Prelude to October 13, 1917: the great rain

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.  On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark (Genesis 7:11-13)

April 19, 2017                                                                                                                                   Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

The Miracle of the Sun is the great event of the modern times.  The events of October 13, 1917 are like in their suspension of the normal natural course of events to the great miracles of the Old Testament: the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:9-31), the crossing of the Jordan river into the Promised Land (Joshua 3:7-17), the sun and the moon standing still (Joshua 10:9-14), and the shadow moving backward on the sundial of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:4-8, 2 Kings 20:8-11).  One might even make the argument that October 13, 1917 was even greater than any of these events because Our Lady predicted three separate times on July 13, on August 19, and on September 13 that a great miracle would be done around midday on October 13, 1917.  God did not tell Moses in advance not to worry about the Egyptians because He was going to take care of them in the Red Sea, but Our Lady did tell that to Lucia and Jacinta who told it to Francisco and anyone else who would listen.

This great event occurred in front of 70,000 witnesses who all knew in advance to expect something great that day and who all likely would have come down on the children pretty hard if nothing happened.  There were great fears for the lives of the children.  Even Lucia’s mother, Maria Rosa, who thought flat out that her daughter was either making all of this stuff up or being deceived by the devil, decided to go with her daughter on October 13 to the Cova da Iria.  She was convinced that there would be no miracle and that the crowd would turn on the poor child so she resolved to die with her daughter.

But there was a great miracle.  The strange thing is now, a century later, that this greatest event of modern times is covered by a blanket of silence.  It is not so much denied as it is just not talked about, and in the not talking about it the thing tends to be forgotten.  I doubt that even one in a thousand Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday even know anything about the events of October 13, 1917, and maybe one in a hundred thousand might appreciate them for what they are.  This should not be surprising given the nature of the ridiculous pseudo-gnostic death cult that has sought from the shadows to control the affairs of men since the 18th century and has driven even the idea of God from almost every facet of human life and sadly wormed its way into the highest positions of the Church.

So we will tell the story of the Miracle of the Sun here.  It will take more than one post.  I want to start with the poetic description of the all night rain over the Cova da Iria on October 12-13, 1917 that William Thomas Walsh gives on pp. 135-39 of Our Lady of Fatima because it gives not only a good description of the rain but of the tenor of the times in that disastrous year in human history: 1917.

That afternoon the sky became overclouded, and a fine cold mist began to fall over the gloomy autumnal expanse of the Serra da Aire.  Shepherds in Aljustrel locked the beasts up early, for it was plain that thick weather was brewing in the northeast.

What a night!  It was as if the devil, somewhere in the ice and snow that could never slake the burning of his pain, had resolved to destroy with one blow all that remained of the Europe which had so long been his battleground against the Thing he hated most.  Somewhere in the dark misery of Siberia, he was permitted, heaven knows why, to disturb the equilibrium of the air, setting in motion a cold and cutting blast that shrieked across the continent to the western sea.  It may have passed howling over a cabin in Finland where a little lynx-eyed man who called himself Lenin was waiting to enter St. Petersburg (he had lately sown the seeds of revolution there), and to begin, in a very few weeks, the transformation and destruction of all that world which owed what was best and noblest in it to the teachings of Christ.  It screamed in mockery over vast armaments moving stealthily through Germany to prepare for the “peace through victory” drive of 1918.  It scourged poor wretches of both armies into the cover of slimy dugouts all along the western front, and plastered with mud the Italian fugitives from Caporetto.  It seemed to echo and enlarge the despair that was settling over the vineyards of war-wearied France, where Haig stood, as he said, with his back to the wall.  Finally it dashed itself against the Pyrenees, and then, as if it had gathered up all the hatreds and discontents of disobedient men and all the rebellious powers of a corrupted nature in its mad career from the Baltic to Cape Saint Vincent, it let them all loose on the little country that has never been permanently conquered, the land where she who treads upon the serpent’s head has long been honored, the terra da Santa Maria.

Darkness fell swiftly, with blacker clouds scudding from the northeast, and huge shapeless masses of fog drifting along the mountain sides and down the river valleys to the ocean.  As the drizzle thickened to a fine, cold, slanting rain, the wind whipped to a gale, bent under it the waving and moaning plumes of the pine forests near Leiria; it ripped the square sails of ancient windmills on the gray heights of the Serra da Aire; it scattered pale glistening leaves of poplars and aspens across the swollen Tagus; it flattened the plucked and reddened vineyards of Braga and the withered gardens of Moita and Fátima; it went roaring across hundreds of miles of narrow beaches until the frothy Atlantic bellowed back in anger, and cast up vengeful floods into village streets.  The rain fell steadily, pitilessly.

Yet there were thousands of human beings and many beasts on the roads of the little Republic that night.  For faith is stronger than doubt, and love is hardier than hate.  Devout Catholics in every village had heard by this time that Our Lady had promised to return to Cova da Iria to perform a miracle on October 13.  Rain or shine, that was all they needed to know.  Peasant families slung their wicker baskets and earthen water jugs over their shoulders, or packed them in panniers on the backs of burros, and started out under the lowering skies.  Fathers and mothers carried sick or lame children in their arms for incredible distances.  Fishermen left their nets and boats on the beaches of the Vieira and took to the oozy roads.  Farmhands from Monte Real, sailors from ships in the harbors of Porto or Algarve, factory workere from Lisboa, serranas from Minde or Soublio, ladies and gentlemen, scrubwomen, waiters, young and old, rich and poor, all sorts of people (but most of them humble, most of them barefoot, most of them workers and their families) were plodding through the mud under the pelting rain that night, like a great scattered army converging upon Fátima, hoping to find there some favor of health or conversion, forgiveness of sin, consolation for sorrow, the beginning of a better life, the blessing of the Mother of God.

It made no difference to these devotees if saturated trousers or skirts sloshed around their tired legs as their bare feet plowed the mud or splattered the puddles of bad roads.  Laughter was heard among groups of several families as they walked along together.  Fragments of old hymns would echo back from the wet cliffs, or come floating down out of the darkness of a lonely road.  “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!”  Not for nothing had the ancestors of these people sung the Salve Regina on the decks of galleons in the Indian Ocean or whalers in the China Sea.

This description of the pilgrims marching toward Fatima is in its way an excellent metaphor for the Church and her march through history.  She gathers her humble children from the mountains and from the fields, from the factories and the harbors, from the streets and the forests, from the deserts and the bayous and they take their place with her, singing ancient hymns and thanking God for that great gift of the Immaculate Heart of his most holy Mother and all that she conceived, on the march through the terrible stormy night of history.  And it is a storm that will grow much darker and much more terrible, the devil knowing how short his time is now, as she approaches her final goal: to meet her Lord who stands waiting for his Bride when dawn breaks on the far shore of the Resurrection and the final Judgement of the human race.

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 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 May 13, 1917

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

February 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

“Yes, indeed!” they answered.

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

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

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

“Where are you from?”

“I am from heaven.”

“What do you want of me?”

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

“Shall I go to heaven too?”

“Yes, you will.”

“And Jacinta?”

“She will go also.”

“And Francisco?”

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

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

“Is Maria das Neves in heaven?”

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

“And Amelia?”

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

“Yes, we are willing.”

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

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

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

After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again:

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

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

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

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