The Meaning of “The Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima (Oct 13, 1917)

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Part 1: The Theological Backdrop
Part 2: The Meaning of the Event

PART I: THE THEOLOGICAL BACKDROP

Mother of All the Living
“It would be easier,” writes St. Louis de Montfort, “to separate light from the sun than Mary from Jesus.” This is no hyperbole. Mary, according to the Fathers, is, in the spiritual order, the ‘Mother of All the Living’ (Gen. 3:20); she is the true ‘Tree of Life’ (Prov. 3:18), that is, the ‘Mother of Jesus’ (Jn. 2:1), who nourishes us with the Blessed Fruit of her womb (Lk. 1:42).

No Tree, No Fruit
We have need of our holy Mother, Mary, just as we have need of our holy Mother the Church. No Mother, no Son; no Tree, no Fruit. Do not all graces descend upon us, without exception, in and through the Church, of which Christ is the Head? And is Mary not Mother of the Church: Mater Ecclesiae [Feast: Whit Monday]? “Jesus and Mary,” writes Dom Gueranger, “cannot be separated, for Isaias tells us [Is. 11:1] that She is the Branch, and He the Flower.”

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Mediatrix of All Graces
A corollary of these important teachings is that Mary is necessarily the Mediatrix of All Graces: Mediatrix Omnium Gratiarum [Feast: May 31, 1962 Missal]; if she were not, how else would the Church have access to ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Eph. 3:8)? IN ME,’ says the Mother of All the Living, is all grace of the WAY and of the TRUTH, in me is all hope of LIFE and of virtue’ (Ecclus. 24:25). Let us, then, imitate St. John the Beloved Disciple, the firstborn of Mary’s adopted sons, who seems to invite us in these words: there is great delight in her friendship, and inexhaustible riches in the works of her hands… I went about seeking, that I might take her to myself’ (Wis. 8:18; cf. Jn. 19:27).

‘Fair as the Moon, Bright as the Sun’ (Cant. 6:9)
Mary is so ‘full of grace’ (Lk. 1:28), that her treasury, ‘like a round bowl never wanting cups’ (Cant. 7:2), “overflows onto all mankind” (St. Thomas). She is ‘fair as the moon’ (Cant. 6:9), tempering for us the brightness of the Divine Light: ‘For with thee is the fountain of Life; and in thy light we shall see Light’ (Ps. 33:10). She is ‘bright as the sun’ (Cant. 6:9) in so far as she, the ‘Woman clothed with the sun’ (Rev. 12:1), “bears within herself the Author of light” (cf. ‘The City of God’ by Ven. Mary of Agreda).

The Queen of Saints
To be deprived of Mary’s intercession is far worse than to be deprived of the intercession of all the other Saints combined. In fact, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Bernard, and others go further; they say that, without Mary’s mediation, our prayers are not presented to Christ, thus explaining the words of Scripture:all the rich [i.e. the Church Triumphant] among the people, shall entreat thy countenance’ (Ps. 44:13). Thankfully, as the same Saints attest, it is not difficult to win the favour of this all-merciful Queen!

Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Mary is the sole Mother of Christ (Head and members), the sole Mother of Divine Grace: Mater Divinae Gratiae [Feast: July 23]; she alone brought Him forth, and she alone, in union with the Holy Spirit, “her inseparable Spouse” (St. Louis de Montfort), brings Him forth in souls.

Not for nothing did Our Lady reveal herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception,” that is, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Who is the Uncreated Immaculate Conception, the Gift of God (“Gift” being a title for the Holy Spirit, according to St. Augustine, St. Thomas, etc.), the Life-giver. The Holy Spirit always works through His Spouse, the Mother of the Church. Again, she it is who gives us Life: ‘He that shall find me,’ she says, speaking through the Holy Liturgy,shall find Life, and shall have Salvation from the Lord’ (Prov. 8:35).

A profound consequence of Mary’s mediation – which, like the Sacraments, is entirely dependent upon her Divine Son, Who is the sole Mediator with the Father (Mary is our “Mediator with the Mediator”) –  is that every grace received is a kind of Visitation [Feast: July 2, 1962 Missal]! A most consoling thought!

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PART II: THE MEANING OF THE EVENT

Let us now turn to the miracle of the sun at Fatima. I will take for granted that you are familiar with this miracle. If not, you might want to look it up.

Without presuming to know the precise meaning of this multi-faceted miracle, and without having read all of Sr. Lucia’s writings, I would like to at least propose a reflection. 

We Cannot Hide From His Heat
Jesus Christ, the ‘Sun of Justice’ (Mal. 4:2), came that we ‘may have Life, and may have it more abundantly’ (Jn. 10:10): that is, He came ‘that we may live BY HIM’ (1 Jn. 4:9). This ardent love extends to us all, for He did ‘not appoint, or make any thing hating it’ (Wis. 11:25). On the contrary, ‘the mercy of God is upon all flesh’ (Ecclus. 18:12); God, being all good, maketh His sun to rise upon the good, and bad’ (Mt. 5:45), ‘and there is no one that can hide himself from His heat’ (Ps. 18:7).

Nevertheless, not all receive His light and love alike; it depends on our dispositions. Consider that “the sun, by one and the same power of its heat, melts wax indeed, but dries up and hardens mud” (Origen). And so it is in the world of souls. “For God,” writes St. Thomas, “so far as is in Him, is ready to give grace to all… but they alone are deprived of grace who set up an impediment to grace in themselves.”

This is where Mary comes in.

Recall that the Mother of God, ‘fair as the moon, bright as the sun’ (Cant. 6:9), is the Mediatrix of all graces (we cannot approach God without her assistance). She is not the mediatrix of justice; Jesus will be our Judge. But He has given us His Mother that we might have the upmost confidence in His Merciful Love (according to St. Guerric of Igny, for those who serve Jesus and Mary faithfully, Mary will be the seat/throne from which Christ judges us).

Following all the Saints and mystics, we may confidently assert that none need fear being rejected by Mary, the Mother of Mercy; being entirely empty of self, she has only Love to give; she can no more refuse grace to those who implore her intercession than can a mother refuse her milk to her little one: ‘Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. And to the unwise she said: Come, eat my Bread, and drink the Wine which I have mingled for you’ (Prov. 9:4-5).

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Without Mary, we may well – weak and inconstant creatures that we are – be scorched by the rays of Divine Justice. But with Mary, what have we to fear! Her Immaculate Heart, as she has said so often in recent times, is a haven of refuge (I allude here only to the writings of credible mystics, like Bl. Elena Aiello, Bl. Alexandrina da Costa, etc., or approved Marian apparitions, like Fatima and Akita, the latter of which is highly pertinent to this article – especially the revelation given to Sr. Agnes on October 13, 1973).

Go, then, with haste to the Mother of All the Living; she will console you; she will nurture, enlighten, love and protect you, especially if you say her Rosary devoutly and consecrate yourself to Jesus through her. ‘For to him that is little [i.e. humble], mercy is granted: but the mighty [i.e. proud] shall be mightily tormented’ (Wis. 6:7).

To that end, you might find the following articles helpful:
33 Reasons to Consecrate Yourself to Jesus Through Mary:
https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/33-reasons-to-consecrate-yourself-to-mary/
A Prayer Every Christian Should Know and Love:
https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/a-prayer-every-christian-should-know-and-love/

A Prophecy of St. Louis de Montfort
“Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in might and grace, in these latter times: in mercy, to bring back and lovingly receive the poor strayed sinners who shall be converted and shall return to the Catholic Church; in might, against the enemies of God, idolaters, schismatics, Mahometans, Jews and souls hardened in impiety, who shall rise in terrible revolt against God to seduce all those who shall oppose them and to make them fall by promises and threats; and finally, she must shine forth in grace, in order to animate and sustain the valiant soldiers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, who shall battle for His interests.”

Mary’s Little Ones
Those who take Mary for their Mother will, in time, grow in humility, without which none are saved. They will, in imitation of her who appeared at Fatima as the true Queen Esther (something worth researching), serve their King as they would the most loving of Fathers, relating to him as a ‘little one’ (Est. 2:20), as Esther always did. And like Esther, the King’s most favoured daughter (Est. 2:17), they will win the favour of God, Who cannot refuse grace to ‘her young ones’ (Ps. 83:4), her little ones (Prov. 9:4). Such as these will be protected in the days and years ahead:

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‘… And they [the just] cried to God: and as they were crying, a little fountain grew into a very great river, and abounded into many waters [i.e. Esther; cf. Est. 10:6]. The light and the sun rose up, and THE HUMBLE [the little ones] WERE EXALTED, and they devoured the glorious [the proud] (Est. 11:10-11).
‘I [the Lord of Hosts] will turn my hand to the LITTLE ONES. And there shall be in all the earth, saith the Lord, two parts in it shall be scattered, and shall perish: but the third part shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined: and I will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say: Thou art my people: and they shall say: The Lord is my God’ (Zach. 13:7 – 9).
Thou
[Lord] shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle [Mary, ‘His tabernacle in the sun’ – Ps. 18:6] from the contradiction of tongues’ (Ps. 30:21).
[They] SHALL BE PROTECTED UNDER HER COVERING FROM THE HEAT, AND SHALL REST IN HER GLORY’
(Ecclus. 14:27).

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‘FATIMA’ by Tennyson: A Prophetic Poem?

(completed in 1842)

O LOVE, Love, Love! O withering might!
O sun, that from thy noonday height
Shudderest when I strain my sight,
Throbbing thro’ all thy heat and light,
Lo, falling from my constant mind,
Lo, parch’d and wither’d, deaf and blind,
I whirl like leaves in roaring wind.

Last night I wasted hateful hours
Below the city’s eastern towers:
I thirsted for the brooks, the showers:
I roll’d among the tender flowers:
I crush’d them on my breast, my mouth;
I look’d athwart the burning drouth
Of that long desert to the south.

Last night, when some one spoke his name,
From my swift blood that went and came
A thousand little shafts of flame
Were shiver’d in my narrow frame.
O Love, O fire! once he drew
With one long kiss my whole soul thro’
My lips, as sunlight drinketh dew.

Before he mounts the hill, I know
He cometh quickly: from below
Sweet gales, as from deep gardens, blow
Before him, striking on my brow.
In my dry brain my spirit soon,
Down-deepening from swoon to swoon,
Faints like a daled morning moon.

The wind sounds like a silver wire,
And from beyond the noon a fire
Is pour’d upon the hills, and nigher
The skies stoop down in their desire;
And, isled in sudden seas of light,
My heart, pierced thro’ with fierce delight,
Bursts into blossom in his sight.

My whole soul waiting silently,
All naked in a sultry sky,
Droops blinded with his shining eye:
I will possess him or will die.
I will grow round him in his place,
Grow, live, die looking on his face,
Die, dying clasp’d in his embrace.

Recommended reading:
– ‘Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons’ (the title is somewhat misleading)

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A Prayer EVERY Christian Should Know and Love…

(Every person, actually – we are all impoverished without prayer – but we’ll let that pass for now.)

This prayer has been called “a priceless treasure inspired by God” (St. Louis de Montfort), “the storehouse of countless blessings,” (Bl. Alan de la Roche), “the greatest method of praying” (St. Francis de Sales), “the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life… the remedy for all our evils…” (Pope Leo XIII); for centuries it has been the source of countless miracles; St. Padre Pio held it very dear, and it was never far from his lips or his thoughts; by it, Bl. John Massias released thousands upon thousands of souls in Purgatory; for the saints it was a powerful weapon to convert even the most hardened and despairing sinners; it is a perpetual source of light to the blind, strength to the weak, hope to the despairing, and joy to the sorrowful; and in recent times, Mary, the Theotokos herself, has encouraged us to pray this prayer EVERY DAY.

What is this powerful prayer, of which the Saints speak with so much respect, love and admiration? My friends, it is none other than the Holy Rosary!

Greatly detested by the Serpent, but loved by all the Elect, the Rosary is a compendium of the Gospel: it is a meditation on the mysteries of Our Saviour’s life, death and resurrection. In a word, it is a meditation on Divine Love: ‘and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.’ (Ps. 39:3).

Properly said – i.e. attentively, reverently, confidently and humbly [thus forming the unintentional acronym ARCH] – the Rosary is extremely pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady.

The arguments in favour of praying the daily Rosary (i.e. at least 5 decades) are innumerable. For those of you who have doubts about the orthodoxy or efficacy of the Rosary, you might consider asking Our Lord for light (as we all must), then make a resolution – perhaps for one month – to pray and reflect daily upon the following words of Scripture:

‘Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.’ (Lk. 1:28)
‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Jesus].’ (Lk. 1:42)

Surely no harm can come from this practice. In fact, nothing but good will come from this. Our Lord encouraged St. Francis of Assisi to seek perfection under the guidance of Mary. Should we not do the same? Can we possibly be led astray by one who seeks only to unite us to her Son, saying: ‘Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye’? (Jn. 2:5) Can we possibly be led astray if we follow the same path that the Saints (who are now in Heaven) have always taken?

One day St. Francis of Assisi had a vision in which his fellow religious were trying to reach Jesus by a very steep, red ladder; but after ascending a few of its rungs, they would lose their ground. Our Lord then revealed to Francis a different ladder; this ladder was white, it was much less steep than the previous ladder, and at the summit was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus then said to Francis: “Advise your sons to go by the ladder of My Mother.”

As Mary’s spiritual children we ought to love her, to trust in her, and seek to please her. She has an ardent desire to help us! She is more than able to help us! We need her help!

We are truly Mary’s children, and as her children, we require nourishment. And with what, we might ask, does Our Lady nourish us? With the fruit of her womb: with Jesus!

‘I am the mother of fair love… Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.’ (Ecclus. 24:24, 26)

To illustrate this point, we have a story from the life of Bl. Benvenuta Bojani. One day while she was praying in church, “she beheld a poor child of exquisite beauty, and, calling him to her, she inquired if he could say the Hail Mary.”
“Can you say it?” asked the child.
Benvenuta immediately began to recite it; and, when she came to the words: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” the Child said: “And I am He,” and then disappeared.” (Words taken from ‘Dominican Saints’)

A similar event occurred in the life of St. Crescentia (one of my favourite Saints!). One day as she was praying thus: “Praised and blessed be thy noble treasure, Mary, which thou didst receive from the Holy Ghost! and praised be the blessed Fruit of thy womb,” Our Lady appeared to her with the Divine Child, saying: “This is the blessed Fruit of my womb.”

We must not think that honour given to Our Lady detracts from God’s glory. On the contrary, we love Mary because God loved her first; we honour her because He honoured her first; we ask for her prayers because He gave her to us to be our mother; and what mother is not eager to help her children? Can anyone truly doubt that Mary loves us as her most dear children, when we even find the prophet David dedicating himself to Mary as her son, despite the fact that she had not yet been born? ‘Save the son of thy handmaid,’ he said. (Ps. 86:16) “Whose handmaid? She who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” (St. Augustine)

“My mother Mary,” said Our Lord to St. Bridget, “on account of her compassion and charity, was made mother of all in heaven and on earth.” “I have become mother of all of you,” said Our Lady to St. Gertrude, “in the womb of my charity, and you have become my children, the brethren of Jesus.” (cf. Luke 2:7).

Now, Almighty God has commanded us to honour our parents. ‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’ (Eph. 6:2) Nothing could be clearer. Well, if Mary is our mother, then we have the duty to honour her and to obey her as we would our biological mother.

With this in mind, let us all take seriously the words of Our Lady in some of her recent apparitions, which simply confirm the constant teaching of the Church and her Saints. Here are some of her words to us, her dear children:

1. “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.” – Our Lady of Fatima (in Portugal), October 13, 1917

2. “Pray and do penance. Pray the Rosary frequently. It is the only powerful weapon to attract the blessings from Heaven.” – Our Lady to Servant of God, Edvige Carboni (of Italy), March 1942

3. “Spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart, in order that many souls maybe conquered by my love and that many sinners may return to my Maternal Heart. Do not fear, for I will accompany with my maternal protection my faithful ones, and all those who accept my urgent warnings, and they — especially by the recitations of my Rosary — will be saved.” – Our Lady to Bl. Elena Aiello (d. 1961)

4. “Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary… Pray the Rosary often.” – Our Lady of Akita (in Japan), October 13, 1973

5. “Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them.” – Our Lady of Cuapa (in Nicaragua), 1980

+ “My daughter, do not be afraid of me. I am your loving Mother whom you praise so faithfully every day. Be steadfast and persevere; I want you to know that the Angelic Salutation gives me so much joy that no man could ever really explain it.” – Our Lady to a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary

+ “Never has any man composed anything more beautiful than the Hail Mary. No salutation could be dearer to my heart than those beautiful and dignified words that God the Father addressed to me Himself.” – Our Lady to St. Gertrude

Some final words:

“Mary has recommended the Rosary at Lourdes and Fatima because of its exceptional value for us and our times.” – St. Padre Pio
“The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“NOBODY WHO PERSEVERES IN THE ROSARY WILL BE DAMNED, BECAUSE SHE (MARY) OBTAINS FOR HER SERVANTS THE GRACE OF TRUE CONTRITION FOR THEIR SINS AND BY MEANS OF THIS THEY OBTAIN GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND MERCY.” – A revelation to St. Dominic