Sunday, January 11, 2009

THE WARNING: FATIMA

Fatima: 1917 May 13 to October 13, the thirteenth of each month

Again it is to children that the Virgin reaches out, on this occasion, in Fatima, Portugal. An angel first visits them in 1916, to prepare their hearts to commune with the Mother of God. When the Lady arrives, brighter than the sun in her beauty, she introduces them into the secret of her Immaculate Heart, which she offers as the solution to the problems the world is suffering. In her Heart there is no sin, and therein lies the victory that she predicts, "My Immaculate Heart will triumph!" She points out to the children (and to us) the consequences of sin, and shows them "Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go." This vision displays to their innocent eyes a sea of fire in which they behold the damned. A dire prophecy follows foretelling what will happen on earth if people will not amend their lives: famine, wars and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father, the martyrdom of many good people, and even the annihilation of some nations. Russia will continue to spread her errors throughout the world. But, she asserts with authority, "If people will do as I ask, there will be peace." She declared to the children that the peace of the world has been confided into her hands. And, despite what may befall humanity if we refuse to listen she announces that, "In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph, the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, Russia will be converted, and an Era of Peace will be given to the world."

Instead of a spring such as she left for us at Lourdes, "Our Lady of the Rosary" (for that is how she identifies herself) promises, months ahead of the event, that on October 13th, at the last appearance, she herself will work a great miracle, "so that all will believe." When the day arrives, 70,000 pilgrims are assembled at the "Cova da Iria," a natural amphitheater seemingly designed for such a spectacle. At noon, sun-time, the clouds part after an all-night rainstorm, and every eye is able to view the sun directly without strain. Shafts of rainbow-like light spin from its orb, dazzling and delighting the onlookers. But suddenly the multitude is appalled as the sun seems to lose its moorings in the heavens; it lurches downward, threatening everyone with obliteration. They are convinced it is the
end of the world. Their relief when the sun bounds back to its ordained place in the firmament is beyond expression. But express it they did. There are those still living who were present at that wonder, who continue to render their moving testimony. Not all were professed believers who saw, but even the confirmed skeptics were compelled to speak. The secular and atheistic chronicles of the time recorded in print the witness of those who came to scoff and went home stunned by what had happened at the Cova da Iria.

Fatima is pivotal. It plunges the message of Mary into the sphere of world-wide events. No longer is it only France or some other particular country that receives specific attention. The whole world must listen. In the course of the Second World War, Fatima prophecies were released which, in 1917, had predicted that conflict; soon afterwards the now famous Pilgrim Virgin statues began to travel to every corner of the globe. In the late fifties, the Western World was hearing the message of Fatima from every side. A major motion picture on the subject was distributed. Television programs highlighted the story of Our Lady of Fatima. All waited with anticipation for the "secret" of Fatima to be revealed, for there were tales of a letter sealed with a secret that could not be disclosed until 1960.
[Editors note: The 3rd part of the Secret was revealed by the Vatican on May 13, 2000. Here is the official text: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html ]

By the time the Fatima events had become known throughout the Catholic world, the
Second World War was already in progress. No further proof of their authenticity was necessary, for that war had been foretold as a punishment, and we were right in the middle of it. It was clear that we were not amending our lives according to her requests. There was not enough response in prayer and penance to bring about the peace Our Lady of the Rosary had promised, "If people do as I ask." Peace had not come. The war ended with the explosion of two mighty bombs which introduced us into the nuclear age of annihilation. The situation was deteriorating rather than improving, and the moral fabric of society began to disintegrate badly. Great fissures opened up between the "Third World" and the rich nations, and Communism continued to "spread her errors throughout the world."

What did the "Secret of Fatima" contain? [See link to Vatican above. Ed.] The curiosity of so many was disappointed when Pope John XXIII, according to the story, opened the sealed letter from Lucy (the sole remaining visionary of Fatima) in 1960, and chose not to reveal what was written in it. Just a year previously he had announced, on January 25, 1959, the convocation of an Ecumenical Council at the Vatican. As this history making gathering of the world's bishops unfolded, the Fatima "secret" was gradually forgotten, and somehow, despite the solemn exhortation of the Council Fathers to maintain devotion to the Mother of God, and even though Pope Paul VI proclaimed her as "Mother of the Church" (with the immediate acclamation of the Council), not only did devotion to the Blessed Mother decline; a general disappearance of expressed love for her ensued, as changes in theology, liturgy, and devotional practice flowed from the Council.

[To be continued . . .]