What significance can we attribute to the centenary of Fatima?
To begin with, it is a great opportunity for us to examine whether we, as individuals and as a society, have heeded the message of Fatima, and to consider the consequences of our actions in this matter.
Remember that Our Lady said: "If they do not stop offending God another even worse war will begin..."
"To prevent it, I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests Russia will convert and there will be peace; if not, it will spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer and many nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me; it will convert and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world."
Who would have thought, on hearing these warnings and promises of Our Lady, that we would have to wait a whole century to see them fulfilled?
Yet, as we approach the Centenary of Our Lady's first apparition on 13th May, the fullness of the chastisement predicted by Our Lady has not been visited on us. Nor have we seen the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Some think that we have already been chastised enough through wars and political and economic crises, and that the conversion of Russia has already taken place, and thus the message of Fatima is no longer relevant.
Let us examine these propositions.
Have we been chastised enough?
Those who think that the chastisement has already happened fail to consider the immensity and gravity of the sins of mankind, and the lack of repentance for them.
To take one example, the Soviet Union was the bearer of the errors of Russia, and was the first political jurisdiction to legalise abortion — long before Britain or USA. It is estimated that since that time - in other words, since Our Lady's warnings to mankind - over 2 billion abortions were performed worldwide.
That is an offence that rises to Heaven in blasphemous arrogance, mocking the Creator as Author of life and death. Meanwhile the ocean of innocent blood that has been spilled by abortion clamours to God for justice.
What would be the purpose of the chastisement announced by Our Lady if it didn't lead to the repentance of mankind for our sins?
Far from having repented, however:
- half the world is up in arms against Ireland because our abortion laws are not liberal enough for them;
- our own government has recently legalised abortion;
- our government has established a "citizens assembly" to pave the way for a referendum to abolish the last remaining legal protection for the unborn child; and
- Irish people keep voting in great numbers for politicians who favour abortion.
And that is just what is happening in Ireland regarding abortion. Most countries in the world have legalised it. Transnational bodies like the UN and the EU push it on their member states. People everywhere campaign for it and vote for it.
Not by the widest stretch of the imagination could it be suggested that mankind has repented for the sin of abortion. Had we truly repented, it would be unthinkable to perpetuate a sin of that magnitude.
And abortion is only one of countless evils that are spreading around the world like a contagious disease, and for which mankind has in no way repented. It is one consequence of the sexual revolution that exploded in the 20th century and whose effect is felt everywhere.
Widespread concubinage, divorce, contraception, abandonment of children, same-sex "marriage", pornography, euthanasia, paedophilia, human trafficking, drugs, violence... the list is endless. And we cannot claim to have repented while these evils are still spreading.
Has Russia converted?
As for the conversion of Russia and the period of peace that have been promised to the world, we have yet to see them.
Everywhere in the world today there is political and social unrest that can easily erupt into violence and often war. One day it is the Middle East that is the focus of such violence; the next day it is the heart of Europe.
There is no real peace in the world.
While Russia makes some overtures to the Orthodox church, the Catholic Church is still marginalised and persecuted within its borders. Who could suggest that this is what Our Lady was referring to when She promised the conversion of Russia?
Peace in the world, the conversion of Russia and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be prodigious miracles, which will be entirely clear to mankind when they occur.
The human race has fallen far from the height of Christian civilisation. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart will bring about a complete restoration of all the principles on which that civilisation was founded. We cannot expect anything less since this will be Our Lady's triumph.
Will the Message of Fatima become irrelevant when its specific prophecies are fulfilled?
Besides the specific prophecies about our times, the message of Fatima reveals the great power that Our Lady has before God. The fact that She offers the conversion of Russia - that vast territory that has been outside the Church for a millennium - and a period of peace to the world surely speaks for itself.
Also, the First Saturdays devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary doesn't have a time limit on it, and promises salvation to those who faithfully practice it. Likewise Our Lady's appeal for the daily recitation of the Rosary, and for amendment of life, will never lose significance.
The Message of Fatima will always be relevant.