Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The simple lesson of childhood

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 14, 2020

Sometimes it seems our world changed almost overnight. Now words like “exponential,” “antibody,” “pandemic” and “social distancing” are part of our daily vocabulary. 

Each day news reports detail the latest information from the president, the CDC, epidemiologists and medical researchers. How many more people have tested positive for COVID-19? How many tests are available? How many people have died? 

And then came the photograph taken in Guadalupe, Peru, that quickly made its way around the world. 

It shows a 6-year-old boy on his knees, praying in the middle of a deserted street at night. His father said their house was noisy, so his son headed outside to ask God for help in the midst of the pandemic. 

The child probably has no knowledge of the graphs, the curves, the economic turmoil, the dire proclamations and predictions. 

But he does know things are bad and people are dying—and when this happens, we turn to God for help. A simple enough lesson children learn readily, while we adults complicate everything. 

There were three children in Fatima, Portugal, who were tending their families’ sheep, when the Blessed Mother first appeared to them on May 13, 1917. 

They described her as a “Lady all in white, more brilliant than the sun… indescribably beautiful.”

They were Lucia dos Santos, 10,  and her cousins, Francisco, 9, and Jacinta Marto, 7. For the next five months, the Blessed Mother appeared to the children on the 13th day of the month. She asked them to pray the rosary daily and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. 

She also promised a miracle that would help others believe the children’s claims were true. On Oct. 13, 1917, a crowd of about 70,000 people gathered to witness what was called the miracle of the sun, which had been prophesied by the children. People said the sun seemed to dance and tremble in the sky. 

Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died in her 90s, while Francisco and Jacinta died shortly after the apparitions of the Spanish flu, a pandemic that spread through the world between 1918-1920. 

When they were beatified in Fatima in 2000, Pope St. John Paul II said, “The Church wishes to put on the candelabrum these two candles which God lit to illumine humanity in its dark and anxious hours.” 

Pope Francis made church history in 2017 on the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, when he canonized Francisco and Jacinta, who are the youngest non-martyrs to become saints. At the ceremony there was a Brazilian child, Lucas, 10, who had been miraculously cured through the intercession of Jacinta and Francisco. 

Pope Francis said, “The three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady. She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her.” 

The little boy praying alone in the street. Three children tending their sheep. A boy cured through a miracle. 

Children are humble and small and seemingly insignificant. Still, they tell us the secret of life, expressed by Jesus: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Let’s be like the little boy on his knees, praying on a dark street at night. Let’s be like the children of Fatima, who saw the beautiful lady and began praying the rosary daily. Let’s be like the boy who knew he was healed by a miracle. 

We must embrace the humble faith of a child. We must trust that God is in control and will heal our world. That might take a miracle, but we have Our Lady, plus St. Jacinta and St. Francisco in heaven, and they will give us a hand. Really, sometimes it’s that simple. 

Artwork is by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef. Her email address is