On my tombstone, I'd like the inscription At Fatima Our Lady asked us to offer a daily Rosary, please do so in my memory.
Now we are in Autumn 2016, we are beginning a vital year of preparation: Autumn 2017 will be the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary one hundred years after Our Lady appeared at Fatima. How can we use the coming 12 months to ensure that Our Lady's requests at Fatima are better observed?
I think we are living during the unfolding of the Third Secret and I wonder if we are meant to spend our time making better known the theories that surround the Third Secret. The Third Secret, of course, is one of the distinct revelations granted to Fatima visionary Sister Lucia in connection with Our Lady of Fatima's Church Approved Apparition in Fatima Portugal.
One of the great controversies in the Catholic Church and in the world in the Twentieth Century was the expected release of the Third Secret in 1960. At that time, the Vatican did not release the Third Secret as many expected, causing widespread speculation as to why it was not released and what it contained. On May 13 2000, the Vatican released a text entitled The Third Secret. While some have questioned whether the released text was the full text of the Third Secret or not, for purposes of this reflection, I shall take that text at face value and restate it here for reference:
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Since the election of Pope Francis, my mind has attached various meanings to the words of Sister Lucia, who gave the description of seeing a Bishop dressed in White who gave her 'the impression' that he was the Holy Father.
Is one permitted to wonder whether, in this anomalous time of a "Pope Emeritus" and a reigning Pope, whether one of them could be the "Bishop in White" referred to by Lucia? This is made perhaps more curious by Pope Francis' strong emphasis on his role as the "Bishop of Rome," which he referred to soon after his election.
Or, indeed if the Holy Father that Lucia saw (in the vision Our Lady gave her) passing through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow is either Pope Benedict or Pope Francis? This could be reading into appearances, but given Benedict's advanced age, it could be that he is the Pope of 'halting step'.
The text of the Third Secret has tended to perplex some people because they have assumed that the Bishop in White and the Holy Father are the same person. Is it possible one is Francis and one is Benedict? There could be a hint in the date that Pope Francis ascended the Throne of Peter: 13 March 2013. I wrote to Pope Francis and connected the date he became the ruling Pope with the fact that Our Lady appeared at Fatima on the 13th of every month:, "Your Holiness, You ascended the Throne of Peter on March 13, 2013. There are two 13s in that date, one is for each living Bishop who bears the mark of the Papacy on their souls. Could it be that there is one 13 for you and one 13 for Pope Benedict? Could it be that You and Pope Benedict are both implicated in the 3rd Secret?"
While I think it is of the utmost importance to take the Third Secret very seriously, I have to spend everyday as an ordinary laywoman prioritising the precise role Our Lady has asked someone like me to take. My one claim to consistent Marian devotion is that I offer a five decade Rosary each day. Had Our Lady not repeatedly asked Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco to make known her request that we offer a daily Rosary, I think that I would only offer the Rosary in times of great suffering.
I'd still do my utmost to go to Tridentine Mass each day and tell myself that I was doing 'better' than offering the Rosary each day, which is a trap that many fall into, thinking that just because they assist at Holy Mass that they can 'skip' the Rosary, but they are not doing as Our Lady requested.
What I suggest is that each of us, every single last one of us, take it seriously to offer the Rosary every day for one person in particular and offer the particular intention that he recipient of our daily 50 Hail Marys starts to offer their own daily Rosary.
Gently and with great tenderness make it known to the person you care about that you are offering the Rosary each day for them. Then make yourself available to answer any and all questions they may have.
You may think you are only one person and that if you only get one other person to offer the Rosary that this will be a small result. But if you consider that the readership of this magazine hovers around 4,000, then if each reader gets a new person to offer a daily Rosary, that will then be 8,000 people offering a daily Rosary.