The Great Secret of Fatima (part III)
1. The Missionary Virgin
Fatima recalls the very reason for the existence of the Church and fulfils the great commission that Christ gave to His apostles: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). Fatima can be compared with the parable of the seed, which afterwards becomes an immense tree: what started with humble beginnings at the place of the apparitions became a worldwide event with the triumphant pilgrimages of the Fatima Virgin: the graces given to the children at the Cova da Iria were intended by Divine Providence to be bestowed on everybody on earth who is willing to welcome the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Furthermore, Fatima teaches us that the Church’s missionary work is most intimately bound up with Mary. She appears as the missionary par excellence; her apostolic mission is unique and universal. The conversions accomplished by the “peregrinatio Mariae” remind us of the prayer of the Divine Office: “Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, for thou alone hast vanquished all heresies throughout the world”. Cardinal Newman remarked that the nations that remained faithful to Mary also preserved the purity of their faith in the divinity of Christ, whereas those which rejected Marian devotion saw Christ as little more than a “good man”. This can be fully applied to the world event of Fatima: wherever Our Lady passes, Our Lord Jesus Christ is adored; people receive the Sacraments and fill the churches.
2. The powerful Virgin
If we pass through all of the above mentioned countries, we can construct a picture of the intense ‘apostolate’ of Our Lady’s enemies, parallel to her own efforts: in North America and Europe, we observe gigantic successes of Freemasonry, in the other parts of the world, the exponential spread of Communism. Fatima is the most striking proof that when Christendom is endangered, God sends His Heavenly Mother who brings about a victory over His enemies despite their overwhelmingly superior strength. In centuries past, the popes have acknowledged over and over again the victories of Mary, particularly over Islam, and have introduced special feast days in honour of the Blessed Virgin to commemorate those miraculous interventions of the Mother of God.
Notice also the very rapid change in countries suffering from anarchy, corruption, civil uprisings, economic and moral decline and religious indifference, in as much as the competent authorities fulfil the requests of Our Lady. Even long established anti-Christian and immoral laws are overthrown within a very short period and replaced by a genuine Christian legislation. But while many of the authorities in charge remained indifferent to Fatima, it is most striking to observe that wherever Our Lady of Fatima was welcomed, the intense fervour provoked by her presence put an end to religious indifference. This makes us understand that even in very hostile situations, Our Lady operates miracles of graces and profound social changes, if only her demands are taken seriously. What Our Lady succeeded in accomplishing in Portugal and Spain after the apparitions in Fatima, she wishes to do everywhere, and especially in Russia.
3. The Mediatrix of all graces
What really happened all over the world during the triumphal years of the apostolate of Our Lady of Fatima? By her visible presence in the form of the pilgrim statue SHE was attracting large crowds, so that her many children could be formed by her. This formation is nothing other than a moulding by the loving hand of God our Father, who prepares a place for Himself in our unworthy hearts, in which He can place at least a tiny fraction of His graces. In this way, God can make His way into any soul, into any place, through Our Lady of Fatima, who as it were, brings preparatory graces with her in order to ready people to receive God’s sanctifying grace. The words and events of her apparitions are impressed upon the hearts of the people who, like children, listen to their mother, imitate her and strive to fulfil her requests. As soon as there is a positive response to her call, immediately various fruits become visible: conversion, peace of heart, peace miraculously preserved in the country, a return to a genuine Christian life, diminution of the influence of the enemies of God, and above all the earnest effort to avoid the sins and occasions which lead directly to eternal damnation.
It is also interesting to note that this triumph of Our Lady of Fatima is always linked with her statue, which is brought with pomp and solemnity for the veneration of the people. Our Lady knows human nature, which needs the help of visible things in order to perceive and remember what is invisible and to live in accordance with the mysteries of the faith. Just as someone may have the picture of a person dear to him and might like to look at it, especially when that person is far away, so too the Christian loves the image or the statue that reminds him of the presence of Christ and Mary.
Moreover, Our Lady, as the best of all Mothers, doesn’t cease to give to her children important means of sanctification: she gives St. Dominic the Rosary, a way of praying that is particularly dear to God, one that communicates to children through Mary, in brief summary form, the whole mystery of God, and instils that mystery into their hearts. To St. Simon Stock she gives the Scapular of Mount Carmel. The Mother clothes her child and thus testifies to her intimate relationship with him. Through this external identification, the child is supposed to resemble the Mother interiorly. That is why Mary can promise that whoever wears this garment at the moment of death will not fall into the fires of hell. For she herself will come to drive away the devil, who cannot stain or soil her garment and therefore cannot touch someone who wears this garment so as to cast him into the abyss. In the year 1830 she gives to St. Catharine Labouré the Miraculous Medal, called “miraculous” because of the countless miracles — conversions and cures — that continue to this day by means of the medal.
It is also interesting that Our Lady reminds her children of all these means at Fatima, beginning with the devotion to the Rosary. On the 13th of October 1917, the three children saw a series of visions, one of which represented Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Blue Army of Fatima uses the Miraculous Medal as the main means of its Fatima apostolate. But these means are all integrated into a greater visible ‘means’, devotion to the Immaculate Heart. At Fatima, Our Lady reveals to us the profundity of her Immaculate Heart. All of the means which she had revealed before showed certain aspects of the love of her motherly Heart. At Fatima, SHE gives everything she possesses to us, her very heart itself. More she cannot give. This is why Sr. Lucia speaks of Fatima as providing the final means that God gives for the salvation of the world. The drama is stark. On the one hand, Our Lady of Fatima promises incredible graces and favours to those who accept devoutly her Heart, and on the other, she announces terrible punishments for those who would reject it.
Finally, the graces given by Our Lady through Fatima are not limited to growth in one’s own spiritual life and a deeper devotion to Our Lord. When someone sincerely strives to fulfill Our Lady’s request according to his state of life, he receives special graces to accomplish more perfectly his duties and works much more efficaciously for the building up of the City of God: Holy Mother Church and Christian society. Prof. Salazar and General Franco provide marvellous and striking examples of this. Thanks to their devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and the public consecration of their countries to her Immaculate Heart, they not only received HER special protection for their own spiritual lives and even for their temporal lives (they were both miraculously saved from attempts on their lives), but they also obtained, through Our Lady, peace, order and prosperity throughout their countries. Another even more striking example is Pope Pius XII: as long as he was the “Fatima Pope”, his pontificate was outstanding in its wise government of the Church, prosperous propagation of the Catholic Faith in the missionary countries, multiplication of priestly and religious vocations, vigorous defence of the Catholic Faith and morals against all kind of enemies outside and inside the Church. The crown of the special favour shown by the Immaculate Heart of Mary to Pius XII was an unheard of deepening of the mysteries of the Faith, morality and discipline in the Church (through Pius XII’s marvellous encyclicals and messages) and the grace of proclaiming a dogma, and a dogma concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the highest expression of Papal authority and dignity.
4. Our Lady establishes a Christian world order
Certainly the first goal and fruit of these triumphal events during almost 50 years is the conversion and sanctification of innumerable souls. However, it is easy to observe that SHE never limits herself only to the individual or private sphere. All Fatima events in all countries have a public and social effect: the re-establishment of the public Christian order called christianitas — Christendom: institutions become Catholic again and recognize as their foundation the Commandments of God and the social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Visibly Our Lady insists on the importance and necessity of the public recognition of the sovereign authority of Jesus Christ in all domains. Only if all departments of human life are impregnated by God’s laws and based on the sole Truth, which is Christ himself and the grace of God, do people live in a healthy and prosperous atmosphere which provides them with stability and perseverance in their efforts to avoid evil and accomplish good.
This is confirmed in an extraordinary manner by the miracle of the doves which accompanied Our Lady’s Statue in many places in the world. Although the missionary Virgin pours out her graces everywhere, the doves of peace which mysteriously accompany her in a Christian land could no longer follow their Queen in heretical and pagan countries. Undoubtedly this is to show us that only in Christendom, where there is a true faith in the Most Holy Trinity, where the reign of Jesus Christ and His divine Mother are officially recognized, can the Immaculate Mediatrix dispense the divine gift of peace to nations, as their true Queen. This true peace cannot be experienced by any country as long as it remains under the yoke of error and discord.
5. Mother of Mercy
There are two sorts of graces that the Holy Ghost unceasingly sends to us through the Immaculate Heart of Mary: graces of conversion and of sanctification. Through conversion, she draws us out of the perdition of sin and loosens the shackles of the devil, whose head she continually crushes. Through sanctification, she gradually leads the soul closer and closer to God and unites it more fully with Him.
Here we see a most remarkable feature of divine love, which assigns to Mary a special role in bringing the lost son back home to the father: “God is merciful, infinitely merciful, but He is also just, infinitely just — so much so that He cannot tolerate even the slightest sin and has to demand full reparation for it. The one who distributes the infinite merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, which washes sins away, is the personified Divine Mercy in the person of the Immaculata. That is why we rightly call her the Refuge of Sinners, of all sinners, even though their sins are very serious and very numerous. Even when it might seem to them that there is no more mercy left for them … she is still the Mother of Mercy, and therefore she hastens, even when she is not called, to the place where the greatest misery prevails in souls. Once she has entered a soul, even if it is as miserable as can be and befouled with sins and vices, she does not allow such a soul to perish, but begs for it the graces of light for the understanding and strength for the will, so that it might come to its senses and get up again. As the Mediatrix of all graces, she cannot and will not obtain the grace of conversion only occasionally, here and there; rather, she wants to give rebirth to all souls.” (Saint Maximilian Kolbe)
The whole history of Fatima is full of examples of this “intercessory omnipotence” of Mary, beginning with the spectacular conversions of unbelievers and Freemasons after the miracle of the sun on October 13th, 1917. Indeed, the words of Saint Maximilian find here a perfect concrete application: “All conversions start with the Mediatrix of all graces… All saints, one could say, are a work of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary…. If all souls were able to express themselves, they would produce countless thick volumes giving testimony to the working of the Immaculata, the loving Mother of the souls redeemed by the Most Precious Blood of her Divine Son.”
Theology distinguishes between sanctifying grace and actual graces. One particular type of the latter sort is preparatory grace (gratia praeveniens). Before we attain a state of friendship with God through sanctifying grace, which is the life of God in us, God sends to us in our misery graces that prepare the soul for the coming of God into it. If these prevenient graces did not exist, we would never be capable of accepting divine life within us. And this is precisely the role of the Immaculata. By her prayers she obtains graces for souls who do not yet possess sanctifying grace; through her we receive prevenient and preparatory graces.
This special love of the Blessed Mother for poor sinners, which we can marvel at in all the above-mentioned Fatima events, is not just a consequence of her mediation of graces; rather, it involves something else that is very special, which is perhaps the most profound reason why God willed to come to us in precisely this manner, through Mary and only through her. God loves us with an unbounded love and wants to do all that He can to lead us to eternal happiness. But man, who is burdened with sins, may fear to approach the throne of God. God is light and there is no darkness in Him. Darkness cannot exist in His presence. The sinner, however, is full of darkness, full of filth. God’s majesty and infinite holiness cannot exist side-by-side with contradiction, rebellion and denial, namely with sin. That is why sin must be condemned. Christ came into the world to pay for our sins. And despite this act of love, man goes on sinning, participates in the scourging and crucifixion of Christ as the executioners did. Therefore, “in order that the soul might not lose hope out of fear of God’s justice, which sin has offended, God sends the personification of His love, the Spouse of the Spirit of maternal love, the Immaculata, who is all-beautiful, spotless, and yet a daughter of man, a sister of human beings. He entrusts to her the administration of His mercy with respect to souls. It is similar in our earthly families: in a family, the father often rejoices when the mother, by her intercession, holds back his hand from punishing the child, for then justice is satisfied and mercy can also be displayed. Likewise, our heavenly Father, so as not to punish us, gives us a spiritual Mother, whose intercession He cannot resist.” (Saint Maximilian Kolbe).
Imagine a child that has been very bad and vicious and perhaps has committed many crimes and is rejected by the whole world; would his mother, if she was a good mother, ever disown her child? Wouldn’t she beg God all her life long for his conversion, like St. Monica did for her son St. Augustine? And at the slightest sign of remorse in the child, wouldn’t she hasten to demonstrate her motherly love for him? And if the child in his despair cried, “Mother”, could her heart ever manage to remain deaf to such a cry for help? Who would ever be afraid to go to his mother? Here, though, we have not just any mother, but rather the best of all mothers, whose very nature it is to be the Mother of Mercy. But why did God, in setting out to find sinful man who was lost, decide to give this, His most beautiful and magnificent divine attribute, to a weak creature, to a woman? In order to make the way easy for us, so as to touch our inmost depths, to show us how much He loves us, that He even renounces, as it were, this jewel from His divine crown and so does absolutely everything possible to save us. This is what St. Bernard meant when he wrote: “Why should man hesitate to approach Mary in his weakness? There is nothing stern, nothing terrible about her. Everything about her is kindliness, sweetness, gentleness and mercy. Therefore give thanks to Him, who providentially gave you such a Mediatrix…”.
And that leads us to the most profound reason why God entrusted to her the entire “order of mercy”. Divine Mercy is His loving condescension to the little one, to the insignificant, to our nothingness, to our essential weakness and (after the Fall) to our misery. God wills to show this, His mercy, to the world and for this He chooses Our Lady, and specially Our Lady of Fatima whose whole occupation till the end of world is to be MOTHER OF MERCY, mother of God’s Love towards poor sinners, with a mercy that wishes to save, heal, restore and redeem.
This Mercy of God shines forth very specially, when she answers so generously even to our reluctant, lazy and ridiculous gestures. Even if someone gives only a partial and reluctant response, Our Lady always hears him, helps him and gives him immense graces. We can go even further, even if somebody gives HER only his little finger, SHE will never let herself be outdone in generosity. That is the reason why so many graces came from the important consecration of the world by Pope Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, even though he did not accomplish exactly what Our Lady asked for in Tuy. This is also the reason why such outstanding and unique graces are given to those who piously attend the great manifestation of the visits of the Pilgrim Statue, even when they have lived for many years in sin and religious indifference.
If then Our Lady dispenses God’s graces so immensely, if she finds somebody to do at least “something”, what is to be said, if we strive to accomplish her requests completely?