Today marks the hundred and third anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima, when Our Lady appeared for the last time – at least in a public way, for they continue to have private visions – to the three seers October, 1917, during some of the worst days of World War I, and just before the Spanish Influenza would kill millions across the globe. Unlike most flus, this on targeted mainly the young and healthy (for complex physiological reasons) including the two young visionaries, Jacinta and Francesco, who predicted their own deaths.
As readers likely know, the thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – who gathered to see what they could see were huddling in a torrential downpour, drenched to their skins and then some, when, during the vision, the Sun began to dance and whirl in the sky, hurtling towards the Earth, then receding, emitting a warm and wonderful array of all the colours of the spectrum. After the Sun returned to normal – is there a normal after such things? – everyone was perfectly dry and warm.
There are any number of prophecies and revelations at Fatima, none of which we are strictly bound to accept (even the dancing Sun, whose provenance we know not – did the million-mile orb really unhinge in deep space? quia non erit inpossibile apud Deum omne verbum). We are only bound to accept with Faith those things already in public revelation (such as the existence of judgement, heaven and hell, the need for reparation, that Our Lady intercedes for mankind, and so on).
We should strive to maintain what devotion we might to the Virgin Mother of God, and tell my beads, as Pope John Paul and countless others have exhorted, but always take with some degree of caution all the hype over all the apocalyptica surrounding this vision. Yes, there will be wars, calamities, famines, storms, as there have been since Adam and Eve partook of that forbidden fruit, Cain slayed Abel, so that by the sixth chapter of Genesis (signifying only God knows how much ‘real’ time) the Lord saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that man’s every thought and all the inclinations of his heart were only evil. Then came the flood.
Things have not changed all that much since those early days, and the last ‘Fatima century’ has seen some of the worst wickedness. In consequence, there have always been cataclysmic destructive forces, and eventually there will be the final one, not with water, as God promised Noah; likely by fire, if the first Pope is any indication and speaking not figuratively: The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone? The asteroids that seem to be flying by a little closer each time? Nuclear war with Korea and China and Russia and who knows who else? A solar flare? A black hole wandering into our solar system? All of the above?
But why worry and fret? Our own private apocalypse will occur at the time and moment when God so wills, whether today, or next year, or at ‘the end’, and the best way to be ready, as Our Lady has always repeated, is to maintain a healthy relationship with her Son, to participate in Mass, at least on Sundays, more often if one is able; fighting our ‘evil’ passions, with a regular examination of conscience and Confession; to stay united to Christ and His Church, practising daily charity by acts of kindness and self-giving, especially those that are sent to us by providence and that go against our own grain; to be joyful, even with an act of the will if need be, lifting others up; to realize that this passing life is indeed so temporary and fleeting (the pilgrims in the accompanying photograph, even the little children, have by now all gone before their Maker), and that what good we can do here and now will be multiplied a hundredfold, poured into our lap, and brimming over.
So be of good cheer. Christ has indeed already overcome the world, and we just have to be found on His side, whenever we are called.
Our Lady of Fatima, and Saints Jacinta and Franceso, orate pro nobis!