five children, I thank God constantly for the blessing they are in my life. Yet, it is not without its moments of stress. I find myself looking for my rosary beads all the time during moments of peace and moments of turbulence. I try to say the entire rosary with my children from time to time, though it can be very difficult. Sometimes a decade is all we can manage.

I recently heard this quote from Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the eldest of the three visionaries at Fatima. I was having a difficult “mommy day” so it couldn’t have come at a better time:

“There is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary, we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”

It was a quote I needed to hear, and I think that many of us need to hear. It’s not an easy task to raise children by any stretch of the imagination. But we have a weapon, and it only takes about 15 minutes a day to plug into it.

Some of my boys are fascinated by superhero stories. I realized recently that every superhero seems to have his or her weapon of choice: spider-webs, a shield, a powerful suit. We have a weapon of choice too. The rosary centers us. It teaches us to trust God and have patience. And it works. There is no problem that cannot be resolved by the rosary.

As a mother, I cannot protect my children at all times from falling down, from the occasional mean child or less-than-perfect teacher. But I can protect them at all times through the rosary: by asking Our Lady to wrap her mantle of protection around them.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is senior writer for Legatus magazine.