Impressions of the September 13 Apparition and a step through the minefield

Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.  And he said to them:  Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, the third day: And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24: 45-47).

April 18, 2017                                                                                                                                     Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

We are forced to deal here with one of the most disastrous and likely most deliberate, in its origin at least, misstatements in the whole history of Fatima, but first a bit of background.  When Sister Lucia published her memoirs, a quarter of a century after the Apparitions, she revealed for the first time the extent of the penances and sacrifices that the children were practicing.

Apparently the movement in their heart to do penance started after the second Apparition of the Angel of Portugal in 1916 when he told them to “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.”  This movement toward sacrifice and penance only accelerated, especially for Blessed Jacinta Marto, after Our Lady showed the children the vision of Hell on July 13, 1917, told them to sacrifice for sinners, and gave them the Fatima intention for which to offer their sacrifices: “O Jesus, it is for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

During this time the children followed her commands and the inspirations given by the Holy Spirit to their hearts to do penance.  Often when they were shepherding their families’ sheep they would do without their lunch and either give it to whatever poor children they found or, if no impoverished families were at hand, they would give their lunch to the sheep.  They would deprive themselves of water to drink on those unfathomably hot summer afternoons of the Portuguese serra at a time when there was no air conditioning to retreat into.  They prayed constantly, Jacinta spending hours sometimes with her forehead pressed against the earth repeated the prayers of the Angel and the O my Jesus prayer the Blessed Virgin taught them that we now recite after each Mystery of the Rosary.  This six year old girl made of everything she could a supplication for the conversion of sinners, to save them from Hell.  Blessed Francisco Marto spent the days when other children were in school (since Our Lady had assured him that he wasn’t long for this world he felt no purpose in learning lessons to help him advance in it) before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church seeking to console Our Lord and Our Lady for the outrages committed against them.  Blessed Francisco was only nine when he was doing this, and Blessed Jacinta only six.  What were you doing when you were nine?  What was I doing when I was six?  What are any of us doing right now?

The tragic misstatement about Fatima originates with one of the penances the children were practicing.  They chanced upon the idea a few days after the August 19, 1917 Apparition of tying a rope around their waists as a penance.  Here is Lucia’s description from Volume II of her memoir repeated on page 78 of 1998’s Fatima in Lucia’s own words:

Some days later, as we were walking along the road with our sheep, I found a piece of rope that had fallen off a cart.  I picked it up and, just for fun, I tied it round my arm.  Before long, I noticed that the rope was hurting me.

“Look, this hurts!” I said to my cousins.  “We could tie it round our waists and offer this sacrifice to God.”

The poor children promptly fell in with my suggestion.  We then set about dividing it between the three of us, by placing it across a stone and striking it with the sharp edge of another one that served as a knife.  Either because of the thickness or roughness of the rope, or because we sometimes tied it too tightly, this instrument of penance often caused us terrible suffering.  Now and then, Jacinta could not keep back her tears, so great was the discomfort this caused her.  Whenever I urged her to remove it, she replied: “No!  I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord in reparation, and for the conversion of sinners.”

This was the genesis of Our Lady’s instruction to the  children on September 13, 1917 that God is pleased with  your sacrifices.  He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.

This statement of Our Lady is often mutilated by various persons who talk and write about Fatima into some form of the following lie: “Yes the children were doing terrific penances, but Our Lady came and told them to stop doing that.”  Quite obviously that is not what she said.  She said that God was pleased with the penances were offering, but that He wanted them to modify one of them slightly.  After all God made us, and He knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves.  He knows what we can handle and what what we cannot, what will draw us to Him and what will drive us away.

Yet you will hear this stupid misstatement that “Our Lady told the children to quit doing penances” in some form or another from people who seem to have devoted their lives to spreading the message of Fatima, who have written books about Fatima, who have made careers dealing with Fatima.  It has sadly become part of ‘what people say’ about Fatima.

Why is this important?  Because there has been a movement in the Church for a long time, starting in fact many lifetimes before the Second Vatican Council, to be done with penance.  It probably goes back in some way to Martin Luther in 1517 and all of his successors and their declarations that the way one lives his life has nothing to do with whether or not he will be saved or not.  So over the centuries this idea has crept into and consumed the Church.  Penance and mortification, both exterior and interior, slowly over time began to lose their importance.  Yet this is what it is to be a Christian: our screwed up will must be subdued and our fallen nature must be conquered.  Penance and mortification are how you do that.  And there is no other way.  To remove penance from the Christian life is in many ways like removing the soul from the body: all you have left is a decaying corpse.

There is also the matter of what penance on our part can do for others and for the world.  The Fatima revelations remind us of something that is made clear throughout Sacred Scripture: penance softens the anger of God and loosens the grip that devils have on souls in the world.  Consider the account of the exorcism that Our Lord performed when He came down from Mount Tabor with Peter, James, and John after the Transfiguration.  He encounters the rest of the Apostles who had been trying and failing to exorcise a demon from a young boy.  Notice here as well the intimate connection between prayer and fasting and belief and faith.  Here it is from the Gospel of Mark:

One of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  And Jesus * asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood.  And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.”  And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:17-29)”

This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.  And what is the message of Fatima?  Prayer and fasting.  In this sense fasting, penance, sacrifice, they are three different words for the same thing.  If you wish to drive out the demons afflicting souls in our world then heed the message of Fatima.

This would seem to have been a primary reason for Our Lady’s appearance at the Cova da Iria four centuries after Father Martin Luther’s little outburst: to call people back to penance.  After all Our Lord Himself after his Resurrection stated that penance should be preached in his Name to all nations.  How many times do we read in the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, that the followers of the Beast (Antichrist) and his false prophet will in the last days of this world refuse to do penance, despite the plagues that afflict them, and instead blaspheme God?

The penances that these children did were a primary reason for the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto in the year 2000 so why do these people continue to repeat the lie that “Our Lady told them to stop making these sacrifices?”  How can you call them ‘Blessed’ if you deny the reason for their beatification?  Some of it is just habit, some of it is just a herd mentality i.e. people feel safe (even though they are in mortal danger) when they just repeat what everybody else says despite the fact that they know better and some are just ignorant, whether that ignorance is willful or not is between them and God.

But there is another group who have another purpose.  They think that by spreading this lie they can undo a large part if not the whole message of Fatima.  They are not the ones who repeat this lie publicly, rather they whisper it in the ears of authors of books on the subject, they cause it to be written in footnotes or cause it to be repeated by people who are supposed to be authorities on the subject.  And trust me they are there.  They do exist.  Just ignore them and the fruits of their work and do penance.

So what is penance?  What sacrifices are we called to make?  Are we supposed to go out and buy a hairshirt or wrap a cilice around our thighs and wear it until we draw blood?  No.  If God wants you to do that you will know it and it won’t be because you read this post.  But that is a dangerous place to start doing penance because most often those things are purely self will and feed only your pride and hurry you down the road to spiritual disaster.  So what do we do?

Penance is primarily doing the will of God, especially when it contravenes your own will.  Penance is not sinning, especially when the devil makes sin look like a good and reasonable choice that will do no harm to anyone and may perhaps actually help somebody.  Penance is enduring and conquering with prayer and patience grievous temptations that afflict you to commit certain sins. Penance is being patient with the troublesome and helping them bear their burdens.  If you want to do real penance then try this: the next time you encounter someone whom you deem to be rude and inconsiderate and whom you think is in your way then be kind to them, smile at them, pray a Hail Mary for them, ask them if you can help them in any way and maybe, just maybe, try getting out of their way.  In other words learn to live and love the Works of Mercy.

Sometimes penance is just to live in this world that is so awash with sin and error that 99.9999999% of the human race perceives good to be evil and evil to be good and not to succumb to it.  To not say Ave (2 John 1:10) to those in positions of authority who preach all manner of heretical yet seductive stupidity from the pulpit and to keep the commandments of God and bear the testimony of Jesus Christ in a world that is constantly screaming in your ear at the top of its lungs that neither of them have ever existed, that it is all a delusional fantasy.

These things are penance too, and if you let Him the Holy Spirit will show you more and better ways of doing penance than anything I could come up with.  Pray the Rosary every day and do penance.  Make supplication in reparation for the outrages committed against the Holy Trinity and for the conversion of sinners.  Place your forehead against the earth and say:

O 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.

The Apparition of September 13, 1917

And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.  Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them.  As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things (Mark 6:32-34).

April 15, 2017                                                                                                                                   Holy Saturday

Here is Lucia’s account of the Apparition of September 13, 1917 written almost a quarter of a century later in Volume IV of her memoir:

As the hour approached, I set out with Jacinta and Francisco, but owing to the crowds around us we could only advance with difficulty.  The roads were packed with people, and everyone wanted to see us and speak to us.  There was no human respect whatsoever.  Simple folk, and even ladies and gentlemen, struggled to break through the crowd that pressed around us.  No sooner had they reached us than they threw themselves on their knees before us, begging us to place their petitions before Our Lady.  Others who could not get close to us shouted from a distance:

“For the love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is a cripple!”  Yet another cried out: “And to cure mine who is blind!… To cure mine who is deaf!… To bring back my husband, my son, who has gone to the war!… To convert a sinner!… To give me back my health as I have tuberculosis!” and so on.

All the afflictions of poor humanity were assembled there.  Some climbed to the tops of trees and walls to see us go by, and shouted down to us.  Saying yes to some, giving a hand to others and helping them up from the dusty ground, we managed to move forward, thanks to some gentlemen who went ahead and opened a passage for us through the multitude.

Now, when I read in the New Testament about those enchanting scenes of Our Lord’s passing through Palestine, I think of those which Our Lord allowed me to witness, while yet a child, on the poor roads and lanes from Aljustrel to Fatima and on to the Cova da Iria!  I give thanks to God, offering Him the faith of our good Portuguese people, and I think: “If these people so humbled themselves before three poor children, just because they were mercifully granted the grace to speak to the Mother of God, what would they not do if they saw Our Lord Himself in person before them?”

Well, none of this was called for here!  It was a distraction of my pen, leading me away where I did not mean to go.  But, never mind!  It’s just another useless digression.  I am not tearing it out, so as not to spoil the notebook.

At last, we arrived at the Cova da Iria, and on reaching the holmoak we began to say the Rosary with the people.  Shortly afterwards, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war.  In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Dolours and Our Lady of Carmel.  Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.  God is pleased with your sacrifices.  He does not want you to sleep with the rope on, but only to wear it during the daytime.”

“I was told to ask you many things, the cure of some sick people, of a deaf-mute…”

“Yes, I will cure some, but not others.  In October I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

The Our Lady began to rise as usual, and disappeared.

Pray the Rosary every day… for peace.

Impressions of the August 19 Apparition

One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  He who saw it has borne witness–his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth–that you also may believe (John 19:34-35).

April 14, 2016                                                                                                                               Good Friday

1) God is in the details

The first thing I noticed in this Apparition is the care that Our Lady takes concerning the small details of life.  The previous month she had dealt with the horrible fact of souls going to hell and terrible persecutions of the Church and the annihilation of nations but here in August she speaks much about things that the world would consider to be of no consequence.

Lucia asked Our Lady what was to be done with the money left in the Cova da Iria and she gives very specific and helpful instructions regarding this matter.  The background to this is that after reports of the Apparitions had begun to spread in the surrounding regions of Portugal people began to visit the site on a regular basis, already esteeming the Cova da Iria to be holy ground.  Spontaneously they began to leave money there as a sort of votive offering to God or in thanksgiving for some benefit received.  Nobody knew what to do with this money.

A local woman, Maria Carreira, found herself put in charge of the money, but did not know what to do with it.  She tried giving it to Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta’s father, but he didn’t want it.  She tried giving it to Lucia, but she refused.  Next she tried giving it to Father Ferreira, the parish priest in Fatima, but he wanted nothing at all to do with anything going on in the Cova da Iria at that point so he turned her down as well.  Confused and distraught she finally asked Lucia after Mass on Sunday morning, August 19, 1917,  to ask Our Lady what she wanted done with the money the next time she appeared to the children.  Well, that afternoon she had her answer.  Who says prayers don’t get answered, and sometimes rather quickly?

It is important to note here that we are not talking about a large amount of money, probably less than 20 American dollars by today’s reckoning, yet Our Lady took the time here to give her full attention to the matter.  We should learn from this to trust God even in the smallest details in our life.  We should never be afraid to ask for help about whether we should turn to the left or to the right in any given situation if we don’t know the answer.  God delights in giving us answers to these questions.  If we do this we give evidence of our trust in Him.  He wants to be involved in every detail of our lives, and if we let Him into those details then it will be the beginning of a life that we never could have imagined.  After all, those twenty dollars left in a pious woman’s charge by those first few pilgrims would in time become this:

fatima

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/12/19/120333/

This account is also a reminder to seek the help of intercessors.  Ask people to pray for you, ask the saints in Heaven to pray for you, ask Our Lady to pray for you.  Some people, whether in Heaven or on earth, are simply in a better position to get you what you need.  This is the Communion of Saints: the City of God.  After all Maria Carreira had done all that running around and gotten nowhere, but when she asked Lucia to ask Our Lady she received her answer forthwith.

2) The call to prayer and sacrifice

Our Lady ends this Apparition with the following sad statement:

Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.

God wishes all to come to Him, and that none should be lost: The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  And He calls us, nay He demands that we participate in this mission of redemption.  He demands that we become little Christs and offer ourselves for sinners just as the Divine Son of Mary offered the last drop of Blood and Water from his most Sacred Heart for our salvation.  Do not neglect this mission all of you who hear this call, or else the loss of those souls will be held to your account, for this is not just a lament here by Our Lady but a warning.  We must be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  And as his Will is that none should be lost then that must be our will as well.  This is Divine Charity: Deus caritas est : et qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo.  God is charity.  God is the outpouring of every last bit of Himself for you and for me and for the people you want to hate and that I want to despise.  So must you be as well, and so must I.  That is the only way, and there is no other.

Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.

The Apparition of August 19, 1917

Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars.  She has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.  She has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:1-4)

April 5, 2017                                                                                                                                       The Memorial of Saint Vincent Ferrer

This Apparition did not occur on the 13th of August because… well the children were in prison.  Portugal was in 1917 in the grips of an intensely anti-Catholic government that had taken power in a 1910 revolution and closely identified itself and its polices with the radical Jacobins who had seized power in France and murdered its monarch while despoiling the Church in that country during the 1790s.  Quite a stir had been created by reports of Our Lady appearing to these three children in May and June, but July was the last straw for the Administrator of Ourém, Artur de Oliveira Santos who was a public Freemason and out to do anything and everything he could to stamp out the renewed faith among the people of his district because of these Apparitions.

When asked what Our Lady told them on July 13th the children simply replied that it was a secret: it would be decades before Lucia would write, and only in obedience to the Bishop of Leira, some of what the children were told that day and even now we still don’t know everything.  However once word of a secret got out, well you know how that goes.  Artur de Santos thought that secrets were his business so he kidnapped the children under the pretext of giving them a ride to the Cova da Iria for the Apparition on August 13th and held them in jail for two nights, threatening them with all manner of torture to get them to tell him the secret.  They didn’t tell him, and the public outcry about the kidnapping forced him to release the children, Lucia last of all on August 15th.

In the meantime witnesses reported that something did happen in the Cova da Iria on the 13th: there were signs of Our Lady’s being there, but she did not speak.  Obviously she knew what had happened to the children but she had promised to be there that day so she came to fulfill her word.  She did eventually appear to the children on August 19 in a place called Valinhos.  Lucia states in the memoir from which I am about to quote that she was of the opinion, at the time she wrote this description, that it was on the 15th but she acknowledged that she may have been confused about the date and other witnesses placed it on the 19th.  Here is Lucia’s description of the Apparition in the Fourth Volume of her Memoir published as part of the 1998 work Fatima in Lucia’s own words:

I was accompanied by Francisco and his brother John.  We were with the sheep in a place called Valinhos, when we felt something supernatural approaching and enveloping us.  Suspecting that Our Lady was about to appear to us, and feeling sorry lest Jacinta might miss seeing her, we asked her brother to go and call her.  As he was unwilling to go, I offered him two small coins, and off he ran.

Meanwhile, Francisco and I saw the flash of light, which we called lightning.  Jacinta arrived, and a moment later, we saw Our Lady on a holmoak tree.

“What do you want of me?”

“I want you to continue going to the Cova da Iria on the 13th, and to continue praying the Rosary every day.  In the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.”

“What do you want done with the money that the people leave in the Cova da Iria?”

“Have two litters made.  One is to be carried by you and Jacinta and two other girls dressed in white; the other one is to be carried by Francisco and three other boys.  The money from the litters is for the “festa” of Our Lady of the Rosary, and what is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built here.”

“I would like to ask you to cure some sick persons.”

“Yes, I will cure some of them during the year.”

Then, looking very sad, Our lady said:

“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

And she began to ascend as usual towards the east.

Pray the Rosary every day.  Pray.  Pray very much.  Make sacrifices for sinners.  Many souls go to hell because no one who will sacrifice themselves and pray for them.  Pray and keep watch.

A period of peace

It is done! (Rev. 21: 6)

March 25, 2017                                                                                                                                 The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Despite the promise of terrible tribulation to come if her requests were not heeded Our Lady did offer a great consolation to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco.  She promised peace.  When has man known peace since the Fall?  Our Lord came to give us peace, and peace was the first word He spoke to his Apostles on the night of his Resurrection: Peace be with you.  Our Lady spoke to the children about peace on July 13, 1917 and here is what she said:

If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace…  In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.  The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

1) What this is not

People oftentimes get confused here.  They don’t comprehend what Our Lady means when she says “a period of peace.”  This is understandable since mankind in this world does not know peace and profoundly seeks it.  People are led by this promise of a “period of peace” into a false millenarianism.  There will be no millennium.  We were never promised peace in this world.  There will be no restoration of the Christendom of the Middle Ages: that era is passed and will not return.  1517 and 1789 and 1917 cannot be erased.

There are many books written by Catholics during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries whose authors fell into this.  They saw the destruction that had been wreaked by the French Revolution.  They desparately wanted a return of the good things that had been lost.  They fell into the trap of the Apostles on the road to Our Lord’s Passion when they forgot all that He had told them about his upcoming miserable Death and his wonderous Resurrection.  Instead they wanted the Kingdom of God to come in this world.  A better world to be sure, but not the new heavens and new earth that Our Lord has promised us.  I mention this because these nineteenth century books and the theory of history they propound circulate widely in so called ‘traditionalist’ circles today.  Don’t fall for the trap.

The hope of man for peace cannot be realized within human history.  We cannot make the world a better place.  We cannot create our own peace.  This is nothing but false messianism, no matter how good it sounds or how much sugar it is laced with.  The Catholic Church strongly condemns this way of thinking and always has.  The Catechism paragraph 676 quotes Pope Pius XI on this subject in his 1937 encyclical Divini Redemptoris (read here):

The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatalogical judgement.  The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of secular messianism.

Some read this passage and delude themselves into thinking that Pius XI was only talking about political secular messianism, but he makes it quite clear that he is talking about all forms of millenarianism, religious included.  Anything that promises fulfillment of the Kingdom of God within human history is a deceit of the enemy, no matter how good it sounds.

2) What is she talking about then?

We don’t know for sure.  Maybe it was included in the “…etc.” part of this Apparition that was never spoken about in the Vatican’s 2000 release about the Third Secret of Fatima, or maybe it was not.  We don’t know for sure.

What I give here is only my opinion: if the Church wishes to contravene this opinion at some point I will delete it if I am able.  What I think is that this is the end.  In truth I think that there is little doubt about it.

Our Lady speaks of the “triumph” of her Immaculate Heart.  It is hard to imagine the triumph of this greatest marvel of God’s creation, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, enduring in a world still polluted by sin.  And if her great Heart triumphs then that triumph must endure forever.  So it strikes me that this alone implies that this world, however strong and stable and enduring it seems (and it only seems that way), is rapidly passing away.  Exactly when and how is known only to God, but it would seem that the end, with all the terrible calamities that must immediately precede it, probably isn’t as far off as some of us would like to think.  And after the end will come peace; for those who will take up their cross and follow her Divine Son.

Like I said that is my opinion: take it for what it is worth.  Pray the Rosary every day.

The Holy Father will have much to suffer

Simon son of John, do you love me? (John 21: 16)

March 24, 2017

The bond between the Message of Fatima and the Papacy is iron clad.  On July 13, 1917 Our Lady told Lucia that she would come day to ask something of the Pope, something befitting his high office, and how he responded would determine the subsequent history of the papacy, the Church, and the world.

It is important to remember that the Lady of the Rosary did not request anything of the Holy Father in 1917, she merely said that she would come later to make this request.  Perhaps this was because God did not desire the ten year old Lucia to go marching from the hill country of Portugal straight into the Apostolic Palace in the middle of a world war to make known Heaven’s demands, or perhaps it was another reason.  The actual request would come later and I will deal with that in another post.

I should make it clear here that Our Lady did not make her request only of the Holy Father.  There was something there for all of us to do as well.  And she made a declaration of what would happen if her requests were heeded, and what would happen if they were not.  Here  again is what she said:

I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.  If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.

She asked the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart AND she asked us to make the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of each month.  Presumably these things did not happen since the state of the world since 1917 could in no way be called ‘peace.’

She said the Holy Father would have much to suffer.  What does this mean?  In truth by the time 1917 rolled around the Holy Father had been suffering for quite a while.  One could make the argument that the Holy Father had been suffering quite a bit for the previous 175 years or so since the rise of the secret societies during the early part of the 18th century.  The suppression of the Jesuits followed by the terrible revolution conspiracy of 1789 that destroyed the Catholic foundations of the European political order followed by the growing indifference to religion and morality as the nineteenth century progressed.  Fanatical nationalism replaced the Catholic religion as the primary driver in the lives of many Europeans and in all of their political elite.  This led to the unification of Germany and Italy: in the latter case the temporal Papal kingdom was destroyed and the Holy Father, whose predecessors had once upon a time helped to bring these very nations into existence, was now reduced by them to being a ‘prisoner in the Vatican.’  The other consequence of this rise in fanatical nationalism was the World War that was in the process of destroying what was left of Catholic civilization in Europe when the morning of July 13, 1917 dawned.

So how would the Holy Father suffer more than he already had been suffering?  To understand better we may want to look at the errors of Russia

1) Russia will spread her errors throughout the world

On July 13, 1917 Russia was a mess.  She had been fighting and losing World War I for three years, and three months earlier the Romanov dynasty that had ruled the country for three hundred years had been removed from power by a revolution.  That summer Russia was in the throes of chaos.  A so called ‘liberal democratic’ regime that followed the ideology of 1789 had taken power from the Czars but was tottering.  Four months after this apparition the Bolshevik revolution brought the first completely atheistic government in the known history of our world.  Not even the vague ‘Supreme Being’ of the French revolutionary governments would be allowed.

God did not find fault with Russia for having a centrally planned economy or a bloated bureaucracy or even a government that was run by murderous terrorists.  These things were not new in the world in 1917.  Contrary to what we are taught in history class they are as old as the hills: the only thing that perhaps was new was the accelerant poured on to all of this mayhem by the industrial revolution of the previous two centuries.  The only new thing was the atheism.  For the first time in history a nation was to banish God entirely from its borders.  This was the error of Russia.

And the Bolsheviks were not content with destroying the idea of God just in Russia.  This was about world revolution.  In truth the Communist takeover of Russia in 1917 was just the vanguard of a global revolution that sought to remove God from the life of the human race, with all the tragic consequences that flow from that.  Russia in 1917 was just a convenient starting place.

Our Lady promised that this error would spread throughout the world, and it has.  The atheism of 2017 is not the militant atheism enforced by the barrel of a gun like in 1917.  Rather it is a soft atheism enforced by cultural norms and peer pressure and the threat of ridicule, but it is atheism nonetheless.  And since this is a soft and easy atheism it has infiltrated everywhere, even into the highest ranks of the Church.  All of us have been the victims of it at some point in our lives I can imagine.  We don’t deny God outright, we just forget about Him.  We do not make our Creator and our Redeemer the prime focus of our existence.  Rather we go to Mass on Sunday, try to stay awake through the priest’s homily, ignore everything else, walk up to grab that strange tastless bread they are passing out and then walk out the door still chewing to get to the head of the line for brunch or get the beer in the fridge quick enough to get it cold by the time your buddies show up to watch football.  This is atheism.  Of course that is only the case for the extremely small percentage of Catholics who bother for reasons they know not why to even show up anymore.  The other 95 percent of the population is just completely oblivious if not downright hostile to even the idea of God much less any notion of Him taking on a human nature, founding a Church his Mystical Body, and establishing Sacraments that are necessary for each and every human being to achieve their destiny: to become, as Saint Peter tells us, partakers in the Divine Nature.

Russia spread her errors well, but of course she had a lot of help.  This is the source of the Holy Father’s terrible suffering during the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  This man is charged by the God-Man to preach the Gospel in some way shape or form to the whole world and to baptize the nations with the saving waters of the Sacrament.  And now even the baptized scoff at the very notion of God and his laws.  Even the ordained scoff at his Sacraments and his laws.  Even the bishops scoff at his Sacraments and his laws.  Even the cardinals scoff at his Sacraments and his laws.  From all sides the Mystical body of Christ is beset with wounds and with the gravest wound of all: treason.

We do not know where this will lead.  But stay with God.  Stay with Our Lady.  Stay with the Church.  Stay with Pope Francis, whatever people say about him.  He is the only Pope we have.  Pray for him, sacrifice for him.  If you stay with God He will stay with you and will deliver you in the day of evil.

Pray the Rosary every day.

July 13, 1917: the matter of Russia

For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away. In those days and in that time, says the LORD, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come; and they shall seek the LORD their God…  Behold, I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a company of great nations, from the north country; and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be taken… Behold, a people comes from the north; a mighty nation and many kings are stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.  They lay hold of bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy. The sound of them is like the roaring of the sea; they ride upon horses, arrayed as a man for battle against you, O daughter of Babylon! The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in travail (Jeremiah 50:3-4,9, 41-43).  

March 9, 2017                                                                                                                                   The Memorial of Saint Frances of Rome

What to say about Russia?  Russia seems to be the hinge point of the whole Fatima message.  The Lord God has chosen this nation for some purpose unknown to me.  Let us reflect once more on what Our Lady told the children concerning the fate of Russia (parentheses mine for explanation):

“To prevent this(World War II), I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.  If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.  In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.  The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

1) Why Russia?

I don’t know for certain, but there are certain things about Russia that it might be helpful to think about.  Russia is the largest country on earth, geographically.  This is a country that borders both Norway and North Korea: think about that for a second.

russia-94

Russia also has an interesting history with regard to Christianity: as far as I can tell Russia is the only Christian country that has never been in communion with the Holy Father in Rome.  The first Russian prince was baptized by missionaries from the Church of Constantinople around the year 1000 and almost immediately thereafter the great schism between Rome and Byzantium occurred.  Russia was never in the orbit of the Roman Church, always Constantinople.  She was pilloried during the nineteenth century by some Catholic writers in the wake of the Crimean War for being a great driver of schism in Europe, but I don’t think that this is really the case.  Russia never broke from the Church of Rome as many other churches from Baghdad to London did, she simply was never part of it, and that makes her unique.  Russia also played an important, though largely unconscious, role in protecting the Church of Rome.

For 750 years, from roughly the year 250 AD to the year 1000 AD Western Europe was bedeviled by frequent invasions of warlike tribes off the steppes north and east of the Black Sea.  In the first assault these tribes destroyed the Western Roman Empire, but it did not stop there.  The Avars and the Slavs and the Lombards continued the assault after the Goths and Huns had all been pushed back or assimilated into the dying empire.  The continuous migration of the Asian steppes combined with the assaults of Islam from the south and the Viking raids from the north froze the development of national life in Western Europe during the whole of the second half of the first millennium.  The Roman Church and all that sprang from her were the only source of stability during those difficult centuries.

Around the year 1000 things began to change.  The main driver of this change was the formation of the proto-Russian Christian state centered around Kiev that began to bring order to large swathes of territory between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.  From then on until the present day, with the sole exception of the Mongols during the thirteenth century who did far more damage to Russia than to Western Europe,  the civilization threatening invasions of whole peoples off the plains of Asia have ceased.  It was ultimately the establishment of the Russian state that made possible the great thirteenth century of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Dominic that is the foundation of modern Catholic life.  None of that could have happened if Catholic civilization was forced to continue spending almost every bit of its energy fighting for its life against whole peoples marching off the plains of Asia every few decades.  In that sense Russia was a great gift to the Church of Rome even though she was never in communion with that Church.

But Russia is the choice of the Almighty to do something in this world before the end of all this.

2) The annihilation of nations

Our Lady told the children that if her request for the Consecration of Russia was not heeded then “various nations will be annihilated.”  What does this mean?  This is important because this part of the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.  Adolf Hitler had in his sights to annihilate certain nations: the Jews, the Poles, and the Russians were his main targets.  If Germany had won the war and Hitler had lived long enough he may indeed have done so, but Providence prevented that.  So again what does it mean, “nations will be annihilated?”

This is a hard thing to quantify.  No nations have been annihilated at any time in recent history.  Possibly one could say that the Arabs annihilated Persian civilization during the seventh and eighth centuries by the imposition of Islam.  The Zoroastrian religion was rooted out of the Iranian plateau and the Persian national life as it had been before simply disappeared.  But even there the Persian language survived a dark period and reemerged before the turn of the millennium in the poems of Ferdowsi and is still spoken today in Iran and throughout Central Asia.

The next step back in history is the great annihilation of nations that took place under the Roman Empire.  The empire conquered all of those peoples and nations around the Mediterranean basin and over the centuries the individual differences between the peoples of the Empire gradually disappeared.  They began to forget their ancient languages and to speak Latin or Greek because it was easier to get by and it made them part of a wider world.  They began to worship the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon who in many ways were similar to the gods they had been worshiping anyways.  Gradually they just became Roman so that by the time the Roman Empire fell in the middle of the first millennium there was no going back to what had been before because people neither wanted nor could even really remember what that had been.  But all that took centuries and one gets the sense from the way Our Lady of Fatima speaks that this annihilation of nations will be rather sudden.

So does an annihilation of nations happen suddenly?  Yes.  If you go back to the Old Testament you will see examples of this.  Very many age old civilizations were suddenly destroyed during the first half of the first millennium before Christ by both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.  How did this occur?  By invasion, destruction of local authority, occupation of territory, and deportation of the populations of these territories.  And most important there was no other power to come in and save these people à la World War II. The most generous implementation of this policy was when whole communities were deported together to a faraway land where they were gradually broken up and assimilated over time.  In less generous circumstances families were broken up on a massive scale with fathers and military age sons murdered, mothers sold as slaves, daughters confined to brothels in foreign lands or married to foreign men and infants either slaughtered or adopted out to foreign parents never knowing where they came from.  Now imagine this happening to your country, your town, and your family, because that is what has been prophesied.

And this all relates to the Consecration of Russia.  Our Lady did not ask for it in 1917, because it was to be kept secret at that time.  She would come later to officially ask for the Pope to Consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and we will speak more about the terms of that Consecration when we get to that.

O Jesus this is for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.