The Secret of Fatima and a New Evangelization
Editor’s note:The following address was given by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on 19 May 2017 at the fourth annual Rome Life Forum, which is organised by Voice of the Family.
May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The final words of the Virgin Mother of the Redeemer recorded in the Gospels are the words she spoke to the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana who came to her in anguish over the lack of sufficient wine for the guests of the newlyweds. She responded to them and their situation of great distress by leading them to her Divine Son, also a guest at the Wedding Feast, and instructing them: “Do whatever he tells you.” These simple words express the mystery of the Divine Maternity by which the Virgin Mary became the Mother of God, bringing God the Son Incarnate into the world. By the same mystery, she continues to be the channel of all the graces which immeasurably and unceasingly pour forth from Her Divine Son’s glorious pierced Heart into the hearts of His faithful brothers and sisters on earthly pilgrimage to their lasting home with Him in Heaven.
By the mystery of the Divine Maternity, the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, assumed into glory, never ceases to beat with love for us, the children whom her Divine Son gave to her, as He was dying upon the Cross. They are her sons and daughters in her Son, God the Son Incarnate. With maternal care, she draws hearts to her glorious Immaculate Heart and takes them to Him, to His Sacred Heart, and she instructs them: “Do whatever he tells you.” In the oldest preserved extant hymn to the Virgin Mother of God, found already on an Egyptian papyrus of the 3rd century, Christians pray:
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Similarly, in the words of the ancient hymn for Vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ave Maris Stella, we pray:
Show thyself a mother; may the Word divine, born for us thine Infant, hear our prayers through thine.
These words of the eighth-century hymn express in a clear and striking manner the mystery of the Divine Maternity by which the Virgin Mary is both Mother of God and Mother of Divine Grace. We ask the Virgin Mother of God to lead us to her Divine Son, in order that our hearts, one with her Immaculate Heart, may rest always in His Heart, the only source of our salvation.
In a most wonderful way, the Blessed Virgin Mary has shown herself to be our Mother in her apparitions to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria, near Fatima in Portugal, one hundred years ago, from May 13th to October 13th of 1917. The world at the time found itself torn asunder by the unimaginable destruction and death wrought by the First World War and fatally menaced by the spread of atheistic communism leading the hearts of men away from the Heart of Jesus, the sole font of salvation. Atheistic communion was leading hearts into a rebellion against God and the order, which He has placed in His creation and has written on the heart of every man, the only earthly creature made in His own image and likeness.
God prepared the messengers of the Virgin of Fatima, Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and the Servant of God Lucia Rosa dos Santos, by three visions of the Angel of Portugal which took place during the Spring, Summer and Autumn of 1916. During the first vision, while telling the shepherd children not to be afraid and assuring them that he was “the Angel of Peace,” he taught them to pray three times with these words:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope [in] and I love You. I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope [in] and do not love You.
The Angel, as God’s messenger to the shepherd children was already indicating the way in which the Mother of God would lead: the way of prayer, penance and reparation. He concluded the vision with the words:
Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.
During his second apparition, the Angel urged the children: “Offer prayers and sacrifices to the Most High.” When Lucia asked how the children were to make sacrifices, the Angel replied:
Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an action 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. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.
The children were indeed led to pray as the Angel had taught them and to accept happily suffering for the sake of the forgiveness of sins and the repair of the disorder which sin always introduces into personal lives and into the world.
During the third apparition, in the autumn of 1916, the Angel, “holding in his hand a chalice with a Host suspended above it, from which a few drops of blood fell, taught the children a much longer prayer:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.
The Angel then communicated the Sacred Host to Lucia and the Precious Blood to Francisco and Jacinta, with these words: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”
The third apparition of the Angel of Portugal manifested to the children the essentially Eucharistic nature of their prayer and sacrifice. In fact, Christ makes ever new His sacrifice on Calvary through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, for the salvation of souls and of the world. Hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, are most perfectly united to the Heart of Jesus through participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice which reaches its culmination in the worthy reception of the incomparable fruit of the Sacrifice: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
The central message of Our Lady of Fatima was revealed in what is called the Secret of Fatima during the apparition which took place on July 13, 1917. The first part of the Secret has two essential contents. First, there is the terrifying vision of Hell, foreshadowed in the evils visited upon the world at the time. Then, there is the offer of God’s healing peace through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that souls may be saved from a life of grievous or mortal sin and its fruit: eternal death. Our Lady spoke these words to the shepherd 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 what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine, persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
While the first part of the Secret gives a severe admonition, it is also full of hope in the unfailing grace of God which brings about repentance for sins committed and peace in individual repentant souls and, as a result, in the world.
Referring to the punishments necessarily connected with the grave sins of the time, the second part of the Secret is the announcement of the peace which God wants to give to souls and to the world. The peace of God will come to the world through two means: 1) the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and 2) the practice of the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday of the month. Our Lady spoke these words to the shepherd children:
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 of 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 period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.
Our Lady indicated the spiritual remedy of the deplorable situation in which the world and Church found themselves. She also foretold the terrible physical chastisements which would result from the failure to consecrate the agent of the spread of atheistic communism to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through her Immaculate Heart and to undertake the regular practice of reparation for so many offenses communicated against the immeasurable and unceasing love of God manifested so perfectly in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus.
In fact, the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary did not take place, as she requested, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays did not become the practice of the universal Church. There ensued the terrible suffering of the Second World War and its aftermath, the spread of atheistic communism, resulting, in fact, in the persecution of many nations and of the Church in those nations, and the annihilation of some nations. The second part of the Secret also ends with the sure hope that the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph through obedience to her maternal instruction.