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.

July 13, 1917: the prophecy of World War II

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs (Mt. 24:7-8).

March 8, 2017

More than a year before the First World War ended the Lady of the Rosary was already warning the children of a second, and more terrible war if human beings did not repent from our evil and stupid ways.  Here again is what she said, again from Volume IV of Sister Lucia’s memoirs translated in 1998’s Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words:

If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.  The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.  When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

1) An unknown light

Well, those of us who live in 2017 know what this worse war was.  She was speaking of the Second World War that was indeed far worse than the First.  Nations for whom chivalry and Christian charity had once been their guiding principle for centuries were handed over to bloodthirsty former vagabond streetwalkers who reduced ancient cities to rubble and attempted to murder in a most savage fashion whole races of peoples.  But was there a warning from Heaven before this happened?  Was there an unknown light in the sky?  Yes there was.

On the night of January 25-26, 1938 there was an incredible light show in the skies of Europe and the North Atlantic that left the heavens red.  The link below is to a PDF of The New York Times article from January 26, 1938:

fatima 1-26-1938

I will reproduce excerpts from the text of the article here:

LONDON, Jan. 25.-The most brilliant display of an aurora borealis in fifty years held Britons spellbound over a wide area of this country tonight.  From 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. the people of London watched two magnificent arcs rising in the east and west, from which radiated pulsating beams like searchlights in dark red, greenish blue and purple.

During this period all transatlantic radio communication was interrupted…  One of the novel features of tonight’s display was the vivid red glow…  Police stations, fire brigades and newspaper offices all over the country were inundated by calls tonight asking “Where is the fire?”…

The lights were clearly seen in Italy, Spain, and even Gibraltar.  The glow, bathing snow-clad mountaintops in Austria and Switzerland was a beautiful sight, but firemen turned out to chase non-existent fires.

Portuguese villagers rushed in fright from their homes, fearing the end of the world…

GRENOBLE, France, Jan. 25.-A huge blood-red beam of light which scientists said was an aurora borealis of exceptional amplitude tied up telephone systems in parts of France tongiht and spread anxiety in numerous Swiss Alpine villages.

Emblazoned in the northern sky the light brought thousands of telephone calls to Swiss and French authorities asking whether it was a fire, war, or the end of the world.

So the newspaper called it an aurora borealis.  What else would they call it?  When we see something strange and unprecedented we fall back on what we know even if what we know does us no good, and even makes things worse.  Lucia was not instructed at this point to make the warning public either, but she would insist for the rest of her life that the events of the night of January 25-26, 1938 were God’s warning that the Blessed Mother had foretold.

Notice the blood red color of the light.  Blood would shortly begin to flow in unprecedented rivers across the continent.  Notice the resemblance to searchlights streaking across the night sky of London that would in two and a half years become a horrifyingly regular occurrence as German bombers attempted to raze the city from the air.

It should be noted that these lights shone on a night of peace in Europe, or at least it appeared so.  The governments and peoples of Europe were as yet wholly ignorant of what would soon be unleashed on them.  But that would soon change.

2) The Blomberg-Fritsch Affair

I am personally indebted to William L. Shirer’s work on Nazi Germany The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to understand the significance of the days around the January 25-26 unknown light for the onset of the war which was soon to follow.  The nature of these events was only discovered after the war when researchers had a chance to comb through the Nazi archives.

On November 5, 1937 Adolf Hitler held a meeting with the commanders of the German army and high officials in his government to inform them that he was planning an expansionist war in Europe and that he wanted everything to be gotten ready.  The commanders of the German army were unenthusiastic.  They had just gotten out from under the shackles of the Versailles Treaty and were not anxious to see their treasured Wehrmacht destroyed in this madman’s war.

Hitler’s two chief opponents inside Germany were War Minister Field Marshall Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the Army Colonel General Werner von Fritsch.  The army was the only institution in Germany that still had the power to oppose the Nazi regime and if its commanders objected there would be no war.

On January 12, 1938 Blomberg married a woman, Erna Gruhn, and Hermann Goering served as his best man and Adolf Hitler was in attendance.  Very soon after the Berlin police discovered that well, Blomberg’s wife (God rest her soul) had a past: prostitution and pornography and that sort of thing.

Now the Nazi regime was not necessarily high on moral scruples, several of Hitler’s supporters were active homosexuals, but Hitler now had his chance to get rid of the opposition since the Field Marshall had just violated the moral code for the German officer corps that he himself had put in place.  Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering threatened his War Minister and told him to either annul the marriage, resign, or everything would become a public scandal and a court martial.  Field Marshall Werner von Blomberg loved the woman, did not annul the marriage, and resigned as War Minister on January 27, 1938, one day after the unknown light in the sky.

After this Goering teamed up with Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, and Reinhard Heydrich (all three of these men would become infamous for mass murder in the not too distant future) his right hand man to destroy the reputation of General Fritsch by trumping up false accusations of homosexual acts against him which at this time were still regarded as barbarism throughout the world that still thought itself civilized.  He was forced to resign on February 4, 1938 barely a week after the unknown light.

Hitler now took the opportunity to reorganize command of the Army in order to make it entirely his personal instrument.  The same February 4, 1938 he created the OKW to which both the War Ministry and the German High Command were subject and he put his lackey General Wilhelm Keitel in command of it.  Keitel would remain in that post and carry out Adolf Hitler’s orders without question until the German surrender in May, 1945, and was later hung by the Allies after the Nuremburg trials the following year, God rest his soul.

With the German army firmly in his grip, Adolf Hitler, the former vagrant who had been aimlessly wandering the streets of Vienna a few decades before now launched his assault on Europe and on civilization.  The geopolitical situation across the continent began to deteriorate rapidly and on March 12, 1938, a bare six weeks after the unknown light, Nazi Germany annexed Austria.  World War II had begun, though it would be a year and a half before the shooting would start.

3) The Pontificate of Pius XI

Our Lady prophesied in 1917 that the coming war would start under the pontificate of Pius XI.  In 1917 the pope was Benedict XV, Pius XI would not become pope until 1922, five years after the Apparition.  Pius was easily the most common name for a pope between 1775 and 1958 (no less than seven popes took that name during the period) but there was no guarantee that the successor to Benedict XV would take that name, nor how long he would reign, nor what would happen during that reign.

And there is the matter that we read in the history books that World War II did not start until Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  Since Pope Pius XI died on February 10, 1939 and Pius XII was pope when Germany invaded Poland how do we reconcile this?

Sister Lucia always insisted that the war started with the German occupation of Austria in March, 1938 under the Pontificate of Pius XI.  And history shows that for the Germans Austria was just a step to surrounding Czechoslovakia on three sides.  And once they got Czechoslovakia then Poland was surrounded on three sides.  Sister Lucia’s judgement about when the war started seems sound and since the Blessed Virgin endorses it who am I to disagree?

4) Pope Benedict XV’s warning

Our Lady never instructed Lucia to warn anyone about any of this.  In fact for Lucia this was all part of the Secret and she never told anyone about it until she wrote her memoir under obedience to the Bishop of Leira in 1941, long after the war had started.  Why didn’t Our Lady want Lucia to inform the world of this?

I don’t know.  But I do know that the Church and the Popes had been warning governments and their peoples at the top of their lungs since the days of Voltaire and the French Revolution in the eighteenth century that formerly Christian Europe was heading down a disastrous path which would lead them to ruin if they did not change their ways.  They never listened.  Why would they have listened to a nun with a story about a light in the sky?

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:29-31)”

Two and a half years before the Apparitions at Fatima during the first months of World War I Pope Benedict XV issued a stark and extremely prophetic warning of his own in his first encyclical  Ad beatissimi Apostolorum published on November 1, 1914:

For what could prevent the soul of the common Father of all being most deeply distressed by the spectacle presented by Europe, nay, by the whole world, perhaps the saddest and most mournful spectacle of which there is any record.   Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars-for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. xxiv, 6, 7).  On every side the dread phantom of war holds sway: there is scarce room for another thought in the minds of men.  The combatants are the greatest and wealthiest nations of the earth; what wonder, then, if, well provided with the most awful weapons modern military science has devised, they strive to destroy one another with refinements of horror.  There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly-shed blood, and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.

Those lines were published on November 1, 1914.  French and British and German soldiers had only a few weeks before begun to dig the first trenches that would scar the landscape of France and drench it with blood for the next three and a half years.  When Pope Benedict XV was composing these words many people still harbored the illusion that the war could be short.  Read his words again.  Meditate on them.  They were prophetic not only for the First World War, but for the Second as well, and for the massacres the Bolsheviks committed in Russia and the Nazis throughout occupied Europe and of the massive bombings of British, German, and Japanese cities.

The years 1914-45 were a hurricane and a vortex of death in Europe.  And it didn’t stop there, and it hasn’t stopped yet.  People had been warned and they didn’t want to listen.  The light in the sky seems to have been meant for Lucia alone, though why I cannot say.

I would like to point to something else that Pope Benedict said.  He made an extremely stark statement about what time it is with regard to the Second Coming of the Lord, and I have never heard anyone comment on this (italics mine): “Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: ‘You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars- for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.'”

Those words are taken from Our Lord’s discourse on his own Second Coming that He gave to Peter, James, John, and Andrew on the Mount of Olives, looking at the soon to be destroyed Jerusalem Temple, a few days before his Crucifixion.  Jesus states that the time of nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms was only the beginning of the sorrows, or the beginning of the birth pangs.

And the Holy Father spoke with certainty about what time it was.  This encyclical was written more than a hundred years ago now: if that was the beginning then, where are we at now?  This explains the urgency of Fatima for right now, for this very moment.  She prophesied World War II.  There is no reason to expect that everything else she prophesied will not come to pass.

Go to Confession.  And pray the Rosary every day.

The vision of Hell

Before I go whence I shall not return, to the land of gloom and deep darkness, the land of gloom and chaos (Job 10:21-22)

March 4, 2017                                                                                                                                     The Memorial of Saint Casmir

Hell is real.  People go there.  God makes us free.  He desires the love of free creatures.  And freedom by definition demands that free creatures are presented with alternatives.  Hell is the alternative.

We are called to love God, to follow his commandments, as Our Lord told his apostles the night before He poured out the last drop of Blood and Water from his most Sacred Heart to save us.  But this Sacrifice was only to open the door to Life, not to force us to walk through.  We are free.

Hell was created for those who choose not to love God.  What a strange choices this is, but Sacred Scripture and our own experience confirm that this is true.

He loved to curse; let curses come on him! He did not like blessing; may it be far from him!                                                                                 (Psalm 109:17)

For some mysterious reason, the mystery of iniquity as Saint Paul calls it, there are some who choose Hell.  To understand this one must be able to understand the human heart, and as the prophet Jeremiah reminds us: that is the purview of the Lord and of Him alone.  But Hell is a choice, and that is what we must always remember.

No one, and especially no Catholic, will get off at their Judgement by claiming that it is unfair or that they didn’t know.  God in his Mercy grants to each of us what we desire and we were made to desire Him, and Him alone.  If we choose something else we fail and consign ourselves to destruction.  We do not wish to follow the Law of Love, the Law of Charity, the Law of God then He grants us to live in a place where there is no Law.  No law, no order.  Complete and total chaos, the deprivation of everything that you were made for.  Perhaps this is the source of the disequilibrium that the children saw.  And there is something else.  You will not be alone there, nor will you be the most powerful inhabitant of Hell.

You will be subject to the fallen angels, and angels are infinitely more powerful than you are.  Here they can tempt you and trick you and generally make your life miserable, but even the greatest sinner while he is here on earth is still protected from them in some measure by God’s grace.  There you will not have that protection, because you have told God by the way that you lived your life that you do not want it.

Here you have told God that you are the master and the author of life and of laws and that you can do whatever you want.  In Hell you will wake up to the awful reality that this is not the case.  In Hell you will be a slave to the fallen angels who hate you.  Yes they hate you with a malice and a loathing that you cannot imagine.  Do not forget: you were created to take the place they forfeited in Heaven.  And if you were baptized, confirmed, and/or God forbid ordained you were given the Sacramental graces not only to replace them but to destroy their kingdom on earth, and that mark will stay with you forever.  And because you were stupid enough to despise your destiny and become their slaves they will loathe you all the more.  And all of this is quite real.  You know it in your gut.  You know it when you can’t sleep at night.  You know it when the endless distractions you fill your life with still won’t drive any of this away, but make it worse.

Repent and don’t go there.  The message of Fatima can be summed up in these words: don’t go to Hell.

All of the prophecies about nations and popes etc. are important because the currents of history can help to lead people toward Heaven or Hell but the bottom line is this: Don’t go to Hell.  Save souls from Hell.

O my Jesus forgive us, save us from the fire of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need.

The Apparition of July 13, 1917

Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem: terrible as an army set in array.
(Song of Songs 6:4)

March 1, 2017                                                                                                                                     Ash Wednesday

In a certain sense the July 13, 1917 apparition is the mother lode.  The heart of the Message of Fatima is a call to penance and to make reparation.  The prophetic warnings and the Secret revealed in the July 13 Apparition are what give this call to penance its great urgency.  And that is why any attempt to make Fatima a “part of the past” is a grave threat to the future of the human race.

William Thomas Walsh in his 1947 work, Our Lady of Fatima, that word had gotten out and two to three thousand people gathered with the three children on the Cova da Iria on July 13, 1917.  He describes the scene as follows (p. 78):

On this particular thirteenth of July, in 1917, there was something unusual afoot in all the villages and fields of the Serra.  Even before the children arrived within sight of the Cova da Iria they must have become aware of it.  For all over the mountains and beyond people had been hearing, by the mysterious grapevine that disperses news so thoroughly and so fast in country places, of what had taken place on the feast of Saint Anthony.  An astonishing number had made up their minds to be on hand for the next apparition.

Lucia herself describes the momentous revelation of Our Lady this day as follows in Volume IV of her memoirs:

A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

“I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you.”

“I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us.”

“Continue to come here every month.  In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.”

I then made some requests, but I cannot recall now just what they were.  What I do remember is that Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.  And she continued:

“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months.  The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire.  Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.  (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me).  The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellant likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.  Terrified and as if to plead for succour, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go.  To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.  If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.  The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.  When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, 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.  In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved; etc…   Do not tell this to anybody.  Francisco, yes, you may tell him.

“When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need.”

After this, there was a moment of silence, and then I asked:

“Is there anything more that you want of me?”

“No, I do not want anything more of you today.”

Then, as before Our Lady began to ascend towards the east, until she finally disappeared in the immense distance of the firmament.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, as the saying goes.  There are very many things to say about this Apparition.  Each sentence in some way shape or form warrants its own post but I won’t go to that length.  The one thing to keep in mind is that Heaven does not issue empty threats, but the Almighty bides his time to give a chance for repentance.  Very many of the things Our Lady warned us about have already happened, but not all of them, and not the worst.  We still do not know the rest of what she told the children: the “etc…” was not included or clarified or even commented on in any way, shape, or form in the Vatican’s 2000 release about the Secret of Fatima.   And we have not stopped offending God, but rather have made things much much worse.   You do the math.

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.

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.