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.