The Apparition of August 19, 1917

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

April 5, 2017                                                                                                                                       The Memorial of Saint Vincent Ferrer

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you want of me?”

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

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

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

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

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

Then, looking very sad, Our lady said:

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

And she began to ascend as usual towards the east.

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

A period of peace

It is done! (Rev. 21: 6)

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

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

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

1) What this is not

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

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

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

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

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

2) What is she talking about then?

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

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

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

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

The Holy Father will have much to suffer

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

March 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Russia will spread her errors throughout the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray the Rosary every day.

July 13, 1917: the matter of Russia

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

March 9, 2017                                                                                                                                   The Memorial of Saint Frances of Rome

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

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

1) Why Russia?

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

russia-94

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

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

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

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

2) The annihilation of nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.