by Father Nicholas Gruner
During Father Gruner's pilgrimage in India in November 1995, the Archbishop of Hyderabad, His Grace Archbishop Saminini Arulappa asked him to address seminarians on the Message of Fatima. Following is Part I of his lecture.
There is so much more to learn than what I can tell you in a few minutes right now, but let us start with the Message of Fatima, its importance and relevance to the freedom and salvation of the whole world. The Message of Fatima is so important that the peace of the entire world depends on it.
We Must Use an Instrument
To write a letter you need to have a thought to write about. But it is not enough to have a thought; you need to write it down. If you don't have a piece of chalk, you can't put it on the board; if you don't have a pen or pencil or typewriter, you can't write it in a letter. You need a physical instrument to record your thought, your idea.
In the same way, you can't have peace in the world except by using the instrument Our Lady gave us at Fatima.
Sister Lucy's confessors wanted to know why we cannot have peace in the world except through the instrument that was given at Fatima.
Why isn't there another way? Jesus answered to Sister Lucy, "Because I want my whole Church to recognize that this consecration is the triumph of the Blessed Virgin".
Earlier today in St. Joseph's Cathedral (Hyderabad, India) I told the packed church that the heart of the Message of Fatima is that God wants to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
But God does not just have that desire, He has a plan to bring about His desire and the most important part of that plan is the public, solemn, explicit Consecration of Russia by the Pope and the Catholic bishops on the same day and hour to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
My Own Experience
When I first heard about the Consecration of Russia I, myself, thought it was too simple a thing. I have been working on the Message of Fatima full time since 1977 and when I first heard of this very specific request of Our Lady of Fatima, in 1979, I said to myself, well Father it can't be that simple, it's too easy; but over the next five years I was given the opportunity to study the full Fatima Message and I came to realize that the plan of God given at Fatima for world peace and the Salvation of many souls was much simpler than I had at first thought possible and that God's requests were infinitely more easy than anything anyone could have imagined considering how sinful, and how sinfilled this world is today.
Now if it took someone like me who had already studied l2 years in university, five years working full time with the Fatima Message to realize this, it no doubt is difficult for some other people to understand; not because the Message requires more intelligence to understand but precisely because the message is so simple that if you so-to-speak "blink intellectually", the message could pass you by. If you blink while it is before your mind, you would miss it.
To give an example of an intellectual thought that is so simple that it took me three weeks to understand, I am reminded of when I studied economics in my first year of university. The concept of economic growth is very simple but how can something that is not organic grow? It took me some time to understand this single concept of economic growth. Yet it is at the root of all understanding of modern economics.
It is God's Unchangeable Plan
Similarly, in the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, the foundation is extremely simple. The core to understanding the whole rest of Fatima is that "God wants to save souls by establishing in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary". And God does not want to change how this devotion will be established.
God has explained through Fatima His simple but profound plan to establish devotion in the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the most important part of His plan for establishing this devotion is in fact the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope and bishops on one special day.
I know I already said it but since this concept is so new, so revolutionary, so easy to miss, if we blink it needs to be repeated again and again.
We are in the End Times
Another part of the problem of understanding the simplicity of this message is that we all live in an historical moment in time and our perception is colored by the things we experience from day to day. Without making the effort it is hard for us, for you and me, to see some of the events in life in their proper historical context because we are too close to them.
That is why we must remember what Cardinal Ratzinger tells us about the Third Secret of Fatima and the times we live in. Cardinal Ratzinger tells us the third secret refers to the "last times", that is the events predicted at the end of time in Sacred Scripture. Brother Michael in his book, The Third Secret, points out that we are now living through the third secret today and so we have to see our times and these days as being much more historically significant and fraught with much more danger than whole centuries of other eras.
In other words, we know in Sacred Scripture in Thessalonians, for example, that St. Paul predicts the coming of the antichrist. St. Paul predicts there will be a time of great apostasy when the faithful, that is most of them, fall away from the belief in and the practice of the Catholic Faith.
That prediction you will find in 2nd Thessalonians, Chapter 2 and you will also find it predicted by St. John in the Apocalypse. As well, it can be found in Our Lord's own Words when He says in His own Gospel, "When the Son of man comes at the end of time will He find Faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)
We Need to Stand Back
And so we have had 2000 years of history of the Church and Christianity since the time of Christ. We are living in a time that is unique in the whole history of the Catholic Church. It is very hard to understand these things, not because it is hard in itself, but because we live in a context, we do not live in a vacuum, so we have to sort of stand back to get perspective.
Just like if you come into this room and you put your nose to the wall you don't see very much because you are not far enough away to see that it is a wall. It is also true in understanding history and current events. To see things in history, to see things in their historical context, it is difficult for us because we are living so close to them now every day and you don't get perspective on these events unless you stand back.
If you do stand back you are able to see things in their proper context.
Extraordinary Examples From Church History
For example, there was once another time in the history of the Church when there was a great heresy. There have been a number of great heresies but in the one I am referring to right now there was such a great heresy that there was a great exodus of the faithful and of the clergy out of the Church.
It was so powerful and so great that it seemed that even many bishops had that heresy. That was the Arian heresy. Now during that great heresy there was a great bishop who lived at that time, St. Athanasius. He was kicked out of his own diocese five different times during the 45 years that he was Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.
He spent something like 22 years of his 45 years in exile and yet Church history and Catholic theology have vindicated him. He was the only one that was right and the rest of those bishops of the Bishops Conference of Egypt were in heresy. And yet they were successful for a brief period of time in exiling the champion of the Catholic faith on the grounds that they were right and that St. Athanasius was the heretic, was unfaithful to Christ. Yet he is a Saint today and his brother bishops who persecuted him could be in hell for their heresy, if they didn't repent of it before death. These events took place between the years 335 and 380 A.D.
Understanding these examples from Church history gives you a better perspective on what is happening in the Church today.
There is another famous example of Pope Pascal II. In the year 1111, he gave an order to the bishops, to all of them, to resign their Sees because the Emperor wanted to appoint new bishops. He also told the Abbots in charge of the religious orders at the time to resign because the Emperor wanted to appoint new Abbots whose first loyalty would be to the Emperor first before the Church.
Yet all the bishops and all the Abbots did not obey. They had been trained by the great St. Gregory VII "Hildebrand". Although the intention of the Pope was good, he wanted to live in peace with the Emperor, he wasn't going to get any sort of kick-back. But although his intent was good he was still wrong to give all that power to the temporal, secular authority and wrong to give the appointment of all the bishops into the hands of the Emperor.
These events in Church history help us to understand that there are times in the history of the Church that are extraordinary. That doesn't happen every day. Every Pope from St. Peter down to the present day has not done precisely what Pope Pascal II tried to do, and Pope Pascal II in 1116, five years later, cursed the day that he had given such a bad order to the bishops and abbots.
In Our Time
Coming to our own time, today Our Lady sees us in great danger. Pope John Paul II tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary sees us in danger today and he says, "Can the Mother, who with all the force of the love that She fosters in the Holy Spirit and desires everyone's salvation, can She remain silent when She sees the very basis of her children's salvation undermined?"
Pope John Paul II said this at Fatima on May 13, 1982. He answered his own question and said, "No, She cannot remain silent." And so the Blessed Virgin Mary came to Fatima because She sees us in danger. As he explained himself when he went to Fatima, to understand the message of Our Lady of Fatima you have to remember, to reflect on the Fatima Message in light of the key. The key to understanding Fatima is to remember that the Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother. And because She is our Mother, She came to warn us of the danger.
She Truly is Our Mother
The Blessed Virgin Mary is truly our Mother. The Second Vatican Council teaches us She generates us into the life of sanctifying grace. (See Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, Ch. 8)
We have two mothers. We have our natural mother who gave us natural life and our supernatural Mother Who gives us supernatural life. The Blessed Virgin is our supernatural Mother.
We also see St. Peter refer to sanctifying grace as participation in the divine nature in Scriptures.
Nevertheless, it makes us very special. . Our Faith is in Danger
The Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother and sees us in danger. And because She sees us in danger, She comes to tell us. She came to tell us at Fatima and She sees what that danger is. She sees the danger attack the very basis of our salvation.
The Pope does not explain what the basis of our salvation is; but we know that it is our Faith. We see that in the Athanasian Creed. There are different Creeds to express Catholic Faith: the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. Another is called the Athanasian Creed and it starts out as follows: "Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all other good works, keep the Catholic Faith: for unless a person keeps this Faith whole and entire he will undoubtedly be lost forever."
That is the same Athanasius that I mentioned earlier who formulated that Creed and it is a Catholic Creed. It is expressed in Latin as follows: Quicúmque vult salvus esse ante ómnia opus est, ut téneat cathólicam fidem: That is the first sentence of the Athanasian Creed.
The Athanasian Creed is just as important a Creed as the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. So the basis of our salvation is our Faith. You will also find that in Sacred Scripture.
St. John tells us that our faith is what overcomes this world. (1 John 5:4) Jesus, in St. John's
Gospel says the first good work is to believe in Him. (John 3:36; 6:29)
The Blessed Virgin Mary sees our Faith being undermined and therefore She has come to warn us. She comes not only to warn us of the danger but also to give us the solution.
That is why, even though simple as it is, She insists that we pray the Rosary every day. She promised to St. Dominic that those who pray the Rosary every day will not fall into heresy and if they have had the misfortune to have fallen into heresy, if they continue to pray the Rosary every day they will get out of heresy.
The Sacred Liturgy tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, and She alone, has crushed all heresies in the whole world. And She shall crush all present-day heresies. (Common of Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Matins, Ant. 7)
St. Thomas Aquinas explains that heresy is worse than murder. Although it sounds very
extraordinary, shall we say a strong statement. Let us listen to St. Thomas further. He says that, if
a person were to murder someone's body that is a terrible thing and they would be worthy of
execution if proven guilty. But he says worse than that is if someone kills the soul. Those that
promote heresy knowingly kill the soul and take away supernatural life from the soul. Thus it is a
greater crime because it could send someone to hell for all eternity.
The Blessed Virgin Mary sees that we are in danger, our faith is in danger so She tells us, the faithful, we must defend our faith. She tells us so that we will be aware. She told us at Fatima that errors would be spread throughout the world. These errors are against God and there are also errors spread against the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus, the Son of God, in the Fatima message asks us to make reparation for these errors against Her.
The errors against God Himself are those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope in, and
do not love God. We can tell that from the prayer that Archangel Michael taught in 1916. Many
don't know that St. Michael appeared to the three children of Fatima the year before Our Lady
St. Michael appeared three times to the children and called himself the Angel of Portugal. He is also known as the Angel of the Eucharist as he gave the children Holy Communion. The third name he called himself was the Angel of Peace.
The first time he came was in 1916, and when he came his presence was very different from that
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When the Blessed Virgin appeared, the children were filled with joy
and exuberance and could hardly hold themselves back from talking about it. When St. Michael
appeared, they were more solemn and intense and less inclined to talk about it.
At the first apparition of the Angel, in the spring of l9l6, St. Michael appeared as a young man of fourteen or fifteen, whiter than snow. The children were surprised and did not say a word. The Angel told them, "Do not fear! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me."
St. Michael then knelt down and bent his forehead to the ground. The children imitated him and repeated the prayer he taught them: "My God, I believe in Thee, I adore Thee, I hope in Thee and I love Thee. I ask pardon for all those who do not believe in Thee, do not adore Thee, do not hope in Thee and do not love Thee."
They repeated this prayer three times, then St. Michael got up and said, "Pray in this way.
The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications."
In the summer of 1916, St. Michael appeared again and announced himself as the Angel of Portugal. The children, aged 6, 8 and 9, were playing by the well, and as children will, after some months had not continued so frequently and fervently to say the prayer the Angel had taught them in the spring.
The Angel, however, rebuked them for this and said: "What are you doing? Pray, pray a great deal! The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer unceasingly prayers and sacrifice yourselves to the Most-High."
And he added, "Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication, for the conversion of sinners."
"In this way, you will draw peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal.
"Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you."
St. Michael appeared a third time in the fall of 1916, this time as the Angel of the Eucharist. He came with a Chalice and the Sacred Host. He then left the Chalice and the Host suspended in the air and lay prostrate on the ground while repeating this prayer:
"Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He, Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You for the conversion of poor sinners."
St. Michael taught the children to also adore the Blessed Sacrament with their foreheads touching the ground as he, himself was doing. The children noticed that from the Sacred Host drops of the Precious Blood flowed into the Chalice.
He then gave the children Holy Communion, saying at the same time: "Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God."
He and the children then prostrated themselves on the ground, repeating the Most Holy Trinity prayer three times and disappeared.
The children remained in this position of adoration praying so intensely and long that they were
surprised when they opened their eyes to find it was dark.
St. Michael emphasizes the importance of adoration of God. It is an attitude that the 20th century has to learn, this attitude of adoration.
Little Francisco of Fatima learned from the visits of St. Michael and Our Lady that by his visits to the Blessed Sacrament and by his prayers he can console God Who is so sad today because of the sins committed against Him.
God deserves our adoration. He is all Powerful, all Holy, all Good, all Knowing. The primary errors of the 20th century are the errors that attack God in His Goodness and Existence and our obligation to believe in, hope in, obey, adore and love Him. These errors against God include the well-known errors of Marxism, Communism, New World Orderism, Secular Humanism, Atheism, etc.
These are some of the errors of the 20th century that Our Lady came to warn us about at Fatima.