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The First Fatima Apparition… The Power Of The Most Holy Rosary

May 16, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Part 2

This is the second article, of two, which examines Fatima in the light of Marian devotion. We can begin by looking at the power of the rosary historically in the Church. This power has been proved on numerous occasions down the centuries, but particularly at the time of the Battle of Lepanto, which took place in October 1571, when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic states, fought against the main fleet of the Muslim Ottoman Empire near Lepanto, off western Greece.
The reigning Pope, Pius V, called for Catholics to pray the rosary, and the result was a decisive victory by the Holy League which prevented the invasion and subsequent devastation of Europe. Out of this came the Feast of the Holy Rosary which is celebrated each year on October 7.
The power of the rosary was shown dramatically more recently, too, in 1955, when the occupying Soviet Army voluntarily left postwar Austria. Fr. Petrus Pavlicek, a Franciscan, had organized a Rosary Crusade from 1946 onward, which eventually had ten percent of the population praying five decades of the rosary daily for peace in the country.
On May 13, 1955, the Fatima anniversary date, it was announced that the Soviets were willing to withdraw from Austria and sign a peace treaty. This was the only time in the history of the Soviet Union that the Red Army voluntarily withdrew from a country it had occupied. In contrast, the attempted revolutions in Hungary, in 1956, and Czechoslovakia, in 1968, were brutally put down by Soviet tanks.
The rosary, then, is not just a devotional practice but a form of prayer with great power before God, powerful enough, as the Blessed Virgin said at Fatima, to stop wars and bring about peace if enough people say it with genuine devotion.
And regarding the First Saturdays devotion, which was mentioned by our Lady during the July 1917 apparition, this was linked by her to the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and its eventual conversion, and also to the granting of a period of peace to the world. The Blessed Virgin appeared again to Sr. Lucia in 1929 and asked that the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, make the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.
This Collegial Consecration was eventually carried out by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984, and led to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In short, the Fatima message is not dealing with the “small change” of religion, but is of crucial and vital importance in revitalizing the Church and bringing about world peace.
And we can go further and say that within the Fatima message there are also appeals to people of other faiths, including Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, Protestants, and even atheists.
The Fatima message is certainly intimately related to the conversion of Russia, and thus presumably to the future unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and the evangelizing power that such a reunion will generate. Many Anglicans, too, have a great devotion to our Lady, and even for evangelicals, the crucial scriptural role of the Blessed Virgin must eventually make an impact on the biblically minded.
Regarding Muslims, our Lady’s choice of Fatima, a place in Portugal with such a striking Muslim name, is surely of great significance. Fatima was the name of Mohammed’s favorite daughter, and the town received its name following the Muslim occupation of Portugal. There is a quite significant place given to Mary in the Koran, and so the message of Fatima is well suited to assisting in the evangelization of the Muslim world.
Moreover, Fatima should also have an appeal for Jewish people, since the Blessed Mother was Jewish, and so naturally has a special love and concern for them. Sr. Lucia reported seeing a star near the bottom of our Lady’s tunic at Fatima, and this has been linked with the Old Testament story of Queen Esther, whose name means “star.”
She intervened to save the Jewish people on the thirteenth of the month, just as Mary appeared at Fatima on the thirteenth day of each month between May and October 1917.
In Hinduism there is a marked devotion, even worship, of goddess figures, and apparently some Hindu theologians believe in the existence of a Great Goddess under different forms. This type of veneration, then, could provide an opening for the conversion of Hindus, in the same way that the presence of goddess worship in the Roman Empire prepared people’s minds for veneration of the Blessed Virgin later on.
And clearly, too, Fatima can appeal to atheists and nonbelievers just as it did at the time of the Miracle of the Sun, a miracle which simply cannot be explained in natural terms. When 70,000 people witnessed the sun gyrating in the sky, changing color progressively and then plunging to the Earth, so that those present could feel its heat, then it is hard to deny that we are the presence of a genuine miracle.
Regarding the future of the New Evangelization which was proposed and promoted by Pope St. John Paul II, and how this is going to be carried out, in the early eighteenth century St. Louis de Montfort wrote of the “great saints of the latter times,” who by their word and example, “will draw all men to a true devotion to her” (True Devotion, n. 48).
He stated, too, that: “If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary. She who first gave him to the world will establish his kingdom in the world” (n. 13).
Thus St. Louis prophesied a renewal in the Church and a great Marian era to come in the future, but indicated that this will not come about until people have a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin. In other words, the New Evangelization must have a strong Marian element in order to be truly effective, which is also essentially what our Lady said at Fatima.
Unfortunately, Fatima and Marian devotions generally are regarded as optional extras by many in the Church, and there has been an insufficient response to her requests for prayer and penance at Fatima. And there is also the danger of reducing the Fatima message to a sentimental level, when it is actually meant to be strong and forceful, as was the case with Lepanto, and in Austria after the War, and also in the way that Communism collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe after the collegial consecration in 1984.

Marriage And The Family

As regards our current problems in society, it could also be said that our Lady was prophetic in appearing to the three children of Aljustrel who came from two large families, and thus indicating the crucial role of marriage and the family.
This role is being undermined on all sides in the modern world, especially through false ideologies, and through secularism and relativism. Indeed, Sr. Lucia apparently spoke to the Italian prelate, Carlo Cardinal Caffarra, saying, “A time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.”
That is one more reason, amongst many, why Marian devotion and the Fatima message are just as important today as they have ever been, and why we must do all we can to live and promote devotion to our Lady.

+ + +

(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, and the third in the series is due to be published later this year — details can be seen at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk.)

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