In October of 1917 the beginnings of the Communist Revolution in Russia were taking place (As with most revolutions, it had been prepared for months – even years – through chaos and division. Sound familiar?) The Bolshevik revolution was true to the term, overthrowing everything of the Russian culture: monarchy, religion, family, freedoms, etc. It was a revolution that saw much bloodshed. In the case of Catholic priests alone, in just a few years 40,000 priests had been killed or exiled to Siberia. Russia was to spread her errors throughout Eastern Europe, bringing with those errors much suffering. It would one day be overthrown peacefully through a son of Poland who had endured the lies of socialism and communism.
At the same time as ‘Red October,’ the Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing for the final time to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. The apparitions had begun on May 13, 1917 and had continued on the 13th of each successive month (except August when the children were in prison). If you are familiar with October 13, 1917 in Fatima you already know the ‘Miracle of the Sun’ that roughly 70,000 people witnessed (non-Catholics, agnostics and atheists included). The Virgin Mary had predicted a great miracle that would confirm her apparitions and messages to the three children. Briefly, the sun ‘danced’ in the sky and plummeted to earth three times. The rain-soaked crowd and landscape was dried in a matter of seconds.
The Blessed Virgin told the children to pray, particularly the Rosary, and sacrifice for poor sinners who have no one to pray and sacrifice for them. She also predicted the end of World War I and the possibility of another if people did not strive to live close to Jesus through prayer. Mary also said that Russia would be converted after the world had been consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Pope John Paul II made this consecration with all the bishops of the world on May 13, 1982 when he visited Fatima to publicly thank the Blessed Virgin for saving his life from an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. Was it any coincidence that communism began to fall in Russia and eastern Europe in the late 1980s?
Finally, there was a ‘Third Secret’ that was only to be revealed by the Pope. Pope John XXIII read it and re-sealed it stating that it did not apply to him. The final secret of Fatima was revealed by Pope John Paul II in the late 1990s through then Cardinal Ratzinger. This secret had been a vision of the Pope in white climbing a mountain with Catholics being killed all about him. He, himself, was slain by a bullet and fell. However, the Virgin Mary had lifted him to continue his ascent to the top. The ‘Final Secret’ had been fulfilled in Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, particularly JP II’s assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. Was it any coincidence that the Pope who took as his motto, “Totus Tuus” – total commitment to Jesus through Mary – would be miraculously protected from the assassin’s bullet and would be the instrument of Mary’s prophecy?!
Thursday, May 13th, is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. May we honor Our Lady this May by praying the Rosary, getting to Mass on Saturdays – the day traditionally dedicated to Mary – making a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine or a Marian parish, praying
the Angelus (or Regina Coeli during the Easter Season) at morning, noon and evening, reading about her – particularly, John Paul’s encyclical ‘Mother of the Redeemer,’ etc.