The Pope and Peace
“ As is traditional, I am signing this Message on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. ”
What message ? That of the fiftieth World Day of Peace, for January 1, 2017 : “ Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of Her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Lk 2 : 14). Let us pray for Her guidance. ”
This is said to conclude this Message of Pope Francis in which the Virgin Mary plays no role and for good reason ! Pope Francis refers to the first Message, in which “ Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. ‘Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order’. ” On the contrary, his words are utterly bereft of “ clarity ” since they seem to condemn every form of ‘nationalism’ as ‘ambitious, ‘ every ‘conquest’ as ‘violent, ‘ every act of ‘repression’ as a ‘mainstay for a false civil order. ’
Fifty years later, we can read in Pope Francis’ second paragraph, the picture of the fruits of Paul VI’s Message : “ Today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. ”
FORCE AND VIOLENCE.
Indeed we are, Most Holy Father, but in that case it is urgent to distinguish between criminal “ violence ” and armed force that serves to defend the common good.
In an international situation that is identical to ours, Benedict XV proclaimed Our Lady Queen of Peace, as our Father already recalled in his Letter to My Friends, n° 247 of June 5, 1967, the year of the fiftieth anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions.
In 1917, there seemed to be no end to the world war. Pope Benedict XV had unsuccessfully multiplied diplomatic moves. Finally, on May 5, disappointed and desolate, he asked that ardent prayers for peace rise to Heaven through Mary’s intercession and he added an invocation to the Litany of Loretto : Queen of Peace, pray for us !
The parish priest of Fatima had read the Pope’s letter on this very Rogation Sunday, May 13, and he urged his parishioners to say their daily Rosary with even more fervour, for this intention. On that same day, Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to the three children. Visibly, just as Our Lady of Lourdes had come to confirm Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, so the voice of Heaven answered that of the Vicar of Christ.
What does the Voice from Heaven say ? She does not immediately speak of peace, nor promises anything. When Lucy asks : “ Could you tell me whether the war will last much longer or whether it will end soon ? ” the Lady answers : “ I cannot tell you that, not until I have told you what I want. ”
What does She want ? She wants to snatch men from sin, of which war is the chastisement. The same is true for cures and other temporal graces, which were asked of Our Lady through the little seers. The Blessed Virgin did not grant them immediately nor indiscriminately, as She did at Lourdes to signify Her all-powerful goodness, because She wished firstly to instruct souls in the primordial necessity of their conversion.
For one sick person, She said : “ Let him be converted and he will be cured within the year. ” For many others, She said : “ Some will be cured in the course of the year, but not all will be cured, because the Lord lacks confidence in them. ” That was said in order to come back to the essential thing “ She wanted ” :
“ Pray and pray much ; make sacrifices for sinners for many souls go to Hell because there is no one to sacrifice or pray for them. ” Finally, on October 13, in answer to graces implored : “ I shall grant some ; others not. Men must correct themselves ; let them ask pardon for their sins and let them no longer offend Our Lord Who is already too much offended. ”
All ardently desired peace. On October 13 the crowd gathered quickly, convinced that in some extraordinary and unforeseen way the war was going to end on that very day. Thus humanity asks first of all for its immediate and temporal good. Our Lady, in deferring that until later, reminds humanity that it is neither the most necessary gift nor the best one. That one is conversion, with Heaven as its object. The greatest evil is not war but sin, which leads poor souls to Hell and unleashes wars and revolutions. The Message of Fatima invites men to recognise their error ; otherwise, the calamities here below are no more than a prelude to eternal chastisements. Such is the wise and firm lesson of the Queen of Heaven, like the insistent cry of a mother who sees the unfathomable abyss opening up before her children.
The worst war is that which men wage against God. True peace is that which we enjoy when obedient to God’s commandments. The greatest evil is neither illness nor poverty, but sin which kills more than the body ; it kills the soul for eternity. Out of pity for themselves, let men first cease to outrage the divine Majesty and let them submit to His Law. Then God will grant a little peace and prosperity to this earth. That is what the children of Fatima understood so well.
Sin is the only absolute evil :
“ Many and great sins are committed in the world ” said Jacinta shortly before dying. “ If only men knew what eternity is, they would do all in their power to change their lives. Men are lost because they do not think sufficiently of Our Lord’s death and they do no penance. ”
One day when the Blessed Virgin appeared to her sadder than ever, She said : “ The sins which lead most souls to Hell are the sins of the flesh. Men must make amends and must not persist in sin as they have done up to now. Great penance is indispensable. ”
From then on the children gave themselves up to penance without measure, repeating the prayer they had been taught by the Lady : “ O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. ”
OUR LADY OF VICTORY.
The Fatima Shrine sent Her statue to Syria, in response to the appeal made by Bishop Joseph Tobji. On October 13, it was blessed by Bishop Antonio Marto of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, at the end of the celebration that brought a close to the International Pilgrimage for the Anniversary of the Great Miracle ”. This was the 99th anniversary, in expectation of the centenary. The statue was welcomed with enthusiasm :
“ To receive the statue is very important, for it means that through Her intercession, the Queen of Peace protects our country, our beloved martyred Syria. ” It is as though it were a visit of Mary in Person.
Without delay, the Blessed Virgin went into action. Two weeks of intensive bombardment finally broke the lines of defense of the insurgents who controlled the eastern part of the city for four years, and the battle for the control of Alep was turned to Bachar Al-Assad’s advantage.
This Queen of battles showed Her special thoughtfulness. On October 23, a three-metre long missile fell in the garden of the Carmelites of Alep. It sunk into the ground without exploding !
The Archbishop of Alep added : “ As well as Her intercession, we ask Our Lady for our conversion, that of the Church and of the whole world. ”
This is also the conclusion of the Apostolic Letter that Pope Francis published on November 20 :
“ The Holy Mother of God always looks upon us with Her eyes of mercy. She is the first to show us the way and to accompany us in our witness of love. As she is often shown in works of art, the Mother of Mercy gathers us all under the protection of her mantle. ”
In works of Art ? What about Fatima ? What “ way ” does She open for us other than the one that She showed to Lucy on June 13, 1917 :
“ My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. ”
That was a century ago (1917). After a thousand years of Christendom, the Devil, “ released for a short time ” (Ap 20.3), incited Luther (1517), then Freemasonry (1717), and finally the Bolshevik revolution (1917). Then “ the Women ”, his enemy (Gn 3.25 ; Ap 12.4), descended from Heaven to wage the ultimate combat.
“ Let us trust in Her maternal assistance and follow Her perennial counsel to look to Jesus, the radiant face of God’s mercy, ” Pope Francis conclude.
Let us pray the Rosary. “ Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain the end of the war. ” (September 13, 1917) By this insistence, Our Lady indicates that it is highly necessary to pray to obtain the grace of peace among nations, among peoples, in families, in homes, in consciences and between God and souls. It is only when God’s light, strength and grace penetrate our souls and hearts that we shall truly come to understand one another, to forgive and to help one another ; that is the only means for arriving at a true and just peace. To obtain it, however, it is necessary to pray ! ” (Sister Lucy, with the imprimatur of the Bishop Joao Venancio of Leiria, May 13, 1971)
Sister Lucy was speaking from experience. In February 1949, when she learned the results of the presidential election, she expressed her thanksgiving : “ Our Lady is the Mother of Mercy. That is why we have been saved once again thanks to Her protection. ” They were saved from Revolution by the election of Salazar !
Today, Vladimir Putin is certainly the Statesman who is the most favourably disposed to heeding the Pope’s call to promoting peace. To achieve this, it is necessary and sufficient that the Holy Father consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In his speech on December 1, which he delivered in the reception hall of the Kremlin, the President declared :
“ ‘We do not want confrontation with anyone. We have no need for it and neither do our partners or the global community. Unlike some of our colleagues abroad, who consider Russia an adversary, we do not seek and never have sought enemies, ‘ declared the head of the Kremlin who extended an olive branch to all the great powers : China, its ‘strategic partner for global stability ; ‘ India, its most important military customer, Japan where the Russian president will go on December 15 to smooth out territorial disputes concerning the Kuril Islands, and to develop economic relations. This Asian rapprochement is ‘absolutely not because of any momentary considerations, but for the reason that it serves Russia’s long-term interests and is consistent with the global development trends, ‘ specified Vladimir Putin.
“ Concomitantly, he says that he is ‘ready’ to work with Donald Trump, considering it ‘important to normalise and begin to develop’ bilateral relations. ” (Le Figaro, December 2, 2016)
Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary.