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February 14, 2005

Our Lady's Suffering Messenger: Sister Lucia of Fatima

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Our Lady's suffering messenger, Sister Lucia dos Santos, has gone home to Heaven, having died on the thirteenth day of February at the age of ninety-seven. Sister Lucia lived eighty-seven years and four months following the Miracle of the Sun that accompanied Our Lady's final apparition in the Cova da Iria on October 13, 1917. This is not a time of sadness at all. No. This is a time of great joy. Sister Lucia has been reunited in Heaven with her cousins, Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

Although we continue to pray for the repose of her soul and to have Masses offered for her, understanding that the fruit of those prayers and Masses will be applied to some other deserving soul if Sister Lucia has indeed gone home to Heaven, Our Lady did promise the ten year old Lucia dos Santos that she would have to suffer much in this world before being taken to Heaven after her death. "Jesus wants you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who practice this devotion. Those sould will be loved by God like flowers arranged by me to decorate His throne," Our Lady told Lucia on June 13, 1917. Indeed, Sister Lucia did help to make known the most important message of the Twentieth Century, Our Lady's Fatima Message of Peace through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, suffering in ways that will only be known to most of us mortals after we ourselves have died. And as much as Sister Lucia helped the Church and the world by means of her prayers, especially before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God, in this life, her prayers from eternity will be all the more powerful in this time of apostasy and betrayal within the highest quarters of the Church.

Others, I am sure, will be writing extensive tributes to Sister Lucia and commentaries on how the Vatican has carefully orchestrated a deconstruction of the Fatima Message over the past forty-five years, dating back to the time that Pope John XXIII refused to reveal the contents of the Third Secret of Fatima in 1960 as Our Lady herself had requested. Fathers Nicholas Gruner and Paul Kramer, John Vennari, Mark Fellows and Christopher A. Ferrara are probably at work themselves as this is being written to provide poignant analyses of the long-suffering life of Sister Lucia and the way in which Vatican minions sought to superimpose the ethos of conciliarism on Our Lady's Fatima apparitions. We can only hope that Sister Lucia did not know of the conference that was held in Fatima in the Fall of 2003 that centered on plans to turn the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima into a "mecca" for inter-religious dialog and that she was preserved from knowing in this life of the abomination that occurred when idol worship was offered to false gods on May 5, 2004, in the Chapel of the Apparitions as Hindu "priests" offered a "prayer for peace" to their false gods. The authors cited above will no doubt examine these sad betrayals of Our Lady and of the life of Sister Lucia in their own commentaries.

My own brief reflection, though, is going to focus principally on how I came to learn about Our Lady's Fatima Message and how important it is for us to continue to propagate fidelity to it as the antidote to the errors of Russia, which manifest themselves as the errors of Modernity in the world of of Modernism in the Church.

Although I was baptized as a member of the Catholic Church as an infant, I grew up in a fairly secular household in the 1950s. My late father's thoroughly Catholic training at a Jesuit high school in Brooklyn in the 1930s did not prove strong enough for him to resist the allures of American culture and politics. My late mother was the adopted daughter of a vaudevillian performer who claimed, falsely, to be a full-blooded Sioux Indian Chieftain. Her itinerant existence as a child precluded her from having any consistent exposure to the Faith. Thus, the household in which I grew up was shaped largely by the prevailing icons of the day. Television, then in its infancy, was king. The plaster saints of the myths of American history were celebrated, not the liturgical calendar of the Church. Pilgrimages were made not to shrines of Our Lady but to the battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Dinner conversation focused principally around current events, view through the Americanist lens of conservative Republicanism, not Catholicism.

In God's ineffable mercy, however, I was enrolled in a Catholic elementary school, Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, at a time the Faith was being taught by means of the Baltimore Catechism. A priest who had been ordained just months before I entered Kindergarten in September of 1956, Father Robert Mason, made a tremendous impression upon many of us school children at Saint Aloysius. Father Mason was tenderly devoted to Our Lady, teaching us early on about the message of Our Lady of Fatima and the lives of the shepherd children to whom she had appeared in 1917, Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos. Father Mason stressed the fact that Our Lady had appeared to simple children, who believed in all simplicity that they had been visited by the Mother of God. It was thus incumbent upon the children of our own day in the 1950s to take to heart Our Lady's Fatima Message, to be totally consecrated to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and to pray and to do penance for the conversion of Russia and for the conversion of sinners, starting with ourselves.

The entire student body of Saint Aloysisus would gather now and again to pray Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary for the conversion of Russia, usually as part of an air raid drill on a Friday afternoon. Father Mason taught us as the years progressed that the shepherd children of Fatima had no access to the modern means of mass communication, that they had never heard that there was a country named Russia, no less had heard anything about its errors. Indeed, the Miracle of the Sun occurred just weeks before the Bolsheviks seized power prior to the onset of a three and one-half year civil war between the Red Russians and the White Russians. Our Lady had appeared to simple, relatively uneducated peasant children of the fields to remind us once again that God chooses the lowly and those who count for nothing in this world to shame the mighty and those who think they count for something because of their learning and schemes and wealth and power. We had to pray the Rosary constantly for the intentions that Our Lady had requested in Fatima and later revealed to Sister Lucia in 1929.

The lessons about Our Lady's Fatima Message that Father Mason taught so well have stayed with me from that time to the present. The Sisters of Mercy who taught of Saint Aloysius amplified those lessons, teaching us about the vision of Hell that was given to the Fatima seers on July 13, 1917, and that many souls were going there because of the sins of the flesh. No, we did not know exactly what a "sin of the flesh" was, to be honest. However, we knew that it was a bad thing and that we wouldn't want to die after committing such a sin without making use of the Sacrament of Penance. "Sacrifice yourself for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice, 'O Jesus, this is for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"

The sisters taught us, therefore, to do penance at all times, understanding that Sister Lucia had taught that the penances spoken of by Our Lady in the Cova da Iria are nothing extraordinary. They entail the taking up of our daily crosses (getting up out of bed promptly, saying our prayers without delay, performing the duties of our state in life without complaint, obeying our parents, performing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy when we would prefer to indulge ourselves, being detached from the world) and offering up each and every single one of them to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. The lessons taught by Father Robert Mason, who has continued devotion to Our Lady of Fatima throughout the forty-nine years of his priesthood, and the Sisters of Mercy at Saint Aloysius School were reinforced by the early 1950s motion picture, The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, which was shown to the entire study body at Saint Aloysius around 1960 or 1961.

Devotion to Our Lady's Fatima Message was particularly strong in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Diocesan and religious priests fostered this devotion, understanding that no secular organization's grand schemes were going to combat Bolshevism and the other errors of Russia. One of Father Mason's older brothers in the priesthood at the time of his ordination for the Diocese of Brooklyn (half of which became the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957) was a Father John Carberry, who had served as a curate for a number of years at Saint Dominic's Church in Oyster Bay, New York. Father Carberry became John Cardinal Carberry, the Archbishop of St. Louis, who was an outspoken advocate of Our Lady's Fatima Message. Even after retirement in 1979, Cardinal Carberry remained a thorn in the side of many of his brother bishops in the then named National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), speaking openly at bishop's meetings of the necessity of listening to Our Lady and heeding her Fatima Peace Plan. Indeed, Cardinal Carberry made an intervention at the 1982 bishops' meeting at a time when the NCCB was debating The Challenge of Peace pastoral letter. "Gentlemen," reports in the Catholic press quoted Cardinal Carberry at the time, "it seems to me you have forgotten about the only peace plan that works: Our Lady's Fatima Peace Plan." A few of the reports I read (The Wanderer and the National Catholic Register, I believe) indicated that more than a handful of bishops could barely restrain themselves from laughing out loud. How foolish could anyone be to take that Message seriously in 1980s, of all things? Well, the truth of the matter is quite plain: anyone who does not take Our Lady's Fatima Peace Plan seriously and who does not propagate it is the foolish one.

Despite the Vatican's efforts to deconstruct the Third Secret of Fatima and to turn the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima into a center for "ecumenical" and/or inter-religious dialog, we must remain steadfast in our childlike devotion to Our Lady's Fatima Message, making sure to keep the Five First Saturday devotions, continuing to keep them until we die, content to offer to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart the merits of our second and third and thirtieth consecutive keeping of the Five First Saturdays with all of their obligations. We now have a powerful intercessor for us, Sister Lucia dos Santos, who will assist us from eternity in ways that she could never do here on earth. Along with her blessed cousins, Jacinta and Francisco, Sister Lucia stands ready to help us to pray and fast and do penance for our own sins and those of the whole world as we beseech Our Lady to bend the heart of this pope or one of his successors to consecrate Russia (not the "world," not "those countries who are in need") to her Immaculate Heart for the cessation of the spread of the poisonous errors of Russia which infect both the Church and the world today.

Living at a time when popes redefine various doctrines and cardinals congratulate members of royal families entering upon illicit marriages, we must flee like the Fatima children to the sure refuge of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, praying the Rosary with attentiveness and fervor as we keep the Five First Saturdays and pray that our children may yet live to be the beneficiaries of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the chief fruits of which will be the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King in the world and the restoration of Tradition within the heart of Holy Mother Church.

Trusting in Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, we must pray ever with the Fatima children the prayers they had learned from the Angel of Peace in 1916 that they prayed ceaselessly as they were being threatened by the Masonic officials of Ourem, Portugal, on August 13, 1917:

My God, I believe, adore, I hope, and I love Thee. I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly and off Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences with which He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart of of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

Eternal rest grant unto Sister Lucia, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul--and all of the souls of the faithful departed--rest in peace. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.

Blessed Francisco, pray for us.










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