Tag Archives: Fatima

People didn’t anticipate the decisive action of God – no change there then!

What always strikes me about Mary is the hidden-ness, the anonymity of all that’s happening; the unseen but nonetheless huge activity of God. Get that; on the one hand God is hugely active in human affairs, on the other it’s unseen. That’s something of the power of God, the genius of God.

Unseen and unrecognized for 9 months within the womb of Mary apart from the few, the hidden-ness of his birth apart from the few, thereafter the years of hidden-ness from new born infant to toddler, from early to middle to late childhood, from adolescence to early adulthood, completely hidden apart from the few, right up to his public ministry when he just launched into public life out of what seemed to most to be out of nowhere.

But it wasn’t out of nowhere, was it? The people were just in a different living space!

Then when he launches himself publicly – apparently “out of nowhere” – he is met by the twin responses of unbelief and belief, unbelief that varied from indifference to incredulity to outright and open hostility; and belief that was so slow to grasp the full implications of Jesus life and teaching. We still struggle to grasp it because it’s just so big.

But none of this was out of nowhere because for several decades God had been hugely active under the radar. That hasn’t changed!

Furthermore, it wasn’t out of the blue for some; some were close enough to God to have been allowed to glimpse at least something of the magnitude of what was happening. Nonetheless, such was the magnitude of all that Jesus was claiming – about himself and the “next” world – that the people struggled to grasp it. It was just too big for their little minds. This too hasn’t changed!

This is familiar ground because Mary has been hugely active in recent centuries just as she was in the beginning, and we’re every bit as unsuspecting. She’s been so – so – active but you’d never know!

Lourdes in and for the 19th century.

Fatima in and for the 20th century.

Medugorje in and for the 21st century.

Remember, these are not just places of pilgrimage – each was given for it’s time.

When all that Medugorje is prophesying begins to unfold in world history it’ll seem to many to have been as equally hidden in its preparation and as unexpected and dramatic in its arrival. It will seem to have come out of nowhere and the responses of unbelief and belief will be largely the same.

But nothing of all this will be out of the blue because it’s right here, right now, under our noses.

The only thing that’s out of the blue, out of synch so to speak, is the human ego!

So the sky didn’t fall when we repealed the 8th.

A recent documentary commented that the sky didn’t fall when a majority voted to repeal the 8th.

I was fascinated that such a comment was even included.

A car window sticker from the failed campaign to save the 8th Amendment

I have no doubt that we’ll pay a heavy price for abortion procured as a human right. It is more offence added to offence that God already carries. How much offence would you carry before turning? Why are you like that? I put it to you that you’re reflecting eternity. God is profoundly gracious but anyone who thinks that there’ll be no cost – that we’re freeloading – is delusional. We do not live in a meaningless universe.

Even mercy costs. Just try hugging the person who has hurt you. Recently I listened intently to a man sharing on live radio how he was struggling with the release from prison of the person who’d taken the life of his daughter. The man’s struggle illustrates the cost of mercy and is a reflection of the eternal, the sometimes crucifying cost.

The God-given answer to all that offends God – and the universe itself – is a single word; repent. Make mercy a little less crucifying!

The matter is much more nuanced than a distant God giving the order that the sky should fall. It doesn’t work like that.

Besides, if we could connect cause and effect as easily as the comment suggests – we repealed today and the next day, or some days later, the sky fell – we’d be devoid of free will and belief would be inevitable.

Christianity, like God, is incarnational. We are the weeds and wheat or the barren tree that’s cut down, or spared. The teaching of Jesus always becomes our flesh, it becomes our lived experience.

The best illustration of how the sky actually falls is found in the message of Fatima. Our Lady told the 3 children that if people did not stop offending God another war – a more terrible war, World War II – would break out.

It’s a classic example of how God works; three children who couldn’t read or write rather than the best minds of the time know where the world is heading!

There are roughly 20 years between the events at Fatima and the start of World War II. That’s 20 years for humanity to change – to repent – to heed the message of Fatima and prevent World War II, to prevent the “sky falling” so to speak. I suspect that with each passing year it became a little more difficult to turn back, a little more unlikely.

Fatima teaches us that we decide – the people decide – if there’s war or peace and it is determined by our relationship with the divine.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falling” is generational, it unfolds gradually over decades, and perhaps longer, incrementally, just as World War II was many decades in the making and dragged several generations into its horror.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falls” through human agents and activity, through cultural, socio-economic and political developments just as Hitler and World War II developed within the cultural, socio-economic and political situation in Germany and Europe at the time.

Fatima teaches us that the “sky falls” from within human history, that it falls as a result of the somewhat mysterious work of the power of sin, befriended and endorsed within the body of humanity; it teaches us that this unchecked sin, enfleshed in our history, was the real driving force behind Hitler’s rise to power and World War II.

Above all else, Fatima teaches us that offending God without turning back, without repentance, always creates hell, both in time and in eternity.

Ultimately Fatima teaches us that the sky does indeed fall.

Medugorje – the fulfillment of Fatima

Every moment is in God’s hands, but it’s texture and substance is determined by us.

In this moment I want to draw your attention to Medugorje and to say simply but forcefully; pay attention to Medugorje.

Pay attention because it marks out the future of the world, it paints a picture of our common future.

It does so in much the same way as Fatima did, in broad strokes. Very broad strokes, and we fill in the finer details.

Fatima painted a picture of the world over a period of 100 years – from 1917 through to the millennium and the following years.

In Fatima Our Lady entrusted 3 secrets to the children.

Firstly, and perhaps many will find it very odd, Our Lady showed the children a vision of hell. The vision confirmed that there is ultimate Justice. I’ll return to this in another blog.

Secondly, Our Lady warned of a future war – World War II – that would break out “if people do not stop offending God” and of Russia spreading error – the error is not so much Communism as the unbelief that goes with it.

Thirdly, the vision of a man dressed in white (the children understood it was a future Pope) climbing a mountain, on the way he passes through a City in ruins, and reaching a Cross, he’s shot.

World War II unfolded with devastating consequences (more than 60 million people perished in World War II).

Unbelief – atheism – has a very strong foothold.

The City in ruins is the Church and the man who is shot is Pope John Paul II.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Fatima, which is to say Heaven prophesied a broad picture of the world and the Church we’ve become familiar with, but if you listen to our self-talk, even the self-talk of believers, we speak as if we never heard a word of this. Quite simply, we haven’t been paying attention.

But Fatima also prophesied that “in the end” the Immaculate Heart will triumph.

As John Paul II recovered he asked for the Fatima documents to be brought to his hospital bed.

When he fully recovered he had the bullet that almost killed him encased in the crown of the statue of Our Lady in Fatima.

Shortly after John Paul II was shot the apparitions began in Medugorje.

Just as Fatima painted a broad picture of the past 100 years so Medugorje is now painting a picture of the next 50-100 years.

Medugorje provides the broad contours of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

Pay attention – it’s our common future.

In my next blog I’ll consider the significance of the Medugorje secrets.

Salvation history; stumbling from one crisis to another!

Crisis ImageIn the First Reading (2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23) we find the great themes of salvation history – themes that are always unfolding as humankind stumbles with ever more sophistication from one crisis to the next!

We’re told that the whole of society was busy adding “infidelity after infidelity” and that God sent messengers repeatedly “since he wished to spare his people” but the people wouldn’t listen, their responses varied from ridicule, to despising, to laughing at both the messenger and the message. Same old, same old, isn’t it? There’s a sense in which nothing changes at all. We know best, we’ll do it our way, and where does it end? We stumble with ever more sophistication from one crisis to another!

The Gospel makes it clear that Jesus of Nazareth is the Saviour of the world, and that his purpose is not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:14-21). How will he save the world? He’ll draw the world to himself one heart at a time. This of course means that Christianity and Catholicism can’t be private.

But what happens if the world refuses to come to Jesus Christ? Is there a flip side? Absolutely. Initially nothing happens that’s immediately perceptible. In other words the claim that the sky doesn’t fall down holds true. There’s no sudden crash! Instead, cut off from God the human heart is slowly desensitized over a period of a century, more or less, one small step at a time, each step facilitating the next, which in turn facilitates individuals, sometimes groups of people, and sometimes even a particular nation to wreak havoc. Ultimately, the world can find itself facing horrors such as those that unfolded during World War II.

In the bible this is what’s known as God’s punishment. God’s punishment comes in the form of social, political and economic policies, policies that arise from hearts divorced from God. It’s what we’re doing. What I do matters, it might influence you to do the same, and you might influence somebody else – eventually everybody is doing it! Then the world is changed and the path is cleared for the next change. The world is changed one heart at a time. This means that God is the God of history but that each one of us is contributing to and determining the future of all. History doesn’t happen by chance or just bad luck, history is determined by the relationship of the human heart to God.

While this slow descent is occurring God will send messengers but the messengers are almost always ridiculed, despised and laughed at – or simply ignored. Only when life is so bad that there’s nowhere perceived as ‘better’ to go do people begin to listen to these messengers. The point I want you to note is that this process is happening now. There’s never a point in history when it’s not happening.

Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In a surprise move Pope Francis has declared a Holy Year of Mercy beginning December 08th 2015 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In a surprise move Pope Francis has declared a Holy Year of Mercy beginning December 08th 2015 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

So, what do these messengers look like? How do we recognize them? The answer is; with great difficulty!

In Fatima almost one hundred years ago these messengers came as 3 children. But what do we know about Fatima? How much attention have we given it? A little later there’s St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy – what do we know about that? We’re now in the time of Mercy – we’ve been there for quite some time. It’ll be followed by Justice. Divine Mercy always precedes Divine Justice. Later there’s Padre Pio? We might know a little about Pio. Later again, there’s Pope John Paul II, then Benedict XVI, but how much attention have we given apart from what the media has told us? Now we have Pope Francis – who has just declared 2016 to be a Holy Year of Divine Mercy.

It’s not difficult to see that the great themes of salvation history also apply to us, right here, right now, that they’re unfolding even as I speak and that we’re all caught up in it.

We’ll summarize everything I’m saying when we come to pray the Our Father. We don’t pray; thy kingdom come, thy will be done in heaven only. No! We pray; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s kingdom, God’s rule over the human heart is for the future of the earth. Heaven is well able to look after itself!

Fatima: God is very democratic!

Pope Benedict XVI visits Fatima, May 2010.

Pope Benedict XVI visits Fatima, May 2010.

I’ve always been fascinated by the details of Fatima.

While watching the various DVDs about Fatima it becomes very obvious that this attempted intervention of God in human affairs caused great suffering; for the children and their parents and for the local ecclesiastical and civil authorities.

Having watched the DVDs it’s the trauma caused by the apparitions that jumps from the screen. What was it all for? What did Our Lady and ultimately God want to achieve? The answer takes most people by surprise.

Firstly, Our Lady asked that people stop offending God. So much trouble just for that! One must conclude therefore that offending God is a very serious matter.

Secondly, as if to emphasize the point, Our Lady then went on to request reparation, the repair of the hurt caused to the heart of God by human offences.

How are we to do that?

Papa17This is very striking. We are to appreciate Holy Mass. We are to partake of the Eucharist, to believe, adore, trust and love her Son Jesus Christ truly present there. Fatima clearly indicates, without room for doubt, that neglect of Holy Mass and the proper worship of the Blessed Sacrament amounts to neglect of the person and the work of Jesus Christ, and causes great suffering in the Heart of God. When working with children (using an animated DVD) I always remind them that when the Angel came to visit the children in Fatima, the Angel didn’t come with a can of coca cola and a bag of crisps! No, the Angel came with the Sacred Host and a Chalice. Why? Because that’s how God decided to remain with his people. In the message of Fatima the Eucharist is central because God intended Eucharist to be central until the end of time. The Eucharist is God-self and God’s work in Jesus Christ – it can’t be any more central than that!

Furthermore Our Lady taught the children to offer sacrifices (particularly the difficulties and sufferings of life) in reparation. This is a common theme in the lives of all the great Saints – they offered their sufferings in reparation while working tirelessly to relieve the suffering of others.

Reparation sounds difficult but it’s not – not even for children. Again, when working with children I ask them to imagine if one of them clobbered me. Then I ask them to imagine another child apologizing on behalf of my attacker and offering to make a cup of tea for me; one child is hurting me, the other is making reparation, trying to repair the damage.

But the full meaning of Fatima goes much further and connects the state of human affairs directly to humankind’s relationship with God.

During the apparition of July 13th Our Lady said that if people do not stop offending God another and more terrible war will break out – obviously meaning the Second World War.

We understand the Second World War to have been the result of Hitler coming to power in Germany. However, Our Lady suggests that the Second World War happened as a result of people offending God. In other words, when we choose against God we choose to put in place a chain of events that eventually, ultimately, causes great suffering to ourselves, to the body of humanity.

Thus during the 20 odd years between the world wars people are given ample opportunity to change or set the course of world events. This of course makes God very democratic – certainly not a dictator or a tyrant. We’re free to choose life or death, good or evil. We make the choices. At the very least Fatima implies that humankind’s well-being depends on an intimate Communion between the creature and the Creator.

Now, if offending God or otherwise determines our common human future then there arises a critically important question; what kind of a future are we creating for our children?

Indeed we might ask; what kind of a future are we creating for Irish children when a religious ethos is considered to have no place in the schools of a modern republic?

More generally, what hope is there for a culture that attempts to exclude religion from public life?

Corpus Christi and Fatima; the centrality of Mass in God’s design.

Corpus Christi: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The whole mystery of God – from Christmas to Easter and beyond – packaged and given to us to be opened… plundered.

This is how God becomes ‘concrete’ in time, how he becomes personal, how he enters our lives…

This then is the big one!

But unfortunately for us (and it will be unfortunate!) in our day we’ve lost the importance of Mass. So, during the week I gave some thought to how I might register the cosmic significance of the Mass – even that’s understating it! Eventually I settled on using the events in Fatima to stress the centrality of the Mass in God’s design.

There’s a little known detail about Fatima that is so instructive in this regard. Shortly before the appearances of Our Lady in Fatima in 1917 an angel appeared to the three children. But the angel didn’t come empty handed.

The angel carried a host and a chalice in his hands… blood spilled from the host into theAngel of Fatima Image chalice. The children instantly recognized the host and the chalice as the central elements of the Mass.

Let’s stop at this point to reflect.

Why didn’t the angel bring a can of coke and a packet of crisps? Why not a glass of beer and a steak burger from the BBQ?

Then the angel did something even more instructive. Leaving the host and the chalice suspended in mid-air, the angel prostrated himself (bowed down before) the suspended host and chalice, taught the children to do the same, on their knees with their foreheads touching the ground and taught them a prayer.

Let’s stop again.

Why didn’t the angel say they should surf the waves on a Sunday morning and find God there? Or climb a mountain? Or go for a walk or a 10 kilometre run?

Why? Because God has chosen the way in which he gives himself – in bread and wine, the Mass!

Let’s look at the prayer, it’s equally instructive.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly. I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which you are offended. Through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

“Holy Trinity” (last Sunday); “Body and Blood… present in all the tabernacles” (today, Corpus Christi); “Sacred Heart” (next Friday) – there’s reason to these things, order!

Of all the prayers the angel could have taught, why this prayer?

The immediate purpose of Fatima was to prevent World War II – Our Lady told the children in 1917 that if people didn’t stop offending God a more terrible war would break out…

There’s a basic spiritual principle to be extracted here – the rejection of God (in other words the acceptance of sin) always ends in the figure of a crucified humanity. The rule of sin always leads to ruin.

I’ll finish with a question; according to the events that occurred in Fatima how important is the Mass?

FATIMA, RELIGION IN SCHOOL AND OUR COMMON FUTURE

For many years now I’ve been troubled by the quality of the religion programme taught in primary school, the Alive O programme, particularly when it comes to sacramental preparation. However, it’s possible that the greater problem is the prevailing culture and I’m misappropriating responsibility. As a direct result I have developed my own programme of preparation for First Communion and Confirmation as a supplement to the ongoing work of the school.

It consists of meeting the children once, sometimes twice weekly. While together – with at least one other adult present (the teacher) – we view DVDs about Fatima, Lourdes, St. Margaret Mary, St. Pio, St. Faustina and Blessed John Paul.

This is followed by a children’s Mass on Sunday mornings. I usually tell the parents: Holy Mass is for the children – the homily is for the parents!

As a young seeker of Truth I was struck by the details of Fatima and my recent work has simply brought Fatima to the forefront of my thoughts once again.

While watching the various DVDs about Fatima it becomes very obvious that this attempted intervention of God in human affairs caused great suffering; for the children and their parents and for the local ecclesiastical and civil authorities.

Having watched the DVDs I generally point to the trauma caused in Fatima and ask; what was it all for? What did Our Lady and ultimately God want to achieve?

The answer takes most people by surprise.

Firstly, Our Lady asked that people stop offending God. So much trouble just for that! One must conclude therefore that offending God is a very serious matter.

Secondly, as if to emphasize the point, Our Lady then went on to request reparation, the repair of the hurt caused to the heart of God by human offences.

How are we to do that?

This is very striking. We are to appreciate Holy Mass. We are to partake of the Eucharist, to believe, adore, trust and love her Son Jesus Christ truly present there. Fatima clearly indicates, without room for doubt, that neglect of Holy Mass and the proper worship of the Blessed Sacrament amounts to neglect of the person and the work of Jesus Christ, and causes great suffering in the Heart of God. I always remind the kids that when the Angel came to visit the children in Fatima, the Angel didn’t come with a can of coca cola and a bag of crisps! No, the Angel came with the Sacred Host and a Chalice. Why? Because that’s how God decided to remain with his people. In the message of Fatima the Eucharist is central because God intended Eucharist to be central until the end of time. The Eucharist is God-self and God’s work in Jesus Christ – it can’t be any more central than that!

Furthermore Our Lady taught the children to offer sacrifices (particularly the difficulties and sufferings of life) in reparation. This is a common theme in the lives of all the great Saints – they offered their sufferings in reparation while working tirelessly to relieve the suffering of others.

I explain reparation by asking the children to imagine if one of them clobbered me. Then I ask them to imagine another child apologising on behalf of my attacker and offering to make a cup of tea; one child is hurting me, the other is making reparation, trying to repair the damage.

But the full meaning of Fatima goes much further and connects the state of human affairs directly to humankind’s relationship with God.

During the apparition of July 13th Our Lady said that if people do not stop offending God another and more terrible war will break out – obviously meaning the Second World War.

We understand the Second World War to have been the result of Hitler coming to power in Germany. However, Our Lady suggests that the Second World War happened as a result of people offending God. In other words, when we choose against God we choose to put in place a chain of events that eventually, ultimately, causes great suffering to ourselves, to the body of humanity.

Thus during the 20 odd years between the world wars people are given ample opportunity to change or set the course of world events. This of course makes God very democratic – certainly not a dictator or a tyrant. We’re free to choose life or death, good or evil. We make the choices. At the very least Fatima implies that humankind’s well-being depends on an intimate Communion between the creature and the Creator.

Now, if offending God or otherwise determines our common human future then there arises a critically important question, a question I place before every parent presenting a child for sacraments in 2012 – what kind of a future are we creating for our children?

Indeed we might ask; what kind of a future are we creating for Irish children when religious ethos is considered to have no place in the schools of a modern republic?

More generally, what hope is there for a culture that attempts to exclude religion from public life?