Dear Friend of Clear Creek Abbey,
On May 13th, feast of Our Lady of Fatima, His Holiness Pope Francis will have canonized at the sanctuary in Portugal two of the three shepherd children who were the privileged witnesses of extraordinary events that took place a century ago near the Cova da Iria. To tell the truth, since that time the world has never been quite the same.
In their early lives, especially before the apparitions of Our Lady, Jacinta and Francisco Marto were surely two of the most insignificant human beings ever to walk the face of the earth. Nothing distinguished them from the numberless poor who constitute now as then most of the world’s population. And yet this very lack of human excellence, far from hampering them in their mission, made them paradoxically the ideal instruments of God’s grace and the faithful transmitters of Our Lady’s message to the modern age—a critical message at that.
Already by 1917, the year of the apparitions, massive industrialization in Western Europe and America had led to considerable social unrest among populations fleeing to the big cities in search of an illusory “better life” and had provided an ever more deadly array of weapons the likes of which mankind had never known. The end of World War I was announced to the children by the dazzling Lady from Heaven, who appeared to them on several occasions, but dire consequences were also predicted for mankind going forward in the twentieth century, should Heaven’s warnings go unheeded. Here are the words of Our Lady, whom the children learned was the Mother of God in person. They were to be kept secret for some twenty-five years.
The war is going to end. But if they do not stop offending God, another even worse war will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father…
To prevent this I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church. (Sister Lucia, Fourth Memoir, Third Apparition, July 13, 1917.)
At the time of the apparitions Lucia had never even heard of Russia. Francisco, in his childish simplicity, thought it was all about his uncle’s stubborn mule, which was named “Russa.” No one at that time had ever heard of Pius XI or of Russia’s atheistic propaganda. These were things the children could not possibly have made up. Another secret, the famous Third Secret, would not be revealed until the threshold of the third millennium. Although we are dealing here with what are called “private revelations,” the hand of God is so evident as to make it impossible reasonably to doubt.
Now if we believe these prophecies—which is not hard for us, as much of their content has already been borne out in what we know of the twentieth century—we must also believe these words Our Lady added:
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. (Ibid.)
In recent times this latter part of the Second Secret, originally given on July 13, 1917, has been harder to interpret. Has the prophecy now been fulfilled? In 1985 in her convent, as she explained to two cardinals, Sr. Lucia had another apparition of Our Lady, who told her that the consecration, or entrustment, pronounced by Pope John Paul II the previous year had saved the world from a nuclear war. She also stated that the danger still existed, as Satan did not sleep. Nevertheless there had been a fulfillment. Here are her words:
This promise of peace [of Our Lady] refers to the wars provoked throughout the world on account of the errors emanating from Russia. This consecration was made, publicly, in Rome, by the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on the 25th of March, 1984, before the image of Our Lady of Fatima which is venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions in the Cova da Iria, Fatima, and which the Holy Father—after having written to all the Bishops in the world asking them to unite themselves with His Holiness in this act of consecration which he was going to make—had ordered to be brought to Rome for the purpose in order to emphasize the fact that the Consecration that he was going to make before this Statue was the one asked for by Our Lady of Fatima… (Sister Lucia, The Message of Fatima, Coimbra, 2006, pages 53-56.)
It is probable that what we are now seeing in 2017 is a new phase of this whole story. During a discussion with Cardinal Ricardo Vidal in 1993, Sister Lucia said that Fatima was a “Divine Week,” and that this week was “still in its Third Day.” “We are now in the post-consecration period,” she further explained. “The First Day was the apparition period. The Second was the post-apparition, pre-consecration period. The Fatima Week has not yet ended…[but] has just begun…” And she added, “I may not get to see the whole Week.” (Cited in Fatima Mysteries, Ignatius Press, 2017, page 386.)
One thing is certain: our hope now lies squarely in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, allied with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Some are now adding the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph: an interesting development to be sure. In any case, on the occasion of this special centennial year of the apparitions of Fatima, we must implore the mercy of God on our monastery, our country, and upon the entire Church, adding penance to prayer, especially with the devotion of the First Five Saturdays. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Saints Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us.
+ br. Philip Anderson, abbot