Saturday, October 23, 2010

God’s Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima II

A continuation of God’s Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima

In 1910, Portugal had undergone its own revolution which resulted in the persecution of the Catholic Church. Churches, convents and monasteries were shut down; priests and the religious were arrested. The following year, the persecutions came to a peak with the law of Separation of Church and State. The author of these anti-religious laws, Alfonso Costa, said: "Thanks to this law of separation, in two generations Catholicism will be completely eliminated in Portugal." By 1917 the Portuguese people were well acquainted with a government unfriendly to religious freedom. It was within this local milieu, not unrelated to the international crisis -that Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three Portuguese children.

In visiting Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the Mother of God impressed upon these three souls that the world was closing itself off to eternity! The message that the Blessed Virgin had come to deliver was one which linked the breakdown of faith and prayer with the two World Wars, the spread of Communism and the afflictions the popes would have to endure. Indeed, the widespread failure of people to aspire towards heaven as their permanent home, the most noble incentive to live a holy life, gave rise to wars, genocides and dictatorships of the twentieth century. In a word, without the daily meditation and the anticipation of eternity, the proper perspective of life is lost and the material things of this world become the reality people live for. Pope Pius XI would go on to say five years after the apparitions that "...worldly possessions can never satisfy all in equal manner nor give rise to a spirit of universal contentment, but must become perforce a source of division among men and of vexation of spirit."

It is important to keep in mind that the decline of prayer and neglecting "to seek what is above" would later be the plague of religious orders. Indeed, spiritual apathy would not only be a problem exclusively attributed to the world, but it also found its way in the Church. Lucia would later write a letter to her nephew, Fr. Valinhoin in 1971. In the letter she said, "I am convinced that the principal cause of evil in the world, and the falling away of so many consecrated souls, is the lack of union with God." "It is indeed sad," she continued, "that so many are allowing themselves to be dominated by the diabolical wave that is sweeping the world, and they are so blind that they cannot see their error. But their principal error is that they have abandoned prayer."

Lack of prayer enfeebles the soul and weakens life's foundation. As such, when the cultural revolution of the 1960's rocked the Catholic Church, the vocation of many priests and consecrated men and women in religious orders simply collapsed.

Our Lady of Fatima, in her series of six apparitions from May 13th through October 13th of 1917, spoke to this plight the world found itself in. To be sure, in profound and yet subtle ways, she used the three poor children of Fatima to teach a world-gone-wrong that life takes on the greatest value when seen in light of eternity.

When considering the series of events at Fatima, there can be a temptation to focus on October 13th, the day 75,000 plus people witnessed the sun spin and dance. There is a lot to be said for that supernatural phenomenon. However, what is even more worthy of our attention, and more relevant to Catholics in the twenty-first century, is what happened to the souls of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco during that six month period.

The spiritual direction Our Lady of Fatima gave to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco and the affect it had on their souls speaks to the heart of the Gospel. It also explains why the Church of the early centuries were able to set the world a blaze and why today's world had grown cold to God. Indeed, just when Pope Benedict XV was asking his questions about why the world had fallen away from the Catholic Faith, Our Lady was answering them.

If Catholics of this century can take in and grasp what the Mother of Jesus Christ communicated to three children in the last century, then the Church can have the life-giving influence she once enjoyed over civilizations.

How Our Lady of Fatima changed the children, in the next blog.