Exploring The Miracle Of Our Lady Of Fatima

by John A. Wilcox

I first became aware of Fatima via the 1952 film The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima that starred Gilbert Roland. It told a highly Hollywood-ized version of the true events. I recently read Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's fascinating book Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions and it compelled me to do a piece for Progsheet. Contacting the Blue Army, I spoke to the wonderful Barb Ernster, who agreed to answer any questions I had about Fatima. Here are the results!

PS: For those that might be unfamiliar, what happened to the 3 children in Fatima, Portugal back in the early 1900s & why is it important?

BE: The three children were tending their sheep in the rural areas around the village of Fatima on land owned by Lucia�s parents, when they were first visited by an angel who identified himself as the Angel of Peace and the guardian angel of Portugal. He appeared to them 3 times in the spring, summer and fall, and generally taught them some prayers of adoration, asked them for acts of sacrifice in reparation for the ways in which God is offended, and gave them Holy Communion. The Angel said they would �thus bring down peace upon their nation.� Lucia said the angel left them in such a supernatural state that they could hardly walk, but his words and the prayers were indelibly impressed upon their memories.

On May 13, 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to them in the area called the Cova da Iria where the Santos family grazed the sheep and grew their gardens. She came on each month the same day until October 13. In each of the apparitions, she asked for the daily rosary, especially for peace in the world, and acts of sacrifice for the sake of poor sinners. In June she told Lucia that she would take Francisco and Jacinta to heaven soon, but she would remain on earth some time longer because God wished to use her to help establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart.

The July apparition was a turning point when the children began to understand better the purpose of these apparitions and their mission � to help save souls. They were given a vision of hell, which nearly frightened them to death. They were warned about a worse war that would break out in the pontificate of Pius XI (he was not yet named a pope, so this was truly a prophecy) and that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the devotion of the Communions of reparation on the first Saturdays. If what she asked for was done, Russia would be converted; if not, she would spread her errors across the world.

At the time, the children didn�t know what Russia was, but it was on the verge of a revolution and the establishment of a tyrannical godless dictatorship that would drive out religion from the public square and terrorize the people. Our Lady warned that this would cause wars, famines, persecutions of the church and great suffering for the pope.

She also promised a great miracle so that �all would believe.� On Oct. 13, 1917, with 70,000 people gathered at the Cova da Iria, they all witnessed the great miracle of the sun, when it appeared to plunge to the earth. Believers and unbelievers alike witnessed it and newspaper reporters reported exactly what they saw, even though they were there to mock it. One of the best quotes came from an unbelieving wealthy man who was only there because he drove his mother there. He said, �I saw that sun like I�ve never seen it before, and then I believed.�

The main message of Fatima is a message of peace. Our Lady came to give us the �peace plan� from heaven, during a time when, for the first time in human history, mankind would advance to the point of being able to destroy itself with its own weaponry. This is why it was so important that the Mother of God come to visit her children on earth and ask them repeatedly to stop offending God and offer a great promise of peace for mankind. She offered us a place of refuge amid the wars and hatred and unrest: �My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.� (spoken during the June 13 apparition).

PS: Do we know why Lucia & Jacinta could hear the angel, but Francisco could not?

BE: Francisco went on to develop spiritually as a contemplative. He was given special graces and charisms to experience, hear and understand God and Our Lady within his heart. He did not need to hear her. He began to hear her internally. When the Angel gave them Holy Communion, it was his First Communion. He stated, �I felt that God was in me, but I didn�t know how.�

When Our Lady opened her hands and streamed the light that immersed them in God, he would exclaim �What is God!! We could never put it in words.� Yet he always experienced God and Our Lady as �so sad� due to sin. He spent the rest of his life, seeking to be alone in prayer so he could console God. He spent many hours in front of the tabernacle at the local parish, praying in a contemplative manner. When people came to ask for prayers, he would kneel before them and pull out his rosary. Once when a woman asked for prayers for her husband and son, he said he would ask for that when he got to heaven. On the day he died, her prayers were answered. During his contemplative prayer, he would often get answers for people and would tell them, �God will answer your prayer.�

He gladly did whatever Our Lady wanted because he was so enamored with her beauty and especially with the light that radiated from her, particularly when it immersed them in the presence of God. PS: Why do you feel that the Blessed Mother chose very young children in a small nation to deliver a message for the world?

BE: Because they were young, innocent, free of having developed great habits of sin, especially pride, and so that the world would believe. Young children cannot come up with the words or the prayers or the secrets that she revealed. They were innocent enough that they were eager to carry out her directives, yet they grew and advanced in holiness because they were like empty vessels that could receive gladly all the graces that were being given to them. Adults are less likely to be able to carry out such missions, because they are more advanced in sin and pride, and even spiritually, to the point that they get in the way.

These children didn�t even know what Russia was, yet they understood that this was a grave warning for the world. In the third part of the secret, they saw what appeared to be the Pope, the �bishop in white,� but didn�t understand what was the meaning of it.

Yet, they did understand what Our Lady wanted of us and they carried it out with great enthusiasm. For example, they were so horrified by the vision of hell that they completely embraced the idea of making sacrifices as much as possible, especially Jacinta, to help souls avoid it. Each of the three children developed a very special charism and spirituality from the same message � Francisco, the contemplative who adored Jesus frequently in the Blessed Sacrament; Jacinta, the great soldier for poor souls, who offered heroic sacrifices and eagerly said yes to additional sufferings at the end of her life, to help save souls from hell; Lucia who followed the long road of spiritual martyrdom that most of us have to follow in life � seeking God and His will in our mundane daily lives. Yes, she had mystical experiences and visits by the Blessed Mother, but for the most part, she carried out her daily duties as a sacrifice to God. She would spend the next 88 years helping people understand the devotion to the Immaculate Heart and pleading for people to heed her requests for the sake of peace in the world.

PS: What were the 3 secrets the Blessed Mother revealed to the children & why was the 3rd one hidden for so long?

BE: It is one secret with 3 parts: 1) the vision of hell and the requests for prayers and sacrifices for people in danger of losing their souls, especially those who have no one to pray for them.

2) the request for the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which included the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and the request for the First Saturday Communions of Reparation, so that Russia would be converted and not spread its errors of atheistic communism throughout the world. This 2nd part also included the prophecy of a second �worse� war, along with famine, persecution of the Church, annihilation of whole nations.

3) the vision that Lucia wrote down on Jan. 3, 1944, which involved an angel crying for �penance, penance, penance,� and about to strike the earth with a flaming sword. The Blessed Mother raises her arm and radiates a light toward him that stops him from being able to release the sword. Then the �bishop in white� is seen walking amid a city, half in ruins, followed by priests, bishops, and lay people from all walks of life, ascending a steep hill to a cross, where the pope is struck down by soldiers, and the people after him. This vision appears to be of the Church itself going to its own Calvary and it will appear as if all is dead. Perhaps this is the penance (people freely embracing their daily cross, for the sake of the Church and the world, which may include offering their lives) that stop the Angel from striking the earth. Perhaps these are the people who embrace the devotion to the Immaculate Heart and do what the Blessed Mother asks that renders the Angel helpless.

Why it was released so late? No one really knows. Pope John XXIII opened it in 1959 and put it away saying it wasn�t for his time. He was starting the Vatican Council II, and perhaps he felt that it was too futuristic. Pope Paul VI was in the midst of a church and a world that was already heavily infiltrated with Russian spies and Communist operatives who were watching him closely. Perhaps he was being cautious so as not to make things worse. There also probably was a sense that it would cause a panic among the people. Sister Lucia only said that it was supposed to be opened in 1960 because she felt by then, Russia would have reached its peak of power and it would be better understood. Paul VI went on to finish Vatican II and encouraged every diocese and person to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart. But not one of them did the consecration of Russia in union with all the bishops of the world, as Our lady requested until John Paul II did on March 25, 1984. (Pius XII attempted it, but he was in the midst of WWII). By then, 55 years after its request (which happened on June 13, 1929 to Lucia), it was done late, and just as Jesus foretold to Lucia, �It will be done, but it will be done late; Russia will have already spread its errors around the world. But nonetheless, Russia will be converted; it has been entrusted to the Immaculate Heart.�

PS: Why did the church wait until 1984 to do as the Blessed Mother & Jesus asked? Shouldn't our church have immediately obeyed their will?

BE: The request for the consecration was for Pope Pius XI to carry out. When he received the request through Sister Lucia�s bishop in 1929, he said he would �consider it.� We don�t know why he didn�t do it. However, he wrote an entire encyclical on the dangers of communism and Nazism that were infiltrating the world, and he seemed to know exactly how communism was spreading in society�under the radar through propaganda in our educational institutions, arts and entertainment, media and other means that took hold of the culture. When it wasn�t don�t done by 1938, Lucia saw the great sign in the sky that told her God was about to punish the world for its sins through a worse war. That was the unusual Aurora Borealis that lit the entire southern hemisphere sky up red and people thought the world was coming to an end. Lucia saw it from her convent in Portugal and she knew it was the sign. Soon after, Hitler invaded Austria and rumblings of war began. Then Pius XI died and Pius XII took over, only to have to navigate through the WWII. As Mary predicted, a �worse war would break out during the pontificate of Pius XI� if her requests were not heeded. Pius XII did do a consecration of the world and included Russia, with the bishops of Portugal, as that is all he could do during the war. The request was for the consecration to be done in union with all the bishops of the world, but because of the war, he couldn�t get them together. Nonetheless, Our Lord was pleased with his obedience and he vowed to end the war early because of it, and Portugal was spared from being brought into WWII. Stalin�s plan to spread communism into Europe through Portugal did not happen. After the 1942 consecration, Hitler began to lose some of his major battles, and some of his own people turned on him and began to inform the U.S., leading to some of these losses. The war did end early.

By the time John Paul II came along, it was very, very late. He only looked at the secret after he had been shot and almost killed. Perhaps it was God�s mercy that spared his life because of all the many people who were praying and offering sacrifices for the end of the Soviet Union grasp on so many, many people and the millions who were suffering under the regime. It was an act of mercy on God�s part that he was spared so that he could go on to make the consecration and help draw the world back to this important message, which he said was �more relevant than in 1917.�

Sister Lucia and military historians affirm that we avoided a nuclear war in 1985. The Soviets were planning to strike our strategic defense systems in Europe with a nuclear bomb. But three unexplained explosions occurred, which wiped out their nuclear fleet and their main munitions plant. It rendered their nuclear program helpless. I had a chance to meet with and interview a former CIA operative whose job was to follow Putin in the early 1980s in the Soviet Union. I asked him if the CIA knew about these explosions and what happened. He said they had no idea this was going to occur or how it happened. In one case, they think a worker tossed a cigarette, which led to a fire and explosion. It was all very strange. All of these explosions happened on anniversary dates of Fatima or feast days of Our Lady.

However, Pope Benedict XVI has said the Fatima prophecies are still unfolding, and John Paul II warned that we would enter a new era of barbarism rather than a springtime of hope if people did not convert and turn away from the dangerous new ideologies that were forming, including relativism.

PS: How and why was the Blue Army formed & what is their core purpose?

BE: The Blue Army formed in 1947 after our co-founder, John Haffert, met Msgr. Harold Colgan, who had started to form what he called a �blue army of Our Lady to defeat the �red army of Communism.� After WWII, people started to realize that Our Lady�s prophecies had and were coming true. John Haffert met with Sister Lucia in 1947 to ask her exactly what Our Lady wanted of us. Together they formed the Blue Army Pledge that Lucia said was the devotion to the Immaculate Heart: Pray the rosary daily; offer your daily sacrifices according to your state in life, entrust yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and wear the Brown Scapular as a sign of your entrustment, and practice the First Saturday devotion (the Communions of Reparation on first Saturdays that she mentioned in the July 13 apparition).

The Blue Army became a public association of the faithful in 2005, and changed its name to the World Apostolate of Fatima. The tagline, Our Lady�s Blue Army is still used for historical reference. It is present in more than 70 countries, but the U.S. is the largest. This is where it all began. The National Blue Army Shrine and US headquarters are in Washington, NJ (John Haffert�s former land), and we own a hotel and conference/retreat center in Fatima, Portugal, built by Haffert and Colgan. The history of the Blue Army is deep and rich. The organization is largely responsible for spreading this message worldwide, especially through the travels of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue (the miraculous �weeping� Madonna) that Sister Lucia instructed on its design, according to how Our Lady looked. The statue has been to more than 100 countries, including Russia and China (it was crowned in front of Lenin�s tomb after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991). It continues to travel since 1947, under our organization�s custody.

PS: Russia played a key role in the miracles in Fatima. How does present day Russia differ from 1917 Russia in terms of religion?

BE: Present day Russia is now free from the godless Communism that kept the people chained for 70 years. They were not allowed to practice their religion or even to pass it on to their children. So a whole generation of people grew up not even knowing God existed. In many places the faith kept going, but it was underground. Some people were able to baptize their children and teach them things about God. When Gorbachev lifted the restrictions on religious freedom and freedom to worship, it still took a long time for people to respond. But in 1989, one by one, many of the countries in the Soviet bloc began to demand their freedoms, thanks in large part to John Paul II who invited them to not be afraid and to stand up for their human dignity. Today, the churches and cathedrals are being rebuilt by the government. Religion is freely expressed and Putin, himself, shows his allegiance to the Russian Orthodox Church (although he is a politician and no one can know what he�s really about). But the people are slowly coming back. It�s just taking years to re-evangelize them. They allow the teaching of religion in public schools and they encourage it. It�s similar to when Jesus rose from the dead, however, in that the world didn�t become Christian the day after the Resurrection. It took many years for Christianity to spread. Many believe that part of Our Lady�s triumph will involve Russia helping the world return to God and Christian values and peace.

PS: What would you say are 2 or 3 acts ordinary folks can do in their daily lives for the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

BE: Pray the Rosary is perhaps the greatest, because anyone can do this. Lucia, however, said the most essential is to offer up everyday the sufferings that come your way, however great or small. We all suffer. When we give them to God as a sacrifice for the sake of sinners, for conversions, it is very powerful. It is how we accept His will for our lives every day, and carry our cross daily as Jesus asked. The 3rd act would be to make an act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart and trust that she is a refuge for us and a way to lead us to God. A 4th would be to practice the first Saturday devotion � meaning to go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say a 5-decade Rosary and spend 15 minutes with Our Lady in meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, in reparation to the Immaculate Heart on the first Saturday of the month. If you do five first Saturdays in succession, she promises to be with you at the time of your death with all the graces needed for your salvation.

PS: Has Pope Francis expressed his views on Fatima?

BE: Pope Francis entrusted his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima at the very beginning. He consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of the Fatima statue again, early in his papacy. He canonized Jacinta and Francisco, and he prays 15 decades of the Rosary daily. He firmly supports this unprecedented apparition and seems to understand the world in which we live and that we continue to need to implore the help and favors of Our Lady during these tumultuous times.

PS: How are the events in Fatima still effecting us in 2020?

BE: Many believe we are living through a time of great peril because of the spread of Russia�s errors throughout the world, namely atheism, and the anti-family, anti-life culture that has taken hold. It seems to be most prevalent in America at this time, but also in many communist cultures. It also appears that we are living through the third part of the secret � making our way as a Church body, to the cross. Some are struck down and martyred. The world is half in ruin, but the other half is not. It is a time of choice. We all must make that decision of whether we are going to take up our cross and follow Jesus. However, despite these uncertain and perilous times, when you are consecrated to the Immaculate Heart and entrust yourself to the mercy of Christ, you have faith that He has all things in his hands and that He has a plan and will conquer all. One also has hope. Despite how dark things get, those consecrated to Mary believe that we are in the fight with her against the dragon in Revelations 12, who goes after her children on earth. But she is the woman clothed with the sun, the woman who will crush his head. God, in His great wisdom, will conquer Satan in the same way Satan tried to conquer mankind � through the woman. He will humble Satan in the greatest way possible, defeating him by His own creation. This is a time of great hope. We await and expect the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, even though we may have to go through an excruciating battle to get there.

PS: Where can people go online to learn more about Our Lady of Fatima?

BE: Our website, www.bluearmy.com is a great resource, and I would recommend reading Sister Lucia�s memoirs (Fatima In Lucia�s Own Words), her biography (A Pathway Under The Gaze Of Mary), and for a look at the last 100 years, Fatima: 100 Years of Grace is a great publication that we produced in 2017 as a centennial year special. Also Father Andrew Apostoli is an expert on Fatima. His book Fatima For Today provides much detail to the questions people have about Fatima and the 20th century. These are all available in our gift shop at ShopFatima.com.

There are many resources that will lead you down a path of all kinds of conspiracies related to Fatima that we do not recommend. Our organization has always focused on Sister Lucia, the main conduit of the message of Fatima whose mission was to spread the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Despite the secrets and conspiracies, she would always say, �If they would just do what Our Lady asked.� That is good advice to follow. She never considered herself a prophetess, but an instrument to carry a message of hope and peace to a world in need.

We highly recommend the new movie FATIMA coming to the big screen on August 14, 2020. It is being released by Picturehouse nationwide. So far, even with the coronavirus, it is expected to happen. Ticket information is available at www.fatimathemovie.comfatimathemovie.com. We highly recommend the movie because it tells the story to new audiences. It�s been endorsed by our organization and the Shrine in Fatima.

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