From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
Abba Poemen said that a brother asked Abba Simon, “If I come out of my cell and find my brother amusing himself, I amuse myself with him and if I find him in the act of laughing, I laugh with him. Then when I return to my cell, I am no longer at peace.”
The old man said to him, “So, when you come out of your cell and find people laughing or talking, you want to laugh and talk with them, and when you return to your cell, you expect to find yourself as you were before?”
The brother said, “What should I do?”
The old man replied, “Be watchful inwardly; be watchful outwardly.”
It is so easy to be carried off to a place one has struggled to escape, just by engaging in a casual conversation with friends!
The Fatima children, after the apparitions, seemed to have recognized that they had to be watchful inwardly and outwardly. In her memoirs, Lucia describes little Jacinta as a child who loved “frivolity” and dancing; but after the apparitions, she was much more serious and no longer engaged in the playful pastimes of a child. Jacinta also, says Lucia, had no problem telling people to “stop doing that; you are offending the Lord Our God, and He is already so much offended!” And if they did not stop, she would turn and walk away from them.
Lucia describes Francisco as a quiet boy who preferred to be alone. After the apparitions, he became more so. Sometimes he would play with other children, but often he would either decline or leave them after a time. When asked why, he might say, “Because you are not good” or “I want to be alone”. He too had been given the grace to understand that he must be watchful inwardly and outwardly.
What lessons there are for us in the lives of the Fatima children, as well as in Lucia’s adult life. Perhaps I will write more on that in the future.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.