Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for the 20th Sunday After Pentecost

Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the "Miracle of the Sun" at Fatima, Portugal when seventy to a hundred thousand people from all over Portugal witnessed a great miracle, which had been promised beforehand by our Blessed Mother. Many atheists and agnostics, free thinkers had come to debunk the beliefs of the people who had come to see this miracle but they themselves remembered their prayers from childhood and cried out to God for mercy as the sun plunged towards the earth and seemed that it was going to destroy everything. When the sun returned to it's place, the people discovered that their clothing, which had been soaked from standing in the mud, was all dry and so this was reported in the secular press in Portugal. Unfortunately, in the United States the World Series was going on and so it was relevated to a back page in an unimportant section (might have been the sport's section) and so the message or the apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima did not become well known in our country until shortly after World War II. Because at that time, it was revealed that Our Lady had predicted the Second World War, but the miracle, which took place at Fatima, is not the important thing about the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, what's more important is her message and her message is basically of prayer, penance, modesty, reparation and consecration to her Immaculate Heart.

Our Lady in each apparition said: "pray the rosary every day" and she also said, "pray the rosary for peace", in one of her apparitions she said: "The war is going to end and the soldiers are going to come home." She asked for penance, she said: "My Son is greatly offended, men must cease to offend God, who is already too much offended." She asked for modesty, she said: "Styles and fashions will be introduced..." (This is in 1917) "...these will be introduced which will gravely offend her Divine Son." She asked for reparation; when the children saw a vision of hell in July of 1917 she said: "You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. So many go to hell because they have no one to pray and sacrifice for them." She also said: "My Son also wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart," and she promised that she would return later, which she did in the 1920's, I think, to ask for the communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. On the practice of observing First Saturdays, Our Blessed Mother requested that on the First Saturday, the rosary be recited, that the faithful keep her company for fifteen minutes meditating on the mysteries of the rosary, this is in addition to praying it and then confession and communion. When she was asked later on, "What if someone couldn't receive communion on the Saturday?" Our Lady said that if my priests won't allow it, then they will receive their communion on Sunday. To those who make the first five Saturdays she promised to help to give them all the graces needed for salvation at the moment of their death to those who would practice this devotion. In each of her apparitions Our Lady asked the children to pray the rosary, there is a similarity here between Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes where she held the rosary while Bernadette recited it, only joining in at the "Glory Be's" because it was the only prayer suitable for her in her glorified state.

She asked the children to come for six months so that in October she would perform a miracle so that all would believe. This was in response to a request made by Lucía that she work a miracle so that those who doubted their words would believe. In the July apparition, Our Lady showed the children a vision of hell. On August 13, the children were not at the "Copa de Herria" in Fatima, Portugal because they had been taken prisoner by the Mayor, I think it was, a free-thinker and wanted to put an end to this business of crowds of people coming to his area. Those who were present at the Copa de Herria saw a small cloud come and settle over the oak tree, where Our Lady had been appearing, and then it lifted up and disappeared into the east, as it had on other occasions. On August 19, Our Lady appeared in another place called "Valinos" to the children and told them: "Because of their disbelief, the miracle in October will not be so great." but she asserted them to come back the next month on the thirteenth. On October 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared and told them, as she promised, her name. She said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary." She told the children in the course of these apparitions that Jacinta and Francisco will die soon but Lucía would stay a while longer. As it turned out, Lucía lived many decades longer. Francisco and Jacinta died very pious deaths. Francisco spent the remainder of his short life, much of it in front of the Blessed Sacrament adoring Jesus. Jacinta became ill, however both of them died because of the influenza of 1918, that epidemic that swept across Europe and the world. Jacinta had visions of Our Lady who gave her further insights and Jacinta herself, through the Holy Ghost, had her own insights for example when she said: "Priests must be very pure, they must not concern themselves with things of the world."

After Our Lady told the children her name and promised to cure some and others she would not, she pointed to the sun which began to spin and, as I mentioned earlier, it began to plunge to the earth and people there thought that they were going to die. While this miracle was going on, there were some other visions, which the children had. First, they had a vision of the Holy Family, which gave reference to the Joyful Mysteries, St. Joseph appeared with the Child Jesus and blessed the crowd, then Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows and she appeared with Our Lord robed in red and finally she appeared as Our Lady of Carmel and in this she emphasized the importance of wearing the scapular, which is, as later commented by Sister Lucía, the sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart and the actual form of consecration to Our Lady which most closely corresponds to what Our Lady asks is that consecration to Jesus through Mary as taught by St. Louis, where we give all that we have, even the value of our good works to Jesus through Mary that she may deal with them in a manner that is most pleasing to Almighty God.

Yesterday in Spokane, there was a day of retreat discussing the four steps of preparation for this total consecration, our renouncement of the spirit of the world, knowledge of self, knowledge of the Blessed Virgin Mary and knowledge of Jesus Christ. As I said, the most important thing about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima is not the miracle that she worked or the prophecies that she made. The first secret that the children had and were not permitted to reveal for some time was the vision of hell, then the fact that there would be a Second World War. Sister Lucía did not receive permission to reveal this until some time after that war because her role was not to be a prophetess or to prophecise the war, but to be a messenger and to know that man had not answered Our Lady's requests in sufficient numbers and as a result, in 1938 the night was illumined by a strange light preceding the outbreak of World War II in 1939. There was a third secret which was supposed to be revealed in 1960 because Sister Lucía said these things would be better understood. But because from reliable accounts of those who had seen the third Fatima secret and not the supposed version, which was published in the last few years, which is actually not connected with the import of that which went before it, the messages of Our Lady, that there would be a great upheaval in the Church, causing great harm to souls.

This secret was not revealed, obviously, because John XXIII and those who came after him were involved in the plot. They had their involvement in that, which was actually happening, the actual upheaval and revolution in the Church which brought about the great changes which occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, things which contradicted past Church teachings, especially in regards to the ideas of ecumenism and religious liberty, the false principles of these which were previously condemned by Pope Pius IX in the 1800's and by Pope Pius XI in the 1930's. The subsequent changes in the liturgy, which affected not only the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but all the Sacraments. Especially the Sacraments of Holy Orders which includes the consecration of Bishops and the ordination of priests, which would render highly doubtful, if not, invalid so as to render complete the destruction of the Church by it's enemies. But as Sister Lucía said: "The rosary has been given by Almighty God a special efficacy for these times." Because in so many places, the Mass is not available at all and where it is available, it is nothing near available as it was before the changes, which came about in the wake of Vatican II. The Latin Mass has so nearly disappeared throughout the world where at one time, it was offered around the globe and around the clock.

So let us answer Our Lady's request because it is due to the failure of living up to these requests that we have seen the Second World War, that we have seen the upheaval in the Church because not enough Catholics answered her message. Our Lady appeared in Medjugorje, Germany, this apparition did not receive official approbation but it has all the marks of a true apparition of Our Lady, she said that: "Because her message had not been sufficiently heeded, her reign will not be an open reign in society but rather a reign in hearts and that people should not look for signs and wonders because the devil can work signs and wonders. But rather they should keep the faith in their hearts." We've seen many supposed apparitions of Our Mother especially Medjugorje and some of the others where volumes and volumes of supposed messages had been recorded in distinction to the usual method of the Blessed Mother who speaks very few words and on a few occasions instead of hundreds and hundreds of occasions and volumes of messages and Our Lady gave clear indications of the truth of her apparitions like LaSalette, Lourdes and Fatima but these modern ones are basically, especially Medjugorje, giving credence to the ideas of ecumenism and support for the Novus Ordo Missae which is not the Catholic Mass but much more like the Lutheran and the Episcopalian services because, after all it was put forth by Paul VI in the 1960's with the collaboration of a number of protestant ministers so this is not a Catholic worship. Yet, at Medjugorje, the supposed apparitions took place in context of the modern mass.

Let us follow Our Lady's warnings, let us heed her message of prayer, penance, modesty and preparation in consecration to her Immaculate Heart and in so doing we will triumph in our own mists, especially in our own hearts.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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