According to legend, exactly 33 years (span of our Lord’s life) to the day prior to the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, that is, on October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church.”
The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?”
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
33 YEARS LATER
On Sunday May 13th, 1917, the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes. They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.” “Where are you from?” the children asked. “I am from heaven” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising her hand towards the distant horizon. “What do you want of me?”, Lucia asked. ” I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want.”
It was Mary’s final appearance, on Oct. 13, 1917 (exactly 33 years, to the day, after Pope Leo XIII’s vision), that became the most famous. An estimated 70,000 people were in attendance at the site, anticipating the Virgin’s final visit and with many fully expecting that she would work a great miracle. As everyone gazed upward, and saw that a silvery disc had emerged from behind clouds, they experienced what is known [as] a ‘sun miracle.’ Not everyone reported the same thing; some present claimed they saw the sun dance around the heavens; others said the sun zoomed toward Earth in a zigzag motion that caused them to fear that it might collide with our planet (or, more likely, burn it up). Some people reported seeing brilliant colors spin out of the sun in a psychedelic, pinwheel pattern. The whole event took about 10 minutes.
With these apparitions at Fatima, God asked for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in union with all of the bishops of the world. Our Lady of Fatima said that if the Consecration of Russia was done, Russia would be converted and there would be peace. However, if the Pope and the bishops did not obey the request, Our Lady said that Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church and of Holy Father, the martyrdom of the good and the annihilation of nations.
I find it interesting that Our Lady appeared in Fatima with these warnings exactly 100 years before the 500th anniversary of the Protestant revolt (1517-2017).
THE PRECEDENT OF 100 YEARS
At Rianjo, Spain in August 1931, Our Lord communicated to Sister Lucy His dissatisfaction with the Popes and the Catholic bishops failure to obey His command to consecrate Russia. He said:
Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My requests, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.
In another text Lucy wrote that Our Lord complained to her:
They did not wish to heed My request! Like the King of France they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.
The reference by Jesus to the King of France’s disobedience and punishment is as follows:
On June 17, 1689 the Sacred Heart of Jesus manifested to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque His command to the King of France that the King was to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart. For 100 years to the day the Kings of France delayed, and did not obey.
So on June 17, 1789 the King of France was stripped of his legislative authority by the upstart Third Estate, and four years later the soldiers of the French Revolution executed the King of France as if he were a criminal. In 1793 France sent its King, Louis XVI, to the guillotine. He and his predecessors had failed to obey Our Lords request that France be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and thus misfortune had befallen both the King and his country.
NOT JUST FRANCE
However, it would not be just France who would inherit this misfortune. It is more than interesting to note that the “Enlightenment Period,” generally known to have occurred from the 1680s to the 1790s, followed very closely to the same 100 year period of the initial request for the consecration of France to the French Revolution (see timeline here).
Central to the Enlightenment agenda was the assault on, what they held as, “religious superstition” and its replacement by rational religion, which is most commonly referred to as Deism. Deism is a heresy which holds that God became no more than the supreme intelligence or craftsman who had set the machine that was the world to run according to its own natural and scientifically predictable laws. In other words, God created it and then left it (It is believed that most of our founding fathers were Deists … a heresy which became entrenched around the time of the birth of our nation).
As our Lady was appearing in Fatima, it is important to note that in 1917, the same year the Communist Revolution in Russia was unleashed, Pope Benedict XV penned an encyclical entitled, Humani Generis Redemptionem. It would prove to be prophetic. In it he addressed an issue that had to be “looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most momentous concern.”
Up until 1917, Western Civilization had begun to drift away from the light of Gospel. The Reformation, the French Revolution and, as mentioned, the Russian Revolution, were highly instrumental in ushering in the era of secularism. Pope Benedict XV could not escape the conclusion that the world was changing. He wrote the following in the same encyclical:
“If on the other hand we examine the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, we shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.”
With the return of paganism, comes an intolerance of Christianity. Indeed, the Church would produce more martyrs during the 20th century than in any other century. But as bad as things were in the world, the real test for the Church would come fifty years later during the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. It is interesting to note that the eruption of this revolution occurred exactly 50 years later (the mid-point), when in 1967, “The Summer of Love”saw 100,000 people converged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. In fact, this song by the Mamas and Papas, depicting the Summer of Love (San Francisco) was released on May 13, 1967, the 50th anniversary of our Lady’s first appearance at Fatima.
Although hippies also gathered in major cities across the U.S., Canada and Europe, San Francisco remained the center of the hippie movement. The city became even more of a melting pot of politics, music, drugs, creativity, and the total lack of sexual and social inhibition than it already was. As the hippie counterculture movement came further forward into public awareness, the activities centered therein became a defining moment of the 1960s, causing numerous ‘ordinary citizens’ to begin questioning everything and anything about them and their environment as a result.
Similar to that of the Reformation in 1517, scores of Catholics would leave the Church. Priestly and religious vocations would dry up. Mass attendance would sharply decline. Catholic clergy and laity would no longer be on the same page in terms of belief and behavior. And as for many church-goers that would remain, their morals and lifestyle would prove to be comparable to non-Catholics.
CONTRACEPTION IS KEY
Running concurrently to the message of Fatima and the explosion of the sexual revolution at the 50 year mark, was the advent of contraception. Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in 1916, just as the angel first appeared to the children in Fatima. It was in the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, that the Supreme Court would strike down state laws prohibiting contraception.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI would intervene with the famous encyclical, Humanae Vitae, but in Confessionals around the world, priests were told to instruct penitents to allow their conscience to override the teachings of the Church. This had ramifications that would extend beyond contraception, in that Catholics would now find an open door to let their conscience override any of the teachings of the Church.
SMOKE OF SATAN
By 1972, Pope Paul VI recognized this explosion of evil in these times. In fact, on June 29, 1972 Pope Paul VI confirmed just that when he addressed his audience. He said, “It is as if from some mysterious crack, no, it is not mysterious, from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
The following year the infamous case of Roe v. Wade would legalize abortion in all states. In the very same year, on the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, on October 13, 1973, Our Lady of Akita, in an approved apparition in Japan, took this point further and gave us some idea how this “smoke” would take effect. She said, “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops…the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”
This is exactly what happened. In the years following the Council of Vatican II, the Deists among the clergy had gained such a foothold that they felt they were given carte blanche to completely revamp the Church. And so, the demolition of anything that points to the supernatural began. This has brought great division among clergy and laity … possibly not as much seen since the time of the Arian heresy of the 4th century.
Since the time of the French Revolution, Deists have called for this “revamping” or “updating” (Aggiornamento) … out with old, and in with the new. And so, the more common name given to them today is to say they are “modernists.” The heresy of Modernism holds that the Church must move with the cultural trends and changes of the times. Most modernists then hold that the Enlightenment (rejection of the supernatural) is a trend in which the Church must follow. However, I gave them another title I felt even more fitting …
Not too long ago, I wrote an article which posited that we are facing a monumental heresy in our times that equals or surpasses the greatest heresy of all times, which was Arianism. While Arianism openly denied the divinity of Christ, I called this modern heresy “Stealth Arianism.” St. John says, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). While not many today openly deny the divinity of Christ by their words, far too many deny His divinity by their actions.
“Over the past 50 years,” I wrote, “the Stealth Arians have done everything within their power to remove from our lived experience of Catholicism anything that would point to the divinity of Christ, and the supernatural quality of our faith. Everything has been stripped from our churches – sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music, and the sacred elements of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – and we are left in the barren desert of the banal. It is no wonder many Catholics think nothing of approaching the Most Holy Eucharist dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and grabbing the host like they’re reaching into a bag of chips. As Flannery O’Connor said, ‘If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ It’s more surprising that these individuals even bother to attend Mass at all.”
People are leaving religion in droves because it’s not religion anymore.
It’s become a charity with meetings on Sundays, and the problem is modernism. Modernism is the idea that the supernatural is out of date and unbelievable. The “de-mythologizers” tried to weed out all the miracles and supernatural elements from the gospels. For the last hundred years their influence has gained in seminaries and pulpits across the world.
Tales of the supernatural had to be removed. They didn’t fit with the modern world. Doctrines about devils and angels, heaven and hell had to be quietly excised from the faith because they were primitive and medieval and incredible to modern folk. Transubstantiation? A pious medieval philosophical explanation of what we all know is really symbolic. Supernatural revelation? No. Religion is all man made. Miracles? We know they don’t really happen.
Religious leaders–and I mean Catholics and Protestants alike–turned the Christian religion into an organization that does good works. Instead of the wondrous bread of heaven they were content to hand out Wonder Bread. Instead of the feeding of the five thousand they spoke about the “real miracle” being the fact that everyone shared their lunch.
All the religious talk stayed in place but it was re-interpreted. Father Wooly and Pastor Fuzzy proclaimed on Easter Day, “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” but what they meant was “in some way the wonderful teachings of Jesus continued to be believed by his faithful followers. They said every Sunday that they believed in the Virgin Birth but what they meant was that “Mary was a very nice girl who was very courageous as she went through with her crisis pregnancy.” And so forth. And so on.
For Catholics? The necessity of the sacraments and a life of repentance and faith? Nah.
You only had to go to Mass if you really wanted to. Lay people who were married were just as able to be holy as priests and nuns. Confession? That’s only for people with low self esteem. Marriage? We can be flexible on that. It’s all about mercy after all.
Well, people aren’t dumb.
They concluded that if religion was really only about peace and justice and social work, then why did one have to get up early and go to church and sing dreary hymns and listen to a long, badly prepared homily by an uncomfortably over fed windbag? Why go to church anyway? If it was really only about social work, then why the early weekend pep talk with music? Why not sleep in?
The unfortunate reality is that the modern campaign of militant secular indoctrination (rejecting the supernatural) has been so severe that only a dwindling remnant remains who believes or trusts in God’s supernatural power. As a result, the spiritual hearts of many are reduced to the size of a thimble, only capable of receiving a few meager drops, if any, from the wellspring of God’s graces (Rev 22:1-2). In spiritual terms, this makes us puny and scrawny rather than strong and powerful mighty warriors ready to confront the powers of darkness in the heavenly realm. With so many modernized Christians ignoring the reality of grace, it is no wonder that evil is thriving in our day.
In speaking of the need for a New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI said, “the true problem of our times is the ‘Crisis of God,’ the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity” … a kind of lukewarm, going through the motions of one’s faith, which ends up collapsing completely. The terrible consequence of this war on the supernatural is seen in the epidemic of spiritual sloth in our times — hearts deadened to the Divine Life of God.
HOW DO WE RECLAIM SURRENDERED GROUND?
I don’t know about you, but I believe there is enough here to tell us that we must act NOW. Who knows what 2017 will bring (I believe it may be a chastisement), but I want to be found doing something to counteract this 100 year demonic campaign to reject the supernatural … something substantial that reclaims *A HUGE AMOUNT* of surrendered ground!! Sure, there are long-term strategies that are important and necessary, but I believe there are immediate steps we can take to expose our people to “reverence” and “the sacred” … assisting them to, once again, believe in the supernatural.
Here’s what I am doing …
I began monthly (Sept. to May) “Evenings of Reflection” for men about 10 years ago, and now we have recently added an additional monthly evening for women. These evenings then became the inspiration for the new movement, headed by Cardinal Burke, entitled, “The Holy League.”
Along with St. Pope John Paul II, we felt it was important to “Rekindle Eucharistic Amazement.” And so these monthly evenings include Eucharistic Adoration.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote,
Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with Him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself.
In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration.
I cannot count the stories of those who have broken through to a new and deeper level of faith by way of Eucharistic Adoration. YES, it is a supernatural encounter, and there is something profound that moves the soul when they encounter our Eucharistic Lord in that golden monstrance, with swirls of incense, chanted Latin hymns, and surrounded by those who kneel in silence before Him. Any “taking for granted” we may have done during Mass is halted in this beautiful and traditional form of prayer. We simply must expose our people to supernatural realities!!
The Sacrament of Confession is offered throughout these Evenings of Reflection. St. Augustine tells us: “This very moment I may, if I desire, become the friend of God.” Indeed, the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God (Lk 15:32).
Every Evening of Reflection, we invite a different priest to come and offer a powerful teaching. We have even had the bishop here a few times. We invite these priests to “not hold back” … don’t be afraid of giving us the “best” of what is found in our Catholic faith. The topics have been incredible as we have explored such works as Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Fr. Gabriel of Mary Magdelen, Thomas Aquinas, and more. We have had topics such as Exorcisms, Sacramentals, The Devout Life, etc.. This past month, the Vicar General of our Diocese came to speak on “Discerning Spirits.” This is the place we come to “go deeper in our faith.”
The evening concludes with a social, that includes some kind of food and beverage. This is a great opportunity to make connections with our fellow Catholics.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!!
These Evenings of Reflection have born great fruit, and we wanted to share our experience with others. We felt this was a great place to form saints, and so we approached Cardinal Burke with the idea of fostering this format to spread in other parishes. Cardinal Burke’s first response was, “This is exactly what is needed today,” and he enthusiastically agreed to be the spiritual head of this movement.
We were inspired to give the name “The Holy League” to this movement, because it is akin to the raising of remnant armies from various nations that came together in 1571 for the Battle of Lepanto, under the spiritual leadership of St. Pope Pius V. The need is great today to raise an army of saints to battle against the forces contrary to God’s will in our times … especially those forces rejecting the supernatural.
If you and your parish would like to join this movement, simply go HERE to gain all the information you need.
Our Evenings of Reflection continue to mature. After a while, we developed the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola Cantorum, and we chant Solemn Vespers (something that may have to come after a time, for groups just starting out).
In the video below, here is Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z), with the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola Cantorum, chanting the Magnificat during Solemn Vespers.