Why this Pall of Silence
It has become more and more quiet with regard to everything that pertains to Fatima. At least this is true for many areas of the world. Nevertheless, truly Fatima-minded parishes still exist, parishes where the people come together to pray the Rosary daily and where the 13th day of the month (from May to October) is given special consideration.
Many Are Disappointed with Fatima
With what anticipation did not the people await the year 1960, when the so-called "secret of Fatima" was supposed to be revealed! …But nothing came of it, and hence people were disappointed. Actually, however, these people overlooked something very important, for the Bishop of Fatima had directed that a letter be sent to all the bishops of the world proposing that the 13th of October (1960) be observed as a worldwide day of prayer and penance. In many areas of the world, this appeal produced a hearty, responsive echo. What shall we deduce from all this? If the bishop read Sister Lucy's letter and found any predictions of disastrous nature, it is quite understandable that he would then have appealed to the bishops of the world, asking them to urge their faithful to prayer, and it could well be that the disaster predicted was postponed through prayer and penance. For we know that all predictions of impending punishment are contingent, that is, they will be imposed only if there is no repentance. Was it not thus in the case of Nineveh as described in the Bible? Jonas proclaimed the threat of punishment, but the people repented and so that specific prediction did not occur. Many people have acted just like Jonas, who was disturbed, since his role as prophet seemed to be undermined. What he had loudly proclaimed as a certain occurrence was thwarted by the penance of the Ninevites! Might not the present situation be similar? Indeed, too great a number of people were interested only in what was sensationally connected with the Fatima message. When that failed to materialize, they lost interest.
|Pope Pius XII was consecrated Bishop on May 13, 1917 at the very hour Our Lady first appeared at Fatima. He was pleased to be called "The Pope of Our Lady of Fatima". He particularly promoted during his pontificate belief in the Message of Our Lady of Fatima. After his death, the Vatican started its new Eastern European policy which culminated in the Vatican-Moscow Agreement. This agreement in effect caused many bishops to ignore and disobey Our Lady of Fatima. When Bishop Graber's talk was given, the Vatican-Moscow Agreement was not widely known but its effects were already being felt. See "Pope John Paul II Fears Bishops' Open Rebellion" in this issue.|
A Second Group of People
A second group of people who have disregarded the Fatima message were already characterized by Christ in these words: "Just as it was in the days of Noe, so will it be in the day of visitation of the Son of Man. For just as they continued to eat and drink, to marry and be given in marriage until the day Noe entered the ark, paying no heed until the deluge came and engulfed them, so shall it also be at the coming of the Son of Man." These are the people who, in an age of economic well-being, cast all warnings to the winds and exclaim: "Oh, why spread such gloomy predictions? No one today is interested in another war. Everyone knows, both in the East and the West, that there will be no victor in the next war, should anyone even be left alive at all." But these people forget that there is someone very much interested in driving mankind into another catastrophe, namely, satan. But it seems that no one believes in his existence, nor in an abode called hell. Let us ask ourselves whether we too have not also been somewhat taken in by such foolishness.
A Third Group
A third group of people who want no part of Fatima are extensive in number, and present themselves in various shades and categories.
To begin with, there exists the cliché: "It is only a private revelation," with which Fatima is lightly brushed aside. It is attached to everything connected with Fatima as a label. Any interest shown is countered with: "Why this continual reference to Fatima? After all, it is merely private revelation. I rely on the great biblical-apostolic revelation of God which ended with the death of the last apostle. To what purpose, then, all the commotion?"
Oh, yes, it is quite true that the great revelation of God ended with Christ and the Apostles, but this does not mean that God may no longer speak anywhere to us, His own people. Every communication from God is something tremendous and something holy, whether it be directed to a prophet of the Old Testament or to a peasant girl of our age, who can neither read nor write!
Moreover, did not the apostle Peter declare in his Pentecostal sermon that the Holy Spirit will be poured out over all flesh, that sons and daughters shall prophesy and that old men shall dream, and that even servants and handmaids shall receive of this spirit? And if these things were not to come to pass, what reliability would there be in the word of God?
Private revelations are merely instances of fulfillment of this pentecostal promise, fulfillment also of the promise of Christ that He would be with us all days, even unto the end of the world, fulfillment of the prophetic words: "I shall make a covenant with them and shall not cease to do good things for them."
A theologian of repute has furthermore pointed out that a careful distinction should be made between personal revelations directed solely toward the recipients of the message and those where the message is declared to be for mankind at large. The former can with equanimity be ignored, but the latter must be taken seriously, and Fatima belongs to this category..
If Russia Were Converted…
Is Fatima a matter of world concern or not? If Russia were converted now, as the message promises, would this not largely solve the political problems under which we suffer today? How many other difficulties would not also be solved if the tremendous sums spent annually in East and West for armaments would be used to alleviate the conditions of hunger and other deprivations in the underdeveloped areas of the world!
Why do we not imitate the example of the Israelites, as related in the Scriptures, when they caused the walls of Jericho to crumble through their prayers? Why do we place our trust again and again all too exclusively in diplomatic maneuvers and discussions and all sorts of political wishful dreaming, instead of applying the full might of prayer to break down the walls of separation here and throughout the world? All is possible to the man of faith, Christ told us. Is this still true, or isn't it?
Among those in the fourth group are the proponents of an exaggerated Christo-centrism, who believe that Christ must be kept all alone in a foreground position…. I have already quoted earlier a typical statement made by one of them: "We don't need any woman receptionist. We go directly to Christ."
Such a foolish and thoughtless statement indicates a lack of appreciation of the close unity which exists between Jesus and Mary. Anyone who has been on a Marian pilgrimage considers Confession and Holy Communion as a matter of course — the high point of the pilgrimage. We object to being classified as second class Christians because we are devotees of Mary. As a matter of fact, we are the actual Christocentrists, because veneration of Mary is ultimately directed to Christ, inasmuch as Her entire life and existence, all Her thoughts and feelings, were always concerned with Her Child, Jesus Christ, the Lord.
The Fifth Group
The fifth group, particularly to be mentioned in our present day, are the hyper-liturgists. I wish to make it perfectly clear and beyond all question that I most warmly welcome the liturgical developments of our day, inasmuch as the Council has brought to fruition what we in our youthful activities of the twenties already had considered to be one of the most lofty goals to be achieved.
However, let us also face the evident fact that the use of the vernacular instead of Latin and the definitive separation of the Liturgy of the Word from that of the Eucharist has not brought good Catholics to church more often. Moreover, this liturgical innovation has given little evidence of any interior renewal, which was designated as the true aim of the Council.
The objective piety manifested in the Liturgy also requires a subjective piety in union with it. Extra-liturgical prayer forms are also very necessary, such as the Holy Rosary, Way of the Cross and the deeply moving, humanly appealing, Marian devotion.
It is high time that we also stop being irritated when our older generation of people still seek satisfaction as they have done heretofore in these forms…
God is not limited to the purest liturgical forms. And have we ever given serious thought to the lofty praise rendered to Mary in the Liturgy? How often is Her name mentioned in the Mass, and how many feasts are designed to honor Her precisely in virtue of the Liturgy? It is an absurdity to tear apart today what God has joined together. Christ and Mary simply belong together! And similarly also, the Liturgy and Mary!
The above groups are the main ones, though not the only ones, which provide the basic reasons for the lack of appreciation for things Marian, and particularly regarding Fatima, which is so prevalent today. But let us not be dissuaded! We find ourselves in good company! None other than the Holy Father himself (Paul VI) rendered a most eminent acknowledgment of Fatima, more beautiful and profound than we might have wished, at the close of the Council, climaxing his words by sending the Golden Rose to Fatima and renewing the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary….
Living the Consecration Necessary
Mary has asked us to do many things of a prayerful nature at Fatima, such as recitation of the Rosary, observing the First Saturdays of Reparation, Consecration to Her Immaculate Heart. But She made it clear beyond any doubt that the most important thing was the "metanoia", the conversion of heart, repentance, or as the Council phrased it, interior renewal. Hence, living the Consecration means living an exemplary Christian life, particularly in its social, communal aspect, in a manifestation of kindness and generosity, pursuing compassion, and forgiving love….
I close my discourse to you by recounting the noteworthy dream of St. John Bosco, who saw two fleets engaged in combat on the high seas, one being directed by the Pope. Two towers with lights then came forth from the sea. Over one tower hovered the Immaculate, over the other hovered the Eucharist. Those ships were saved which managed to reach safe harbor aided by the guidance and protection afforded by the pathway between these two towers. This dream has a great significance for our times and indicates to us where our security lies — the Eucharist and the Mother of God! If we, too, direct our ship of life between these towers, we shall surely reach safely the eternal shore.
Excerpts from a discourse given by Bishop Rudolph Graber of Regensburg, Germany in the Capuchin church of Vilsbiburg, on the 13th of June 1965, as recorded in the German publication Das Betende Volk, (The Praying People).