For several months now, I have been reading every book I can get on Fatima. I believe Mary's apparitions there hold the key to our future. Why? Aren't private revelations optional? They aren't doctrine and believing in them isn't necessary for salvation, right? In one sense that statement is true. The only thing necessary for salvation is to follow the two great commandments, to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself -- no small feat actually. As Jesus said to the lawyer who correctly summarized the law, "Do this and you shall live."
But there is something absolutely compelling about messages from heaven delivered by the Blessed Mother herself, and Fatima is unique among all the apparitions of Our Lady. In many ways it was not a "personal" revelation and apparition at all, but one very publicly given to the whole world with an amazing miracle to confirm and emphasize it.
Let me point out some of the factors, however, that make Fatima different from most apparitions:
- I'm not aware of any other apparition of Our Lady that was anticipated a year ahead of time by the appearances of an angel to begin the spiritual development of the little seers. The angel who identified himself as the "angel of peace" and the patron saint of Portugal visited the children three times in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916 teaching them prayers and exhorting them to penance. He also taught them to worship Christ in the Blessed Sacrament prostrating himself with the children before the vision of the Host dripping Precious Blood into the Chalice. Then he gave the host to Lucia, who had already received her first Communion, and let Jacinta and Francisco drink from the Chalice. The famous apparitions of Guadalupe, Lourdes, Akita, LaSallette, Knock, Rue de Bac (St. Catherine Laboure), etc. -- none was anticipated by visits from a heavenly messenger preparing the visionaries for the main event to follow later.
- The mission given to the seers included a promise of a major public miracle announced months ahead of time that would be seen by tens of thousands of witnesses some not even present at the site of the apparitions. Many seers received missions. St. Catherine Laboure was asked to have the miraculous medal struck. Juan Diego was to ask for a cathedral to be built on Tepeyac Hill. Our Lady instructed Bernadette to dig in the earth for the spring that became the source of miraculous healings. But none of these apparitions have the same urgency as Fatima with its very public admonitions to prayer and penance backed up by the miracle of the sun seen by 70,000 witnesses all describing the vision with consistency.
- If you compare the images of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima you see what I believe is a significant difference. When Mary appeared to Bernadette, the rosary was draped over her arm. When she appeared to the little shepherds she held the rosary in her hands as if to emphasize the urgency of her message to PRAY THE ROSARY! You can almost hear her say, "People aren't listening! What will it take to make them believe?"
- Not only that, but she showed the little ones a vision of hell. No horror movie made by man could inflict the shock and terror of seeing the devils in grotesque shapes and the poor souls of sinners "like burning embers" falling into hell -- so many that little Jacinta described them as falling "like snowflakes." Lucia said she and her cousins would have died on the spot out of fear if Mary hadn't promised to take them to heaven. And, of course, the vision profoundly affected the children inspiring sacrifices, heroic even if practiced by adults. Jacinta, especially, had a heart for those in danger of hell exhorting her brother and her cousin again and again. "We must pray for poor sinners."
- But the thing that convinces me most of all that Fatima is different and for the world in a very public way is the miracle of the sun. Nothing like that has ever happened at another apparition. Mary never announced a miracle months ahead of time to help people believe. And she has never called on the pope to act in union with all the bishops of the world to take action. NEVER! She asked individual bishops to build churches or strike medals but nothing like Fatima has ever taken place at any apparition before or since. And what a miracle! The sun not only danced, but plunged toward the earth making the witnesses fear the end of the world had come. They fell to their knees begging for mercy and confessing their sins. Think about it -- was that a warning of what will actually come about if the world does not listen to Mary's message and repent? Will we one day see the sun separated from its moorings in the heavens and plunge to the earth? And will it fail to rise again as it did at Fatima before it strikes us? A sobering thought, isn't it?
- One of the things Mary requested was the five first Saturdays of reparation for sins against her Immaculate Heart. And one of the five sins and blasphemies are offenses of those who directly attack Mary in her holy images. That is what the satanists plan to do in Oklahoma City on Christmas Eve. I wonder if the statue they have chosen depicts Our Lady of Fatima. Please pray and do penance to stop this outrage and make reparation. A rosary rally is being held at City Hall from noon to 1:00 p.m. the day before the outrage. If you live near Oklahoma City will you take action for Our Lady? You can also sign a petition against this blasphemy. Please do and pass it around.