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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Apparitions of Mary, Part II, Fatima

One of the most amazing events of the 20th century, well besides WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars, the Roswell crash, the nuclear age, etc., was the appearance of “the Blessed Virgin Mary” to three little shepherd kids in Portugal. If you are a Catholic, it was a big deal. If you are not, odds are you stuff that event in the Weird Closet of your mind with other anomalies like aliens and ghosts and Chris Angel Mindfreak. The closet is locked. There is nothing in there you need, so basically, all those things don’t exist.

Mary appeared during a time of political and social upheaval. It was in May, 1917, during the Great War (WWI), shortly before the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed millions of people. Women were fighting hard for suffrage (the right to vote). It was the era of the Model T automobile, and humans were building the first flying machines. Controversial Pentecostal denominations, with their miraculous manifestations, were spreading around the world.

Most notably was the return of Lenin to the post-Tsarist chaos in Russia. The Germans sent him there in a sealed train in April, 1917, about a month before Mary appeared in Portugal. Throughout the year, Russia teetered between western ideas of democracy and socialism. Lenin and Marx were the catalysts introducing a new, secular, ideologically-driven oppression. In 1917, you could almost hear the wheels of history groaning and turning.

For an expanded explanation of the general message of Fatima, click here. Below is a sample.

“Our Lady indicated to us the specific root of all the troubles of the world, the one that causes world wars and such terrible suffering: sin. She then gave a solution, first to individuals, then to the Church’s leaders. God asks each one of us to stop offending Him. We must pray, especially the Rosary. By this frequent prayer of the Rosary, we can get the graces we need to overcome sin. God wants us have devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to work to spread this devotion throughout the world. Our Lady said, ‘My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and a way that will lead you to God.’ If we wish to go to God, we have a sure way to Him through true devotion to the Immaculate Heart of His Mother.

When Sister Lucy asked Our Lord as to why He would not convert Russia without the solemn public consecration of that nation specifically, Jesus answered, ‘Because I want my whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its homage later on, and put the devotion to This Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.’”

If this consecration of Russia were not performed by the pope and the bishops, the errors of Russia would spread throughout all the world. There would be wars, plagues, misery, and death.

Of course the visitations were confirmed with miraculous weather phenomena, a spinning, dancing sun, healings, etc. For extra protection from the wiles of satan, Mary wanted people to wear the brown scapular, a sacramental picture pendant which she had miraculously delivered to a previous visionary. The faithful were commanded to pray the rosary daily, make sacrifices for the salvation of souls and reparations for offenses against Jesus and Mary.

So reading carefully what is stated above, while Marx and Lenin were ambitious to spread the message of Communism throughout the world, Mary wanted devotion to her Immaculate Heart to spread throughout the world. And Jesus is setting her Immaculate Heart right next to his as receptor of devotion and a dispenser of protection and grace. Mary then becomes a doorway to God equal to Jesus. So what in thunderation is Mary’s Immaculate Heart?

A good Catholic explanation can be found here. Basically it does not mean that Mary’s conception was of a miraculous nature, but that she was immediately delivered by the Father from the curse of original sin, a doctrine promoted by St. Augustine. So while other humans are born sinful and separated from God, Mary was never in that state, or was only there for a split second.

Now, if God wanted to do that miracle with Mary, fine. He is God, He can do anything He wants. If Jesus wants us to love His mother, I say why not? She must have been pretty special. However, there are two troublesome aspects to that dogma. One is that it is Catholic Tradition; it is not in the Bible. And here is one of the major divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Catholicism has no objection to establishing major theological streams that come from visions, revelations, papal proclamations, and extra-biblical documents. If the Pope finalizes it with a special encyclical, it becomes firm Catholic belief. Protestants fought back with the concept of sola scriptura. If it aint in the Bible, it aint so.

The other worrisome problem is that it sets Mary up to be a goddess. Catholics deny that, but if you stop and think what Mary became in the 20th century, (and I will elaborate on that in another post), she is truly like the fourth member of the Godhead. The doctrine of the Immaculate Heart was dividing even Catholics at one point. It had no chance of being accepted by Protestants. Why would God fight one of the most pernicious ideologies of the 20th century with a doctrine that isolates the battle to Roman Catholics, and that has nothing to do with the Person of Jesus Christ, our true Messiah?

Our Lady of Fatima is one ambitious entity! The whole idea was so shocking that the Catholic Hierarchy waffled for decades. They were commanded to open a letter from Mary in 1960, and they couldn’t even bring themselves to do that. In 1942, Pop Pius XII dedicated the whole world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The whole dedication can be found here. It doesn’t mention Russia. Below are a couple of the verses.

Queen of the Holy Rosary, Help of the Christians, Refuge of the human race, Conqueress of God’s battlefields, To You and Your Immaculate Heart In this tragic hour of human history We entrust and consecrate ourselves, And the Holy Church.

She [the Church] is the mystical Body of Your Jesus, Suffering and bleeding in so many parts And tormented in so many ways, We consecrate to You the whole world torn by bitter strife And consumed by the fire of hatred, The victim of its own wickedness . . .

. . . All of humanity were once consecrated to the heart of Your Son. All our hopes rest in Him, Who is in all times Sign and pledge of victory and salvation. Forever we consecrate ourselves to You And to Your Immaculate Heart, O Mary, Queen of the World.

How is that not a goddess? I don’t want to bash Catholicism in this blog, because Catholics worship Jesus. I was raised Catholic. It kept me out of all kinds of trouble when I was young. But Mother Mary makes me really nervous. In Part III, I want to turn to a particular document from ancient Sumer that reminds me of what is happening with Marian apparitions in the 20th century.