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A Book Review… The Full Fatima Message

October 12, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Fatima and the Triumph of Mary: Reflections on the Fatima Message, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR (World Apostolate of Fatima, 2016, 228 pages, $17.95 available via: http://giftshop.wafusa.org/browse.cfm/4,2578.html).

Fatima and the Triumph of Mary is a compilation of articles by Fr. Andrew Apostoli which originally appeared in the World Apostolate of Fatima USA publication, SOUL magazine. It has a foreword from the bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., Most Rev. Frank J. Caggiano.

The book is divided up into eight chapters, covering topics ranging from reflections on our Lady’s words at Fatima, through the lives of the Seers of Fatima, to topics such as the rosary, suffering, prayer, and the Five First Saturdays devotion, with a final chapter on St. Padre Pio and Fatima.
The initial chapter contains some very useful and edifying reflections on what our Lady actually said at Fatima. This is very necessary because it is all too easy to rush through what she said and so miss its deeper significance. Under the heading of “Mary’s Plea for Holiness,” Fr. Apostoli makes some telling points about the loss of the sense of sin in modern society, and unfortunately often in our own lives, too.
He asks the question, “How can we restore a sense of sin in our lives?” and gives some very relevant answers, including making sure we don’t have a false sense of entitlement to all the blessings and gifts we receive from God — rather we should realize that everything we have comes from God and is not due to ourselves.
Similarly, we should cultivate a positive sense of the fear of God, such as that found in the good thief — this gave him a sense of his sinfulness, which was the gateway to his ultimate salvation. Frequent Confession is recommended as a way of having an awareness of our sinfulness so we can be motivated to live better lives.
Fr. Apostoli doesn’t neglect to emphasize that the consecration carried out by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984, in union with the world’s bishops, was indeed valid, as Sr. Lucia herself said when she remarked, “Heaven accepted it.” He also points out that one of the reasons why Russia hasn’t been converted is that people have not responded adequately to our Lady’s request for the Communions of Reparation, that is, the Five First Saturdays devotion. And in fact Sr. Lucia used to say that this devotion was the most neglected part of the Fatima message.
The author also emphasizes the way that Jesus and Mary chose simple and humble children to receive the Fatima messages, in line with biblical examples such as King David, who was chosen by God despite being the youngest in his family, and the shepherds at Bethlehem, who occupied one of the lowest places in Jewish society.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that we have to be childlike and humble if we are to enter Heaven, and likewise, many of the seers of the approved Marian apparitions, such as St. Juan Diego or St. Bernadette, have been simple and humble souls.
The book also gives examples from the lives of the Fatima seers to illustrate how well they lived the message our Lady gave them. Fr. Apostoli particularly highlights the very generous spirit of sacrifice for the conversion of sinners which characterized the life of Jacinta. This is a very unusual trait in such a young child.
As the author points out, the vision of Hell profoundly affected the children, but particularly Jacinta to the extent that “every penance and mortification was nothing in her eyes if she could only prevent souls from going there.”
Toward the end of her short life, she suffered tremendously from pneumonia, tuberculosis, and a very painful abscess in her side, sufferings which culminated in her dying alone — but the result of all that sacrifice was that our Lady confided to her that through her sufferings she had saved 50,000 souls. All three of the children, though, had to overcome their various faults and failings and it was this that led them to perfection in such a short time.
As Fr. Apostoli points out, quoting Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the greatest problems facing the Church and the world, if not the greatest, is the spread of secularism. This is defined as being “the spirit of the world that removes God from all aspects of society.”
But as the author also points out, our Lady’s message at Fatima is the perfect antidote to secularism, since it reemphasizes the existence of Heaven and Hell, and indeed all that the Catholic Church teaches, with the miracle of the sun as the guarantee that the Fatima message is absolutely genuine.
Clearly Western society is headed downhill in moral terms, with the introduction of, for example, same-sex marriage and now transgenderism. And so we absolutely have to heed our Lady’s message if we are not to experience a terrifying moral disaster. But the good news is that the Fatima message, if heeded, is capable of reinvigorating our society, through the avoidance of sin, the sacraments, the performance of works of mercy and charity, and of course, last but not least, through serious prayer.
We also have to trust God, and believe that what he said through Our Lady at Fatima will come true, and likewise, we have to overcome our own fears, and particularly our fear of sacrifice, or the fear that God will demand too much of us.
We also have to put our trust in the power of prayer, and especially the prayer of the rosary, which the Blessed Virgin emphasized at each of her apparitions at Fatima.
The latter chapters in the book deal with, among other things, the mysteries of the rosary and the meaning of suffering in the Fatima message. As Fr. Apostoli indicates, our sufferings are not pointless, but can purify us from sin and selfishness, and moreover, our Lady indicated that they can prevent many evils from affecting the world, and also save many souls from going to Hell while also bringing about peace in the world.
And as he points out, the world has more need of sacrifice now than at any other time in history, going on to describe sacrifice as the “key to the Fatima message.” He also points out that love makes sacrifice easy.
We likewise need to adopt a spirit of reparation, that is, the principle of making amends or atonement for the harm done by sin. And this includes eucharistic reparation — prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and regarding Fatima in particular, the Five First Saturdays devotion of reparation.
As the author indicates, the prayer of adoration is very important, but equally we also have to be contrite — genuinely sorry for our sins, and also thankful to God and our Lady for all they have done for us.
The final chapters deal with the First Saturdays devotion and with the particular blasphemies against Our Lady which it seeks to repair, while the very last chapter deals with Padre Pio and his links with Fatima.
The tone of Fatima and the Triumph of Mary is not polemic or overbearing, rather it is kind and gentle, but Fr. Apostoli, for all that, doesn’t pull any punches and gives us the full Fatima message, even the parts that the modern world might find uncomfortable. In sum, this is the ideal book to read as the centenary year of the Fatima apparitions draws to a close.

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(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people — details can be found at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk/.)

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