Friday, October 13, 2017

100 October 13ths Ago: The Miracle of the Sun

All of Satan's fallen host seemed to have burst its bonds during the month of October, 1917.  The Battle of Passchendaele had raged since the end of July.  Only the day before the children were to keep their final appointment with the Lady of the Rosary, the Allies alone suffered 13,000 casualties trying to break the German defenses outside the rural Belgian village.  By November, upwards of three quarters of a million lives on both sides would be consumed; out of the wrack and ruin of Passchendaele, where he served in a Bavarian division, would emerge a young Austrian named Adolf Hitler.  Only a few days after the last apparition, the Bolshevik Revolution began.  How apt was the nickname of "Red October" that the Communists gave to this fateful month, when the fury of hell lashed the world as mercilessly as the torrential rain that fell on the Cova da Iria on the 12th and 13th.
Perhaps that rain, and the mud that went with it, were part of hell's wrath.  But if it was a campaign to keep people away from the Cova, it was a colossal failure.  Believers and skeptics alike defied the awful weather, choking the Cova and its approaches; Fr. Di Marchi quotes as the most widely accepted figure 70,000 souls.  Lucia relates in her Fourth Memoir:
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way.  Masses of people thronged the roads.  The rain fell in torrents.  My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.

On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated.  Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the  most humble and suppliant of attitudes.  We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria.  Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary.  A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the homoak.

"What do you want of me?"
Now the Lady was to keep her oft-repeated promise to tell the children who she was and what she wanted.
"I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor.  I am the Lady of the Rosary.  Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.  The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."

"I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things..."

"Some yes, but not others.  They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins."

Looking very sad, Our Lady said:

"Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."

Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
Now the Lady would keep the other promise: to perform a miracle for all to see and believe.  How often does it happen that a miracle on a huge scale is promised for a particular date -- and then it happens?  Herewith the eyewitness account of Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at Coimbra University, written in December, 1917 and quoted in Francis Johnston's book, Fatima: The Great Sign:
I am going to relate to you in a brief and concise manner, without any statements which would conceal the truth, what I saw in Fatima on 13 October 1917...I arrived at midday. The rain which had fallen persistently all morning, combined with a blustery wind, continued fretfully, as if threatening to drown everyone. The dull and heavy sky, its dark-grey clouds water-laden, predicted abundant rain for a long time to come.

I remained on the road in the shelter of the hood of my car, looking rather disdainfully toward the place where they said the apparition would be seen, not daring to step on the sodden and muddy earth of the freshly-ploughed field. I was a little more than a hundred metres from the high wooden posts mounted by a rough cross, seeing distinctly the wide circle of people who, with their umbrellas open, seemed like a vast arena of mushrooms. A little after one o'clock [footnote omitted], the children to whom Our Lady, as they declare, appeared and appointed the place, day and hour of the apparition, arrived at the site. Hymns were intoned and sung by the people who gathered around them. At a certain moment, this immense mass of people, so varied and compact, closed their umbrellas and uncovered their heads in a gesture that could have been one of humility or respect, but which left me surprised and bewildered, because now the rain, with a blind persistency, poured down on their heads and drenched them through.

Later, I was told that this crowd, who finished up by kneeling in the mud, had obeyed the voice of a child. It must have been about half past one when there rose up, on the precise spot where the children were, a pillar of smoke, a delicate, slender, bluish column that went straight up about two metres, perhaps above their heads and then evaporated. The phenomenon lasted for some seconds and was perfectly visible to the naked eye...It was repeated yet a second and third time. On these three occasions, and especially on the last one, the slender posts stood out distinctly in the dull grey atmosphere.

While I continued looking at the place of the apparitions in a serene, if cold expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention, I heard a shout from thousands of voices, and saw the multitude which straggled out at my feet, here and there concentrated in small groups round the trees, suddenly turn its back on the point toward which, up to now, it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side...The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds that hid it and shone clearly and intensely. I veered toward the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with clear-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes...

It looked like a glazed circular piece cut from a mother-of-pearl shell...It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled...The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds, the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky...It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina...

The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere...Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything in an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same colour. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this colour on the ground. Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina...I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands over them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple colour as before...Soon after, I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: "Look, that lady is all yellow!" In fact, everything both near and far, had changed, taking on the colour of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall my amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. Laughter was heard. My own hand was of the same yellow colour...

All these phenomena which I have described, were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.
Francis Johnson records that the solar miracle was seen over an area of 600 square miles.  He relates some eyewitness accounts:
In the town of Leiria, eighteen miles away to the north-west, the miracle was seen as a great red flash due to the restricting contours of the land.  Rev. Joaquim Lourenco, a canon lawyer of the diocese of Leiria in 1960, witnessed the miracle in the village of Alburitel, some nine miles distant.  He was a schoolboy at the time, and in 1960 he told John Haffert:

"I feel incapable of describing what I saw.  I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes.  Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zig-zag, menacing the earth.  Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.  It was a crowd which had gathered outside our local village school, and we had all left classes and run into the streets because of the cries and surprised shouts of men and women who were in the street in front of the school when the miracle began.

"There was an unbeliever there who had spent the morning mocking the 'simpletons' who had gone off to Fatima just to see an ordinary girl.  He now seemed paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun.  He began to tremble from head to foot, and lifting up his arms, fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to God.  But meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins.  We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing.  During those long moments of the solar prodigy, objects around us turned all colors of the rainbow..."

An American building contractor, Abano Barros, related to John Haffert in 1960 how he saw the miracle in a village near Minde, about eight miles from Fatima.  "I was watching sheep, as was my daily task, and suddenly, there in the direction of Fatima, I saw the sun fall from the sky.  I thought it was the end of the world."

At least one eyewitness, the poet Alfonso Lopes Viera, saw the miracle from a distance of 30 miles -- at the ocean town of San Pedro der Muel.  The author has also discovered at first hand that the miracle was seen in Pombal, some 32 miles to the north.  Investigations have proved that it was visible over an area of approximately 32 miles by 20.

As for the children themselves, Lucia relates simply and straightforwardly in her Fourth Memoir what they saw:
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun.  St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.  When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours.  Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done.  This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
So ended this dramatic heavenly intervention in human affairs, at the height of the fratricidal fury that swept away the old order of things, and ushered in a new era of slaughter and destruction previously unknown.  But the message behind the drama is quite simple: repent and convert.

When will we start?

Monday, October 09, 2017

One More Thing...

Why is it that my "civil libertarian" colleagues want to do away with or at least vitiate the one civil right that most effectively guarantees our freedom, namely, the right to keep and bear arms?  That is the true purpose of the Second Amendment.  It is not there merely to guarantee our ability to hunt, and the "well-armed militia" clause does not serve as a limitation on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, as the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a few years ago.  The Second Amendment is there because tyranny requires an unarmed populace.  Liberals have been working for decades to achieve a citizenry that is helpless and prostrate before those in power.  That is the real purpose of the welfare state -- and it works like a charm, in case anybody cares to take notice.

These same colleagues also like to rag on the police as bean-brained boobs, uniformed thugs or ruthless, scheming charlatans -- which in fact a few are, though most are not.  Yet these colleagues seem not to have noticed that the very gun policies they advocate would give an exclusive monopoly on firearms to these same rotters who, in their view, cannot be trusted to safeguard our constitutional rights.  

But then liberalism is really a sort of religious dogma that its adherents hold to every bit as unthinkingly as they assume I hold to my Catholic faith.  Which is probably why they assume, without investigating, that my Catholic faith makes no sense.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Random Thoughts

- I haven't had much to say lately on any subject, because there is so much that is so depressing going on, both in the world at large and in my own little corner of it, that I have felt like silence is the only response I can muster. Maybe it's time for the choleric side of my personality to reassert itself over the melancholic, which has had the upper hand for the last few years.

- There is indeed a sea change in the world, and the signs include the Brexit vote in June of last year, and the election of Donald Trump in the United States last November.  People are finally beginning to reject and push back against the "Enlightenment" ideology that has so fascinated the West's elites, and held Christendom in thrall, for the last two and a half centuries.  But the corrupt elites are themselves pushing back -- hard.  It remains to be seen whether we have started to regain our senses in enough time to save Christian civilization, and whether enough people are willing to defend it.

- It is easy enough to expose the hypocrisy of the "open borders" crowd by asking them why they don't tear down their own fences and gates and throw open their own real estate holdings to all and sundry, no questions asked.  It is because they know they will be cleaned out and maybe even not escape the experience physically unscathed.  A nation -- which is an extension of the family, which springs from our human nature and has rights in the natural law -- is no different in this respect.  A family has the right to let some people into its home and keep others out, according as its interests dictate; to expect guests and visitors to obey the rules of the house; and to expel those who will not comply.  A nation possesses these same rights.  A national government also has the same duty to look first to the well-being of its own citizens, that parents have to look first to the well-being of their own children.

- It's depressing to think how far we have slid down the sewer of violence in the 21st century, and still more depressing to realize that that is the way our Elders and Betters, including those who run the mass media, want it.  Seven gangsters and gang associates died in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929, and the nation was aghast.  Eighty-eight years, a world war, multiple regional wars and countless murders, abortions and terror attacks later, the deaths of innocent civilians in European cities at the hands of Muslim extremists are barely making the news anymore.  The leaders of Europe declare their resolve to "carry on" and not be intimidated by terrorists, but they are utterly unwilling to do what it takes to put an end to the predations of terrorists.  Instead, they spend their time coming up with hash tags, and putting up barriers, and telling their people they are just going to have to put up with terrorism as a part of life, and chewing their nails about insoluble and even non-existent problems, like "climate change" and "carbon footprints."  Why is it they think it impossible to keep out of their countries people who want to destroy them, but consider it totally feasible to adjust the earth's temperature by means of legislative enactments?

- Let us not kid ourselves that mass murders like the one in Vegas last week are unrelated to the scourge of abortion.  Mother Teresa warned us of this at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?
- It is worth remembering that in that same speech, Mother Teresa -- who is loved by both conservatives and liberals -- did not fail to draw the line between abortion and contraception:
In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self.  This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception.  Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
- I'm really getting sick of these NFL demonstrations. I don't watch football, but if I did, it would be for entertainment -- just like going to a movie or watching a TV show. For years, we have been putting up with having leftist propaganda shoved down our throats every time we go to some entertainment venue, and I, for one, am fed up. That's not why I pay to get in.

- Leftists reduce everything to politics. The last time I argued about this taking-a-knee business with a leftist, I was accused of hypocrisy on the grounds that patriotic displays, which I don't object to, are nothing more than a political argument for the side I agree with. This is how the left operates: redefine the terms so nobody else can possibly win.  We have to stop buying into their planted axioms.  In fact, everything is not politics, and displays of patriotism are not political. Patriotism is a virtue, and standing for the anthem with your hand over your heart is a civic ceremony wherein we give expression to that virtue and reaffirm our identity as Americans. These idiotic protests strike at our unity as Americans.  I say, throw the bums out. The First Amendment doesn't apply to players on the field. They are there to work and earn their keep, just like I am whenever I go to court.  Hold them to the same standards as any other employee in any other workplace.  I don't get to do or say anything other than what I get paid for in the course of my employment, and neither should they.

- It would be interesting to know just what Harvey Weinstein -- who looks every inch a disgusting pig -- did to lose him the protection of The Establishment.  Whatever it was, it cannot have been sexually predatory behavior.  Hollywood has been glamorizing sexually predatory behavior for years, and has show itself quick to circle the wagons around sexual predators in its midst.  When, for example, the authorities nabbed Roman Polanski on his way to a film festival in Zurich in 2009 -- more than 30 years after skipping out on his sentencing in Los Angeles for plying a 13-year-old girl with booze and quaaludes, then raping and sodomizing her -- the film community rose in outrage at the authorities.  Harvey Weinstein, incidentally, and not surprisingly, was very vocal in defending Polanski.  So what heresy did Weinstein commit that made his own company throw him out on his ear?  One is tempted to speculate that he might have said something that could, in a certain light, be construed as mildly favorable to Donald Trump.  That would correspond more exactly to the Hollywood Left's idea of high crimes and misdemeanors.

- I suppose the sea change I mentioned above might be taking place in the Church as well as in Western society at large, as witness the filial correctio published recently, several weeks after it had been presented to the Holy Father and gotten no response.  It is refreshing to hear heresies straighforwardly designated as heresies, but I cannot say that I am surprised that the Pope continues not to respond.  If a Pope really does subscribe to heresies, and he cannot bring himself to declare definitively against them, declaring definitively in their favor is not an option: the charism of infallibility that he possesses in virtue of his office prevents this.  The only thing a Pope could do in these circumstances would be to remain silent.  Whatever the case may be, the Church is in a real crisis.  We should be prepared for the possibility that we will not see this crisis resolved during the current pontificate.

- On the other hand, we are just a week way from the 100th anniversary of the culmination of Our Lady's appearances at Fatima, Portugal, when tens of thousands of believers and non-believers within about a 30-mile radius witnessed the miracle she promised to perform to prove that she really had appeared to the three children and called for penance, repentance and conversion.  We are also in the centenary of Red October, when the Soviet Union was born -- the instrument by which Russia has spread her errors throughout the world, as Our Lady warned she would.  One also thinks of the hundred years satan asked God to give him in which to destroy the Church in the vision Pope Leo XIII is said to have had that inspired him to compose the Prayer to St. Michael.  We have certainly seen the fury of hell intensify all over the world over the last several years, and the storm roils every level of Church and state, from the palaces and mansions of the great down to the most humble individual.  Are we now near the end of those hundred years?

I hope we may live to see the promised triumph of her Immaculate Heart, and that soon.