Impressions of the June 13 Apparition

And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail.  And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered (Revelation 11:19-12:2).

February 23, 2017                                                                                                                               The Memorial of Saint Polycarp

1) The public nature of the event

This is important because it demonstrates the extraordinary nature of the events at Fatima.  There were three primary witnesses (Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco) who could see the Blessed Virgin and all saw the same thing; two (Lucia and Jacinta) who could hear hear speak and both heard the same thing; and a single witness (Lucia) who both spoke to the Virgin and was answered by her.  But, as both Lucia’s own comments and William Thomas Walsh’s description of the lead up to the June 13, 1917 apparition reveals, there were also many other people present at the time of the Apparition.  Did they see or hear anything?  And if so what?

Here is William Thomas Walsh’s answer to that question from p. 67-68 of Our Lady of Fatima, starting with the voice of Maria Carreira describing what she heard while Lucia was speaking to Our Lady:

“Then we began to hear something like this, something like a very faint voice, but we could not understand what it was saying.  It was like the buzzing of a bee.”

Some of the bystanders noticed that the light of the sun seemed dimmer during the following minutes, though the sky was cloudless.  Others said that the top of the azinheira, covered with new growth, appeared to bend and curve just before Lucia spoke, as if under a weight.

That bit about the sound of a voice is the most convincing to me.  It is important to understand here that these things the children, and others, saw were not just images implanted in their mind or spirits, but an actual person.  The Blessed Virgin Mary has a body, as we know from the dogma of the Assumption.  It is a glorified body like that of her Divine Son and therefore it must have all the properties that the Gospels tell us that his Body had after his Resurrection i.e. the ability to appear and disappear from view, the ability to change shape, the ability to be in multiple locations at the same time and not to be deterred by material barriers such as walls, but also the ability to eat and drink and accomplish all of the tasks our bodies need to do though without them being necessary, as well as an infinite number of other properties that we were probably not told about.  In any case there was a real physical presence here and the testimony of these other witnesses bear this out.

All of this makes me unsure how the events of Fatima can be strictly classified as private revelation.  These clearly were not visions that only one person saw.  I’m not certain where to place Fatima on that continuum so I will leave it to the Church and the Holy Father to sort it all out.

2) A simple request

“I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read.”

To learn to read.  A simple request to most of us.  Anyone who is reading these words has obviously learned how to read.  But for a peasant girl from Aljustrel, Portugal in 1917 this may not have been entirely in character.  Very many people in the Portuguese countryside at that time were illiterate all their lives and it didn’t bother them a bit.  They had other duties to perform.  But Our Lady wanted Lucia to learn to read, and presumably to write.  So that is what Lucia did.

A century later we can perhaps better appreciate this request than the little girl from the Portuguese hill country did in 1917.  Lucia wrote the volume I have been quoting from.  She wrote to bishops and to popes.  God loves to work through instruments, particularly humble instruments.  And the written words of this humble peasant girl, relaying Our Lady’s message from heaven, have shaken the world.

One thinks of the many times these simple requests or inspirations from Heaven have altered the world.  One thinks in the first place of the request from Heaven to the Virgin of Nazareth nineteen centuries before she herself was to make this request of Lucia.  One thinks of the inspiration Saint Jerome had in the Syrian desert to learn Hebrew.  We still possess the monument, the Vulgate, that his affirmative reply to that inspiration left to the world.  One simple yes, one humble person, can change the world.

3) I will never forsake you

“Yes. I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish in the world to my Immaculate Heart.”

“Am I to stay here alone?” I asked, sadly.

“No, my daughter.  Are you suffering a great deal?  Don’t lose heart.  I will never forsake you.  My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

This to me is the promise that cinches the deal.  I defy the skeptics to explain this prophecy: I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, both during the Spanish flu outbreak that attacked the world during and after the end of the First World War.  But what about Lucia?  Well, Lucia did die: on February 13, 2005 at the age of 97 years old.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Heaven does enjoy these sort of pithy little understatements.

Don’t lose heart.  I will never forsake you.  My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.  What a consolation that promise must have been during the long and strange course of Lucia’s life.  She was born anonymously in a time and place where a donkey was the most convenient form of transportation and a luxury that only rarely took the place of one’s own feet.  She died with her name known across the earth three days before YouTube made its first appearance on the internet.

Her suffering was acute on that day, June 13, 1917.  While Jacinta and Francisco’s parents reacted generally positively to the news of the first Apparition on May 13, but Lucia’s parents and sisters did not.  One of her mother’s most admirable qualities was an almost pathological determination to tell the truth, no matter what the cost, and her determined desire to implant this remarkable character trait on her children.  But she became convinced that Lucia was lying and making it all up.  She was determined to break her child of this lie and force her to admit publicly to the parish priest and anyone else who would listen that it was all made up nonsense.  In addition the Cova da Iria was their personal family property and all of the people visiting the spot and tearing it up since May 13, and even more in the months to come, had made it unusable to pasture the sheep.

So on the morning of June 13 her mother and sisters sent Lucia off with acid comments ridiculing her and she, being human, was not in the greatest mood when she arrived at the Cova da Iria at midday.  Jacinta encouraged her reminding her of the Lady’s promise that they would have much to suffer, but that it would be for the conversion of sinners.  In any case now, after all this misery, she was hearing that her two cousins, the only other people on earth who could possibly understand what she was going through, would soon be gone from this world.

But what a consolation from the lips of the Blessed Virgin herself: I will never forsake you!

4) The suffering of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it.  We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.

This particular image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that the children saw is what made me choose those lines from the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, to begin this post.  I will repeat here the last verse of that passage i.e. what Saint John saw the woman clothed with sun going through:

And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.

That description of the woman from the Apocalypse bears a striking similarity to the image of the Immaculate Heart.  They both describe a woman in torment.  In particular I would like to discuss the phrase was in pain to be delivered.  That phrase comes from the old Douay-Rheims translation of the Latin Vulgate.  It is not the best possible translation, though I will own that this is not the easiest phrase to translate into smooth English.  But the Latin word that Saint Jerome used in the Vulgate for the phrase ‘was in pain’ was cruciabatur.  One doesn’t need to be a linguist to guess at what the root of that word is.  It is in the passive imperfect, so a possible translation from the Latin is that she was being crucified to be delivered.

But what about the Greek?  It isn’t exactly ‘was being crucified,’ but it is also far more intense than ‘was in pain.’  The Greek word is βασανιζομένη is a passive present particle that can signify any one of the following: being questioned by torture, being tortured, being vexed with grievous pains, being tormented.  There is also another use of the word that I find fascinating.  It applies to testing metals by the touchstone.  The touchstone is an ancient method of testing the purity of gold and/or other precious metals.

Pure gold being tested.  A woman with child crying in torment to be delivered.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary, the new Eve, the Mother of the living, pierced with thorns and being outraged by the sins of humanity.  Meditate on that.  What does it tell you?

Pray the Rosary daily.  Make reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Join the Rosary Confraternity.

The Apparition of June 13, 1917

I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all the grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.  Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits (Ecclesiasticus 24: 24-26).

February 22, 2017                                                                                                                           The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter

The 13th day of June has been for a very long time a very important day for Portuguese Catholics.  It is the Festa of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, known to most of the rest of the world as Saint Anthony of Padua.  The great saint was born in Portugal so the Portuguese have always claimed him as their own.  He only made it to Italy after his course was diverted when he sought to head for North Africa to preach the Gospel to the Muslims.  In any case word had gone out far and wide in the regions surrounding the childrens’ native Aljustrel after the Apparition of May 13, 1917.  And the news that another appearance of the Virgin Mary could be expected on Saint Anthony’s Day attracted believers and pilgrims, scoffers, and those who were just plain curious.

William Thomas Walsh describes the scene when Lucia returned home from tending the sheep early in the morning of June 13, 1917 in his 1947 work Our Lady of Fatima as follows:

Leaving the boy in charge of the sheep, she hurried home and found men and women from various places far and near -from Minde near Tomar, from Carrascos, from Boleiros.  For the story of the May apparition had somehow spread all over the mountains.  Many believed it; others were merely curious to see what would happen; and quite a number had taken the trouble to get up before dawn dawn and walk over the hills to accompany the children to the Cova da Iria…

It was about eleven o’clock when the child finally left home, with the strangers fanning out on either side of her.

He then describes the scene leading up to the Apparition as follows with a woman named Maria Carreira, who would later go on to play a big role in the development of devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, asking Lucia how long it would be until Our Lady arrived:

“No, Senhora, not very long,” replied Lucia, scanning the eastern sky.

They all said five decades of the Rosary.  This done, the pious girl from Boleiros started the Litany of Our Lady.  Lucia interrupted her, remarking that there would not be time.  Then, arising from the ground, she cried,

“Jacinta, there comes Our Lady!  There is the light!”

To describe Our Lady’s appearance on June 13, 1917 I will be using for the most part the account rendered by Sister Lucia in Volume IV of her memoirs, but the paragraph spoken by Our Lady that starts with “Yes.  I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.”  I took from  Appendix I where she gives a more complete account of the promise of Our Lady:

As soon as Jacinta, Francisco and I had finished prying the Rosary, with a number of other people who were present, we saw once more the flash reflecting the light which was approaching (which we called lightning).  The next moment, Our Lady was there on the holmoak, exactly the same as in May.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read.  Later, I will tell you what I want.”

I asked for the cure of a sick person.

“If he is converted, he will be cured during the year.”

“I would like to ask you to take us to heaven.”

“Yes.  I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.  I promise salvation to to those who embrace it, and these souls will be loved by God, like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne.”

“Am I to stay here alone?” I asked, sadly.

“No, my daughter.  Are you suffering a great deal?  Don’t lose heart.  I will never forsake you.  My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”

As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light.  We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God.  Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth.  In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it.  We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.

Let your heart meditate on that scene for a moment.  Pray the Rosary every day.  Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage.  For the conversion of the Jewish people, the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  These are her children too.  Make reparation for the outrages committed against the Immaculate Heart of your Mother.

Impressions of the May 13 Apparition

Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you (John 20:19).

February 16, 2017

The following are my opinions and observations, so take them for what they are worth:

1) The name of the Apparition site: the Cova da Iria

Heaven does nothing by accident.  There are no coincidences.  And names mean things.  The name of the site of the Apparitions means in English the Cove of Irene.  Cova means, quite obviously, ‘cove’ and Iria is the Portuguese rendering of the name ‘Irene.’  And where does the name Irene come from?  It comes from the Greek word Εἰρήνη which can be rendered in the Latin alphabet as Eirene. The word means ‘peace.’

The first words Our Lord spoke to his apostles after He rose from the dead, as written down in Greek by Saint John, when He met them in the Upper Room on that first Easter night, now so long ago, were Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν; Peace be upon you.  Heaven does nothing by accident.

2) The call to bear and to love the Cross

The question Our Lady asked Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco was nothing very original.  It is the same question asked of all the baptized since the Advent of Jesus Christ: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”

This was the same question asked of all those martyrs who gave their answer and confessed their faith in Jesus Christ by shedding their blood during those first three hundred years.  And their answer won peace for the Church of Rome for more than a millennium, from the age of Constantine to the advent of Luther in the sixteenth and of the secret societies in the eighteenth centuries.

And so as a gracious reminder from Heaven of how to fight our battles Our Lady asked the question once again, a century ago, to three young children.  Lucia answered ‘yes’ for all three.  Our Lady then responding with these most consoling words “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

What is this suffering?  It is the Cross.  It is the rejection of my own will, of my own twisted and fallen nature.  It is the refusal to drink a draught of that shimmering liquid from the golden chalice that is laced with deadly poison.  It is primarily the refusal to sin, no matter what the temptation.

Blessed is the rich man that is found without blemish…  He that could have transgressed and hath not transgressed: and could do evil things and hath not done them (Sirach/Eccles 31: 8, 10).

And yes we all fall flat on our face some days but that is why there is Confession.  We in the Church seem to have lost track of something very crucial a very very long time ago: to bear the Cross and to love to bear the Cross is what it means to be a Christian.  Because that is what He did.  And we cannot do it on our own.  We must simply accept the sufferings that God sends us and the grace to suffer will come with that acceptance.  “The grace of God will be your comfort.”

It is the annihilation of my own will in order to allow the will of God to enter into my heart.  In this we unite ourselves with Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ did the will of God no matter what the consequences to Himself because He knew that his Father loved Him and He therefore trusted Him.  This is what Adam did not do.  This is how we find peace.  In the Cross is where Εἰρήνη lives.  This is where we find our own Cova da Iria.  That cove of peace after a night journey on the storm tossed sea in a boat with no oars.  This is where the Blessed Virgin will come to dwell with us and bring her Divine Son with her.

3) The seventh Apparition and another step into the minefield

Ok, so there is one small but potentially astronomically important point that we have to deal with here.  And it requires us once again to enter the Fatima minefield.

Our Lady promised another Apparition that to my knowledge has not yet occurred.  I will quote her words to Lucia once again here from May 13, 1917 telling the children when they were supposed to come to the Cova da Iria:

I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour.  Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want.  Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.

“Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.”  She promises to appear in Fatima once again, but she says nothing about Lucia, Jacinta, or Francisco being there, and all three of them have now left this earth.  Sister Lucia reported that Our Lady did appear to her again on other occasions after October 13, 1917 those Apparitions did not take place in the Cova da Iria but in the various convents that Sister Lucia was living in.  So what does this mean: “Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time”?

First we have to clear through the minefield a bit first.  And we must once again deal with a footnote.  Footnote number 12 on page 166 of Fatima in Lucia’s own words reads like this:

This “seventh time”, refers to the 16th of June, 1921, on the eve of Lucia’s departure to Vilar de Oporto.  The Apparition in question had a personal message for Lucia, which she did not consider necessary to relate here.

Really?  In fact Sister Lucia in all of her published writings NEVER NEVER NEVER mentions any Apparition taking place in the Cova da Iria in June, 1921.  She mentions having visited the Cova da Iria before leaving for Vilar but she says nothing anywhere about any Apparition.  And keep in mind something else: Lucia was writing her memoirs under obedience.  That means that that bit about her not considering it necessary to relate the story of this supposed apparition is pure poppycock.  Aside from the Secret Sister Lucia wrote down everything that the Blessed Virgin told her because she was doing it under obedience to the Bishop of Leira.  She would not have left this June 16, 1921 apparition out of her record if it had actually happened.

So if Lucia didn’t tell this tale then where did it come from? This is a question that can actually be answered.  It comes from the appendix to Father John de Marchi’s 1952 work The True Story of Fatima.  In this appendix Father de Marchi states the following:

Though no attempt has been made in this volume to describe the fulfillment of Our Lady’s promise to return to the Cova da Iria a seventh time, it can be said with certainty that the apparition did take place.  It occurred June 18, 1921, Lucia’s last day in Aljustrel before leaving for the convent school at Vilar.  That evening, having left her home, and paying a last visit to the Cova da Iria, she is said to have seen Our Lady standing at a spot now occupied by the lower steps of the basilica.  I wrote to Sister Lucia about this, but have not received a reply.  I have, however, been assured by a priest very close to Lucia that she has confirmed this happening.   -J.D.

I wish to cast no aspersions on Father de Marchi, God rest his soul, but there are a lot of problems with this.  First Lucia NEVER mentions anything in connection with the promised seventh Apparition anywhere in her writings, not once ever.  Second, she never wrote him back which tells me that she was not going to discuss the subject for whatever reason.  Third, this crazy footnote says it was the 16th of June, not the 18th.  Fourth, it is a lapse for a serious writer of history to ever use the phrase “she is said to have seen…”.  Said by who?  Fifth, where is the ‘personal message’?  And sixth who was this priest that Father de Marchi reports was “very close to Lucia” who heard her confirm the account that he gives us here.  This has all the marks of a story concocted by men (we do not know who, and I do not accuse Father de Marchi since I do not know where he got this from) and embellished over time.

I mention all of this because this is what you will hear.  This myth that the seventh Apparition has already taken place. and was no big deal has become part of ‘what people say’ about Fatima.  In other words it is part of ‘Church speak’ and the ‘acceptable telling’ of the Fatima story.

And I mention it as well because if it hasn’t happened yet then it is the story of the millennium.  If we believe that Our Lady appeared at the Cova da Iria on May 13, June 13, July 13, August 13 (witnesses said that they saw signs of Our Lady’s presence in the Cova da Iria even though the children were in prison on that day), September 13, and October 13, 1917 then we must believe that she will appear there again.  But to whom?  All of the original visionaries have now long since left this world.  We don’t know.  We only know that it will be “afterwards,” but after what exactly we cannot say.

4) Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war

Peace.  This promise was initially and probably quite legitimately applied to the First World War then raging across Europe with Portuguese soldiers fighting in France.  But there are many wars in the world.  There are political/military/social conflicts, there is my personal war with my own fallen nature and with temptation, and there is the general war waged by the devil against the human race.  And all of these wars intersect at various points along the continuum of our existence.

Writing eight decades after the Fatima Apparitions in her 1997 work “Calls” from the Message of Fatima Sister Lucia writes brilliantly on this topic and relates the call to daily recitation of the Rosary to victory in all of these wars.  Perserverance in daily recitation of the Rosary will in the end crush the head of the serpent.  It impresses the life of Jesus Christ on your mind which enables you, especially combined with frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, to better reproduce the life of Jesus Christ in your own life and to bring Him into a world that is starving for Him.  Peace.

Please pray the Rosary daily for the Five Lost Sees and for the conversion of the Muslims and the Jews.  And pray for the Holy Father Pope Francis.

 

 

The Apparition of May 13, 1917

For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24: 27).

February 15, 2017

I will recount here the first apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary to the three young children as recounted by the Servant of God Venerable Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart in her fourth memoir composed in 1941 using the English version published in 1998.

Just one word in advance.  The primary witnesses of the Apparitions were the children Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto.  During the Apparitions Francisco only saw the Blessed Virgin, but did not hear what she said while both Jacinta and Lucia heard the words of Our Lady.  Lucia however was the only one who ever spoke to the Virgin.  Now on to the account of the Apparition of May 13, 1917:

High up on the slope in the Cova da Iria, I was playing with Jacinta and Francisco at building a little stone wall around a clump of furze.  Suddenly we saw what seemed to be a flash of lightning.

“We’d better go home,” I said to my cousins, “that’s lightning; we may have a thunderstorm.”

“Yes, indeed!” they answered.

We began to go down the slope, hurrying the sheep along toward the road.  We were more or less half-way down the slope and almost level with a large holmoak tree that stood there, when we saw another flash of lightning.  We had only gone a few steps further when, there before us on a small holmoak, we beheld a Lady all dressed in white.  She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.

We stopped, astounded, before the Apparition.  We were so close, just a few feet from her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, or rather, which radiated from her.  Then Our Lady spoke to us:

“Do not be afraid.  I will do you no harm.”

“Where are you from?”

“I am from heaven.”

“What do you want of me?”

“I have come to ask you to come here for six months in succession, on the 13th day, at this same hour.  Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want.  Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.”

“Shall I go to heaven too?”

“Yes, you will.”

“And Jacinta?”

“She will go also.”

“And Francisco?”

“He will go there too, but he must say many Rosaries.”

Then I remembered to ask about two girls who had died recently.  They were friends of mine and used to come to my home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.

“Is Maria das Neves in heaven?”

“Yes, she is.”  (I think she was about 16 years old).

“And Amelia?”

“She will be in purgatory until the end of the world.”  (It seems to me that she was between 18 and 20 years of age).  “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?”

“Yes, we are willing.”

“Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

As she pronounced these last words “…the grace of God will be your comfort”, Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.  Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts:

“O most Holy Trinity, I adore You!  My God, My God, I love you in the most Blessed Sacrament!”

After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again:

“Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”

Then she began to rise serenely, going up towards the east, until she disappeared in the immensity of space.  The light that surrounded her seemed to open up a path before her in the firmament, and for this reason we sometimes said that we saw heaven opening.

There are a lot of things I want to say about this apparition, but I will let them be for a moment.

Pray the Rosary every day.  Pray for the five lost Sees.  Pray for the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  Pray for the Holy Father.  Pray for Pope Francis.  He is our only pope and he is surrounded by men who are not his friends, and they are not your friends either.

My impressions of the Apparitions of the Angel

February 9, 2017

I wanted to give my impressions of the Apparition of the Angel tonight as I may not be able to post for a few days.

1) A step into the minefield

And already here at the very beginning we must take our first step into the minefield that men have made of Fatima.  It all concerns a footnote.  And footnotes do seem to cause such problems in the Church these days.  This particular footnote was written in regards to one of the prayers dictated by the Angel, “Most Holy Trinity…” and it occurs in the 1998 edition of Fatima in Lucia’s own words.  First I will recount the prayer of the Angel as remembered by the Venerable Sister Lucia herself:

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended.  And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.

And now here is the footnote, footnote 15 on page 64 to be exact:

15. Some theologians have difficulties regarding this prayer.  Two aspects should therefore be taken into account: 1) it is not necessary to regard this version as verbatim.  2) This is a form of prayer which was influenced by other popular prayers.

First question: which theologians? give an example please.  Second question: what difficulties?  Who are the theologians and what are their difficulties?  Don’t you think that these would be important details.  I mean if there are problems here that could lead the faithful astray don’t you think that you should tell us.  So please tell us what are the difficulties with this prayer?  That is the sound of crickets chirping in the background (in case you were wondering) because you are not going to get a direct answer to that question.

On to the next difficulty I have with this footnote: “it is not necessary to regard this as verbatim.”  Really?  Why not?  I have discovered two different places where Sister Lucia recounts this prayer in her memoirs and in both places EXACTLY the same words are used in both places.  So why should I not “regard this version as verbatim?”

“This is a form of prayer which was influenced by other popular prayers.”  Which prayers?  Shouldn’t you tell us?  Of course the motivations behind this footnote are a bit too obvious, aren’t they?  Somebody is trying to slither the idea quietly into our brains that the children didn’t really hear this prayer from an angel now did they?  They just concocted it based on popular ‘superstitious’ piety didn’t they?

I challenge anyone to read this prayer, to meditate on it, to recite it with your forehead touching the earth, and then to proclaim that this prayer did not come from Heaven.  It is so elegantly crafted and theologically deep as the ocean and wide as the expanse of the heavens.  The subtle and quiet linkage between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary echoing Saint John Eudes a quarter of a millennium before.  That Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist is both the offended one and the reparation.  There is such a deep and rich emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that it is no wonder that the enemy seeks to dissuade us from using this prayer.

I only bring this whole matter up because you will either see or hear this prayer recited strangely, sometimes with missing words and disconnected ideas.  This footnote or at least the sentiments behind it are the reason for it.  Just learn the prayer as it was given to us from the beginning, recite it with your forehead touching the earth from time to time, and forget all the rest.

2) More important stuff

The first thing that I want to note is the posture of prayer that the Angel introduced: prostrate with the forehead touching the earth.  In our time this position of prayer is universally associated with Islam.

I have heard it said that the Muslims did not come up with this posture for prayer themselves, but rather that they copied it from the Catholics that they encountered in Syria and Egypt during their first conquests.  It is difficult to be certain of this at a distance in time of fourteen centuries from those days, but maybe the Angel was reminding us of where we came from and of things that we should not have forgotten.

At the very least we might consider what Our Lord might say to us on Judgement Day if we refuse to adopt this prostrate position before our Creator, in our hearts at least if we cannot do it with our bodies: “If these people, the Muslims, who do not know Me and have sparse understanding of true religion in comparison to yourselves could at least fall on their faces before their Creator then why couldn’t you?”  Do you want to hear that question?

Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus; ipse fecit nos et non ipsi nos!

“Know that the Lord, He is God; He made us, we did not make ourselves! (the proper translation of Psalm 100 [99] v. 3  from both the Latin [Septuagint] and Hebrew psalters)”

The second thing that I find fascinating about this last Apparition of the Angel is the Chalice.  He gave the Chalice specifically to Jacinta and to Francisco while Lucia received Holy Communion under the species of the Host.  The reason for this is often stated that Jacinta and Francisco received the Chalice because they had not received their First Communion yet before this while Lucia had, but it is difficult to see why this would matter.  The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ are the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ whether under the species of Bread or of Wine.  So why the difference?

What follows is only my opinion.  The sign of the chalice reminds me of Matthew 20:22 when Our Lord asked Saint James and Saint John in a very different context Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink?  And again in Matthew 26:42 Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.

I say this because Francisco and Jacinta were caught up in martyrdom almost immediately after the Apparitions of Our Lady were concluded a year later.  Both were caught up in the Spanish flu outbreak that devastated the planet around the conclusion of the First World War.  Francisco died in the spring of 1919 and Jacinta died less than a year later in February, 1920 alone in a hospital in Lisbon, both of them having suffered grievously and having offered that suffering for the conversion of sinners.  Jacinta had two ribs removed not long before she left this world and was left with a wound on her small body that must have resembled Our Lord’s pierced side.  Both Francisco and Jacinta were beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II in the year 2000 and both can properly be called Blessed, though I use that title sparingly for the sake of brevity.  The chalice is the sign of martyrdom and I think that this is why they received the Blood of Jesus Christ from the Chalice.

Pray the Rosary daily and join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Apparitions of the Angel

February 9, 2017

I will recount here the beginning of the story: the apparitions of the Angel that were to prepare the children for the later apparitions of the Θεοτόκος, the Mother of God.  The Angel appeared first to Lucia in a series of brief manifestation in 1915 and then three times to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco together in 1916 that contained messages from Heaven.  The text I am using here is from Sister Lucia’s fourth memoir completed under the orders of the Bishop of Leira on December 8, 1941.  The English translation is from the volume published under the title Fatima in Lucia’s own words the 10th edition published on November 13, 1998 under the Imprimatur of the Bishop of Leira-Fatima.  Here is Sister Lucia’s account of the apparitions of the Angel:

Although I cannot give the exact date, it seems to me that it was in 1915 that the first Apparition took place.  As far as I can judge, it was the Angel, although at that time he did not venture to make himself fully known.  From what I can recall of the weather, I think that this must have happened between the months of April and October in the year 1915.

My three companions from the Casa Velha, by name Teresa Matias and her sister Maria Rosa, and Maria Justino, were with me on the southern slope of the Cabeço.  We were just about to start praying the Rosary when I saw, poised in the air above the trees that stretched down to the valley which lay at our feet, what appeared to be a cloud in human form, whiter than snow and almost transparent.  My companions asked me what it was.  I replied that I did not know.  This happened on two further occasions, but on different days.

This Apparition made a certain impression upon me, which I do not know how to explain.  Little by little, this impression faded away, and were it not for the events that followed, I think I would have forgotten it completely.

The dates I cannot set down with certainty, because, at that time, I did not know how to reckon the years, the months, or even the days of the week.  But I think it must have been in the spring of 1916 that the Angel appeared to us for the first time in our Loca do Cabeço.

As I have written in my account of Jacinta, we climbed th hillside in search of shelter.  After having taken our lunch and said our prayers, we began to see, some distance off, above the trees that stretched away towards the east, a light, whiter than snow, in the form of a young man, transparent, and brighter than crystal pierced by the rays of the sun.  As he drew nearer, we could distinguish his features more and more clearly.  We were surprised, absorbed, and struck dumb with amazement.

On reaching us he said:

“Do not be afraid.  I am the Angel of Peace.  Pray with me.”

Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the earth.  Led by a supernatural impulse, we did the same, and repeated the words which we heard him say:

“My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You!  I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You!”

Having repeated these words three times, he rose and said:

“Pray thus.  The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”  Then he disappeared.

The supernatural atmosphere which enveloped us was so intense, that we were for a long time scarcely aware of our own existence, remaining in the same posture in which he had left us, and continually repeating the same prayer.  The presence of God made itself felt so intimately and so intensely that we did not even venture to speak to one another.  Next day, we were still immersed in this spiritual atmosphere, which only gradually began to disappear…

The second Apparition must have been at the height of summer, when the heat of the day was so intense that we had to take the sheep home before noon and only let them out again in the early evening.

We went to spend the siesta hours in the shade of the trees which surrounded the well that I have already mentioned several times.  Suddenly, we saw the same Angel right beside us.

“What are you doing?” he asked.  “Pray! Pray very much!”  The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you.  Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”

How are we to make sacrifices?” I asked.

“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.  You will thus draw down peace upon your country.  I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal.  Above all, accept and bear with submission, the sufferings which the Lord will send you.”

These words were indelibly impressed upon our minds.  They were like a light which made us understand who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners.  It was for this reason that we began, from then on, to offer to the Lord all that mortified us, without, however, seeking out other forms of mortification and penance, except that we remained for hours on end with our foreheads touching the ground, repeating the prayer the Angel had taught us.

It seems to me that the third Apparition must have been in October, or towards the end of September, as we were no longer returning home for siesta.

As I have already written in my account of Jacinta, we went one day from Pregueira (a small grove belonging to my parents) to the Lapa, making our way along the slope of the hill on the side facing Aljustrel and Casa Velha.  We said our Rosary there and the prayer the Angel had taught us at the first Apparition.

While we were there, the Angel appeared to us for the third time, holding a chalice in his hands, with a host above it from which some drops of blood were falling into the sacred vessel.  Leaving the chalice and the host suspended in the air, the Angel prostrated on the ground and repeated this prayer three times:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of his most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

Then, rising, he once more took the chalice and the host in his hands.  He gave the host to me, and to Jacinta and  Francisco he gave the contents of the chalice to drink saying as he did so: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men.  Repair their crimes and console your God.”  Once again, he prostrated on the ground and repeated with us three times more, the same prayer “Most Holy Trinity…”, and then disappeared.

Impelled by the power of the supernatural that enveloped us, we imitated all that the Angel had done, prostrating ourselves on the ground as he did and repeating the prayers that he said.  The force of the presence of God was so intense that it absorbed us and almost completely annihilated us.  It seemed to deprive us even of the use of our bodily senses for a considerable length of time.  During those days, we performed all our exterior actions as though guided by that same supernatural being who was impelling us thereto.  The peace and happiness which we felt were great, but wholly interior, for our souls were completely immersed in God.  The physical exhaustion that came over us was also great.

Thus ends sister Lucia’s account of the Apparitions of the Angel of Portugal.  Just the act of copying this account and typing these words have strangely lightened my soul.  I want to say a few things about this apparition but I will leave that be until the next post.  For the moment I would just suggest reading and meditating on this wonderful passage.

Pray the Rosary daily.  Go to Confession.  Make reparation for the crimes committed against your outraged Lord and Savior by ungrateful men.  Pray and keep watch.

The minefield of Fatima

February 8, 2017                                                                                                                            The Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani

A few words before I begin at the beginning.  When I studied the accounts of Sister Lucia the message of Fatima seemed to me to be extremely clear and the requests of Our Lady seemed to me to be incredibly specific and precise.  Genuine penance and reparation were and are what Heaven demands, and if we follow this course we cannot fail.

I will detail the requests that Our Lady made of all of us and of the Holy Father and of his bishops, God willing, as I recount the individual apparitions but I do want to make one point very clear at the outset.  The message of Fatima has been incredibly muddied over during the last century.  Heaven made very clear and specific and easy to understand requests but the designs of men have confused things as we are always wont to do.  Fatima has been turned into a minefield.  How so?

Some misguided men have sought to distract people from the message or to subtly discredit it.  Others have sought to use it for their own personal gain and have therefore chosen to emphasize one portion of the message to the detriment of the other parts.  And this spreading of ignorance has confused almost everyone within the Church.

Fatima contains a clear and simple message that is crucially important for the human race that the Church herself has declared worthy of belief yet it is rarely spoken of, or if it is the prophetic import of the message is relegated to being a “part of the past” as one notable in the Church stated not so long ago.  But it is not part of the past.

Fatima is more important in 2017 than it was in 1917, much more important, and a simple run through the message, the message itself not what people say about  the message, will show that.  I will be expressing my opinions and those of others throughout this series of posts but I will always be clear that it is an opinion and not a fact.  Too many times in my research of this topic I have discovered that opinions are stated as if they were facts and unsourced claims are treated as if they were the Gospel truth.  So there we have it.  My little preamble is done.  In the next post, God willing, I will start with the apparitions of the Angel to three young shepherd children.

Please continue to pray the Rosary every day and join the Rosary Confraternity.