Centennial of Our Lady of Fátima’s Appearance: Somber Reflections
Centennial of Our Lady of Fátima’s Appearance: Somber Reflections
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
Yes, it will be, if no great 100th Anniversary signs and wonders appear, a time of enormous sinfulness and blasphemous doubt of the truths of the Roman Catholic Faith, regardless of there having been three shepherd children visited six times by the Holy Mother of God, every 13th of the month, May through October of 1917.
Too many millions have become unfortunately dependent upon the debatable need for seeking enormous auguries and divinations contrary to true faith, to the principles of authentic religion, versus ignorant superstition. How so?
Both in May and October of 2017, the hundredth year commemorations of the very certainly forever extraordinary events at Fátima, Portugal will be the dramatic scene of tremendous expectations and extravagant anticipations, elaborate hopes and fantastic imaginings, in the minds of millions both there and, literally, around the world. This year is expected to be eventful, to say the least.
But, will millions of Roman Catholics end up, perhaps, questioning or doubting their religion, meaning if highly special “somethings” – equivalent to wonderful Hollywood epics – do not occur, either in May or October of this year? Time will tell.
The Fátima Miracle Industry, Inc.
A recent search online, on Bing browser alone, showed 40,800,000 hits for: Fátima Centennial 2017. Obviously, to say that there is a great deal of contemporary interest in this subject would be an understatement. Thousands of websites and blogs are, of course, seriously devoted to this theme.
Given the amazing nature of what had occurred, a hundred years ago, involving the Miracle of the Sun, it would be fairly inevitable that such natural (and supernatural) interest would be exhibited, with such a massive display of communicational devotion, to this rather important topic. The Shrine of Our Lady Fatima is just 70 miles north of Lisbon and is undoubtedly one of most famous and heralded pilgrimage sites in the whole world. Each year, there are about four million people who regularly go to see the shrine, museums, and historic sites at and around that location. It is assumed that a record crowd will gather, logically, for this centenary year.
Modern Fátima, according to many of those who have visited it, exists now as a typical, tawdry tourist trap. No doubt the tourists, for the once-in-a-lifetime 100th Anniversary, are going to be milked for all they have, or even more so, if the eager and prolific venders typically have their materialistic way. Expectations are now reaching, figuratively, several miles high this year; and, there are many reasons, given below, for that quite significant situation.
Turmoil, chaos, mayhem, confusion, disorder, and often bold anarchy itself in the world seems at a mighty fever pitch, Moslems are willfully invading Europe, in the millions, with no end in sight; many wars on earth tend to seem interminable, especially when fought by the United States of America. And, all that, one could add, is only just some parts of the troubles existing.
Pope Francis no less has been denounced publicly as both either a heretic or a vile apostate, the Church is in a tremendously severe crisis that appears to many as being simply permanent; rampant sodomy, pornography, pedophilia, bestiality, etc. are now just daily realities seeking normalization and, thus, total societal, cultural, and moral acceptance as well. In short, it is a world truly ripe and needful of a salvific miracle. The Satanic triumph of modernity, of secularization, has left many begging for God’s mercy. (But, would an unexpected miracle be found acceptable?)
Millions are, therefore, frantic and desperate, agitated and distressed, and looking for some true hope and some kind of deliverance from all those above cited and yet many more evils. Plaster saints, without a doubt, will be voluminously sold at Fátima at a premium, in set terms of the higher priced sales because of the now, unsurprisingly, elevated demand and aroused expectation, the spiritually-induced suspense; it is, for many, now at a fever pitch.
Of course, this basic sort of thing, as to commercialization, has truly gone on since at least the earliest medieval fairs. Skepticism often grows in the fertile soil of disappointed credulity, for caution and sober thoughts are requisite for mature consideration and a decent reflection. What is meant?
The word “tawdry” itself came from the St. Audrey (St. Ethelreda) Fair held in Ely, England; goods sold at this fair were notoriously cheap, quite common in quality, and, thus, gave rise to the expression ‘of St. Audry’, which was, later, simply abridged to tawdry.
One hopes, however, that Catholicism has little or, better yet, absolutely nothing to do with the many vile, unwanted shenanigans that will surely occur at Fátima this year. Literally, many tons of books, pamphlets, devotionals, holy cards, etc. have been/will be published revolving around or about, directly and indirectly, the Miracle of Our Lady of Fátima, no real doubt about that assertion. But, the significantly heightened expectations, brought out by the coming Fátima apparition’s significant centennial, may yet be dashed.
What may be said? This energized coruscation of minds and hearts, with hot emotions soaring to the far skies, is concerning what had occurred, somewhere near (or not excessively far from) the location of what an online ad says is, “Just 400 metres from the Fátima Sanctuary, Cova da Iria Hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and a private balcony.” (There’s nothing quite like having one’s “revelations” experienced in some maximum comfort, you know. See: www.booking.com/hotel/pt/cova-da-iria.html)
One hopes that the above-cited actual establishment is not endorsed by the local prelate, but who really knows these days? Reports, nonetheless, have it that Fátima has been substantially “desacralized” in main terms of what could be considered to be its both commercialization and secularization of functional intent, especially since the late 1960s and the baleful results of Vatican II.
Regardless of all the above discussion, the matter is still the subject of private revelation, not of the integral and central beliefs of Roman Catholicism. This fact should be, thus, kept properly in mind for maintaining thinking on this issue within that appropriate perspective.
Indeed, the subject itself, of course, is of legitimate importance, though not all of the materially weighty stuff that has been, for better or worse, connected to it, or, usually, for worse, one sadly suspects. It usually takes some expertise, much knowledge, to separate the gold from the dross of all that has been said, written, and tangentially speculated about as to its meaning. And, the right exercise of a calm prudence may be wisely recommended.
Nonetheless, the eyes of a suffering world, an oppressed humanity, are urgently turning toward Fátima in expectation of something absolutely marvelous that will either shake up the world for the good or, perhaps, just destroy it completely. Why are things, in the minds of vast hordes of people in the world, heading toward such a boiling point of high emotional tension and vitalized anticipation? It is certainly because of the ever increasing, century-long impact by now of a private revelation, of course.
Catholicism v. Private Revelation
Some theology is vitally needed here. However venerable a private revelation may be, it is still not held as being dogmatic unless and until it has been declared officially to be a de fide matter that would then spiritually, morally, and intellectually force its acceptance as fully binding upon all loyal, faithful, and practicing Roman Catholics.
Then, it so becomes held an infallible teaching (meaning something set that should not ever be doubted) of Holy Mother Church, for the impious denying of even one single dogma puts all of the Catholic dogmas into question, as to the clear, inherent logic involved.
For example, way back in the mid-19th century, Great Britain’s Lord Acton had once vociferously denounced the notion of papal infallibility; this was up until it was declared ex cathedra (from the Chair of St. Peter) an actual dogma of the Faith, then afterwards he maintained his silence, with the presumption that silence gives consent. It is an apt illustration of truly proper Catholic behavior as to a proclaimed dogma of the Faith; it should, moreover, never be otherwise.
Of course, the well-documented, witnessed, and verified Miracle of the Sun added considerable validity and cogency to this private revelation, and the Church has publicly endorsed respect for Our Lady of Fátima as having truly been a genuine apparition; this is totally unlike, e. g., the very specious and nastily spurious so-called Lady of Medjugorje, for idolatry is to be always avoided and rejected as immoral.
Nonetheless, the absolute bottom line is that whether or not anything does or does not happen at Fátima this year ought not to ever be any kind of a qualifying determinant or basis of one’s Catholic faith. That would be entirely absurd; more than that, it could be highly sinful if it should lead to apostasy or (an increased) skepticism or doubt of the Catholic religion.
Remember the words of Christ. Jesus said to him: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” Catholics are required to believe in things that can be both seen and not seen. The excitements of private revelations need to be prudently judged, cautiously investigated, and sagaciously examined as to those qualities that do rightly submit to orthodox cognition in theology, careful logic, and human reason, not irrationality.
Sadly, if things do not go at Fátima, in May or October, the way that millions seem to think they ought to go, those millions, it is assumed, will be surely disappointed in Our Lady of Fátima; this is because they may expect to see fantastic, wondrous, or, perhaps, some spectacular signs and wonders or, at the very least, some kinds of special auguries sent or made for the faithful.
But, the exact place of this 1917 appearance of Our Lady is not to be thought of as just a mere carnival sideshow. The Fátima believers, however, may be unpleasantly frustrated or, perhaps, terribly exasperated by not seeing much or more of what they may hope that they might see. But, do they have their true faith in Christ and His Holy Catholic Church, or is it just a “faith” in their peculiar kind of crippled or limited faith that must be, somehow or other, sustained by what they can or, one presumes, do wish to see? This is, thus, so greatly problematic.
Many Fátima-centered believers may, in fact, have a very weak or tenuous faith not worthy of the sacred name of religion but is just merely instead, upon close analysis and examination, superstition alone acting as if it is religion. A genuine Catholic will believe, without any real question, that Jesus is genuinely the Christ and that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces, regardless, e. g., of what may or may not be seen at the Cova da Iria this year.
If a great miracle or several occur in either May or October, then fine and good. If not, then fine and good. Christians, especially Catholics, are supposed to pray that the Will of God is done, no matter what. Either way of what may or may not happen should be equally regarded as being consonant with Divine Providence, not vain human wishes, hopes, or aspirations for many magnificent signs or wonders, perhaps, beheld across the wide glorious skies.
Fátima should not be made a litmus test of one’s Catholicism. Faith, true belief, ought to be based upon solid reasons and knowledge, not emotional inclinations or mere feelings. If the world, for instance, does not end next month or in October, this should not diminish belief in the Faith of Our Fathers; this is as if any events or the lack thereof, in a place in Portugal, should determine all possible future cognizance of human and/or spiritual reality thereafter or forever more to infinity.
God deems to send people what they need for their salvation, not what they think they may deserve or possibly could use. What may be wisely sent could be a sign of contradiction, as is the Sign of the Cross, especially in the warped minds of secularists.
There could be experienced a silence, as with a silent contempt by God, for the thoroughly obnoxious sinfulness of secularism and apostasy existing on a truly gargantuan scale. That would not, one suspects, please the masses of people seeking something much different, something more spiritually exhilarating and marvelous to behold, an epic revelation.
There may be rudely given to the people at Fátima, for instance, an admonishment concerning the need for repentance, done on a massive scale of profound endeavor, in requisite reparation to God, for the aforementioned severely heinous and blasphemous secularization of the world that has so shamefully occurred. Such a spiritual rebuke ought to be fully accepted.
Of course, this might not be so highly appreciated by many of the Fátima believers, especially those hoping for some genuine moment of religious exaltation or a rare spiritual high, the true experience of a lifetime, a (supposedly) mightily superior instance of “quality time.” Neither of those expectations, however, might occur.
Some have speculated, e. g., that the Devil was given just one hundred years from 1917 to do all the horrid mischief possible toward the spiritual destruction of humanity and that a time of retribution is then to occur against Satan.
However, such types of definitive “predictions” or pronouncements ought to be critically held in the realm of mere speculation, until such time as they may be sufficiently verified by unfolding events. Otherwise, various degrees of disillusion and disappointment are probably to occur for many folks, awaiting the equivalent of something like Moses at Mount Sinai.
But, what are people really expecting? If they leave, after May or especially after October, with only a greatly deflated experience, should nothing much occur there of a manifestly spectacular nature, meaning of an anticipated enormous magnitude, what would that then empirically say of the (rather poor) quality of the Catholic faith of these Fátima believers?
Fátima may not necessarily be the begin all or end all of all things. Events in the future, or the probable lack thereof, will prove the truth of what may be known. All else may be just pure speculation, not any expression of absolute certainty. Miracle or no miracle this year, Jesus is still the Christ, the only Son of the living God, as is made known by Catholicism. Certainty ought to logically preclude apparent speculation no matter how pious it may possibly seem.
What this particular situation, making it religiously historic for 2017, may surprisingly reveal is the test of whether or not the faith of Fátima is to be held as being properly congruent with the Roman Catholic Faith. And, this is surely the ever greatest consideration or question involved in this entire matter.
Many non-Catholic Christians, also, are looking eagerly toward that place in Portugal to actually see if anything happens on this particular set anniversary. Something may occur. Perhaps so, perhaps not. However, a belief in a private revelation, no matter how seemingly venerable, is still not any Catholic requirement for the salvation of one’s soul. And, this is true.
One sadly suspects, it seems, that the equivalent of a Hollywood epic is to be, thus, supposedly experienced for real either in, around, or somewhere or somewhat near the famous Cova da Iria this year. But, perhaps not. Signs and wonders, moreover, ought not to constitute the definitive basis of any religion as a whole, for true religion is not any sort of vile superstition.
Extravagant expectations of magnificent types of spiritually-directed glorification may prove too excess, if that must be the assumed result of a pilgrimage to this particular place on the Iberian Peninsula. That would be, therefore, so terribly ludicrous beyond measure, to say the least. Catholicism, moreover, should or ought to mean much more than an idiosyncratic, limited, or, in fact, any extremely Fátima-centric worldview. In short, it should not matter if absolutely nothing at all significantly spectacular or really remarkable happens there. Why?
God still reigns in Heaven, Divine Providence governs all. Praise the Lord’s Holy Name forever. Honor and love the Roman Catholic Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ forever. This is all substantially part of Catholicism, the true Faith.
The Centennial of Our Lady of Fátima should not, therefore, be ever hyped beyond all rational thought. Should a prodigious apparition or incredible event improbably engulf those at the Cova da Iria, let it be positively related to any cognate elements or orthodox teachings of the Catholic Faith, not otherwise. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics would have agreed.
But, alternatively, if absolutely nothing ever happens in May or October, there should be no gnashing of teeth or uproar of substantial indignation against Holy Mary the Mother of God. True faith, thus, always so rightly precludes such certainly gross nonsense and, furthermore, appropriately denounces it as being just contemptible and condemnable superstition, which it definitely is.
In confirmation and reiteration, one should, thus, repeat the wise words, spoken by Jesus, and interestingly directed toward St. John the Baptist: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No! Then what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Look, those who go in magnificent clothes and live luxuriously are to be found at royal courts!”
In the preceding New Testament citation, Christ was stressing realism. Making an Idol out of Fátima, by rejecting a realistic orthodox perspective, is to be completely and unquestionably condemned. A chastisement would, therefore, be much better.
For those who may go to the actual location of the Miracle of the Sun and may see only mere reeds “swaying in the breeze,” the religious hope, therefore, is that they will not then become sinfully idolatrous by making the worship greater than God. Ora pro nobis peccatoribus, Sancta Maria, Mater Dei!
Athanasius contra mundum!