March 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The third secret of Fatima opens with an Angel holding a flaming sword in his left hand, flashing. “It gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’”
In the first secret, Our Lady had shown the three children a vision of hell. It was full.
Could it really be the case that the need for penance is less acute and the reality of hell, a consequence of unrepentant sin, less threatening today than a hundred years ago, when the Mother of God descended from Heaven to inform her children of the urgency to repent?
Our Lady told little Jacinta that more sinners go to hell because of sins of impurity than for any other reason. Today many of these sins are state policy of the most powerful nations and smaller nations, too, have followed suit.
In once Catholic Ireland abortion and same-sex ‘marriage’ – two of the four sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance – are enshrined in the constitution. This is the same constitution that in its preamble still invokes the protection of the Most Holy Trinity.
More children have died worldwide through legal abortion than people killed in all the wars of recorded human history.
In my home country, Estonia, more people have been killed by abortion since 1955 than our living population today.
And throughout the world, countless children are being corrupted by school sex education, often with the placet of Catholic bishops. These programmes destroy the innocence of children, groom them for the porn, contraception or abortion industry and teach them to question whether God has created them a boy or a girl.
“Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” (Is. 1:4)
And, we might ask, before they came to an abrupt halt, how many of the sacrilegious and irreverent Masses which Catholics today accept with casual indifference are really an affront to God that surpasses even the atrocities just mentioned?
What would Our Blessed Mother say now? Would it still be sufficient to pray the Rosary and keep the First Saturdays in honour of her Immaculate Heart to make reparation? We don’t know that. But we do know that this lighter penance of 1917 has not been tried – at least not as a society and not with the devotion that corresponds to the seriousness of the offences. And Our Lady’s specific request to prevent God’s punishment – the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart – is still waiting to be done according to her explicit instructions.
In Akita in 1973, Our Lady appeared again. What she had to say echoed her message in Fatima – like a patient mother who repeats her instructions over and over again, because they have not been listened to or have been followed badly.
“[The] Church will be full of those who accept compromises,” she said and because of that, “if men do not repent and better themselves”, God will “inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity”, such as one will never have seen before. There will be “fire falling from the skies”, she said, “good and bad will perish and those who survive will wish they were dead.”
“If sins increase in number and gravity,” she said, “there will be no longer pardon for them.”
Sins have increased in number and gravity. In fact, our political and, worse, ecclesiastical bodies have become so imbued with sin and heresy that it does not require any special insight to see that if there ever was a time, when chastisement was deserved, that time is now.
Whether or not the “unprecedented” events that are now our daily reality – from the lockdown of nations to the suppression of public Masses by the order of Catholic bishops – amount to a chastisement, cannot yet be verified. As Catholics we consider the locked church doors more apocalyptic than the devastating human suffering, no matter how close, no matter how painful. As Catholics, what we are experiencing this Lent is an eclipse of the sun, a Good Friday prolonged until God only knows when. But as Catholics, leaving aside the question of whether the reaction to the Chinese virus is proportionate to the threat or not, we know that it would not be inappropriate to respond to it as a chastisement. And by so doing we would render our Blessed Mother the obedience in fulfilling her requests so long overdue.
Our sins are the fruit of the same tree. There is no distancing from the sins we have committed as God’s people, because we are the members of one body.
“Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:2-3)
Indeed, “good and bad will perish” unless men “repent and better themselves”. And so the guilty and the just will get sick, lose their livelihoods, and suffer the myriad of difficulties the current crisis presents for social and family life. Even if we have our doubts about the origin of the crisis, the effects of it cannot be downplayed. And even, if by God’s grace, we do not deserve this trial for our personal sins, we do for collective ones.
“I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach,” Our Lady said in Akita. Not because she is the most powerful, but perhaps she alone still has the compassion to listen when men who have offended God so grievously will finally wake up.
Children know instinctively that when things are very bad it is their mother they must run to.
Archbishop Lefebvre taught his priests that God had given Catholics three gifts: the pope, the Mass and Our Lady. When the pope no longer fulfils his role, he is no longer a source of joy for us. And now, priests can no longer offer Masses publicly, in many places for an indefinite period. But whatever happens, we will always have Our Blessed Mother.
The more we enter into our enforced desert this Lent, the brighter her role becomes. She is the model of the Church, she who is now suffering at the hands of many of those who should be the first to protect her honour. Her passion reflects the passion of her Son. And just as when she stood, pierced with grief, at the foot of the Cross, perhaps we are asked to imitate her in standing by her in her passion now.
This is not a passive resignation. This was not at all her attitude on Calvary.
St. Ambrose says that “when the Apostles fled, she stood at the foot of the Cross, and saw in her Son’s wounds not the death of her treasure but the salvation of the world.”
The Roman Catechism teaches us that her pain was greater than that of any other creature’s, because of her immense faith and purity. Hanging on the Cross was not only her Son but also her God. For her, there was nowhere to turn for consolation as we have in our trials. And because of her purity, she suffered much more intensely than we ever could.
Yet, she never broke down. Even at the most torturous moments of her life she never fell down in despair. In the words of St. Ambrose, she saw the salvation of the world and so we should see its purification, standing firmly by as she stood by the Cross.
Perhaps at this time, we are to share especially in her deprivations, recounted in the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. While in the joyful mysteries she appears at the centre, in the sorrowful mysteries, she is more to the side. Perhaps we are to share her grief this Lent at not being able to be with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, nor bear the violent pain of the scourges and the crown of thorns, nor the weight of the Cross; and after all that in the crucifixion of her heart, while standing still at the foot of the Cross. Perhaps this is what we must offer this Lent and maybe beyond.
Our current separation from the Mass and the sacraments must, however, be God’s permitted will. We know that God never wills evil, but he allows tribulations to give an opportunity for repentance and conversion. In a way, the whole Church has been draped in a purple veil. Christ has hidden Himself from us to allow us to share in His suffering, to make reparation for sin, and to prepare for the renewal of all things.
This is an opportunity to offer real sacrifices for the Church, for the pope, and for the world’s more than 5300 bishops, most of whom seem to be so tragically confused in this crisis. A bishop once told me, that it is not a good time to be a bishop, but is a good time to be a great bishop. The great bishops will soon be heard and during our time in the desert we need to prepare for the triumphant resurrection of the visible church after her painful passion. Reducing the Sacraments to the level of non-essential cultural activities is not the approach that will prevail. Even in good times, this mindset did not win converts. It did not fill the seminaries and convents, increase devotion to the Mass nor reaffirm faith in the Real Presence. Now in a time of challenge, it rings hollow and fades altogether into the abyss. The faith of our fathers will be restored. Tradition, which has learned how to deal with war, pestilence, famine and loss has the spirit that will survive and continue to nurture the faithful in their ardent desire for Heaven. Let us embrace the traditional devotions to be strong and alive in our faith and better able to help those left desolate.
A crisis tends to bring people back to reality and with it comes a real opportunity to evangelise. In a shipwreck, everything excessive is thrown overboard. Only what is real and necessary is kept. In our crisis too, everything real triumphs over non-essentials. God is the ultimate reality and now is the time to reclaim His place in people’s lives.
Catholic spirituality is a masterclass in blending sorrow and joy, sickness and health, death and everlasting life: “[A]s sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things”. (2 Cor: 6:10)
Our true and complete dependence on God, not even knowing, when we will next be able to receive Holy Communion or go to Confession gives us a real opportunity to enter into a desert this Passiontide and unite our sacrifices for the authentic renewal and purification of the Church. The most efficacious penances and sacrifices are those we have not chosen ourselves.
Let us not waste this opportunity.
So often the relief for a tribulation is not a miraculous cure yet unknown, but doing what we ought to have done all along. Let us pray the Rosary every day in earnest, as if everything depended on it.
Sr. Lucia, one of the Fatima seers, said: “The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”
Let us have a true and filial recourse to Our Blessed Mother in all things, who alone may still be able to intercede for us before her Son. She is the dispenser of graces and best able to convert our sacrifices to the benefit of mankind.
In astronomy, a corona is defined as “the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars”. “The sun’s corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, when it is seen as an irregularly shaped pearly glow surrounding the darkened disc of the moon.” The corona is the crown. In the Book of the Apocalypse Our Lady is depicted as “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”. (Apoc. 12:1) Let us not miss the opportunity to make of this time a total offering to her so that Her Immaculate heart may soon triumph.