Here are the thoughts that came to me during Holy Mass on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
One hundred years ago, on May 13, 1917 Our Lady of Fatima said these words to the Little Shepherds:
“I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour. Later I shall say who I am and what I desire. And I shall return here yet a seventh time.”
I have meditated often on that promise of Our Lady of Fatima. In fact, Fatima was in my thoughts most of this month. On Sunday, I went to Mass thinking we were close to the octave of the Miracle of the Sun. A friend of mine sent me a link to Professor De Mattei’s conference Fatima 100 Years later – A Marian call for the whole Church which I found extremely interesting. Later I found a connection between the scriptures read at Mass, a piece of Russian history, and the message of Our Lady of Fatima. The Mass readings began with Psalm 16: 6-8.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
I thought: “Lord, give me counsel” and the reader continued to Isaiah 45:1-6.
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him and ungird the loins of kings,
to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:
“I will go before you and level the mountains,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the LORD,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God;
I gird you, though you do not know me,
that men may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe,
I am the LORD, who do all these things.
This prophecy deals with the liberation of Israel by the anointed of God, King Cyrus the Persian, who came out of nowhere in History to conquer Babylon and liberate the Jews. His name was uttered by Isaiah half a century before he was even born when Babylon was an unconquerable power.
Then followed the New Testament reading, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5;
We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
And a selection from Philippians 2: 25-16;
“You shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.”
Struggling under oppression, shining as a light to the world we wait for the glorious day of liberation. All of that makes perfect sense but then came the Gospel Reading from Matthew 22:15-21;
Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle him in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away.
There is so much to extract from that short passage. The Pharisees thought of a perfect way to get Jesus in trouble with the Romans but they could not execute it themselves. Because they could not carry the image of Caesar due to religious prohibitions, they were allowed to coin their own money without any forbidden image on it. However, those belonging to the party of Herod were not as scrupulous, so the Pharisees called a truce – for they were enemies and they despised each other – and asked the Herodians to do the dirty deed.
Read again and see the mellifluous introduction filled with false praise. What they were saying was true, Jesus is true, he is a perfect teacher, and he cares not for the powers of this world of darkness. The idea was to get Jesus in a bind – either with the Romans who collected the odious taxes, or with the people who hated to pay taxes – Jesus asked them for a coin and they produced a shiny piece of silver with the image of Caesar … The image was (for the Pharisees) a violation of the prohibition to make idols. They were right. Caesar claimed to be a god and his very title was added to his name: Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, etc. The title implied ownership and divinity. Caesar was the owner of everything in the Roman Empire, even the lives of his subjects who lived under his gracious protection. The origins of the title are not certain but “Caesar” quickly acquired a new meaning and was forever associated with divine power and total wealth, like the wealth of the State. More modern titles like Kaiser, Tsar or Czar are nothing more than local variations of the original Roman title.
We can imagine the scene, Jesus looking at the image of Caesar on that coin, the true God contemplating the face of a false god and asking: “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They responded, “Caesar”. It became obvious at that point that the tricksters were blind enough not to see that they had the Son of Man in front of them, the very Image of the Living God, the Maker of them all, including Caesar. The sharp response – “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” – hit them like a rock. The entire world was divided into two camps by the Logos, the Word of God: “When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away.” They belonged to Caesar, they had no business standing next to those who belong to Jesus. The tricksters were tricked and had to go away defeated leaving the Shepherd alone with his followers. “And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The image is a perfect parable of Our Lord’s mission.
From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone. And the rest were slain by the sword of Him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. Revelation 19: 15-21
The Herodians – the followers of the Edomite usurper of the throne of David – got a foretaste of the sword issuing from the Messiah’s mouth that day.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4: 11-13.
The context of the scene depicted in the Gospel of Matthew helps us understand what is going on. Picture this: Caesar — whose image is nothing but a little coin in the hands of that One Who is the Image of God — is an usurper. The followers of Caesar are blind in their opposition to God’s Kingdom, they resist it with all their strength. The “angel standing in the sun” brings into mind the Miracle of the Sun, and the apparitions of Fatima. There Caesar plays a part but he is concealed inside one phrase of Our Lady: “the error of Russia” – be patient because the connection is coming.
Dom Prosper Guéranger writes in his book, The Christian Sense of History:
“Man has been called by God to a supernatural destiny, this is his end; the history of humanity must offer testimony to this.”
In his conference Professor De Mattei commented insightfully:
“Fatima reminds us that history must be judged not on the basis of criteria of a geopolitical or socio-economic nature, but from God’s point of view, since history is a creature, and as such, is ordered to the glory of God. The Revelation of Fatima is therefore a theology of history which has as its object, God’s supernatural plan in the history of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
That “theology of history” is perfectly condensed in the story of Jesus and the Herodians. They represent the parties of the usurpers of power (Herod and his followers) but they are also running an errand for the Pharisees who are religious usurpers. They are divided among them but they are united in their opposition to Jesus who is the rightful King and Priest “in the manner of Melchizedek”. In their foolishness they attempt to trick God out of creation trying to harness the divine power under their control. The whole thing is pure madness. T. S. Elliot gave us a modern insight into the contemporary shape of their madness in his work Thoughts After Lambeth, written in 1931.
“The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.”
The apparition of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal ended only a few days before Lenin and his thugs managed to grab power in Russia, eventually killing the royal family after installing a Communist dictatorship. While no one would dispute that Communism was and is a hellish abomination causing enormous damage to the hapless people that fall under their control, I dare to advance the idea that Communism is merely que quintessence, the refined version of evils that have been brewing in the world for a long time.
A Russian Tzar who rejected God’s counsel
The first wife of Basil III, Tzar of Russia, could not bear children. For that reason the Tzar got rid of her and married his mistress, Elena Glinskaya and from this union was born the prince who would later be Ivan the Terrible. St. Maximus the Greek prophesied to the Tzar of Russia in this way:
“O most devoted Tsar, honored as the true monarch who works to establish the lives of his subjects in righteousness and justice, who has always succeeded in overcoming lust and the low passions of his soul. He knows that those who are slaves of his passions are not the living image of the Heavenly Master but a crude image of the raw nature. “
The Tzar, anxious perhaps to father an heir, foolishly ignored the hint of the good Patriarch. He was trying to establish a dynasty without the blessing of God in the same manner that the present rulers of the world are trying to establish a non-Christian world order. That moved another Patriarch, Mark of Jerusalem to give him, from a respectable distance, the following warning:
“If you do this iniquity, you will have an evil son. Your kingdom will be filled with terrors and tears. Rivers of blood will flow; the heads of the nobles will fall; your cities will be devoured by fire. “
We need not remind the horrified reader that the Tsar begot his prince and what followed, the fulfillment of that prophecy, can be read in any book of Russian history. Ivan was crowned 370 years before the October Revolution. Those four centuries saw the fulfillment of the terrible prophecy with no less terrible accuracy. The dynasty born of that decision of Basil III ended when the Romanov were killed by the Communist hordes. The Great War and the Spanish Influenza ended the lives of millions, including two of the Little Shepherds. What followed was the start of a very unstable new European order that would give us total war, nuclear weapons, the new morality, and other apocalyptic woes. The scent of the end of the world spread over the earth on the day that the Romanov dynasty was extinguished but in a distant land, news would emerge announcing another Rex Terribilis, the King of Kings who will one day come to reclaim his stolen kingdom.
At Fatima, Portugal, the Virgin Mary appeared to the Little Shepherds and spoke to them about Russia, the errors of Russia, and how she desired that nation to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Everything is connected, as we shall see later. Russia has been chosen by the Virgin Mary to play a special role in the final battle to recover the “stolen vineyard” of which Christ spoke in the parable of the evil vintners. The error of Russia, in my opinion, goes back to the lack of faith of Basil III who established his dynasty through an odious divorce — the fruit of his hard and wicked heart — to which he added disobedience to the just warnings of God through his prophets. Thus, Russia and the world would suffer in the centuries to come because the darkness of that act opened the doors to the evil that gradually scattered throughout the world with such awful consequences.
Our Lady of Fatima spoke of the annihilation of nations if her wishes were not obediently fulfilled. Through the Little Shepherds, she asked the Pope to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with all the bishops of the world. Certainly entire nations are being annihilated already as the number of abortions grows by millions year after year. The wave of disobedience that emerged from the so-called German Reformation paved the way for the arrival of major evils, such as the French Revolution, Marxism, Darwinism, Fascism, Communism and finally the conquest of half the world by the Soviet Union that brought several decades of more suffering and oppression to Russia and the world behind the Iron Curtain.
For us in the West, or what is left of it, the evil wave has come with a series of persecutions that made the last hundred years the bloodiest in the history of Christianity. Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict spoke of a “blood ecumenism” as they contemplated the way Christians of all kinds were exterminated by anti-Christian hordes regardless of whether they were Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, or even sectarian in one form or another. The odium fidei makes no distinction of creeds. Bearing the name of Christ suffices to be martyred.
Now we know that Our Lady of Fatima was perfectly accurate when she uttered this prophecy after showing the Little Seers a view of the horrors of Hell:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
And then she prescribed the remedy:
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. […] Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Why the Immaculate Heart?
Going back to that portion of Matthew 22 we notice that before responding to the trick question of his enemies, Jesus examined them, being as he was “aware of the malice” contained in their hearts. When condemning divorce in Matthew 19:8, “He said to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. ” In Mark 2:5-8, Jesus heals a man by forgiving his sins but the religious men present there question his forgiving of sins. Although they say nothing, Jesus gives them proof of his divine origin by reading their thoughts:
He said to the sick man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Some teachers of the Law were sitting there. They thought to themselves, “Why does this Man talk like this? He is speaking as if He is God! Who can forgive sins? Only One can forgive sins and that is God!” At once Jesus knew the teachers of the Law were thinking this. He said to them, “Why do you think this in your hearts?
The Immaculate Heart of Mary was beating together with Jesus’ heart at the time of her miraculous pregnancy. She is perfectly pure in God’s eyes. Of course no one on earth knows exactly how the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary would bring peace to the world. Allow me to compare the situation to that described in Isaiah 6:4-7,
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.”
I dare to say that the Immaculate Heart can sanctify Russia for a very important mission in the same way that the Seraphic angel purified the prophet with the coals of the Holy Altar of God. Then it follows logically that the heart of Our Blessed Mother is (with the only exception of Jesus Himself) the highest and purest sacrifice ever dedicated to the Almighty. If a mere hot coal could purify Isaiah, is there anything in this world that the Immaculate Heart of Mary cannot make holy? Certainly Russia, extending over 6.6 million square miles, is the world’s largest country by landmass. That is not a challenge for a heavenly heart filled with the grace of God. Russia can be and will be sanctified for the mission that Our Lady has in mind for her. If something so big as Russia can be sanctified then the whole world can also be made whole by the maternal love of Mary.
Purposeful disobedience and rebellion on the part of Basil III were at the beginning of the long chain of events that led to the October Revolution but Mary was there months in advance to select three pure hearts that would reflect her own, and warn mankind of the impending perils of the age. The Bishops of the whole world have failed so far to consecrate Russia in a clear manner. We do not know for certain what lies ahead for Russia but the signs of conversion are many at this hour and that gives us hope. T. S. Elliot was right.: evil has to run its course and we must be patient but more than patient we must be hopeful. To maintain the flame of the faith alive in our hearts is our own personal responsibility, an obligation of love. We can consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart. This site and the hands that are typing this article are thus consecrated, and expecting hopefully the promised purification, the era of peace, and the blessed day promised by Our Lady to the Little Shepherds:
“I shall return here yet a seventh time.”
Come to your loving children, Mother.