“We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of His providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God ‘face to face’, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided His creation to that definitive Sabbath rest for which He created heaven and earth.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #314)
1917 AD – Fatima and the Twentieth Century
In 1931, our Lord spoke these words to Sister Lucia of Fatima: “Make it known to my ministers that, given that they follow the example of the king of France in delaying the execution of my request, they will follow him into misfortune…. They did not want to heed my request. Like the king of France, they will repent and do so, but it will be late.” He was referring to King Louis XIV’s refusal to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Beginning in 1830, an unprecedented number of appearances by the Virgin Mary have been documented, starting with her appearance to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris. “Each time, her message was one of prayer and penance for sin.”
In 1835, the founder of the Marianists, Blessed William Chaminade, wrote prophetically about the “age of Mary.” This age would lead to a great victory for Christ and the Church. ” He wrote: “To her, therefore, is reserved a great victory in our day, for to her belongs the glory of saving the Faith from the destruction with which it is threatened.”
Pope Leo XIII was a granted a vision on October, 13, 1884. In it he saw “Satan asking God for more time in which to unleash his power upon the world and the Church, and God granting him a period of about a hundred years.” As a result of this frightening vision, Pope Leo composed the St. Michael the Archangel prayer and a longer prayer used in exorcism.
With the approach of the new century, 1900, came the rise of Modernism, where “[e]verything we thought we believed was really only provisional, because dogma ‘evolves’ constantly. The Modernist believes that “defined doctrines are silly and out of date.”
The new century saw assassinations, wars, and secular humanist philosophies. Pope St. Pius X who became pope in 1903 after Leo XIII wrote about “the appalling condition of mankind, because of its abandonment of and apostasy from God.” In his encyclical, E supremo apostolatus cathedra, he described conditions as “this monstrous and detestable iniquity proper to the times we are living in, and through which man substitutes himself for God.” He further wondered “whether such a perversion of minds is not the sign announcing, and the beginning of, the last times and that the Son of Perdition spoken of by the Apostle [2 Thess. 2:3] might already be living on this earth.”
And so it was that in 1916, a very young Lucia, along with her cousin Jacinta and Francisco were visited by St. Michael the Archangel. In his numerous visits, St. Michael taught the children prayers of reparation and to make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. he told them that our Lord in the Holy Eucharist was “horribly outraged by ungrateful men.”
Then on May 13, 1917, our Blessed Mother appeared to the children. She came back to visit them over the course of five more months, always on the thirteenth day of each month. With each visitation, Mary asked them to pray the Rosary, sacrifice for sinners and pray for an end to World War I that was raging in Europe. She revealed that ‘God wanted to establish on earth the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” She showed the children a vision of hell and revealed the “Third Secret” to Lucia.
There was also a message that Sister Lucia was allowed to reveal many years later. Our Lady revealed that WWI would end but if man did not stop offending God, a more awful war would break out during the reign of Pius XI. God would punish the world by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. Mary said that this would be forestalled if Russia is consecrated to her Immaculate Heart and if first Saturdays be designated for the Communion of Reparation.
When Mary appeared to the children on October 13, she referred to herself as the Lady of the Rosary. She emphasized the “necessity for daily recitation of the Rosary.” It was also during this last visit that the Miracle of the Sun took place before 50,000 to 70,000 witnesses. “The sun seemed to spin in the sky, emitting colored rays, and then plunged toward the earth, terrifying the spectators, before returning to its normal place and state. People miles away reported seeing it – which rules out the claim of “mass hallucination” – and even the agnostic reporter of a socialist newspaper admitted to seeing the miracle, and he described it in detail. Thus did our Lady substantiate her message.”
At the same time in Russia, the Marxists were gaining in popular support. The Czar and Czarina were increasingly influenced by that strange character, Rasputin. “The Imperial government was literally under his control.” He was finally assassinated in 1916 under a bizarre set of attempts to kill him, first by great quantities of poison, then by gunshot to the chest then finally by binding and drowning. “The abnormal strength and resistance to death he displayed could well have been the result of diabolical possession.”
The Russian government was so weak that the Marxists were able to mount a revolution using the blueprint from the French Revolution. With the October Revolution, a radical Communist regime rose to power. Its leaders were Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Josef Stalin.
Communism, our instructor pointed out, is an error in which man substitutes himself for God. To that end, one of the first things the revolutionaries did was to destroy the Russian Church. Lenin wrote: “Now when there is cannibalism in the famine-stricken areas, we can carry out the expropriation of church valuables with the most furious and ruthless energy…. We must crush their resistance with such cruelty that they will not forget it for decades.”
The Communist International Organization, (Comintern) was founded in Moscow in March, 1919. Its purpose was the creation of an international Soviet republic and the exportation of Communist ideology all over the world.
During the reign of Pope Pius XI, the apparitions at Fatima were investigated and approved, yet God’s desire to establish a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was not fulfilled. Pope Pius XI stated that: “[t]oday we see something that world history has never seen before: the waving of the flag of Satan in the battle against God and religion, against all peoples, and in all parts of the world; a phenomenon that outdoes all that happened before.” But still the consecration was not fulfilled.
On January 25, 1938, while Pope Pius XI was still reigning, “a blood-red fire” lit up the sky in Western Europe. Astronomers didn’t know what it was but Sr. Lucia “recognized it as the promised sign that a new war was about to begin.”
Finally,in 1942, the next pope, Pius XII approved “the reparatory devotion of the first Saturdays, and devotion to Our Lady of Fatima began to spread through the Church. While he didn’t consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested, he consecrated the entire world, including a prayer for the conversion of Russia.” Sister Lucia was told by our Lord that the days of the war would be shortened as a result of the pope’s gesture, and in fact the turning point of World War II dates from that year.”
The pattern that repeats itself in history is that when we do not fulfill divine requests, punishment follows. Have we learned anything from our past? World wide, church attendance is in decline. There is doctrinal confusion among rank and file Catholics and scandal among the clergy and religious. Secularism, moral relativism, and nihilism are popular and life is not valued. There’s no shortage of wars, violence, storms and diseases.
There is ongoing debate about whether Bl. John-Paul II actually did consecrate Russia in union with all the Bishops of the world on March 25, 1984 as per our Blessed Mother’s request. And Pope Francis entrusted the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Regardless of whether our Lady’s instructions were carried out correctly, we have our own personal responsibility and our own place in salvation history. Free will gives us the ability to choose good over evil and no one, not even the devil can take away our hope.
We can, as Diane Moczar reminds us, pray “[t]he daily Rosary, the first-Saturday devotions, the prayers taught by St. Michael and by our Lady,” and we can fulfill the “duties of our state in life.” These “are the weapons we of the Church Militant are to wield, motivated by our compassion and love for our Lord and our Lady, and our desire to make reparation.”
When I read this final chapter of the book, I admit that initially I was filled with anxiety and trepidation for the future of the world’s children. What kind of a world are we sending our children into? What challenges and abuse of the Faith will they have to fight?
At times, things seem bleak, but I remain hopeful because God is Love. God is always merciful and He continues to send His consolation to those who seek Him with humble hearts. So, in humility, we keep praying, seeking and trusting in God’s mercy.