This month we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. Mary appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, beginning on May 13, 1917, revealing many things to them and entrusting them with a message be given to the whole world. These apparitions continued until October of 1917.
On Oct. 13, 1917 between 30,000-40,000 people gathered in the Cova da Iria fields, not far from Fatima. It had been raining and suddenly it stopped, the clouds parted and the sun was seen. The sun seemed to move about in a zig-zag motion, with flashes resembling fireworks round about it. Many thought it was coming close to the earth. Then it went back to its normal spot, along with its normal look. Many who were soaked due to the rain stated that they were suddenly dry.
When calling to mind Fatima, it is easy to get caught up in the apparition of Mary to three children, or the Miracle of the Sun. Our attention is captivated by such events. This can lead us to miss the more important part of the apparition; the message. The message is not part of the deposit of faith. However, this message, which is a private revelation, has been approved by the church and is put forth for the edification of the faithful.
The message is simple. Our Lady encouraged us “not to offend the Lord our God anymore, for he is already too much offended.” She calls us to conversion by the following means: prayer, reparation, repentance, sacrifice, abandonment of sin, daily praying of the Rosary for peace and wearing the brown scapular. Our Lady called for the consecration of Russia, so that it would not spread its errors over the whole world. Unfortunately, this consecration did not take place prior to the October Revolution. Many may recall praying for the conversion of Russia as children.
Communist Russia may have fallen, but the Russian people still need to return to the faith. Communism did everything within its power to destroy the church in Russia and the rest of the Soviet bloc. Those people are still in need of conversion to Christ and reunion with his church. Our prayers for this cannot yet end.
The errors of Marxist socialism, which served as the origins of Lenin’s communism, are still present today. The theory of Marx promised an earthly utopia to be established once the class struggle had been won by the proletariat. Simply put, those with wealth, authority, influence would be overthrown by those who do not, with the gains being evenly distributed amongst everyone. This only leads to a totalitarian state, where those doing the distribution will decide what is even and fair, destroying individual freedom, particularly freedom of speech and religion. This Marxist idea is still thriving among some who wish to use chaos and violence to force a change in society, including the United States.
The Marxist idea of one class freeing itself of the burden of another has continued to expand, combining with other philosophies concerning the nature of the human person. The idea has influenced movements that advocate overthrowing anything which hinders personal freedom and the ability to create the self.
The last shackle to be overthrown is human nature itself. This can be seen in many issues challenging our society today, such as threats to marriage, abortion, euthanasia and transgender issues. For example, rather than understanding marriage between a man and woman for the founding of a family by giving birth to and raising children (more than one child) as arising from human nature, marriage, pregnancy and family are seen as oppressive burdens to be overthrown. When no longer understood as a something arising from our nature, the state involves itself, regulating such relations, bringing about a totalitarian dictatorship hindering true freedom and human flourishing.
Many who advocate for such change are not Marxist-socialists. Yet a principle Marxist idea is subtly present, leading to the same result: a totalitarian state, even if such a state is democratic.
With what shall we combat such errors? First, knowing the teachings of church, where the truth about human nature and the human person are taught. These lead to true human flourishing. Second, take heed of the call of Our Lady of Fatima. Abandon sin, make reparation and pray the Rosary daily. Further, do these not just for the conversion of Russia, but for all those who are caught up in the errors which are causing such unrest in society today.
Father Jason Rocks is currently in Rome at the Pontifical North American College for advanced studies.