Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reparation: What Is It? Why Does Our Lady of Fatima Ask for It?

Reparation in Salvation History, #1 in a series.

by Robert Beaurivage

This is the first installment of a regular feature called Reparation in Salvation History. Anyone familiar with the drama of Fatima knows that the concept of reparation is central to Our Ladys message. Why? The answer can be summed up in two reasons:

Because the need for reparation is central to our salvation; and
[2] Because the Fatima message is prophetic. Our Lady at Fatima could, by the will of God, foresee our time and the need for greater reparation that would arise from a world that has forsaken Him. Surely, the Lord revealed to the Virgin that, if her message was not heeded by enough people, the violation of God’s law would escalate on a massive scale in society and even within the Church, the “smoke of Satan” invading its very sanctuary.

Since Reparation is central to Fatima, if we are to faithfully spread Our Ladys message, we also must put a focus on Reparation by fostering a greater understanding of it, presenting the wisdom of Scripture and Tradition, examples and practices whereby we will enlighten ourselves and encourage ourselves to understand and practice Reparation, thus giving glory to God and participating with Him in the work of saving souls. By ourselves, we can do nothing (“For without Me you can do nothing”---John 5:1) but, by practicing Reparation, we have the power to touch the very Heart of God and truly effect change.

Reparation is integral to the Catholic Faith, and it is intimately connected with the atonement and satisfaction of sin. Reparation implies repair, a restoration of that which was damaged or lost. The Church teaches that man has fallen from his original state of justice but the Birth, Sufferings and Death of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, restored again to God’s friendship.

Almighty God might have condoned man’s offenses and required nothing from man in return for this restoration to grace, but this is not the case. Will a loving father, in the face of a defiant child, require nothing in return for his forgiveness? God likewise judged it better for our correction, holiness, and ultimately for our salvation (as well as a matter of justice) to require us to make satisfaction, or reparation, for our sins. The Way of the Cross is the path to Heaven, as Our Lord tells us. He is merciful, but He will not force us into Heaven. He requires us to bear good fruit---by obedience to His Father and repairing the damage done by sin:

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire… Not every one that saith to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:19, 21).

Furthermore, in the mysterious economy of salvation, not only do we participate in our own salvation by making reparation to the offended majesty of God for our own sins but also, by virtue of the Communion of Saints in the Mystical Body of Christ, we can make satisfaction and reparation for the sins of others. The Holy Ghost gives Sanctifying Grace to our souls through Baptism, by the merits of the Suffering and Death of Christ, and restores it to us by a good Confession should we lose the grace by sin. We, who were by fallen nature the “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:5) become the children of God, participating in His Divine life. Our prayers, works and trials united to the merits of Christ’s death, enable us to make further reparation for our sins and the sins of others.

I, Paul, am made a minister. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church (Colossians 1:24).

Of course, nothing is lacking in the suffering of Christ---it is of infinite value. Yet, we know that our prayers, sacrifice and sufferings are meritorious when, and only when, they are united with those of Jesus Christ; it is then that they have any supernatural value whatsoever. Since His glorified Body no longer suffers, He desires to suffer in His members---we who are members of His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church.

The wisdom, the will, the justice of Jesus Christ, requireth and ordaineth that his body and members should be companions of His sufferings, as they expect to be companions of His glory. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Why is this so? One cannot attain Heaven without the love of God. After all, God made us rational creatures, and love is a decision. Love without a willingness to sacrifice for the beloved is only a sentiment, a feeling, and not truly love. Who among us, having a sick child, would not comfort her? If our best friend lost a spouse or a child, would we not spend time with him?

Heaven Waits for Our Acts of Reparation

Our Blessed Mother appears in art as our Sorrowful Mother with a sword through her heart. At Fatima, she showed her Heart crowned with thorns, and her Divine Son instructs Lucia: Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them. 

Our Lord complains to St. Margaret Mary concerning His Most Sacred Heart, bleeding and also crowned with thorns: “Behold this Heart that has so loved men, and there is no one to comfort Me!

Why on earth would we not spend time with Our Lady saying her Rosary and fulfilling her First Saturday requests? Why on earth would we not spend time with Our Blessed Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, after all the appeals they have made to us to spend time with them? If we truly love them, we will do so!

When one has offended God, and truly turns back to Him, we show our love by making what amends we can for the offense to God's glory. Of course, we are not capable of making complete satisfaction for an offense against an infinitely good God, but the Lord always asks something of us which, when added to His great power, becomes something beautiful and grand for Him. This, our own feeble prayer and offering, is represented in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when to the chalice the priest adds a few drops of water (representing our humanity) to the wine (which represents the Divinity of Christ) and prays: 

O God, who, in creating human nature, didst wonderfully dignify it, and still more wonderfully restore it, grant that, by the Mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divine nature, who vouchsafed to be made partaker of our human nature, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Of ourselves, making complete satisfaction to an Infinitely good God on our own is utterly impossible, but God is pleased to grant us His mercy in exchange for what little we can give.

It is a great mystery that such a good and infinite God desires our company, we who are but dust! Yet we know that He does. In His Agony in the Garden, Jesus turns to His Apostles and says: “Can you not watch one hour with Me?”...“And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me’” (Matt. 26:37-38).

As Christ asked His disciples to watch one hourwith Him, so He asks us to do the same today. Let us not think we would have done better! The Apostles here represent all of humanity. We have all, at one time or another, slept spiritually instead of “watching one hour” with Our Lord. Let us resolve to change! From now on, let us with great resolve be faithful! Let us pray we will not grow weary and sleep as did His Apostles on the eve of that first Good Friday!

One evening, St. Margaret Mary was praying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament when He appeared visibly, showing her His Sacred Heart:

“My daughter, it is true that My Heart has sacrificed everything for men, without receiving from them anything in return. I feel this more acutely than the torments of My Passion. In spite of all My eagerness to do them good, they treat me with coldness and contempt. Give Me the pleasure of making up for their ingratitude.”

Indeed, Our Lord has denied us nothing. Our Lady, ever faithful to God’s will and her calling to be the Merciful Mother of all men, calls out to us constantly. Let us be ever loving and generous in our response!

A young man who has been wounded by the neglect or abuse of a father can react in one or two ways. He can learn the evil ways of the father. Of such a son we often hear: “He is just like his father!” Or, a son can react in another way: “I am not going to be like him: I am going to be a good father!” So the son grows up and is attentive and loving toward his children. This is reparation. Likewise, when we hear of coldness, indifference and abuse toward the Blessed Sacrament, we can follow the crowd, follow the example of the abusers. Or, we can react as the second young man did in our example: “They won’t make reparation? Then I will.

It is for this very reason, to instill in us by example the desire to make reparation for all the coldness and outrage toward Jesus in His Sacrament of Love, that the Angel appeared to the children at Fatima and taught them this prayer:

“MOST HOLY TRINITY, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer unto Thee the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrage, sacrilege and indifference by which He is constantly offended. I offer unto Thee the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of poor sinners.”

This great Angel, majestic in bearing, with a such a stunning and overwhelming presence, as Sister Lucia relates, prostrated himself to the ground in the Divine Presence in this great Sacrament of Love. ‘Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.’ “Crimes,” the angel calls them! We must not take them lightly!

On this occasion, the children continued for hours to adore the Blessed Sacrament, quitting only when the sun set. What shall we do? Can we do any different but to follow the example of the Angel and that of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco? Can we do otherwise than love the Eucharistic Jesus before, during and after Mass? Making fervent Communions of Reparation and spending time just adoring and loving Him in this Sacrament?

This brings to mind many of the irreverent practices that have become commonplace today in Catholic churches. What ought we to do about it? We cannot control other people, but we can make reparation ourselves. We can make visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and we can make the Communion of Reparation as Our Lady asked us to do when she appeared again to Sr. Lucia at Pontevedra on December 10, 1925:

Our Lady rested her hand on Lucia's shoulder and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand. At the same time, the Child said: Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.

Look My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.

Here we learn that Communions of Reparation are needed. By doing so, we console the Heart of Mary and we gain great graces---among them the assurance of the power help of the Mother of God at the hour of death. We will usurp blasphemies with our charity to God. We will more than match ingratitude with thanksgiving to Him. We will thereby comfort the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, save souls, and gain the powerful help of the Virgin Mary! Years earlier, in 1916, the Angel had told the children at Fatima, “Make of everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country. Then, in July 1917, Our Lady told the children, Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially whenever you do penance, O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On this same occasion, the Virgin also told the children, 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 people do as I shall ask, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace...If not...another and more terrible war will begin...

So we see that Reparation for sin is a necessary reality, that Our Lord Jesus Christ demands it, and that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are consoled when we pray and sacrifice. We have seen that as a result of our prayers of reparation, we can obtain peace in the world, sanctity and order in the Church and in our lives, and the salvation of souls. It is a serious affair. Our Lady tells us that “many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them (i.e. reparation.) So, destruction or world peace; misery or happiness in our families; the torments of Hell or the eternal delights of Heaven---all this hangs in the balance and depends on our response to Our Lady of Fatima.

What shall we do?

Today, we can start offering our day, doing our daily duty, and praying our Rosary. We can do small sacrifices praying as Our Lady asked: “Jesus, it is for love of Thee, the conversion of sinners, and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”  As the Angel told us in 1916: “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplication. We can learn the Angel’s prayer of reparation cited above and pray it often. We can learn the message of Fatima and tell others. There is much we can do. These need not be great, heroic actions. We can do the little things well, as did St. Therese of Lisieux.

We need to adopt a sacrificial spirit---a generosity in doing something for the love of God. Giving up a small pleasure. Drinking one’s coffee without sugar occasionally, controlling vain curiosity, practicing custody of the eyes. Skipping dessert. Getting up to do the dishes instead of delay. Doing a small favor to please a spouse, parent, or coworker. Getting in the habit of mentally praying every time something disagreeable or uncomfortable happens: “Jesus, it is for the love of Thee, the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

We will never know until Judgment Day how valuable are these small acts of love. This is the way of the saints. If we want to be truly friends of Jesus Christ, we will do this. We ask Our Lady to help us. We can do it. One thing we will learn, as time goes on, is that we will be increasingly happy in this life by the acceptance of these crosses, big and small, and eternally blissful in the next.

The world is in a sad state. This should not discourage us. We know that Our Lady said: “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” St Paul says: “And where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Romans 5:20). It seems an odd saying. Sin is a catastrophe, is it not? Of course. But at all times, God’s grace is sufficient.

In our time, Sr. Lucia tells us, the Rosary carries with it a greater efficacy. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells Lucia that the penance He now requires is merely obeying the Commandments and doing our daily duty well (as Catholics and in our states in life). The small things are we need to do. The world is in dire shape and so is the Church. The consideration of these facts should not discourage us but rather animate us and motivate us. This is a GREAT opportunity to touch the Heart of God and become saints.

The message of Fatima commands us to pray the Rosary and make the Five First Saturdays of Reparation. We know that Our Lady of Fatima was speaking directly to these times. There is much for which to make reparation in our own lives and in our Church. What will we do today to comfort the Hearts of Jesus and Mary? What will we do to contribute to the restoration of the Church and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart? It all begins with taking up a broom, comforting a sick child, doing our jobs well, visiting Jesus in the great Sacrament of Love, and praying each Rosary, every day, as if it were to be our last.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Five First Saturdays of Reparation, Part 1

By guest writer, Robert Beaurivage

“Incline your ear and come to me: hear and your soul shall liveSeek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God: for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:3,6-9. 

“If thou hadst known, in this thy day, even thou, the things that are for thy peace! But now they are hidden from thy eyes. For days will come upon thee when thy enemies will throw up a rampart about thee, and surround thee and shut thee in on every side, and will dash thee to the ground and thy children within thee, and will not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.”
Lk. 19:41-44.

“Oh! If the world only knew what a moment of grace was granted to it and did penance!”
 Sr. Lucia to the Bishop of Leira, speaking of the lack of response to Our Lady’s requests at Fatima, 1940.

What is it that Our Lady asked of the Pope at Fatima? For the Pope to promote peace talks with the Russians? Bring the world’s religions together?  Some heroic act beyond the grasp of men? No. She asks something simple. A five-minute prayer, along with all the Catholic Bishops of the World. Consecrating Russia to her Immaculate Heart. In addition to this, she asks him to officially exhort, as Universal Shepherd of his flock, to promulgate officially the Devotion of Five First Saturdays. 

That’s it. Simple, isn’t it?

What does Our Blessed Mother ask of us? Does she ask the impossible? Does she ask us to petition, demonstrate or run for City Council, legislature, the Congress to support various causes? Anything particularly heroic? No. Just the ordinary actions of what would be, in normal times, an ordinary Catholic. Do your daily duty. Pray the Rosary daily. Wear the Brown Scapular as a sign of Consecration. Do the First Saturdays for five consecutive months: Rosary, Confession, Communion, and fifteen minutes of meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary. That’s it. Isn’t that simple?

Through Sr. Lucia, the Blessed Virgin Mary has exhorted us over, and over, and over again. And to what end? As in the times of Noah, the world does not listen but descends from depravity to depravity. 

In this article, we will discuss the practice of the Five First Saturdaysa practice which Our Lady links to the Consecration of Russia as a condition for World Peace, God’s favor upon the world, and most importantly the salvation of countless souls. “Most importantly” because salvation is forever. Whatever calamities befall is in this world, great as they are, will end. But our indescribable joy in Heaven, or unbelievable misery in Hellthese will never end.

The devotion of the Five First Saturdays, like the Fatima message itself, is about three things: Reparation, the salvation of souls, and the loss and eventual restoration of peace in hearts and peace in the world. These themes are constant throughout the First Saturday Devotion, and we will speak of them here.

First, what exactly is the First Saturday Devotion and how do we fulfill Our Blessed Mother’s demands?

The first mention of the First Saturday Devotion at Fatima comes from Our Lady on July 13, 1917, during the third apparition at Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady had already shown the children a terrifying Vision of Hell. She said that, to save poor sinners from hell, God wishes to establish devotion in the world to her Immaculate Heart. She then warned that if men did not cease in offending God, a worse war would break out during the reign of Pius XI (the name of the pope was itself a prophecy), and she foretold others signs (a night lit by a strange and unknown light, hunger, and persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father). She then said:

“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 against 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 will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”

She mentions here the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. The details, as She promised at this time, would come later. Note well, that Our Lady mentions both the Consecration of Russia and the First Saturday devotion as the two conditions for the conversion of Russia, world peace ushered in by the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. This merits further consideration.

It is a common misconception that prayer changes God’s mind. God does not change. In God’s eternal decree, He desires to give us certain blessings, but under certain conditions which He sets, in a degree often known only to Him. On the condition of human cooperation, God gives us many incredible blessings. His entry into the world at the Incarnation, according to His inscrutable and Eternal Decree, He made dependent on human cooperation: namely, the “yes” of the Virgin of Nazareth at the request of His Angel Gabriel. God required the response: “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38), for the wonderful gift to be realized: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Likewise, when St. Monica asked for the conversion of her son, God willed from all eternity to grant this wish, but in accordance with the cooperation of St. Monica whose pleadings to Almighty God, He found so pleasing that He made her son one of the greatest theologians the world has ever known, the great St. Augustine. In the Holy Mass, this human participation in the Redemptionrequired by Divine Providence in His Eternal Decreeis represented by the small drops of water added to the Chalice, which along with the Wine is turned into the Precious Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  St. Paul tells us “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)

So it is that right order in the world depends upon the cooperation of mankind. There is, in a real sense, a scale of balance which God uses to dispense His gifts. One one side is the grace He desires to give us: the Incarnation of God made Man, or the conversion of a loved one, for instance. This is why there are various reasons why the Popes have not consecrated Russia, why Russia is not converted and why there is no world peace. There were (and remain) various human, political reasons that various popes considered, perhaps faith in the words of Our Lady wavered in their hearts. But there was also a supernatural reason: a lack of grace because not enough people listened to the Message of Fatima, not enough people are making reparation and not enough people are faithfully observing the Practice of First Saturday.

At Fatima, Our Lady reveals to us that God wishes to give us salvation, the conversion of Russia and world peace by our correspondence with His commands: for the Faithful, that is the performance of the Five First Saturdays, for the Hierarchy, it is the proper promulgation of the Five First Saturdays and the Consecration of Russia by the Pope along with the Catholic Bishops, publicly, one one particular day.  It is a matter of record. Jesus and Mary spoke of it clearly, which was transmitted by Sr. Lucia, and reiterated by the same Sr. Lucia time and time again. There is not, nor should there be, any controversy about it. The wishes of Almighty God in this case are clear.

Heavens Formal Command for the Five First Saturdays of Reparation

On December 10, 1925, the Most Holy Virgin, as promised, appeared to Sr. Lucia By Her side, elevated on a luminous cloud, was the Child Jesus. The Most Holy Virgin rested Her hand on Lucia’s shoulder, and as She did so, She showed her a heart encircled by thorns, which She was holding in Her other hand.

At the same time, the Child said: “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.” 

Then the Most Holy Virgin said: “Look My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to Me.”

The first thing that astounds us, if we let it sink in, is the urgency with which this petition to mankind through Sr. Lucia takes place. Sin must be an awful thing! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, comes Himself to demand reparation to this best of Mothers who has loved us so deeply as to offer in sacrifice her Son for our salvation, a Mother who is solicitous for our salvation and every needonly to be met by ingratitude on the part of men. 

Our sins are represented in this vision by thorns. In representations of Our Lady of Sorrows, her Immaculate Heart is pierced through by a sword at the sufferings she suffered for our redemption in union with her Son. At Fatima, her Heart is shown to us pierced with innumerable thorns we have put there with our sin! It demands reparation.

The second thing that causes us wonder is the generosity of Heaven in offering us the great gift of Eternal Salvation for such a small act. This shows us that the least effort on our part done with sincerity and love is met by a torrent of graces from the hand of God. The promises of the assistance of the most beautiful, loving Virgin Mary at death to ensure our eternal happiness, to ensure our union with her, and with Almighty God
forever, for these small acts of love! How can we not be thrilled at the prospect?

Thirdly, we see the love of Jesus and Mary. We witness the love He holds for His Mother. He is the good Son who protects the honor of His Mother. We see the Mother, her magnificent Heart bruised in compassion for the wounds of her Divine Son, and solicitous for our salvation, wishing to give her Son what He desires most: the union of our souls forever with Him in Heaven.

Our Lady places her hand on the shoulder of Sr. Lucia. It is a message of tender love
for Lucia and for the entire Church, which Lucia here representsand for you, and for me. What an advocate we have before the throne of God! A Mother who loves us so tenderly!

The Confession of the Five First Saturdays

On February 15, 1926, as Sr. Lucia was doing her tasks, emptying a garbage can outside the garden, a Child approached her. The First Saturday Devotion was already established in the Church in various forms, but not in the way the Virgin requested. Our Lady came to give Heaven’s explicit approval of the devotion and to perfect it. He came to exhort Sr. Lucia and the Mother Superior of her order to push forward with the promotion of the Devotion.  We quote the account of Sr. Lucia:

I found a child there who seemed to be the same one as before, and I asked him: Did you ask our Heavenly Mother for the Child Jesus? The child turned to me and said: And you, have you revealed to the world what the Heavenly Mother asked you? And, having said that, he turned into a resplendent child 

“It is true, My daughter, that many souls begin [the practice of the First Saturdays] but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised. The souls who make the five First Saturdays, with fervour and to make reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent.” 

“My Jesus! Many souls find it difficult to confess on Saturday. Will You allow a confession within eight days to be valid?” 

Yes. It can even be made later on, provided that the souls are in the state of grace when they receive Me on the first Saturday, and that they had the intention of making reparation to the Sacred Heart of Mary.” 

“My Jesus! And those who forget to form this intention?” 

“They can form it at the next confession, taking advantage of their first opportunity to go to confession.” 

Lucia then commented, Right after that He disappeared, without me finding out anything more about Heaven’s desires, up to the present.

Once again, we see the Divine Mercy with which Our Lord approaches us. The previous manifestations given to us by the Popes, including the great St. Pius X, included a greater number of Saturdays needed. In Heaven’s request, we see a great precision. The interior intention of the request takes precedence. Our Lord tells Lucia that many do not persevere and do not have the most pleasing disposition. God would prefer that we perform a few prayers more devoutly, with more love and devotion, in a heartfelt spirit of reparation, rather than many prayers done simply to gain a reward and with less devotion. If one cannot go to confession on the First Saturday itself, Our Lord concedes that such a soul, as long as he receives Communion in the state of grace with devotion and in a spirit of reparation, He allows confession within eight days to be satisfactory, even later if they take the first opportunity to go to confession.

At another time, Our Lord would appear yet again and, in His Mercy, offer the promise of the First Saturday to those who, with good reason, could not attend Mass and receive Communion on the First Saturday to receive on Sunday with the permission of any priest in good standing.

So, we see that the merciful God has sent His Mother to us with an incredible promise: the promise of eternal salvation for the act of consoling His Mother’s Heart. We see that the Great Physician gives us a remedy in our souls that includes the Sacraments: Communion and Confession, mental prayer and the Rosary, and the value of Reparation, keeping our Mother company for an additional 15 minutes while meditating on the Rosary Mysteries. These are all exercises which, when practiced regularly give us peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, holiness and an eternity of joy ever after. 

In the next installment, we will go into greater depth into the mysteries surrounding the great First Saturday devotion, the remedy for the sickness of sin.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fatima, the Apocalypse, and the Lights of Heaven (Parts 1 and 2)

 “But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.”— Lk. 21: 28.

by Marianna Bartold 
Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

NOTE: When colleagues like Patrick Archbold and readers alike asked for my input on the two upcoming heavenly events of 2017, it occurred to me that, rather than answer incoming questions one-by-one, I would save time by writing an article. Originally published as a 2-part essay in Catholic Family News (March and April 2017), I here present the 2 parts (for the convenience of my readers) as one piece.

Within the next six months, two celestial events will occur in this year of the Fatima Centennial. Already, Catholics are asking if they are signs of significance relating to Fatima, especially the seeming 100 year time limit for the collegial consecration. While nobody can foresee the ultimate answer, this essay offers considerations for prudential discernment because the prophecies of Fatima, the greatest “crown of all Marian apparitions” granted to the Church, continue to unfold.

Throughout salvation history, the signs of God indicate various purposes. A true sign can possess any one or more of the following seven functions: It confirms God’s word, His goodness, authenticates prophecy, verifies God’s blessings and His intervention for the sake of the elect, strengthens the faithful with hope, insures or testifies God’s Presence, or declares His judgment upon sin.[1]

Let’s first turn to the Holy Bible, which infallibly confirms that the lights of the firmament are intended for many purposes, including “for” signs.

• “And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done. And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars” (Genesis 1:14-16).

Thus, the ancient Hebrews understood that God designed the lights of heaven to serve many purposes. “In Hebrew, the word ‘season’ is ‘moed’ and signifies an appointed or fixed time” but, interestingly, it does not refer to the seasons of spring, summer, fall or winter. “‘Signs’ and ‘seasons,’ used by God with respect to the mission of the stars, were to indicate ‘happenings’ and the ‘periods of time’ pertaining to them, specifically for prophetic reasons, especially that of signifying historical incidents at chosen times as the plan of salvation unfolded.”[2]

A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel…” (Numbers 24:7).

• “The sun, and the moon, and the stars being bright, and sent forth for profitable uses, are obedient” (Baruch 6:59).

• “Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him” (Matthew 2:2).

• “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves; Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved” (Luke 21: 25-26).

The Solar Eclipse and the Constellation Virgo
One will note that, with both of this year’s events, the sun is present but obscured or behind another heavenly object. As we know from Scripture, the sun is the material symbol for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of Justice.

• Initially addressing August 21 (day of the approaching solar eclipse over the U.S.), three things are observed about this date:

First, it is the vigil (the eve) of the octave of the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin.

Second, it is the vigil of “The Immaculate Heart of Mary" (traditional liturgical calendar) or “The Queenship of Mary” (updated liturgical calendar).[3]  Whichever calendar one may reference, the coming total eclipse occurs on the eve of a feast day of Our Lady.

Third, it is the anniversary of the one-time apparition of Our Lady of Knock, the silent vision [4] pointing to the Apocalypse Ch. 8:1: “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven, as it were for half an hour.” Since “heaven” denotes the Church, the prophecy foretells silence in the Church for the mystical time of half an hour. We also recall that Sr. Lucia of Fatima said that the Third Secret is in the Gospels and the Apocalypse—specifically referring to Apoc. Chapters 8-13. [5]

• Almost a month later, on September 23, 2017, the sun will rise behind the constellation Virgo—an annual event. What is rare and striking about this year is the interaction of the planets Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury.  Last year, on November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the “king” planet) entered the constellation Virgo. In retrograde motion, Jupiter is currently in Virgo’s womb, but exits Virgo on September 23 (after 43 weeks, 6 days or 9.5 months, an over-due gestational length of an unborn baby). On that day, almost directly above the head of Virgo will be Leo (the 12th largest constellation), which includes—but is not limited to—12 brighter lights of heaven, three of them being the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury. Additionally, the moon will be near (but not directly under) the feet of Virgo.

What immediately comes to mind is Apocalypse Chapter 12:1-4: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.”

The Book of Destiny, a generous tome of essays on the Apocalypse, explains:  “Before the eyes of the Seer [St. John], a great sign, the first of the ‘signs,’ a portent of something momentous, appears in the Church. It is a sign of divine origin. ‘Signs’ in prophetical terminology are ominous revelations of what is about to happen…The word furthermore denotes the wonders wrought by evil powers. In the Septuagint, [6] the word [sign] is used for celestial phenomena. The sign [of “a woman clothed with the sun”] appearing here is GREAT, because it will indicate the time of the judgment that shall proclaim the ‘Great Day’ of Almighty God. It will herald the near approach of the events narrated in chapters eleven and thirteen. Appearing in heaven, it will point to the center of the whole desperate struggle for the possession of the world by Satan and his hordes. When this sign appears in the Church, the advent of Antichrist is near…The interpretation of this ‘sign’ is thus very important.”[7]

In my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets, I explained why this GREAT sign strongly indicates both the Virgin of Fatima and the Great Miracle of the Sun, which so terrified the 70,000 witnesses that they thought the world was ending. “Just as the Apocalypse foretold, in 1917 it was the Woman who first appeared as ‘a great sign’ in the Church. ‘And there was seen another sign in heaven−and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems.’ This sign is not ‘a great sign’ like the Woman clothed with the sun, but it is another sign, one that is in stark contrast against the woman, an ominous sign that appears in the Church.”[8]

Additionally, in the early 20th century book, The Apocalypse of St. John, Fr. Sylvester Berry states that, in Chapter 12:1-9, St. John “shows us the true nature of that conflict. It shall be war unto death, between the Church and the powers of darkness, in a final effort of Satan to destroy the Church and thus prevent the universal reign of Christ on earth.”
Below are excerpts of Fr. Berry’s commentary, with the number denoting the verse of Apocalypse 12:

“1. …The brightness of the sun is a fitting symbol for the enlightening power of the Church’s teachings. [Author’s Note: We might then consider the symbolic meaning of a sun’s eclipse.]…The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve Apostles and, through them, the whole ministry of the Church. It may also denote the assembly of faithful nations, symbolized by the mystic number twelve.

“2. The Church is ever in labor to bring forth children to eternal life. In the sad days here predicted, the sorrows and pains of delivery shall be increased many-fold. In this passage, there is an evident allusion to some particular son of the Church whose power and influence shall be such that Satan will seek his destruction at any cost…This person can be none other than the Pope to be elected in those days. The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence, the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter…

“3. …The dragon is Satan, red with the blood of martyrs which he will cause to flow. The meaning of the seven heads and ten horns must be sought in the description of the beast that represents Antichrist, where they symbolize kings or worldly powers (Apoc. 17:9-12). Those of the dragon must have a similar meaning…

“With the beast of Antichrist, only the horns have diadems as symbols of royalty or governing power. The heads are branded with names of blasphemy (Apoc. 13:1). Hence, they symbolize the sins and errors that will afflict the Church. Seven, the number of universality, indicates that, in this final struggle to prevent the universal reign of Christ, all forms of sin and error will be marshalled against the Church. A prelude to this may be seen in the errors of Modernism which has been rightly designated ‘a synthesis of all heresies.’ The number seven is also appropriate since all sins are included in the seven capital sins. In like manner, all errors that have afflicted the Church may be summed up in these seven: Judaism, paganism, Arianism, Mohammedanism, Protestantism, rationalism, and atheism.

“The dragon is seen in heaven, which is here a symbol of the Church…This indicates that the first troubles of those days will be inaugurated within the Church by apostate bishops, priests, and peoples—the stars dragged down by the tail of the dragon.

“4. The tail of the dragon represents the cunning hypocrisy with which he succeeds in deceiving a large number of people and pastors—a third part of the stars…The dragon stands before the woman ready to devour the child that is brought forth. In other words, the powers of hell seek by all means to destroy the Pope elected in those days.

“5. The woman brings forth a son to rule the nations with a rod of iron… Scarcely has the newly elected Pope been enthroned when he is snatched away by martyrdom…During the interregnum, ‘that wicked one shall be revealed’ in his fury against the Church.
“It is a matter of history that the most disastrous periods for the Church were times when the Papal throne was vacant, or when anti-popes contended with the legitimate head of the Church. Thus also shall it be in those evil days to come.”[9]

Fatima, the Apocalypse, and the Lights of Heaven: Part 2

“Sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation.”
Favorite brief prayer of little Jacinta of Fatima

To continue with Fr. Berry (numbers below denote the verse of Apoc. 12):

“6. The Church deprived of her chief Pastor must seek sanctuary in solitude, there to be guided by God Himself during those trying days. This place of refuge prepared for the Church is probably some nation, or nations, that remain faithful to her…In those days, the Church shall also find refuge and consolation in faithful souls, especially in the seclusion of the religious life.

“7. St. Michael, the guardian angel of the Church, shall come with his hosts to defend her against the onslaughts of Satan and his minions. The followers of St. Michael are the angelic hosts of heaven and all faithful bishops and priests of the Church. The minions of Satan are the fallen angels with the leaders of heresy, schism, and persecution.

“8, 9. The battle is waged in the Church, the kingdom of heaven, from which the dragon and his angels are cast out and hurled down to earth. The earth symbolizes the nations hostile to the Church—the world over which Satan rules. By the aid of St. Michael, the Church shall purge herself of all heretics, schismatics, and apostates…”[10]

“Michael, Your Prince,” and the Mysterious 21 Days
Interestingly, while St. Michael is specifically mentioned in the Apocalypse, it is not the first time his name appears in the bible. In fact, the first scriptural occurrence wherein Michael’s name is given may shed light on the time-frame of 21 days (again, the length of days between September 23, 2017, which will see the exiting of Jupiter from Virgo’s womb, and October 13, the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun).

As I explained in the first chapter of my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets, it is a moral certainty that St. Michael is the Angel of Fatima. The same chapter also touches upon a 21 day period in the Old Testament in regard to a vision of the last days. The heavenly characters include St. Gabriel, St. Michael, and an unnamed prince (angel) of the Persian kingdom—in reality, a demon who resisted a good angel for “one and twenty days”:

In the Prophecy of Daniel, Chapter 10, the Holy Scriptures give Michael’s name for the first time. Daniel’s chapters 7-12 are considered to be his four ‘apocalyptic’ chapters…

“Beginning with Chapters 7 and 8, Daniel wrote the first of his prophetic and apocalyptic visions. Explanations of these visions were given by the angel Gabriel, [11]  who appeared to him as a man. In Chapter 10, it is recorded: ‘In the third year of Cyrus king of the Persians, a word was revealed to Daniel surnamed Baltassar, and a true word, and great strength: and he understood the word: for there is need of understanding in a vision.’[12] Following this event, the prophet Daniel mourned and fasted for 21 days.[13]

“Then appeared a good angel (whose name is not given by Daniel, but who may have been Gabriel returning to the prophet), saying, ‘Daniel, thou man of desires, understand the words that I speak to thee, and stand upright: for I am sent now to thee.’ [14]   After speaking of Daniel’s prayers and sacrifices, the angel revealed, ‘I am come for thy words,’ [15] and then declared, ‘But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days; and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians. But I am come to teach thee what things shall befall thy people in the latter days, for as yet the vision is for days…’”

“…To return to the prophet Daniel, he had for 21 days fasted and prayed in reparation to the Lord, for he had seen a great and terrifying vision of what would befall his people. Although he understood the vision, he did not yet know that it was a vision ‘for days’−meaning far into the future, the end times. The 21 days were thrice the ancient custom of seven days’ of fasting, which tell us that Daniel’s 21 days of sacrifice displayed extreme sorrow and extraordinary penance. Unbeknownst to Daniel, the 21 days of his penance and reparation offered to God coincided with the angel’s battle with a powerfully resistant devil, the ‘prince of the kingdom of the Persians.’  However, it becomes clear that Daniel’s acts of reparation were accepted by God, for the angel spoke of Daniel’s sacrifices and also told him, almost in a confiding manner, of his own struggle against the ‘prince’ (meaning leader, one of a higher [hierarchical] order) demon of the Persians. Since angels of Heaven do not engage in idle gossip or expect human sympathy, it is also certain that God wished Daniel to know what had transpired and that, due to his own prayers and penances, St. Michael was sent by God to assist the good but lesser angel.”

“At the end of the same chapter, the good angel declares: ‘But I will tell thee what is set down in the scripture of truth: and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince’ [16] …meaning the prince of the elect, those who belong to God’s kingdom on earth and follow His commandments. In the Old Testament, the chosen people were those of the earthly Israel, but this ancient nation was a living figure-type of the spiritual Israel (today known as the Roman Catholic Church) that would be established by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.” [17]

“Michael’s name is mentioned a third time in The Prophecy of Daniel, when the good angel speaks of the last events of the end times (the Novissimi), the time when anti-Christ shall appear and persecute God’s people: ‘But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people: and a time shall come such as never was from the time that nations began even until that time…' [18]

(Author’s Note: One sentence from the October 13, 1973 message of Our Lady of Akita is remarkably similar to this Scriptural prophecy. Given on the 56th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, it begins: “As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before…)

It is this same great archangel whom God sent to Fatima; Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Host, chosen to precede the “great sign” that would appear in heaven (the Church)−the “woman clothed with the sun.” [20] It is he who taught the children how to make acts of adoration and reparatory mortification to God. Like the prophet Daniel before them, who prayed and fasted for 21 days (again, thrice the usual time) after he saw a vision of the end days, the three Fatima children also developed the habits of heavy penance. Perhaps the 21 days between September 23 and the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun serve as a reminder for us to do the same.

Final Thoughts
Additionally, the date of September 23 is both the memorial of Pope St. Linus (pope-martyr and immediate successor of St. Peter) and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (who for 50 years bore the stigmata of Christ’s Passion). These two events bring to our minds the Great Secret of Fatima, in particular “a bishop dressed in white ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’” (sic) who is killed by soldiers with guns and arrows and, with the death of so many people from all walks of life, what appears to be the Passion of the entire Church.

Are we prepared for these events? In truth, wouldn’t we rather avoid them completely? Let’s not forget that Our Lady foretold two possible paths for the future, either one of them dependent upon the Church’s free-will response to her motherly commands. She told us that “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” She made specific “requests” which even now, in this year of the Fatima Centennial, remain disregarded.  Because Fatima is constantly contradicted, she promised, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The Immaculate Heart devotion has long been willed by Christ. Almost seven centuries ago, the Sacred Heart made clear to St. Mechtilde (Matilda) that He Himself is “the herald of this devotion [to His Mother’s Heart], which He teaches to us both by word and example.”  In modern times, Our Lord told Sr. Lucia the reason why the solemn, public collegial consecration of Russia to the Virgin’s Heart is His Will: “Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that Consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cult later on and put the devotion to this Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart…”

As we ponder this year’s celestial events, let’s also consider St. Ambrose’s commentary on St. Luke’s eschatological discourse of the great apostasy, wherein he interpreted the symbols of sun, moon and stars in this way:

“Many apostatizing from Christianity, the brightness of the Faith will be dimmed by this cloud of apostasy: since the heavenly Sun grows dim or shines in splendour according to my Faith. And as in its monthly eclipse the moon, by reason of the earth coming between it and the sun, disappears from view, so likewise the holy Church, when the vices of the flesh stand in the way of the celestial light, can no longer borrow the splendour of His divine light from the Sun of Christ. And in the persecutions, it was invariably the love of this life that stood in the path of the Divine Sun. Also the stars−that is, men surrounded by the praise of their fellow Christians−shall fall, as the bitterness of persecution mounts up; which must however come to pass, until the number of the faithful be made up; for so the good are proved and the weak made known.” [20]

About the Author
Marianna Bartold is the author of Fatima: The Signs and Secrets and Guadalupe: Secrets of the Image. The founding publisher of The Catholic Family’s Magnificat and editor of Sursum Corda (now Latin Mass) magazines, she also digitally publishes traditional Catholic classics on Kindle. (Click here to see the growing book list.)

Join Marianna on Facebook at Fatima 100: Our Lady and the Apostles of Our Times, a discussion group for those who understand the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart must be done.

[1] For examples, please see Heb. 2:3-4; Ps. 96:17, Judg. 6:17; Josh. 24: 15-17; Isa. 7:14; Exod. 3:12; Num. 17:20.
[2] Guadalupe, Fr. Miguel. The Seven Veils of Our Lady of Guadalupe [Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1999]: p. 266. [Emphasis added.]
[3] In 1944, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be celebrated on 22 August, coinciding with the traditional octave day of the Assumption. The date was changed after Vatican II, and the Queenship of Mary was instead instituted on August 22.
[4] The vision of Knock is explained in greater depth in my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets.
[5] Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth about Fatima, Vol. III. [Buffalo, NY: Immaculate Heart Publications, Revised edition 2001]: p. 788.
[6] Septuagint: The ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament), approved by the Catholic Church but rejected by orthodox Jews and Protestant sects.
[7] Kramer, Rev. Herman Bernard, editor. The Book of Destiny [Rockford, IL: TAN Books & Publishers, 1975. Originally published in 1955 by Buechler Publishing Co., Belleville, IL. Reprinted in 1972 by Apostolate of Christian Action, Fresno, CA from which the 1975 printing was made]: pp. 275- 276. [Emphasis added.]
[8] Bartold, Marianna. Fatima: The Signs and Secrets. [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2014, available in paperback and Kindle editions]: p. 93.[Emphasis added.]
[9] Berry, Rev. E. Sylvester. The Apocalypse of St. John.  [Lapeer, MI: KIC, 2015. Amazon Kindle edition republished from the original 1921 edition.]
[10] Ibid.
[11] Dan. 8: 15-26; 9: 21-27.
[12] Dan. 10:1. [Emphasis added.]
[13] Dan. 10:2.
[14] Dan. 10:11. [Emphasis added.]
[15] Dan. 10:12.
[16] Dan.10:21.
[17] Bartold, op cit. Excerpted from Chapter 1.
[18] Dan. 12:1. [Emphasis added.]
[19] Apoc. 12:1.
[20] St. Ambrose, cited in The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers.
[]. Also see SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. [] [Emphasis added.]