Friday, October 13, 2017

(195) OUR LADY OF FATIMA AT 100……..The Apparition of October 13, 1917 And the Miracle of the Sun

AMDG


        Mary had promised a miracle to convince the many sneering unbelievers that her apparitions to the three shepherd children were authentic.  Lucia’s parents were especially anxious and jumpy, taking it all out on their now famous daughter.  What will happen?  What if nothing happens and neighbors carry out their threats to severely punish the children?  The Church would be discredited and its enemies would celebrate and cry out that the people were duped by a hoax perpetrated by the Church.  They would gloat with endless repetitions of “I told you so”.  The local pastor was of no help.  In fact he exhorted the children to admit they made it all up……a hoax, halucination, or witchcraft.  Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta had no doubt whatsoever.
              
The long awaited day finally arrived, foggy and pouring rain since the night before as thousands from all over Portugal came to Fatima since the day before by foot, donkey, oxcart, horse and buggy as well as bicycles and autos to witness the miracle the children told them to expect.  Many had expected to camp out during the night.  They sloshed through the mud for miles, many barefoot to save their shoes.  Despite umbrellas and raincoats, the people were soaked and cold from the rain, now a drizzle.  Streams of people, the faithful and the curious, came.  Their ardent faith showed in the singing and praying, many the Rosary.  The skeptical daily newspapers from Lisbon, the capital, sent reporters and photographers, reporting what they saw.  It’s all on the public record in the archives of the newspapers……O Dia and O Seculo of Lisbon and Ordem of Oporto, etc.

By 10 am the skies were overcast for a while and the rain resumed along with a chilly autumn wind.  The children were getting ready as people overflowed into their homes, making a mess while many others waited outside.  In tears Lucia’s mother even feared for the life of her daughter.  Outside it was a sea of mud.  The children were calm.  As they left for the Cova da Iria, the rain increased into a torrent.  It was difficult to get through the great crowd.

Francisco, Lucia, and Jacinta Praying before or during the arrival of Mary
It was noon by the sun (1:30 pm official time).  Some had doubts until there was a flash of light in the East.  “Silence, silence, Our Lady is coming!”, Lucia cried out.  Mary’s feet rested upon the tree adorned with flowers and ribbons as the branches bent forward.  “What does Your Grace want of me?”, Lucia asked Our Lady.  “I want a chapel to be built here in My honor.  I am Our Lady of the Rosary.  Continue to say the Rosary everyday.  The war will end soon and the soldiers will return to their homes.”  “I have many things to ask of you: to heal some sick people and to convert some sinners, etc.”  “Some, yes; others, no."  With tenderness and pain, she said: "People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins.  They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended.”  “Do you want anything more?’  “Nothing more.”  “Then neither will I ask anything more of you.”

       As she departed, Mary opened her hands which emitted a flood of light.  While rising, Mary pointed toward the sun and Lucia did the same, then announcing: “There she goes”.  The all morning downpour suddenly stopped and the clouds parted.  The sun was now pale as the moon, like a silver disk.  St. Joseph appeared with the Holy Family, holding in his left hand the child Jesus.  Both made the sign of the cross three times over the world while Mary stood to the right of the sun, dressed in the blue and white robes of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Only Lucia saw Our Lord dressed in red as the Divine Redeemer, blessing the world as Mary had foretold.  Beside Him stood Our Lady, now dressed in the purple robes of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Finally the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Lucia, this time in all her ethereal brightness, clothed in the simple brown robes of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel holding a scapular.

Part of the throng of over 70,000 awestruck people witness the Miracle of the Sun. 

The people saw none of this, but they did see supernatural phenomena as taken from eye witness accounts, including that which is well reported in archived Portuguese newspapers that were biased against the Church.  Thus the Miracle of the Sun is probably the best documented miracle ever.  Contradictions among accounts are minimal.  Everyone could easily see that the sun took on extraordinary colors.  It seemed to be continually fading and glowing in one fashion, then another.  It threw shafts of light, painting everything in different colors……blue, purple, white, spots of yellow, all the colors of the rainbow.
  
The Miracle of the Sun was covered by secular newspapers in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

Perhaps the greatest proof of the miracle was the fact that the sun, appearing as a pale disk with a silver tint, did not bother the eyes.  The surroundings seemed to darken.  The sun stopped its play of light and began to tremble and dance until it seemed that this spinning ball of fire was falling from the sky onto the terrified crowd who fell to their knees on the muddy ground in their Sunday best, weeping and praying.  
                 
The multitude of over 70,000 people screamed in terror.  Some begged for mercy or made acts of contrition.  “Our Lady, save us”.  Some said that they saw the smiling face of Mary herself.  Lucia reassured the people:  “Everything is going to be all right. Pray and pray hard. Pray the rosary every day for sinners around the world, that God was too much offended.”  Finally, the sun returned to its normal place in the sky.
 

    Finally, the sun returned to its normal place in the sky.  Everyone gave a sigh of relief, grateful to be still alive.  All agreed that this ten minute spectacular episode was the most awe-inspiring sight they had ever seen.

      Incredible was the fact that the people, previously standing in pouring rain, soaked to the bone, noticed that after a few minutes of a strong wind, the ground and their clothes were perfectly dry as though they came out of the laundry.  Our Lord rewarded them for braving the elements.  Many of the sick and crippled were cured in Fatima.  

        Fr. Inácio Lourenco, testified on what he saw as a nine year old boy in the village of Alburitel ten miles away from Fatima, also visible up to 25 miles away.  It was similar to what the people saw in Fatima.  Inácio was in school at the time, but upon hearing the cries and exclamations of the people outside, teacher and students ran out.  People cried and wept on the street.  A godless man, who was making fun of those “stupid people” who went to Fatima, trembled, crying out on his knees: “Our Lady, Our Lady”.  Everyone was crying and weeping, asking God to forgive their sins.  When the miracle was over, the people ran to the village’s two chapels.

       A poet 30 miles away did not expect to see the miracle and did when he looked out of his window.  Even those on ships at sea off the coast of Portugal 70 miles away saw that something was going on in the direction of Fatima.

      Lucia asked Mary for a sign so that the skeptics would believe that her apparitions and message were real.  The miracle was pre-announced and it happened.  Even the secular newspapers reported it although those outside of Portugal did not pick it up.

      It was a real wake-up call to be always ready for when it's one's time to die.  It was scary, a case of tough love from Mary's perspective of eternity.  Her mission for the rest of time is to nurture our faith, lead us to her Son and ultimately to Heaven.  We can only speculate how many people repented that day and are now in Heaven.  

      As Jacinta later exclaimed, the miracle would have been much greater and at that moment Our Lord would have stopped the World War had it not been for the jailing and mistreatment of the children by the local authorities.  Instead, the war continued on for another year until an armistice was agreed upon on November 11, 1918.   The United States had been in the thick of it since April 6, 1917. 

Almost all who witnessed the miracle were convinced.  Still, after reading the newspaper accounts of the miracle, many atheists refused to believe, resorting to their standard rationalization that it was an illusion and that science someday will be able to explain it.  Their blind “faith” in nothing was undeterred.


        Yet Mary’s message continues to resound in the world 100 years later as thousands continue to make pilgrimages to Fatima and the church that she requested.  The question is:  Will we listen and follow the Fatima message?  Or wait for a loving chastisement to set us straight?  Help Mary spread her message among family and friends!


APPENDIX

                                   The Miracle of the Sun
An Eyewitness Account by Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal

"It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time.

"The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.

"Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet...turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun's disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.

"During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color.

"Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible.

"All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them. Finally, I must declare that never, before or after October 13 [1917], have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena."

Professor Almeida Garrett's full account may be found in Novos Documentos de Fatima (Loyala editions, San Paulo, 1984)

Questions That Come Up

* It is often asked why the Blessed Mother would reveal horrifying images to innocent children such as the visions of Hell? To many people this seems incongruent with a pure, loving, gentle Mother who loves us and is in Heaven. It would almost seem like child abuse?

Secondly, during the miracle of the sun, which the Blessed Mother orchestrated to help prove to people that indeed it was her that the children were seeing, why again would part of that miracle be the horrifying moment when the sun seem to come charging toward the earth?  The accounts of the eye witnesses all say they were terrified and thought the sun was going to crash on top of them and that this was the end of the world.

 I've never heard that interesting and valid question.  To anybody who would ask me, I would say this.  I don't think Mary's showing Hell to the children and the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun are incongruent with her as a pure, loving, gentle, mother.  Is tough love incongruent?

  First of all, Mary, as the ultimate missionary and messenger of God, does not go off on her own to bring souls to her Son.  She is completely subservient to the will of her Son.  Since the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart are united as one, Mary knows exactly what her Son wills.  I'm sure that Our Lord sends Mary on every mission the same as He sends each one of us on a special mission.  Mary would not do anything that does not conform to the will of her Son.  In any event she has no power of her own, only that given to her by God to be used as He wills.  All of Mary's actions are from the perspective of eternity for our good and to get us to Heaven.  That's what it is all about.

           We can only speculate why Mary, following the will of her Son, would show the children Hell and permit the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun.  There is no way that we can get into the mind of God.  He knows what He is doing; His ways are not our ways.  His mind is beyond our comprehension and the greatest human brain.

          As to show innocent children hell, the Angel of Peace prepared Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta for their great mission in three apparitions in 1916.  Mary continued that spiritual formation.  Thus the children had an amazing amount of spiritual maturity and holiness, more than we can develop in a lifetime.  They could handle seeing Hell, especially through actual grace.  Mary is acting not only as mother of the three children, but also as mother of all humanity.  The apparitions and message are directed not only to the three children, but also to all humanity.  Any mother would or should vividly show the consequences and dangers to her children of their deeds........both to body and soul.  An example might be the danger of running onto the street and its consequences.  Mary wanted to show all mankind the reality of hell (not theoretically) and that Our Lord is not only a God of mercy, but also of justice.  As a loving mother, she had to tell it like it is.  Mother Mary continues trying through the Fatima message to mobilize us to pray (the rosary especially), make sacrifices, and offer up crosses for the conversion of sinners.  Showing Hell, vividly demonstrates the urgency in a very convincing way not easily forgotten.
 
            As for the horrifying aspects of the Miracle of the Sun, it's a wake up call to straighten out our lives.  It demonstrates the power of God.  It took 9/11 to wake us up at least for a while.  The Miracle of the Sun must have had a deep and lasting impression on the 70,000 plus people, not to mention all of Portugal (it got little newspaper coverage outside of the country) and millions in the generations that followed to the present.  I wonder how many of the 70,000+ made it to Heaven because of the Miracle of the Sun.  Without the horrifying aspect, the Miracle of the Sun would have been more like a glorified fireworks display.  Of course the sudden drying of the drenched people and their ability to see the sun were miraculous.  What people remember today from the Fatima story is the horrifying aspect, not the beautiful aspects.

  I hope that during this centennial year the Fatima Message gets through.  I fear that the way the world is going this is our last chance to live the Fatima Message and thus avoid a loving chastisement.


* Did World War II start during the reign of Pius XI as Mary prophesized or during the reign of Pius XII?
The official start of World War II is considered to be September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland.  Pope Pius XI died on February 10, 1939.  Since Hitler annexed Austria on March 13, 1938, it can be said that World War II really started on that date.  Furthermore, during the might of the great unknown light of January 25-26, 1938, leaders of the Soviet Union were plotting a deal to make with Germany to divide up Poland, ceding western Poland to Germany and taking eastern Poland for the Soviet Union.  Both sides probably saw it as the 4th Partition.  From 1795 to 1918, Germany, Austria, and Russia each took a third of Poland, wiping the country off the map for 123 years.  The Soviets craftily believed that Germany would be blamed and the allies would retaliate against Germany.   From the perspective of Heaven World War II did indeed start during the reign of Pius XI.


* Was the Miracle of the Sun a vision or was it really the sun?  An explanation of the Shroud of Turin can be hypothesized as a burst of radiation when the soul of Christ entered His body at the Resurrection.  But what about the Miracle of the Sun?  We can only speculate.  The sun apparently gave enough physical heat aided by the wind to dry the ground and everyone’s clothes as though fresh out of the laundry.  The Miracle was clearly seen ten miles away and beyond……up to 25 miles.  Ships at sea off the coast of Portugal 70 miles away saw that something was going on in the direction of Fatima.  Yet the phenomena was not noticed  by any astronomical observatory around the globe.        

Sources

https://wafusa.org/witness-to-the-miracle-of-the-sun/ - An interview of Dominic Reis, whose father was an eye witness to the Miracle of the sun.
www.bluearmy.com or https://wafusa.org/ - the website of the Blue Army or World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF).
www.americaneedsfatima.org – America Needs Fatima website.
http://www.fatima.org/essentials/facts/miracle.asp - the Fatima Center and Fatima Network website.


Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3ChLUPkJlo – Our Lady of Fatima, the 13th Day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hI--srx4tc – The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima 1952 movie.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxZBxEJz1v8 – the message  of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima for the 100th  anniversary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWzPU1oeViM – The Venerable Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s talk on Our Lady of Fatima.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEoQ_3nDGoY – Our Lady of Fatima Centenary Conference.  It’s hours long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnpwnaaptUk – 1957 interview of Sr. Lucia.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

(194) Poland: the Biggest Rosary Rally Ever?

AMDG


Note that the Rosary encircles the map of Poland.


       The United States has its National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of May in front of almost every county courthouse in the land and some schools and colleges.  Thousands participate.  The American Needs Fatima (www.americaneedsfatima.org) group promotes Rosary rallies all over the country at noon on the Saturday closest the October 13, the anniversary of the final appearance to the three shepherd children and the Miracle of the Sun.  Thousands participate.  This year they expect 21,570 rosary rallies.  In addition there is a National Prayer Rally at the Upper State Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW in Washington D.C. and also in San Francisco today.

       The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  As laudable as those efforts are, they cannot compare in participation with the Rosary Rally that Poland had today, October 7, to commemorate the Feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary and also Our Lady of Victory, both of which coincide with the anniversary of the decisive Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571).  This year also marks the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima and her promised Miracle of the Sun.  In 1571 Pope Pius V had organized the victorious Holy League, an alliance of Western European nations, to stop the advance of the radical Islam of Turkey which threatened to conquer all of Europe.
 

   Realizing that this was also spiritual, a clash of civilizations of Christianity and radical Islam, he mobilized the faithful to pray the Rosary for victory to halt the advance of radical Islam.  Although outnumbered, almost 3 – 1, miraculously, the wind favored the Holy Alliance flotilla under the command of Don Juan of Austria and put the Turkish ships into disarray.  Europe was saved from radical Islam for the next 112 years although Hungary and Slovakia continued to be occupied by the Ottoman Turks (1541-1699).

         Goals and Prayer IntentionsOrganized by Catholic laypeople of the Solo Dios Basta (“God Alone Suffices”) Foundation, the event was sponsored by various state-owned companies.  Radio Maryja (and its TV affiliates) helped in the promotion and the Polish Bishops Conference endorsed the rally.  They called the people to travel to the nearest border in order to pray the Rosary in reparation and for Poland…….against the threat of the secular influences of the European Union, for the people of Poland to remain faithful to the Church, for protection, for the solution of its socioeconomic problems, etc. 

       Priests I talked to in Poland say that the number of vocations is still sufficient to man each parish with two or three priests, sometimes four and to send missionaries to foreign lands.  Sunday Mass attendance is still very good with most churches filled to capacity.  But a significant number of people have fallen away from the faith or have become lax.  Thus there are fears that Poland is slipping and vocations will decrease in the future.  All seem to agree that the Church was strongest under the scourge of Communism, the enemy of freedom.  It was the Church that united the people during the 125 years of the Partition (Austria, Prussia, and Russia each took about a third of the country), Nazism, and Communism.

       The people were asked to register in advance in choosing a church near the border.  The goal was to surround the country with people praying the Rosary for Poland.  Thus the organizers expected over a million people to pray the Rosary at their chosen churches near the border.  My wife’s sister and brother-in-law, the Pozogas of Kielce traveled over three hours south to Zakopane; our friends, the Kaplitas from Rzeszow drove well over an hour to the Slovakian border.  Over its circumference of about 1400 miles (120,726 sq. miles), Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea and Russia in the North; Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine in the East; Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the South; and Germany in the West.


Praying along one of  Poland's borders.

https://youtu.be/jzpRWHqj7uI

        The eastern and northern borders were not as well attended since the faith is weaker there.  In southern Poland Sunday Mass attendance is about 80%, but in the north it’s about 40%.  The typical border church had Mass at about 11 am and an hour or so of adoration before going to their prayer zone and then pray all 20 decades of the Rosary at 2 pm.  At the same time millions more assembled in their neighborhood churches to pray in a similar way.  Thus 10 – 15% of the population of 38 million participated.  Overall, about 90% of the people are Catholic.At the same time millions more assembled in their neighborhood churches to pray in a similar way.  Thus 10 – 15% of the population of 38 million participated.  Overall, about 90% of the people are Catholic.

       Clearly the Church continues to thrive in Poland as a beacon of faith for all of secular Europe.  Since 1717, 300 years ago the Polish people chose Mary to be the Queen of Poland.  Just last November the Hierarchy of Poland designated Christ as the King of Poland in the presence of President Duda which is tacit approval (http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/11/182-poland-peru-and-ukraine-consecrate.html).  Perhaps there is considerable truth in the claims of a few mystics who say that Poland is a chosen nation, despite having suffered so much in its history.  Can any nation in the world come up with a Rosary Rally of the same magnitude?   Let us at least try to follow the example of the Polish people.  All of this makes me proud of being Polish by marriage.


APPENDIX

http://rozaniecdogranic.pl/start - The Rosary On the Borders (in Polish)
www.radiomaryja.pl/live/ - Radio Maryja live broadcasting (in Polish)
https://www.youtube.com/user/RadioMaryjaOfficial/videos - A large selection of videos in Polish.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYVdCWoAvEc – The Rosary led by St. Pope John Paul II.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMB1zxZBRnA – Another Rosary led by St. Pope John Paul II.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUTUliwv40I – Mass October 7, 2017 for Rosary on the Borders (in Polish).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGCmo9Vkbnw  – Short Report of the October 7, 2017 Rosary on the Borders (in Polish)
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/10/09/praying-the-rosary-is-not-controversial-its-our-best-weapon-against-evil/ - why Poland holds on to its sovereignty.

Friday, October 6, 2017

(193) OUR LADY OF FATIMA AT 100……..The September 13, 1917 Apparition

AMDG
Our Lady of the Rosary and its mysteries to meditate upon as we consecrate ourselves and our world to the  Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The Rosary is very biblical, especially the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.  The most important part of the rosary is meditation upon the mostly biblical mysteries from the life of Mary and her son while the rhythmic repetitive prayer serves as background music.  During each mystery, imagine that you are there as a witness.  At Fatima Mary asked us to pray the Rosary every day for peace and for sinners.



             The words of Mary in the August apparition at Valinhos that had the greatest impact upon the three children were: “Pray!  Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”  This motivated a strong desire to pray and joyfully offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and thus save souls from the fires of hell.  The children made up sacrifices, such as giving up treats which they would give to a poor child.  

         If we ourselves would at least be willing to offer up illness, handicaps, grief, accident, loss, inconveniences, frustrations, irritations, problems, setbacks, defeat, misunderstandings, the aches and pains of old age, etc. that come our way, we would be making a big contribution in helping Mary in her great missionary work of saving souls.  Mary can't do it alone; she needs and appeals for our help.
  
       In whatever situation we are in, each one of us can participate with Mary and her son in the great work of saving souls.  Don't let your sufferings (crosses) that come to all of us go to waste!  Offer them up!  For example, I resolved to not scratch myself during great itching from a bad case of poison ivy and offered it up.  Alms-giving and good works are big.  Fasting on bread and water on the First Friday of the month would be great spiritually as well as good for health and for the waistline.  Participating with the priest at daily Mass, the most perfect prayer, from time to time and spending an hour or two in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament are wonderful sacrifices.  Our Lord is greatly offended when we miss Mass on Sunday for no grave reason.  He thirsts for our presence and for our love.
 
       After four apparitions and many people coming on the 13th of the month, the children became very controversial in the entire region. Many believed and many did not, thinking it was all a hoax, a mirage,  hallucinations, or even diabolical.  Mocked, accused of deceit, and threatened, Lucia repeatedly asked Mary “to perform a miracle for all to believe”.  Even the clergy was divided as the local Bishop sent a commission of priests to observe and investigate.   Jose do Vale, the editor of a leftist newspaper, saw these apparitions as an opportunity to destroy the Church in Portugal.  Thus he wrote article after article to “expose” it all with his distorted version.

       At the same time people continued to look for the children at their homes and ask many frivolous questions to satisfy their curiosity.  Many others bombarded them with petitions to convey to Mary for healing and other personal favors, even shouting from the trees.  The children heard most of the miseries and afflictions of mankind.  On the September 13th, the children had a hard time walking through so many people to the Cova de Iria to meet Mary.

       Upon arrival at the holm oak, Lucia would start the Rosary with the people responding.  None of the 30,000 people actually saw Mary, but most, including Msgr. John Quaresma, the Vicar General and another clerical investigator, with cries of joy did see a globe of light and cloud majestically coming from the east in a cloudless sky at high noon.  Thousands felt a  sudden cooling of the air and saw the sun dim to the point of being able to see the stars.  Many saw a rain of iridescent petals that vanished before reaching the ground.  So much of it all is well documented.
  
       Generally it was Lucia who spoke to Mary, who was surrounded by dazzling light, absolutely beautiful, dressed in white with gold lines and holding a white rosary with her hands joined and fingers pointed upwards.  Francisco saw Mary, but did not hear her.  As at the other apparitions, Lucia humbly greeted Mary saying:  “What do you want of me?”  “Let the people continue to say the Rosary every day to obtain the end of the war.........In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in my apparitions.  If they had not taken you to the the village, the miracle would have been greater.  St. Joseph will come with the Baby Jesus to give peace to the world.  Our Lord also will come to bless the people.  Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will also come.  God is pleased with your sacrifices, but does not wish that you wear the rope when you go to sleep.  Wear it only during the day.”  A little time afterwords the world will have peace.
    
       Lucy then said the people are requesting that “I ask many things of you.  This girl is a deaf mute.......Will you help these other people?”  “In the course of the year she will be improved........Some I will cure; but the others, no.  Our Lord does not have confidence in them.”  Notice that Mary only does God's will.  Apparently, for some people a cure would do more harm than good if they revert back to their sinful ways or fall into different sins.  In other words an illness can be beneficial to the soul and can bring a person closer to God if taken in positive way.

       Lucia then said: “Some people gave me these two letters for you and a bottle of cologne”.  Mary must have had a loving smile in answering: “None of that is needed in Heaven”.  So much that we value on earth is worthless in eternity.  God answers every prayer, not necessarily the way we want, but in His great mercy and love for us, only looks for our greater good from the perspective of eternity.........the four last things in our lives:  Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.  Ultimately, all that matters is salvation.
    
       At Fatima and everywhere, for that matter, including the Marian altar in our church and her image on a wall of our  homes, Mary, our model of woman and mother, continues to be the ultimate missionary over the centuries.  It all began with her fiat (yes) to the Archangel Gabriel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word”  (Luke 1:38).   Then at Calvary Christ himself gave His mother the great mission of being our mother, your mother to nurture our faith and bring each one of us to her son........."Behold, your mother" (John 19:27).  

           Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes are shrines for the whole world.  The charism of Fatima is the Rosary for  peace, repentance, and penance.  For Lourdes it's suffering and healing.  In addition there must be well over a thousand regional shrines all over the world in which Mary adapts to each culture.  Almost every country in the world has at least one Marian shrine.  Ohio alone has over 20.  The most prominent is the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio near Findlay and Toledo.  Each has it own special story to tell.  An extensive but very incomplete list of Marian shrines may be found at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrines_to_the_Virgin_Mary.  For the location of the shrines in Ohio go to http://catholicplaces.org/shrineOH.htm.
   
       As Mary departed, Lucia shouted:  “If you  want to see Our Lady, look that way!”  In the east many saw a luminous globe now ascending towards Heaven.  Now we look forward to learning about the great miracle of October 13, 1917.  In the meantime let's live and spread the Fatima message throughout our lives by prayer and example, word and deed. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

(192) OUR LADY OF FATIMA AT 100: The August 13 & 19 Apparitions and Jail

AMDG




       Mary promised to meet Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta (from left to right in the above photo) on August 13, but the children were no shows.  Could it be that they stood Mary up?  What happened? 

       Portugal was caught up in the same secularism or unbelief that is rapidly taking over America today and already has much of Europe in its clutches.  The Chief Magistrate of Ourem County, Arthur Oliveira Santos, was the most powerful political leader in the area.  Although brought up in the faith, he rejected the Church at the age of 20 and joined the Freemasons, known to be vehemently anti-Catholic at the time.  He also owned a newspaper that did everything possible to undermine the faith of the people and attack the clergy.  The Magistrate would be scorned by his fellow Freemasons if the Marian revival were to flourish and strengthen the Church on his watch.
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       Ti Marto, the father of Francisco and Jacinta as well as Lucia's father were summoned to appear with the children at the county courthouse.  Lucia expected the worst, but comforted herself: “I expect to have to suffer more for Thy love, O my God, and it is for the conversion of sinners”.  After questioning, Lucia was dismissed and warned that she must reveal the secret or else......death.

       On August 13 the Magistrate showed up at the Marto home and said: “I want to see the miracle too”.   He urged the reluctant children to get into his carriage which stopped at the rectory for further questions.  The Pastor, believing the apparitions were made up, tried to impress the Magistrate that he had no responsibility for the situation.  Lucia  emphasized: “I will not go to Hell for I don't lie”.  Then the Magistrate tricked the children to go back into the carriage to go to his house in the county seat.  Some people, realizing the children were kidnapped, threw stones at the carriage.  Upon arriving at his home, the Magistrate locked up the children:  “You won't leave this room until you tell me the secret”.  Jacinta consoled the others: “If they kill us, it doesn't matter.  We'll go straight to Heaven”.

       The crowd at the Cova was larger than ever.  Realizing that the children were kidnapped, they were on the point of rioting. Suddenly, there was thunder and a flash.  As in previous apparitions, a little white cloud, beautiful and bright, stayed over the holm oak.  After a few minutes, the cloud rose towards the heavens and disappeared.  Apparently, Mary did come, but left.  However, everyone's face glowed.  The trees seemed to be covered with flowers.  The people left frustrated and clamored against those responsible for the arrest of the children.  The inspired Ti Marto intervened:  “Be calm, men, be calm. Don't hurt anyone.  Whoever deserves punishment will get it.  All of this is  by the power of the One above”.  The Pastor was grateful for his life.

       The children spent the night of the 13th in prayer, asking for strength to remain faithful to Mary.  The next day the Magistrate tried everything to obtain the secret.......bribes, threats, etc.  He deposited them in the jail with hardened criminals, who consoled and entertained them.  Soon the children had them all praying the rosary.


Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta
       The next morning the Magistrate threatened the children one by one for supposedly a final last chance  before “being thrown into a tank of boiling oil”.  With each refusal, he sent each child alone to their supposed fate.  The thought of dying for Our Lady made them all the happier.  The interrogation became a matter of official record and thus documentation for incredulous historians a century later.

       Finally, on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, the Magistrate, realizing that he was getting nowhere  and fearing the enraged people, took the children back to Fatima and let them go.  With tears of joy running down his face, Ti Marto told the people who were angry at the Magistrate as well as their pastor: “No one is to blame.  The blame lies with lack of faith all has been allowed by the One above”.  He even accepted a glass of wine from the Magistrate in order to pacify the crowd and save him from harm. 

       On Sunday, the 19th, Lucia, her family, and Francisco went for an outing to nearby Valinhos.  At 4 pm, Lucia noticed the signs that Our Lady was coming (the sudden cooling of the air, the paling of the sun, and a flash), but Jacinta was not there.  Lucia sent her brother John to quickly fetch Jacinta.  Just as she arrived, there was another flash and Mary appeared on a different holm oak tree.  Mary waited!  “I want you to continue to come to the Cova da Iria on the 13th and to continue to say the Rosary every day.  Dismayed that so many did not believe in the reality of her appearances, Lucia asked for a miraculous sign so that they would believe.  “In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in my apparitions. If they had not taken you to the village, the miracle would be greater”........Our Lord will also come to bless the people.”  She instructed Lucia to use the donated money “for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the money that is left over will help towards the construction of a chapel that is to be built”.  Lucia then spoke about the sick who had been recommended to her.  “Yes, I shall cure some of them within the year.”  But Mary went on teaching them to pray rather for the health of soul than of bodies: “Pray!  Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.”

       The children cut off a branch upon which Mary stood.  It had a heavenly fragrance that they had not experienced before.  From then on, Lucia's family began to believe that Mary did indeed appear to the children.  What will Mary have to say in her next to last appearance on September 13?   


Sunday, July 23, 2017

(191) Irene Kobak Surber (1931-2017).........She was ready to personally meet her Good Shepherd

AMDG
Charles and Irene Surber
      The following are excerpts of the letter Irene wrote to her family, friends, and fellow members of the Secular  Franciscan Order a month before she died.  As requested, parts specifically addressed to her extended family are omitted.

“COME TO ME ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND ARE BURDENED…….AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.”  (Matthew 11:28)

My Dearest Charles and Friends:

My earthly pilgrimage has ended.  As my life drew closer to the 11th hour, I felt a need to share some final thoughts with those who have touched my life in so many meaningful ways and supported me along the journey HOME….I re-wrote this message several times…..this is my final revision.  I return to the ONE who fashioned the stars, wove the tapestry of the skies, crafted the universe with HIS word alone and created all of us in His Image and Likeness.

Countless graces and blessings energized my life of Faith, sustaining me through joys, questions, sorrows, doubts and challenges.  Believing that Jesus’ life, teachings and resurrection set us free, that we are a redeemed people, made it comforting to listen expectantly for the voice calling me HOME.  Like all faith-filled Christians, I realized life is a brief journey in which we walk hand in hand with life’s companions, reaching for the PEARL of great Price, trusting in God’s eternal promise.

As the years wore on, the lessons our dear parents, Joseph and Helen instilled were never forgotten.  We were raised in a home where prayer, Church attendance, Mass, the Holy Eucharist, religious practices and expressions were of primary value.  Ours was a faith-filled Catholic Christian home.  Mom and Dad set an example to the best of their capability and understanding.  What a joy to be seeing them again, meeting our deceased relatives and above all……meeting our Grandparents for the very first time.

Religious life added a rich spiritual and social dimension on the Journey affording innumerable opportunities for spiritual and professional growth and guidance…..As we know, vocations are nurtured in a family setting.  We were not short on encouragement.  We grew up being challenged and reaching for the IDEAL!

I was accompanied on my journey by members of the Secular Franciscan Order.  They provided the companionship, challenge and Franciscan spirituality that filled my heart and enlivened my spirit.  We walked the journey with freedom and fraternity, inspired by the example of our dear St. Francis and St. Clare.

I can never thank you enough for all your love and generous FORGIVENESS.  I beg you to remember me in prayer and ask you to rejoice with me.
 
And like the repentant thief, I beg YOU, Lord Jesus, for mercy and forgiveness.  I pray that I am worthy to hear Jesus’ reassuring words:

“TODAY, YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”
(Luke 23:43)

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd (John10:11)
EULOGY (Delivered at Irene Kobak Surber’s Funeral at St. Louis Church on July 17, 2017)

       As an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister since 2009, I had the opportunity to know Irene well.  In fact it was Irene who encouraged me to volunteer for that ministry and my wife Jaga joined me.  It was an awesome privilege to bring Christ Himself and His love to her in Holy Communion every Sunday, to pray with her, and to help her in a little way for her encounter with the Lord in eternity.

I was supposed to minister to Irene, but she ministered to me more than I did to her.  She placed great value on the Eucharist and she did a lot of spiritual reading.  She was faithful to her Catholic Church to the very end.  She kept coming to Sunday Mass until only a couple of months ago when it became practically impossible since she was dependent upon oxygen.  Even then she would assist at Mass via EWTN television and we would complement that by bringing her Holy Communion.

Irene never bore any children of her own, but over a career of some 40 years she was like a mother to hundreds if not thousands of children, most of whom were developmentally challenged.  She recognized their great dignity, created according to the image and likeness of God.   She loved them dearly; she saw their potential; and helped to make them productive members of society.  In retirement she visited the aged as a volunteer in nursing homes in the area.  She was a Third Order Franciscan and emulated St. Francis as well as St. Clare.

Irene was a Pollyanna type, always positive, encouraging, kind, and patient.  I really appreciate her encouragement of my writing.  I never heard her make any disparaging remark against anyone. 
   
       One priest commented that “Those who die of cancer die like saints.  That statement is certainly true in regard to Irene.  She was ready.  She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die.  She confronted her cancer with faith and courage.  Irene did not give up; she really wanted to take care of Charlie and did not want to leave him, her extended family, and friends, but was completely resigned to the will of God with great trust in His Providence……..that no matter what, it would all turn out for the best in the long run.  Each time I saw Irene, there was a certain joy and peace about her……..even a joyful expectation of eternity.

       Irene planned out every aspect of her funeral.  For the first time in my memory, has a laywoman been laid out at the front of our church.  We’re going to have a luncheon this afternoon; the hostess is really Irene and she has invited all of you with typically warm Polish hospitality, entrusting the Catholic Women’s Club and others to put it on.  At some of our Communion services with her, we would say the “Our Father” (Ojcze Nasz) in Polish.  You see, I’m Polish by marriage and proud of it.
     
Irene had a devotion to Mary, who perhaps interceded that she die on July 13, the 100th anniversary of the third and most prophetic apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.  The whole Fatima series will be on this blog.
 
In that apparition Mary reiterated her plea: “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.”  Indeed, Irene offered up her aches and her pains, the effects of chemo, and all of her suffering for that intention.
 
She united her cross with the Lord’s cross and offered it all up as a dynamic prayer for the Church, the missions, for our country, for a better world and for her loved ones.  God knows how much our country and our world need prayer.  The prayers of the sick and the suffering are most valuable and very effective.  Thus Irene was very productive until the moment she died.

Irene loved the image of the Good Shepherd and liked to imagine herself being a little lamb in His arms.  Her prayers to the Good Shepherd were surely answered as He gave her the strength to carry her cross and led His little lamb to eternity.  The Good Shepherd never sleeps.  The Good Shepherd is real.

Thank you Irene for all that you have done for us and the Church.  We love you.  Good-by until we see you again. I know that you will be waiting for us for one big joyful reunion in Heaven.  Let’s make sure that we all get there by being faithful practicing Christians with our lives……everyone of us!  I’m sure Irene will be praying for us along the way. 

Appendix

Obituary
Sunday Times-Sentinel (Gallipolis, Ohio) & Point Pleasant Register July 16, 2017

Irene Surber
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BIDWELL — Irene M. Surber, 85, of Bidwell, passed away on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at her residence.

She was born September 28, 1931 in Cleveland, daughter of the late Joseph A. and Helen Dentkos Kobak. Irene married Charles M. Surber and he survives her. She graduated from St. John's College and received her Master's Degree at Case Western University.

Irene was a member of Third Order of St. Francis as a sister of St. Joseph for 33 years, a member of St. Louis Catholic Church in Gallipolis, worked for Catholic Charities, worked in California at Director of Services for the Developmentally Disabled, worked for Tap Center in California along with Sister Mary Grace, and worked as a special education teacher for 30 years. A faithful longtime friend to Irene was Sister Mary Lou Wojtusik of Garfield Heights., she visited nursing home patients along with Ella Bokovitz for many years in the local assisted living facilities, played organ in the Catholic churches, enjoyed camping, walking, and various activities. She was a great conversationalist and had many friends.

Surviving are her husband, Charles M. Surber of Bidwell, five sisters, Wanda DiVencenzo, of Grafton, Mary Ann Bliss, of North Royalton,, Theresa (Kobak) Bird of El Sobrante, Calif., Christine Berger, of Avon, and Helen Smith of Horshoe Bay, Texas.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a sister, Sister Clementia.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:30 a.m., Monday, July 17, 2017 at St. Louis Catholic Church with Father Thomas Hamm officiating. Entombment will follow at Ohio Valley Memory Gardens. Friends may call 10 – 11:30 a.m. at the church prior to the mass. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the St. Louis Catholic Church building Fund. Please visit www.willisfuneralhome.com to send e-mail condolences.