Monday, 8 October 2012

FATIMA Our Lady's Urgent Call for the Recitation of The Rosary pt 1. By REV. BERTRAND LARKIN, O.P.

The object of this booklet is to make more accessible, the path of the wonderful facts narrated by His Grace, the Most Rev. Finbar Ryan, O.P., Archbishop of Port of Spain, in his charming book ‘Our Lady of Fatima.' While it would be most desirable that the book itself would be read by everybody there are many who could not afford to procure it. For such as these then, this pamphlet has been written in the hope that through it Our Lady of Fatima, and the lessons she so graciously came to teach, will be better known and appreciated.

In the year 1917 there lived near Fatima, a village situated some sixty miles north of Lisbon, in Portugal, three children, to whom the Queen of Heaven appeared six different times. The messages they received from Our Lady are the subject of this booklet. Their names were: Lucia de Jesus Santos, aged about ten, and her cousins—Francisco Marto, aged nine, and his sister, Jacinta, aged seven. Their parents were humble folk of the mountains, who gained a decent livelihood by small farming. The children were engaged every day, in taking care of their parents' sheep, in a field belonging to either family. On their way in the mornings, they usually discussed at the corner of the village, which field they were to choose for the day, and so off they went. We shall now quote from Doctor Ryan's most interesting account of these marvellous visits from Heaven. On the sunny morning of 13th May, 1917, the three favoured children were starting for the day's work of pasturing their parents' sheep. "Where shall we go today?" they ask one another, "To my parents' fields at Cova da Iria," Lucia decides. The country round is flat; this is a plateau, scarcely 2,000 feet high on the Serra d'Aire. The Santos field is different from the surroundings. It is as though some giant hand had scooped a great hollow to make a stadium or amphitheatre there. That is why it has a special name, the Cova (dell or hollow) da Iria—perhaps after the saint of that name. The morning wears on until it is time for the children to take their meal, and after that, according to the custom of the district, to say the Rosary. It makes one smile to hear how they said it! Like all children, they wanted as much time for play as possible, and found the Rosary—a little long. So they contented themselves by saying just Hail Mary! Hail Mary! on the small beads, and Our Father on the large. "In this way," says Lucia, "the Rosary was over in the twinkling of an eye." We may safely presume that this was the last time the Rosary was said after that fashion by the children, for Our Lady, before leaving them, told Lucia she should "say the Rosary properly," in future. After the Rosary, a vivid flash of lightning furrows the air. The sky is clear and cloudless. Still a storm must be brewing, and thunderstorms in May are serious sometimes, on the exposed mountainside. Sheep may be killed by the lightning. Better get their little flock together then, and go home.
They move towards the centre of the field, when a second flash startles them. Something makes them turn, and there a little to the right they see, standing as it seems, upon a small holm oak-tree, a lady of incomparable beauty; and so bright with quivering shafts of light that they cannot keep looking at her. She seems about eighteen years old, and oh! how beautiful! Her vesture is purest white, but the mantle, covering her head and flowing round her body, is richly edged with gold. A golden cord ending in a tassel hangs around her neck. Her face, of heavenly loveliness, is reposeful, though serious, and with a suggestion of sadness. Her hands are joined before her breast, and from the right hangs an exquisite white Rosary of pearly beads with cross attached. Her feet are partly obscured by a shimmering cloud resting lightly upon the tree. Despite the Lady's loveliness the children are a little afraid. But she invites them to come nearer, saying: "Have no fear. I will do you no harm." The gentleness and sweetness of her voice is reassuring. Lucia is the first to recover herself and asks: "Who are you? Where did you come from? What do you want?" The Lady replies: "I come from Heaven. I want you children to come here, at this hour, on the 13th of each month until October. Then I will tell you who I am." "You come from Heaven! Shall I go there?" "Yes," replied the Lady, "but you must say the Rosary, and say it properly." "And Jacinta?" "She will go too." "And Francisco?" "Yes, but he must say many Rosaries." After this the Lady asks: "Are you willing to offer yourselves to God, and to bear all the sufferings He wishes to send you, in reparation for the sins whereby He is offended and as intercession for the conversion of sinners?" The children having declared themselves willing she adds: "You will have to suffer, then, but thanks be to God, He Himself will strengthen you." They were not only to say the Rosary, but to live it. Lucia then remembers some little friends that are dead, and asks if they are in Heaven. One is in Heaven, one still in Purgatory, she was told. The Lady having obtained the children's promise to keep trust with her, now moves slowly to the east and heavenwards, and finally disappears through the vault of blue. Thus ended Our Lady's first visit. The apparition had lasted about ten minutes or a little more; as long as one might take to say a Rosary, Lucia explains afterwards. The children look at one another. They hardly know whether they have been dreaming or not. But yes Jacinta has seen the beautiful Lady, and heard every word. Francisco has seen, but heard nothing. Now they hold another conference. Shall we keep all this a secret ? Better do so because if we speak, nobody will believe us and perhaps we shall be beaten! So it is agreed. But Jacinta's mind and heart were too full for silence! Her mother noticing her restlessness, induced her to tell the whole story. On the morrow Lucia's parents were informed, and in less than no time, as the saying goes, all Fatima knew. The children's anticipation of disbelief, and lack of sympathy was only too well founded. Least of all did they get encouragement in their own homes. " You are not going back to the Cova; are you? " said Lucia's mother. “Oh, yes!" "But June the 13th is the village feast, the feast of St. Antony?" "All the same." 
The 13th of June, feast of St. Antony of Lisbon (one must never say "of Padua" in Portugal), is a great day in Portugal. Lucia, it was well known, loved such festivities, and her mother and sisters could hardly believe that she would abandon Saint Antony for the sake of this imaginary Lady at the Cova da Iria. Her mother brought her before the parish priest. "Confess your lie," said she, "so that the parish priest may tell the people on Sunday, and put an end to the whole affair." " But, mother mine, how can I say that I did not see what I saw? " The parish priest was kind to the children, and as might be expected, was not disposed to form any definite judgment without further evidence. It might be a heavenly intervention, but alas, it might be a trick of the devil: time would tell! The effect of all this brow-beating was that Lucia decided not to go to the Cova in June. On the 12th she told Jacinta and Francisco that she would not go. They declared that they would go, nevertheless, since they had promised the Lady, and Jacinta began to cry. On the morning of the 13th, however, Lucia felt an irresistible desire to go to the Cova. She went first to her cousins' house and found them praying and crying. "Are you going to the Cova?" she asked them. "We were afraid to go without you," they replied. "Come then, I am going." All doubt had vanished. So, for once, our three children forgot Saint Antony, and when twelve o'clock came, there they were at the Cova, waiting for the beautiful Lady. Some sixty or seventy people, led by curiosity, were also there. They knelt down under a tree, and said the Rosary. Then Lucia got up, and, turned towards the east, from which the Lady had come in May. Suddenly she ran towards the little oak-tree, followed by her cousins. The beautiful Lady had come as promised. "What do you want me to do?" asked Lucia. The Apparition, in reply, recommended again the frequent recitation of the Rosary, and taught the children an ejaculation to be said after the Gloria of each mystery: Oh Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those who most need Your mercy. She said afterwards to Lucia: "I wish you to learn to read." Finally the Lady confided a secret to the children to be kept sacred by them. They were questioned several times as to the nature of this secret but never could be induced to say more than that it was for the good of all three. We can hardly help asking ourselves whether Our Lady told Jacinta and Francisco about their early death—of which they were so certain later—and gave Lucia her vocation to the religious life. However, Jacinta gave this information, that on the 13th of June, the day of the second apparition, Lucia spoke to the Lady in favour of some sick persons who were not good, and that the Lady had said some of them would be converted and cured, others not. Last of all, the Lady urged upon the children again the practice of mortification, saying: "Pray, pray much, and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there are none to make sacrifices and to pray for them." So ended the second apparition. 
"Rumour has wings," says the proverb. After the June apparition the news spread far and wide, and many references were made to the occurrences in the Press, so that when the 13th of July came some five thousand people were at the Cova da Iria. The Apparition came as on the former occasions, and, for the third time, urged the recitation of the Rosary in honour of Our Lady for the ending of the war, since "She alone could bring it about." On this day Lucia again asked the Lady who she was, and reported the general disbelief in the reality of the apparitions. The reply was that the children were to continue as already promised, and that, in October she would tell them her name, and work a great miracle which would convince all. The Bishop of Leiria, in his Pastoral Letter on the apparitions writes that: "Hundreds, nay thousands of people whose truthfulness we cannot doubt, saw a column of smoke like incense enveloping the tree during the apparitions. This phenomenon humanly inexplicable was repeated several times." It was on this day the 13th of July that the Lady confided another secret to the children to be kept sacred by them. They were faithful to Her trust. The cleverest cross-examination, the intervention of civil and ecclesiastical authority, appeals to their self interest—all failed to extract any information from them. Francisco and Jacinta carried the secret to the grave, and only in June, 1938, at the approach of the present war, did Lucia make known part of it to the Bishop of Leiria. Why she did so will be evident from the tenor of her revelation. "The secret comprises three distinct things, two of which I am going to disclose to you," she said. "The first was a vision of hell. The Blessed Virgin opened her hands once more as on the preceding months, saying the words, 'Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make sacrifices: Oh! Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.' "The beam of light projected seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were, a vast sea of fire, in which were plunged, all blackened and burnt, demons and souls in human form like transparent brands. Raised into the air by the flames they fell back in all directions, like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or poise, amidst loud cries and horrible groans of pain and despair, which caused us to shudder and tremble with fear. (It is probably at this scene that I cried, Oh! which those present say they heard.) The demons were distinguished by the horrible and repellent forms of terrible unknown animals, like brands of fire, black, yet transparent. "This scene lasted an instant, and we must thank our heavenly Mother who had prepared us beforehand by promising to take us to heaven with her, otherwise I believe that we should have died of fear and terror." In our days of refinement, pleasure-seeking and loose morals, to think seriously of the last things—Judgment, Hell and Heaven—seems to be quite out of place. Then, it is said, there is no necessity. People can lead good lives without such considerations. This is the state of mind of thousands at the present moment. Yet a message comes from heaven, from the lips of God's holy Mother, absolutely contradicting this view of things. At Fatima, no less than four times, we are reminded of hell. At the second Apparition, 13th June, Our Lady taught the children a little prayer to be said after each decade of the Rosary. It runs thus: Oh Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those who most need Your mercy. On the same day Our Lady, before taking her departure, urged the children: Pray, pray much, and make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell because there are none to make sacrifices for them. Again at the third Apparition, 13th July, Our Lady opens hell, so to say, to the children, a sight which Lucia said, was enough to cause their death were they not assured by Our Lady's promise. Lastly, Our Lady points out a way of avoiding hell, namely, by devotion to her Immaculate Heart. You see the hell into which the souls of poor sinners go; to save them from it God wishes to establish throughout the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. And here Our Lady mentions the devotion of the five First Saturdays of the month, explained in a future chapter as "The Great Promise." Now, who will presume to question the significance of this message from heaven, for is it not an important message to the whole world, especially to Christians? What can the votaries of sinful pleasure, who take the world easy, say to that? Their very easygoing, sinful ways, blind them. Coming to the fathers of the Church and theologians of the first rank, we learn that the sinners of whom Our Lady speaks (who deserve hell) are not converted ordinarily by appeals to the love and goodness and mercy of God, but rather by the fear of His judgments. A familiar example will illustrate this point. An unruly son will not be brought to love and obey his parents by appeals to the love and great care of his father. But he will yield at once to correction and punishment. He will fear the rod, according to the voice of Scripture: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and save his soul from hell. All Christians, therefore, should seriously consider whether they deserve the awful punishment God has in store for His enemies, and not to wait till they find themselves in hell. As for Jacinta, the thought of hell, or rather of the innumerable persons who by their wicked lives are in danger of going to that abode of misery, became a veritable obsession. In the same spirit which explains the endless succession of saintly souls intent, as St. Paul expresses it, on "filling up what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ," by voluntary vicarious penance, she lost no opportunity of suffering sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. "She wondered," reports Lucia, "that Our Lady did not show that vision to the thousands that were at the Cova da Iria, on 13th July. She did not reflect on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in hell." The second part of the secret was Our Lady's request for the establishment of the devotion to Her Most Pure Heart. Lucia writes of it thus: "After (this vision of hell) we lifted our eyes to Our Lady, Who said to us, kindly, yet with sadness: You see the hell into which the souls of poor sinners go; to save them from it God wishes to establish throughout the world, devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I have told you, many souls will be saved and find peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not cease to offend God, a worse one will break out in the next Pontificate. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes by war, by famine, and by persecution of the Church, and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and Communion of Reparation on the First Saturday (of each month). If people attend to my petition, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, her errors will be spread throughout the world, causing wars and persecution of the Church, the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have to suffer much, different nations will be destroyed, but in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world." The scarcely veiled allusion to Russia in the historic address to the world on 31st October, 1942, at the close of the Fatima Jubilee celebrations, and the formal consecration of the world to the Most Pure Heart of Mary seem quite manifestly an official recognition of this celestial intimation made known to the ecclesiastical authorities by Lucia. Her life, too, seems to have been prolonged beyond that of the other children, for this mission.
It seems worthwhile at this stage, to give more particulars of Our Lady's great promise to those who practise the devotion of the Five First Saturdays.' On the 13th May, 1939, in the fifth edition of the Official Handbook of the Pilgrim to Fatima, p. 131, his Lordship, the Bishop of Fatima, caused the following to be published: "It is Our Blessed Lady Herself, who in our times (through Sister Lucia of Jesus, who saw the apparitions at Fatima), has deigned to teach us this devotion of the Five First Saturdays, the object of which is to make reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for all offences and outrages committed against her by ungrateful men. " This devotion consists in: " 1. Going to Confession and Holy Communion on these days. " 2. Saying the Rosary, and meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary for a quarter of an hour. " 3. Having the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.