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April 12, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

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Q. Despite what you read below, I always look forward to and enjoy your Catholic Replies column. It provides thought-provoking questions and insight. Keep it coming! But the following was provoked by your most recent and consistent expression of the official Church position that Fatima has been concluded. . . . It is possible, but useless, to address/refute the many swirling details around this issue, thanks, I believe, to the “diabolical disorientation” promised by Our Lady of Fatima. For every statement of the Church that it has been concluded, there is at least a thought-provoking alternative. — W.W., via e-mail.
A. In his lengthy letter, W.W. mentioned several of these alternatives. We have addressed some of them in the past, but will touch on three of them again. Here are W.W.’s concerns and our comments.
First, he says that Sr. Lucia’s claim that Pope St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia in 1984 was accepted by Heaven was heard only by Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone and not by the public because the Fatima visionary had been “under the edict of silence” from 1960 until her death in 2005. If she agreed that all was well, says W.W., “you would think they would trot her out in front of every microphone they could find to proclaim that.”
Sr. Lucia was not under an “edict of silence.” She had met over the years with Popes Paul VI and John Paul II and for five hours in 1977 with Albino Cardinal Luciani, who would become Pope John Paul I a year later. Of course, Lucia never showed up on CNN to face a barrage of questions about events that her interrogators would have considered preposterous.
She was a cloistered nun in her nineties, not a media celebrity, when she met for a total of about 10 hours with Cardinal Bertone in 2000, 2001, and 2003. She was very much aware, however, of world events and, from her cloister, wrote several books and thousands of letters, including one in 1989 and one in 1999 confirming that the consecration had been accepted in Heaven.
Second, W.W. says that the full contents of the Third Secret have not been revealed. He says that “there were two envelopes regarding the Third Secret. The part not revealed was in the ‘Capovilla’ envelope. So called because John XXIII had then Msgr. [Loris] Capovilla sign the envelope containing this text with all the names of those in the Vatican who had just read it. This envelope has not yet been revealed.”
Archbishop Capovilla, who served as private secretary to Pope St. John XXIII, read the secret along with the Holy Father and has explained the confusion about two envelopes. According to Catholic News Agency on September 12, 2007, Capovilla said: “There are not two truths from Fatima, nor is there any fourth secret. The text which I read in 1959 is the same that was distributed by the Vatican [in 2000]. . . . I have had enough of these conspiracy theories. It just isn’t true. I read it, I presented it to the Pope, and we resealed the envelope.”
On April 27, 2000, Cardinal Bertone, who was accompanied by Bishop Seraphim de Sousa of Leiria, Portugal, presented two envelopes to Sr. Lucia, an outer envelope containing a second envelope, which held the Third Secret. “This is my letter,” said Sr. Lucia while reading the document. “This is my writing.” Asked if the letter contained the one and only Third Secret, Lucia replied: “Yes, this is the Third Secret, and I never wrote any other.”
Third, W.W. says that there was a third element to Fatima, “the single, most important element of all,” namely, our Lady’s promise of “peace and prosperity in the world” if her requests were heeded or a “great chastisement” if they were not followed. “Look around at the Church, look around at our society, infanticide coming in the near term,” says W.W. “Which of her two options do you believe we are now under?. . . Is this one open to quibbling? Can you really maintain that our Lady’s request at Fatima has been done? Yet the Church, the world, is behaving as it is?”
The Blessed Virgin never promised that world peace (she didn’t mention prosperity) would immediately follow the consecration of Russia, nor did she mention a “great chastisement.” All she said was that world peace would come about at some time in the future. Here are her words on July 13, 1917:
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” There is no indication of when that period of peace would come about.
But the consecration of Russia was not the only condition for world peace. Our Lady also mentioned the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays, saying that “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 persecution of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”
While many good people have for years taken part in the First Saturday devotions, and continue to do so today, we believe that many more will have to do so in order to bring about the period of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima. Peace will come to the world only when people everywhere follow our Lady’s summons to prayer, especially the rosary, and to penance and conversion. That’s the authentic and complete Fatima message.

Q. In our parish, our two priests insist that, at the Our Father in the Mass, the altar servers go up to the altar and all stand around holding hands with the priest. Also, one of our priests, when saying the blessing at the end of Mass, says, “May almighty God bless us all. . . .” Are either of these two practices allowed? — K.P., Michigan.
A. Taking the second question first, the rubrics for Mass require the priest to say, “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” A priest who substitutes “us” for “you” is wrong.
In the 2004 Vatican document Redemptionis Sacramentum, it says that “the reprobated practice by which priests, deacons, or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the sacred liturgy that they are charged to pronounce must cease. For in doing this, they render the celebration of the sacred liturgy unstable and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the liturgy” (n. 59).
As for holding hands during recitation of the Our Father at Mass, that has been going on for as long as we have been writing this column (28 years), but it has never been an approved gesture at Mass. It is not mentioned in the 2011 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which says only that “the principal celebrant, with hands joined, says the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. Next, with hands extended, he says the Lord’s Prayer itself together with the other concelebrants, who also pray with hands extended, and together with the people” (n. 237). Nothing there about holding hands.
As for the purpose of this practice, an earlier edition of the GIRM said that “the prolonged holding of hands is of itself a sign of communion rather than of peace. Further, it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics. Nor is there any clear explanation of why the sign of peace at the invitation: Let us offer each other a sign of peace should be supplanted in order to bring a different gesture with less meaning into another part of the Mass. The sign of peace is filled with meaning, graciousness, and Christian inspiration. Any substitution for it must be repudiated” (Appendix 2, n. 112).

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Catholic Replies

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