Saturday, June 18, 2011
By Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
Used with permission.
On May 13 the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
Like the apparitions of Our Lady at Guadalupe and at Lourdes, her apparitions at Fatima are known far and wide across the world in both religious and secular circles. To appreciate more clearly the impact of Mary’s appearances at Fatima, it is important for us to know something about the conditions in Portugal at the time of the appearances in 1917. The events need to be placed in historical context.
The historical, political, social circumstances
For centuries Portugal had distinguished itself by its zeal for the spread of the Christian faith. But in the eighteenth century the government was influenced by anti-religious ideas and, from that time, Freemasonry set about de-Christianizing the country. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the moral and religious situation in Portugal was abysmal. In 1911, the separation of Church and State became official. The years from 1910 to 1913 were years of terror: priests and bishops were imprisoned or exiled; religious orders were suppressed; almost all the seminaries were closed and confiscated; missions languished or were abandoned. Freemasonry was in control. From 1910 to 1926 Portugal experienced 16 revolutions with 40 changes of government officials.
The apparitions and their message
Then, on May 13, 1917, a shining Lady appeared to three little shepherds near Fatima, a Portuguese village. They were Jacinta, seven years old; Francisco, her brother, nine years old; their cousin, Lucia, ten years old. The brilliant Lady encouraged them to pray the rosary, a summary of the Gospel, and to offer acts of penance. Then she asked them to return on the 13th of the next five months. The children were faithful in coming, except for August 13, for the mayor, a Mason, had them imprisoned at that time. He had threatened to cast them into a caldron of boiling oil if they did not reveal the secret confided to them by the Lady.
At each meeting, the Lady revealed to them a little more of God’s designs. She foretold future misfortunes which they were to keep secret for the time being, and which were recently revealed by the sole survivor, Lucia. These had to do with an even more terrible war than the current one of 1914-1918. The Lady asked for the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for only through her could the aid of God come to the world. On the last apparition, that of October 13, she promised a great miracle which everyone would be able to see.
Curiosity drew ever larger numbers that accompanied the little visionaries to each meeting: there were some 25,000 to 30,000 on September 13; about 70,000 on October 13.
That day, on which the great miracle promised by the Virgin Mary was to take place, rain poured all morning. The crowd was soaked. But at noon the skies cleared. Mary appeared to the three shepherds and revealed her name: Lady of the Rosary. She asked that people be converted and pray. Then, in the sight of the 70,000 spectators, the sun, which had just appeared through the clouds, began to rotate or spin three times. Each rotation lasted three or four minutes, illuminating the trees, the crowd, the earth, with all the colors of a rainbow. Then it zigzagged in the sky and descended as though to fall into the crowd. People fell to the ground crying for mercy. Then the sun returned to its proper place. The spectators noticed that their clothes were completely dry.
News of this miracle, witnessed by 70,000 people, including a number hostile to religion, spread like wildfire throughout Portugal and made a tremendous impression. The material miracle was but a sign of another miracle, the enlightenment of souls and the conversion of the country.
Less than two weeks after the last apparition, a first sign of a new attitude manifested itself in the protest by an influential antichristian newspaper against a sacrilegious attack by a group of sectarians at Fatima. In 1918, the bishops were recalled from exile and were able to hold a meeting at Lisbon. The military chaplaincy was reinstated and relations with the Holy See reestablished. At that point, the Masonic lodges had the president of the Republic of Portugal assassinated. They sought to reinstate the control of the anticlericals, but their efforts failed.
In 1926, the first National Council was held. In 1928, the renowned Oliveira Salazar rose to power. He was an outstanding Catholic and a great statesman, the providential man for the financial, civil, political, and religious restoration of Portugal.
Come 1936, a new great danger menaced the land. The Russian Bolshevists decided to establish atheistic communism in Spain and Portugal in order to spread it more successfully in the east and in the west, throughout all Christian Europe. We know what success they had in Spain. Portugal seemed unable to resist their activity, organized with satanic cleverness. To dispel the danger, the bishops saw salvation only in the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1936, they promised, by what was termed an anticommunist oath, to make a pilgrimage of the entire nation to Fatima if Portugal were preserved from the peril which was threatening it.
While, on the other side of the frontier in Spain, the “Reds” were massacring, profaning, pillaging, burning priests and men and women religious and churches and convents, trying to extirpate the last vestiges of Christianity, Portugal enjoyed the most profound peace. And so, in 1938, an enormous pilgrimage of a half-million faithful was on route to Fatima to thank the Virgin for her miraculous protection.
In 1940, Portugal signed with the Holy See the most perfect concordat, from the Christian point of view, ever signed in recent times. The faith is proclaimed throughout the entire country with pride, the sacraments are frequented, Catholic Action flourished, ecclesiastical vocations multiplied. In eight years the number of religious had quadrupled. In keeping with the prediction of the Virgin at Fatima, the Second World War was much more horrible than the first. Yet, though most of the nations of the world were involved in the indescribable calamities and anguish, Portugal continued with its tranquil life under the protection of Mary.
The Church’s action
The ecclesiastical inquiry into the facts of Fatima was opened in November of 1917. However, because of circumstances, a verdict was rendered only thirteen years later, on October 13, 1930. Meanwhile, pilgrimages continued to arrive, always more numerous, and usually on the 13th of each month. Cures were taking place. In 1926, a board of review was established similar to the one at Lourdes. More than a thousand cures, scientifically unexplainable had been registered by 1955.
On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, the ecclesiastical authority judged the moment suitable for revealing in part what Our Lady of the Rosary had asked Lucia to keep secret for the time being.
In his radio message of October 31, 1942, to the pilgrims gathered at Fatima, Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He renewed this consecration the following December 8 in Rome. The bishops of the whole world also made this consecration for their individual dioceses on March 28, 1943. We know that the Pope Pius XII confided to Cardinal Tedeschini that he himself had seen the solar phenomenon on October 30 and 31, and on November 1 and 8, 1954, on the occasion of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption.
The impact of Fatima
The message of Fatima has been heard in Portugal, and Mary’s goodness has marvelously repaid it. Has it been heard in the rest of the world? Certainly not enough. Otherwise wars among nations by armies, and “cold wars,” and fratricides within countries would have ended long ago.
However, not all have turned a deaf ear. The message of Fatima has been received in part, at least, by a great number of Christians. Devotion to the rosary continues to gain favor and reaches into many countries. As has been said, all the dioceses of the world have been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the bishops. The visits of the Pilgrim Virgin statues have been received with tremendous enthusiasm not only by Catholic populations, but by Protestants and Muslims as well.
The message of Fatima has moved many and has contributed to making our era an Age of Mary. It has not spoken its final word. What that word will be depends on the cooperation which Our Lady of Fatima receives from us. She extends this call and invitation to each of us.
The words of Franz Werfel about Lourdes apply also to Fatima: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
Thursday, June 16, 2011
It was through a reader of this blog and then confirmed by Ed Sousa that I learned of the passing of Father Randall. He is the author of No Spirit, No Church, a book I reviewed here.
Read Ed's post here.
It is truly sad that Father has died but I am sure he is very happy to have been called home.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and may Your perpetual light shine upon him. May Father Randall rest in peace.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Seems like the summertime always seems to brings difficult changes in parish churches. Priests that we have come to know very well and to love and care for, are reassigned by their bishops.
Many people do not like change. It is only natural that we like things just the way we have grown accustomed them to be. This seems to be apparently true when it comes to our priests remaining with us.
One priest has been at the same parish for eight years. He was supposed to be reassigned two years ago but was able to remain at the parish he had come to love, for an additional two years. Now it is his time to leave. He mentioned that he told three people about his departure and they all cried. He then stopped telling individuals, instead opting to tell everyone after the conclusion of Sunday Mass. He like all faithful priests knows he must be obedient to his bishop.
Why is it that the knee-jerk reaction of some individuals is to blame the bishop? Some go as far as to get angry at the bishops and to criticize them to others. We seem to forget that a priest should not be attached to anyone or anything. He must always be obedient. He must be ready to shepherd his flock no matter where he is sent. I know the priests know this and respect their bishops' decision. Why can't we?
I remember when I was younger, the parish my family belonged to grew very close to the Franciscan friars...the Capuchins. Each time one of the friars was reassigned, some of the people were ready to protest and to sign petitions. One wise priest admonished them. This kind of reaction on the part of the laity is not at all helpful. It will not help to change a bishop's decision.
Another thing I have noticed is that those who volunteer to help out sometimes have a problem with the way the new priest does things. We have to remember, we have to accommodate and change to suit the new priest, not the other way around.
We must remember a priest is in persona christi or alter christus....another Christ.
In this month of June, our holy Father's prayer intention is for our priests. Please pray for your priests, especially the new ones assigned to your parish.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I AM THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By Howard Schnauber
I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is "Old Glory".
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.
I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners,
My head is a little higher,
My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped -- I am saluted.
I am loved -- I am revered.
I am respected -- and I am feared.
I have fought in every battle of every war
for more then 200 years.
I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg,
Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill,
the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome
and the beaches of Normandy, Guam,
Okinawa, Korea, and Vietnam.
I was there. I led my troops.
I was dirty, battle-weary and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me
And I was proud.
I have been burned, torn and trampled
on the streets of countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt, for I am invincible.
I have been soiled upon, burned, torn
and trampled on the streets of my country.
And when it's by those whom I've served in battle -- it hurts.
But I shall overcome -- for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness
to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.
When I am torn into strips
and used as bandages
for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,
Or when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter,
I am proud.
MY NAME IS "OLD GLORY".
LONG MAY I WAVE.
DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN,
LONG MAY I WAVE.
Monday, June 13, 2011
"It is only in adversity that we come to know whether we have made real progress in goodness...
Two things the devil fears above all:
the fire of charity and the well-trodden path of humility...
The poor of Jesus Christ, who are marked with the sign of his poverty as long as they are in this world, consider themselves pilgrims and exiled from the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6) and walk roughshod over the passing things of this world. Unless we keep our hearts thus unfettered, how can we come to the Lord?
Nothing apart from God can satisfy the human heart which is truly in search of him. Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us. Practically, we are required to be patient in many ways: for there are some things, trials and crosses, which come to us from God; others, temptations and enticements, that come to us from our old adversary the devil; still other difficulties that arise from our neighbor: persecution, complaints, unjust accusations. Against all these we must be ever on our guard lest we give way to complaining against the trials our maker sends us; lest again we be led astray into sin, which is what the devil wants; or to be overly disturbed by the thoughtlessness or unkindness of others. For if we want to have our own way always, aren't we really seeking our reward here below in the things of the is life? Let us couple patience and long-suffering int he spirit of meekness and faith (and so bring forth fruit in patience)!"
- Saint Anthony of Padua.
June 13th Meditation of the Day, Magnficat 2011
On this the feast day of Saint Anthony, I highly recommend the movie Saint Anthony. It stars a young and very talented Italian actor Daniele Liotta. He also stars in another highly recommended movie Don Gnocchi. Click the link Saint Anthony to learn more and to read an interview with the actor. More on Don Gnocchi at a later time.