‘And yet, when the Son of man returns will he find faith on earth?’ (Lk. 18:8). ⧾
This past week, we marked the 105th anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal and the miracle of the sun, witnessed by over seventy thousand people. At Fatima, Our Lady spoke prophetically of the start of another and more destructive war, the spread of communism and the annihilation of nations. Understood as political atheism we can see how communism has caused and continues to cause much distress and loss of life. The failed socialist policies of communism inevitably lead to absolute government rule and when the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God. When the state rules absolutely, God becomes an absolute threat to authority (Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, 2019). This may explain why our churches were closed and why violence against the Church here and elsewhere is ignored and even rationalized as understandable.
We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete (Pope Benedict XVI, May 13, 2010). Fatima is the overwhelming revelation of the greatness of God’s infinite love and mercy for us poor sinners, illuminated in the mystery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, God’s masterpiece. We have witnessed and continue to experience the eclipse of religion through relativism and the marginalization of authentic religious voices from public discourse. Pope Benedict rightly described what we are experiencing as a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of satisfying the desires of one’s own ego. What this means is that everyone has become his own god. In such an environment, social cohesion becomes impossible and in time, the state rules absolutely. We are well on our way to the realization of this dystopian world. Our world has already experienced the mass apostasy spoken of in Sacred Scripture. I doubt that there is a family anywhere that has not been in some way touched by this sad reality; family members who no longer practise the faith, religious indifference if not outright hostility and a terrible and scandalous loss of the sense of the sacred. Hence Our Lord’s question: ‘And yet, when the Son of man returns will he find faith on earth?’ (Lk. 18:8).
Please God, were Our Lord to return here and now, He would find in us profoundly grateful and adoring hearts filled with faith, obedience, humility and charity; virtues best exemplified in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These virtues rightly foster our spiritual life but they are just as important when practised also as civic virtues. What kind of a nation do we wish to be in the eyes of God? Will we continue to cast our votes in favour of those who promote and fund the slaughter and mutilation of our children? The Judeo-Christian roots of our country are undeniable despite the best efforts of politicians to obfuscate and deny this reality. All the social and educational services that we enjoy in our country have their origin in the Catholic Church; yet as these institutions reject their Catholic roots they are no longer places of enlightenment and healing. No, they have become countersigns; places where minds are not illumined by the truth and bodies weakened by sickness and age are irreverently violated by an unnatural death. The message of Fatima is more than relevant for us today.
The war that Our Lady spoke of, the Second World War, erupted during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII who had received episcopal consecration on the very date of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, May 13, 1917. His long pontificate (1939-1958) was particularly marked by the events of Fatima: by the unparalleled destruction of human life caused by the political atheism of communism and fascism in its different expressions, and by the attack on the faith not only from without but also from within the Church. Sadly, the great loss of faith that we have experienced was also prophetically seen by Pope Pius XII: I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by the alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, in her theology and her soul…. I hear around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past. His biographer notes that at this point in the conversation, the gaze of the Pope became supernatural, and endowed with an irresistible mystical force; and in answer to an objection from a Cardinal, he said: A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’ (Roche, Pie XII Devant L’Histoire, p. 52-53).
A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God. That day has already come and the culture of death that we struggle against seeks the destruction of the Catholic Church whose task it is always to preach the Gospel of salvation and to foster the culture of life. The red lamp spoken of by Pope Pius XII is the Sanctuary lamp that burns before the Tabernacle; the place where God awaits us. In far too many churches this lamp is hard to find if it is found at all. We have experienced the alteration of the faith, [the] liturgy, theology… and now, the attempt to subject the Church to political, worldly causes thus denying her primary work of preaching the Gospel of salvation and of life – of saving souls. We are now facing an existential crisis, a battle for the very soul of the Church. Enemies of the Church have infiltrated the Church and they seek to reduce the Mystical Body of Christ on earth to nothing more than an agency of the United Nations.
In the midst of all this confusion and opposition, the red lamp that burns before the Tabernacle must be our point of reference as we live our lives. The honour and reverence that we give to God truly present among us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the best antidote to the errors of our times, be they human errors or religious errors or heresies. Here, we learn to make reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended; and we learn to imitate God’s tender love for poor sinners. Here, we will not be led astray; and here, from this point of reference the Son of Man will definitely find faith when He returns; and here we shall be strengthened for the battle now upon us.
Our Byzantine brethren hail the great Mother of God with the title Hupermakhos strategos; our Great Field Marshall – the one who transcends the battle. May she who is also our Mother and our Queen obtain Our Lady obtain for all of us the grace of final perseverance and victory in the battle. ⧾