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.”
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!
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).
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:
– 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:
‘… 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).
‘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.
– ‘Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons’ (the title is somewhat misleading)