Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Even though we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fatima last Oct. 13, this Oct. 13, 2018, really completes the full 100 years since Our Blessed Mother, identifying herself as Our Lady of the Rosary, appeared for the last time at the Cova da Iria. It was the day the Miracle of the Sun took place.
So what might be in store now? Is 100 just a number? Or does the end of this 100 years inch closer to something? A next major step or change?
Let’s step back a moment and look at what happened on a few Fatima anniversaries.
Oct. 13, 1930. On the 13th anniversary of the last apparition and Miracle of the Sun, the Bishop of Leiria published a pastoral letter to officially “Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fatima, in this diocese…”
Oct. 13, 1942. The 25th anniversary. Venerable Pope Pius XII solemnly consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but he waited to do it on Oct. 31 for the ending celebration of Fatima’s 25th Silver Jubilee. Yet he did not do it in union with the world’s bishops. Still, despite the consecration being completed as requested, Lucia would say Our Lord showed his “delight” to the point that shortly after, the tide of World War II turned in favor of the Allies. Earlier, on May 13, the Vatican released the first two of the three secrets Our Lady gave the children at Fatima.
Oct. 13, 1951. The 34th anniversary. Speaking over the radio to over a million pilgrims there, Pius XII reminded them: “The Virgin Mother's insistence on the recitation of the family Rosary was meant to teach us that the secret of peace in family life lies in imitating the virtues of the Holy Family.”
One of the bishops at Fatima on that Oct. 13, 1951, anniversary was Venerable Fulton Sheen. Speaking on Fatima on his popular Life Is Worth Living television series, he described the apparition’s necessary impact on Oct. 13 (referring to the 1917 apparition). “The event itself might almost be called the birthday of the modern world because it was on that day the forces of good and evil seemed to reach their peak.” Keep that in mind.
Oct. 13, 1967. The 50th anniversary. For this Golden Jubilee year, St. Paul VI made a pilgrimage to the place of the apparitions. It actually took place May 13. He was the first pope ever to travel to Fatima. Also on May 13, he released Signum Magnum, specifically linking it to Our Lady of Fatima in his opening. He affirmed the directive of “Through Mary to Jesus” for the “imitation of Christ,” reminded that Jesus in giving her to us as our Mother “indicated her as the model to be followed,” and urged us to “renew personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
He met Lucia who handed him a letter asking for him to “intensify the prayer of the Rosary” and have it said in front of the Blessed Sacrament (in churches).
Oct. 13, 1973. The 56th anniversary. Our Lady appeared to a nun in a convent at Akita, Japan, with a message that appeared to connect to Fatima. It prompted Bishop John Ito, who approved the message and devotion as supernatural, to say, “It is the message of Fatima.”
Oct. 13, 2013. The 95th anniversary. In his homily, Pope Francis had questions for all, “Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life.” He had his papacy dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima that day and consecrated the world to her in a public ceremony.
Convergence of Anniversaries
Reminders are in order. In 2017, Fatima began the celebration of its 100th anniversary. The Communist revolution began its 100th anniversary, and freemasonry, condemned as evil by numerous popes, began its 300th. The Protestant Revolution began its 500th.
Oct. 13, 1884. Exactly 33 years before Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun. Remember, 33 has Biblical significance connected to Our Lord.
Look at the possible connection to Leo XIII’s horrible vision right after Mass in which he heard Satan tell God he could destroy his Church. He asked for 75-100 years. God granted the time. This horrible vision led Leo to compose the St. Michael Prayer, said after each Mass until after Vatican II, then now being reinstated by a number of bishops. We know from Revelation that God had St. Michael throw Satan out of heaven.
Recall the Oct. 13, 1917 apparition. In July, Our Lady warned of Russia spreading her errors throughout the world. That began a few days later with the Communist revolution’s big move in Russia’s capital. Could this connect to Leo XIII’s vision? Our Lady came to warn us first, and give us the means to fight this spiritual battle. And succeed.
But how many listened to Our Lady of Fatima? Apparently not the equivalent of the 10 honest men Abraham was looking for to save a place. Along came World War II predicted by Our Lady in 1917 when we didn’t listen and apply her remedy.
Then as the 20th century progressed, and now into the 21st century, we can’t honestly answer that things are getting better as dissension spreads as well as all sorts of even formerly unheard of sinful behavior.
On May 13, 1982, St. John Paul II was in Fatima with a particularly strong message. It’s imperative we pay attention. He said he “presents himself, reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima…because he sees how many people and societies — how many Christians — have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima. Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.”
For that reason, the “call to repentance and conversion, uttered in the Mother's message, remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was 65 years ago. It is still more urgent.”
Oct. 13, 2010. The 93rd anniversary. Nothing that day but in May, on his flight to Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI perceived, “As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church…today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice. In a word, we need to relearn precisely this essential: conversion, prayer, penance and the theological virtues…in the end, the Lord is more powerful than evil and Our Lady is for us the visible, motherly guarantee of God's goodness, which is always the last word in history.”
How Will It End
Will the end of this 100 years also in some way mean the end of the time the devil was given, if those times ran fairly parallel? That’s not to forget Freemasonry’s anniversary and role in trying to destroy the Church, which the Holy Fathers have noted and detailed in several encyclicals. And Communism’s part in that role, also in an encyclical.
Like it or not, people have to look at what Our Lady also added that July after mentioning that if we didn’t listen to her directives Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated.
Connect this to her message on Oct. 13, 1973, at Akita. Keep in mind this was 45 years ago.
Our Lady said if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms that will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests.
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres... churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sorrow. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them (seen to mean those who refuse to repent and convert).
But hope remains. This dire possibility doesn’t have to be in store. Heaven can modify. There can be changes.
Our Lady ended with hope at Akita, echoing Fatima, saying, Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.
Our Lady of Fatima, and Our Lady of Akita, appears to reflect her Son Jesus’ words in Revelation (3:10), I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
We still have a chance if only we accept and put into practice Our Lady of Fatima’s directives and wishes. How much clearer can they be?
On May 13, 1982, St. John Paul II also emphasized: “And so, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.”
“Her appeal…in accordance with the ever new ‘signs of the times’…must be unceasingly returned to.” He did not leave out hope. He concluded with great hope.
But we have to listen and put into practice. We’ve got to do that starting now if we truly want to listen to Our Mother for our own good.