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)

MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY: Refuge For Even The Hardest, Most Despairing Sinners! (part 6)

“This mother of mercy has such a desire to save the most abandoned sinners, that she even goes to seek them; and if they have recourse to her, she will surely find a method of rendering them dear to God.”

– St. Alphonsus

The following anecdotes, taken from ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus, should encourage readers to trust in the intercession of their mother, Mary.

+ It is narrated by Father Bevms, of a very sinful person named Helen, that having gone to church, she accidentally heard a sermon on the rosary. As she went out she bought one but carried it hidden, so that it should not be seen. Afterwards, she began to recite it; and although she recited it without devotion, the most holy Virgin infused into her heart such consolation and sweetness in it, that she could not cease repeating it. And by this she was inspired with such a horror of her evil life, that she could find no peace, and was forced, as it were, to go to confession. She confessed with so much contrition, that the confessor was amazed. Having finished her confession, she went immediately before an altar of the blessed Virgin, to thank her advocate; she recited her rosary, and the divine mother spoke to her from her image, and said; “Helen, you have too long offended God and me; hence forth change your life, and I will bestow upon you many of my favors.” The poor sinner in confusion, answered: “Ah, most holy Virgin, it is true that hitherto I have been very sinful, but thou, who art all-powerful, assist me; I give myself to thee, and will pass the remainder of my life in doing penance for my sins.” Assisted by Mary, Helen bestowed all her goods upon the poor, and commenced a rigorous penance. She was tormented by dreadful temptations, but she continued to recommend herself to the mother of God; and always, with her aid, came off victorious. She was favored also with many supernatural graces, as visions, revelations, and prophecies. At last, before her death, of which she had been warned a few days previously by Mary, the Virgin herself came with her Son to visit her; and in death, the soul of this sinner was seen, in the form of a beautiful dove, ascending to heaven.

+ Father Charles Bovius relates that in Doinana, in France, lived a married man who had held a criminal connection with another woman. Now the wife being unable to endure this, continually besought God to punish the guilty parties; and one day in particular went to an altar of the blessed Virgin, which was in a certain church to implore vengeance upon the woman who had alienated her husband from her; and this very woman went also every day to the same altar, to repeat a “Hail Mary.” One night the divine mother appeared in a dream to the wife, who, on seeing her, began her accustomed petition: “Justice, mother of God, justice.” But the blessed Lady answered: “Justice! do you seek justice from me? Go and find others, to execute justice for you. It belongs not to me to do it for you. Be it known to you,” she added, “that this very sinner offers every day a devotion in my honor, and that I cannot allow any sinner who does this, to suffer and be punished for his sins.” The next day the wife went to hear mass in the above-named church of our Lady, and on coming out met her husband’s friend; at the sight of her she began to reproach her and call her a sorceress, who had even enchanted with her sorceries the blessed Virgin. “Be silent,” cried the people: “what are you saying?” “Be silent!” she answered: “what I say is only too true; this night the Virgin appeared to me; and when I implored justice of her, she answered me that she could not grant it on account of a salutation which this wicked woman repeats daily in her honor.” They asked the woman what salutation she repeated to the mother of God, She answered that it was the “Hail Mary;” and then on hearing that the blessed Virgin had dealt with her so mercifully in return for that trivial act of devotion, she cast herself on the ground before the sacred image, and there, in the presence of all the people, asked pardon for her scandalous life, and made a vow of perpetual continence. She afterwards put on a religious habit, built for herself a little cell near the church, where she retired, and persevered in continual penance until the day of her death.

+ Father Eusebius Nierembergh relates that there lived in the city of Aragona a girl, named Alexandra who, being noble and very beautiful, was greatly loved by two young men. Through jealousy, they one day fought and killed each other. Their enraged relatives, in return, killed the poor young girl, as the cause of so much trouble, cut off her head, and threw her into a well. A few days after, St. Dominic was passing through that place, and, inspired by the Lord, approached the well, and said: “Alexandra, come forth,” and immediately the head of the deceased came forth, placed itself on the edge of the well, and prayed St. Dominic to hear its confession. The saint heard its confession, and also gave it Communion, in presence of a great concourse of persons who had assembled to witness the miracle. Then, St. Dominic ordered her to speak and tell why she had received that grace. Alexandra answered, that when she was beheaded, she was in a state of mortal sin, but that the most holy Mary, on account of the rosary, which she was in the habit of reciting, had preserved her in life. Two days the head retained its life upon the edge of the well, in the presence of all, and then the soul went to purgatory. But fifteen days after, the soul of Alexandra appeared to St. Dominic, beautiful and radiant as a star, and told him, that one of the principal sources of relief to the souls in purgatory is the rosary which is recited for them; and that, as soon as they arrive in paradise, they pray for those who apply to them these powerful prayers. Having said this, St. Dominic saw that happy soul ascending in triumph to the kingdom of the blessed.

+ “… when a sinner, although he may not have left his sins, makes an effort to quit them, and seeks the aid of Mary, this mother will not fail to assist him, and bring him to the grace of God. This St. Bridget once learned from Jesus Christ himself, who, speaking with his mother, said:

“Thou dost aid those who are striving to rise to God, and dost leave no soul without thy consolation.”

While the sinner, then, is obstinate, Mary cannot love him (we must accept our mother’s love); but if he finds himself enchained by some passion which makes him a slave of hell, and will commend himself to the Virgin, and implore her with confidence and perseverance to rescue him from his sin, this good mother will not fail to extend her powerful hand; she will loose his chains, and bring him to a state of safety. It is a heresy, condemned by the sacred Council of Trent, to say that all the prayers and works of a person in a state of sin are sins. St. Bernard says that prayer in the mouth of a sinner, although it is without supernatural excellence, since it is not accompanied by charity, yet is useful and efficient in obtaining a release from sin; for, as St. Thomas teaches, the prayer of the sinner is indeed without merit, but it serves to obtain the grace of pardon; for the power of obtaining it is based not upon the worth of him who prays, but upon the divine bounty, and upon the merits and promise of Jesus Christ, who has said, “Every one that asketh receiveth.” The same may be said of the prayers offered to the divine mother. If he who prays, says St. Anselm, does not deserve to be heard, the merits of Mary, to whom he commends himself, will cause him to be heard. Hence St. Bernard exhorts every sinner to pray to Mary, and to feel great confidence in praying to her; because if he does not deserve what he demands, yet Mary obtains for him, by her merits, the graces which she asks of God for him. The office of a good mother, says the same saint, is this: if a mother knew that her two sons were deadly enemies, and that one was plotting against the life of the other, what would she do but endeavor in every way to pacify him? Thus, says the saint, Mary is mother of Jesus, and mother of man; when she sees any one by his sin an enemy of Jesus Christ, she cannot endure it, and makes every effort to reconcile them. Our most indulgent lady only requires the sinner to commend himself to her, and have the intention to reform. When she sees a sinner coming to implore mercy at her feet, she does not regard the sins with which he is laden, but the intention with which he comes. If he comes with a good intention, though he have committed all the sins in the world, she embraces him, and this most loving mother condescends to heal all the wounds of his soul; for she is not only called by us the mother of mercy, but she really is such, and shows herself such by the love and tenderness with which she succors us. The blessed Virgin herself expressed all this to St. Bridget, when she said to her,

“However great may be a man’s sins, when he turns to me, I am immediately ready to receive him; neither do I consider how much he has sinned, but with what intention he comes; for I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds, because I am called, and truly am, the mother of mercy.”

23. Father Crasset relates, that a certain military officer told him, that after a battle he found a soldier on the battle-ground who held in his hand a Rosary and the scapular of Mary, and asked for a confessor. His forehead had been pierced by a musket-ball, which had passed through the head and came out behind, so that the brain was visible and protruded through each opening, and he could not live without a miracle. He however raided himself, made his confession to the chaplain with great compunction, and after receiving absolution, expired.  

24. The same author adds, that this very captain told him of being present when a trumpeter of his company received a pistol-shot from someone near, and when be examined his breast where he said that he had been hit, he found that the ball had been stopped by the scapular of the Virgin, which the man wore, and that it had not even touched the flesh. He took it and exhibited it to the whole company. 

46. The blessed Bernard Tolomeo, founder of the livetan Fathers, who, from his childhood, had a great devotion to Mary, was one day greatly tormented in his hermitage at Accona, called Mt. Olivet, with the fear that he should not be saved, and that God had not yet pardoned him; but the divine mother appeared to him, and said: “What do you fear, my son? Take courage; God has already pardoned you, and is pleased with the life you lead; go on, and I will help and save you.”

The blessed religious continued to lead a holy life till he died a happy death in the arms of Mary.

May we, too, die in the arms of our tender mother, Mary.