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Friday, May 13, 2011

Our Lady of Fatima - May 13th

"And a great sign appeared in heaven,
a woman clothed with the sun
."  (Revelation 12:1)
 “Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ's proclamation: the Father's love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion. This too is the message of Fatima which, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel.” (The Message of Fatima, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Introduction     

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
The 13th Day
“To the casual observer or the individual who has never before heard of the Church-approved (in 1930) apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, the events may at first seem shocking even unbelievable.  Yet, the culmination of the apparitions – with the Miracle of the Sun – was witnessed by more than 70,000 and testified to by even secular journalists.  Not only that, but events predicted at Fatima did come to pass in the years after the visions.”  (The 13th Day – Our Lady of Fatima Film Companion Booklet, page 5)

May 13, 1917, on the feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a woman appeared in Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, town of Vila Nova de Ourém, Portugal, to three children, Jacinta (7), Francisco (9), and Lucia (10) as they tended their sheep.  After a great flash of light the children described as brighter than lightning. “They saw a beautiful young lady. She was dressed in a white gown, gathered together at the neck by a gold cord. Over her head draped a fine white veil. The children were about to run when they heard a sweet voice say: “Be not afraid! I am not going to hurt you.””  The woman asked the children to “come here for six successive months, on the thirteenth of each month, at this same time. In October I shall tell you who I am and what it is I wish.”(The Story of Our Lady of Fatima, Brother Ernest, C.S.C., Imprimatur, Most Rev. Leo A. Pursley, D.D., Bishop of Fort Wayne, 1957)   

The children returned to the Cova on June 13, 1917. That day the woman told the children that her son, Jesus, wanted to establish a devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and that she wanted them to recite the rosary every day.  Then the woman said, “After the Gloria Patri (Glory Be) of each decade, you will say, ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Deliver us from the fires of hell.  Have pity on the souls in purgatory, especially the most abandoned.’”  Lucia asked the woman to take them to heaven.  The woman replied, “Francisco and Jacinta I will soon take.*  You must remain.  Jesus wants you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”   (The Story of Our Lady of Fatima, Brother Ernest, C.S.C., Imprimatur, Most Rev. Leo A. Pursley, D.D., Bishop of Fort Wayne, 1957) 

 On July 13, 1917, the woman entrusted to the children three secrets. The first secret was a vision of hell. Sister Lucia described this vision in her “Third Memoir,” as:  “Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like 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 a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent.” (The “Secret” of Fatima, First and Second Part of the “Secret” According to the version presented by Sister Lucia in the “Third Memoir” of 31 August 1941 for the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, contained in The Message of Fatima, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith)

In the second secret Our Lady revealed, “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 shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”   (The “Secret” of Fatima, First and Second Part of the “Secret” According to the version presented by Sister Lucia in the “Third Memoir” of 31 August 1941 for the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, contained in The Message of Fatima, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith)
(Crystal Aspersorium used at Mass to dispense Holy Water)

For the third secret Our Lady showed the children a vision, “The Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'.**** Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.” (The “Secret” of Fatima, First and Second Part of the “Secret” According to the version presented by Sister Lucia in the “Third Memoir” of 31 August 1941 for the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, contained in The Message of Fatima, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith)

On August 13th the children were prevented by the government from going to the place of the apparition.  The woman appeared to the children six days later.

On September 13, 1917 a crowd of 30,000 people gathered in the Cova awaiting the apparition. The woman appeared to the children and said “continue the Rosary, my children. Say it every day that the war may end. In October Our Lord will come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Saint Joseph will appear with the Child Jesus to bless the world.” 

By the time of the last apparition on October 13th, the Cova da Iria had attracted 70,000 people who waited in hopes of observing the apparition. “Then all saw the clouds part, and the sun appear like a great disk of white fire.  But the children saw a vision of the Holy Family.  Next Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows, and beside her stood Jesus.  He made the sign of the cross over the people.  Finally, Our Lady came again as Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  She was crowned, and the Infant Jesus stood on her knee.” (The Story of Our Lady of Fatima, Brother Ernest, C.S.C., Imprimatur, Most Rev. Leo A. Pursley, D.D., Bishop of Fort Wayne, 1957)  

During this visit the women identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary,” asking again for prayer and penance. Many of the people gathered witnessed the "sun dancing" (spinning) in the sky. Avelino de Almeida, chief editor of O Seculo, the daily newspaper of Lisbon wrote:

“From the road, where the carriages were crowded together and where hundreds of persons had stayed for want of sufficient courage to advance across the muddy ground, we saw the huge crowd turn towards the sun which appeared at its zenith, clear of the clouds. It resembled a disc of silver, and it was possible to stare at it without the least discomfort. It did not burn the eyes. It did not blind. We would say that it produced an eclipse. Then a tremendous cry rang out, and the crowd nearest us were heard to shout: "Miracle! Miracle! ... Marvel! ... Marvel!" Before the dazzled eyes of the people, whose attitude transported us to biblical times, and who, dumbfounded, heads uncovered, contemplated the blue of the sky, the sun trembled, it made strange and abrupt movements, outside of all cosmic laws, "the sun danced", according to the typical expression of the peasants ...” (O Seculo, October 15, 1917)

Harassed by his own secular press, fifteen days later, Avelino de Almeida would repeat his account of the sun dancing and illustrate it with photographs of the crowd, in his review, O Milagre de Fatima in Ilustracao Portuguesa. Writing, "I saw ... I saw ... I saw." ……. Miracle, as the people shouted? Natural phenomenon, as the experts say? For the moment, that does not concern me, I am only saying what I saw... The rest is a matter for Science and the Church." (Ilustracao Portuguesa, October 29, 1917)

God continues, just as He did at Fatima and  in every moment of time, lovingly reaching out to each one of us through His Son and His Son's Mother, no matter our circumstances in life, meeting each of us exactly where we are on our journey to Him. The messages of Fatima, prayer,repentance,conversion, self-sacrifice, reparation, and peace, are messages that the world, each one of us, is still in need of today.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith summed up the apparitions of Fatima in June 2000 as:

“To save souls” has emerged as the key word of the first and second parts of the “secret” and the key word of the third part is the threefold cry: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” The beginning of the Gospel comes to mind: “Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15). To understand the signs of the times means to accept the urgency of penance – of conversion – of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history,…

And so we come to the final question: What is the meaning of the “secret” of Fatima as a whole (in its three parts)? What does it say to us? ... the events to which the third part of the ‘secret' of Fatima refers now seem part of the past”. Insofar as individual events are described, they belong to the past. …..What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the “secret”: the exhortation to prayer as the path of “salvation for souls” and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion….

I would like finally to mention another key expression of the “secret” which has become justly famous: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.” (The Message of Fatima, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith   

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Right Panel Last Judgement Triptych - Hans Memling

*Blessed Francisco Marto (June 11, 1908–April 4, 1919) and his sister Blessed Jacinta Marto (March 11, 1910–February 20, 1920) Sister Lucia of Fatima (March 22, 1907 – February 13, 2005)

** The revelations at Fatima were considered “private.” “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. (#67 Catechism of the Catholic Church) The pontificate of Pius the XI was from February 6, 1922 – February 10 1939. Encyclopedias place the beginning of World War II on September 1, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany a date which fell under the pontificate of Pius XII. A world war does not start overnight, historians list countries coming into this world war before and after this date. The Second Sino-Japanese War ( July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945) started as a conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with help from Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, this war merged into the greater conflict of World War II as the front known as the Pacific War.

*** On July 7, 1952, Pope Pius XII consecrates the Russian people to the Immaculate Heart in his Apostolic Letter Carissimis Russiae Populis, On the Immaculate Heart and the People of Russia. On May 13, 1982, Pope John Paull II invites the bishops of the world to join him in consecrating the world and with it Russia to the Immaculate Heart. In October 1982, Pope John Paul II, at the Synod of Bishops, renews the 1982 Consecration. November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall falls. December 25, 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is dissolved.

**** On May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square Pope John Paul II was shot and struck 4 times and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca. Agca was apprehended immediately, and later sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court. The Pope later forgave Agca for the assassination attempt.”As regards the passage about the Bishop dressed in white, that is, the Holy Father—as the children immediately realized during the “vision”—who is struck dead and falls to the ground, Sister Lucia was in full agreement with the Pope's claim that “it was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” (Pope John Paul II, Meditation from the Policlinico Gemelli to the Italian Bishops, 13 May 1994).