It was on October 13, 1917, one hundred years ago, that the Miracle of the Sun was witnessed by 70,000 people at Fatima. Many of these witnesses were naysayers, atheists, and Catholic haters. They had come to Fatima expecting that this Miracle, which was promised by Our Lady, would never occur. These “I told you so” skeptics and puffed-up, arrogant progressives would then be able to ridicule those “simple folks” who trusted the three seers of Fatima — Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco — believing that this Miracle would be forthcoming.
It is not often that the “good guys” decisively win earthly battles with evil doers. In the end we know that Our Lady will crush the head of the evil serpent. Satan and his disciples will be destroyed. We will decisively win the ongoing war with evil. But these earthly encounters between now and the end of time, well that is a different matter. Even though God is on our side, evil often seems to fare better than we do when these encounters arise. “Why?” You might ask. Why do evil doers seem to be one step ahead of the good guys in these existential battles?
Evil doers, unlike ordinary folks, are passionate in believing that they can construct a utopia here on earth. Human reason, not faith in God, is all that is needed to bring this about. Evil doers are often well organized, intensely dedicated, and aggressively persistent in their quest to achieve their goals. Like a pit-bull, once they bite on to the leg of their adversary, they won’t let go. Evil doers are sociopathic in their thinking. If a “scorched earth” policy is needed to defeat their enemies, so be it. The end justifies the means. No holds are barred in their quest for absolute power.
Satan and his army can strike fear into the hearts of us ordinary folks. We desire peace whereas Satan wants war. Our peace seeking overtures are viewed as being signs of weakness, not good will. If we make concessions, these only strengthen the evil doers’ perception of us as being “weak-kneed” when conflicts arise. Evil doers appear to be self-assured, wearing their arrogance as if it was a badge of courage. Intimidation tactics, rather than sincere negotiations and true compromise, are commonly used in attempting to get the upper hand.
It was on October 13, 1917, however, when the tables were turned on the evil doers of this now overlooked time period. The forked tongue bad guys were aghast — lost for words in trying to explain what unfolded before them. Our Lady, not only performed the Miracle of the Sun as She had promised, but the Miracle was so spectacular and blatantly powerful that it could not be denied. Witnesses as far as 25 miles away experienced this phenomenon! Satan and his minions had to lower their heads and drag their tails between their legs as they slithered away, soundly defeated by Our Blessed Mother. Her victory was decisive. The power of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart could not be ignored, not this time. The Miracle of the Sun set the stage for the unfolding of Our Lady’s plan, which, if properly implemented, would bring about the peace so much sought after here on planet earth.
And what was this plan? What did Our Blessed Mother ask us to do? On its face value, the plan seemed simple enough. Our Lady asked that the Pope order all the Bishops of the Catholic World to equally make a public and solemn act of reparation and Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. That’s it! No long periods of fasting, prayer, or suffering were requested. Again, all Our Lady asked was that the Holy Father make, in union with the Bishops of the world, the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. For this, a period of peace was promised.
Despite this repeated request, however, Our Lady’s peace plan has been continuously shuttled aside and ignored. Dire warnings from Her for failing to Consecrate Russia, and even the threat of severe punishment by Our Lord have failed to motivate the last seven popes to honor this request. Note Our Lord’s words when He appeared to Sister Lucy regarding the preceding: “Make it known to My ministers given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of MY COMMAND (my emphasis), like him they will follow him into misfortune.” The reader will recall that during the French Revolution Louis XVI was guillotined on January 21, 1793, one hundred years after his predecessor, Louis XIV, failed to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after being warned to do so by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Likewise Louis XV did not make the consecration. Louis XVI promised to do so in a promissory note he wrote in prison, if Our Lord should restore his freedom, but it was too late.
The question that arises in the year of 2017, two hundred twenty four years after the execution of Louis XVI, is whether we are hell bent on following his example. For us, too, our time will eventually run out. It is Our Lord’s will that His Mother’s Immaculate Heart be consecrated to Russia. The preceding quote not only indicates this, but the fact that Our Lord COMMANDS this is forthrightly stated. It is unlikely, given the tone of His words, that He is willing to overlook our ongoing disobedience. Rather, such behavior will be considered to be defiant and insulting, and likely to eventually evoke His anger and the administration of the dire punishments, which He promised.
As Fatima slips further and further into the past, Our Lady’s message continues to be overlooked and ignored. In fact, since the closing of the Second Vatican Council on December 8, 1965 — the Feast of the Immaculate Conception — respect for Our Lady has plummeted to an all time low. Could the chastisements, which Our Lord and Lady have promised to come, be unleashed during this hundredth anniversary of Her apparition at Fatima? We do not know. One thing is for sure. Over the past fifty years, Our Blessed Mother has been increasingly insulted and mocked. A good example of this has occurred in the world of sports, particularly in college and professional football. We are now entering the 2017 football season, which typically runs from September through the first week of February, closing with the Super Bowl. It is during this time period that two seemingly innocuous but nevertheless sacrilegious puns are directed toward Our Blessed Mother, the “heart” of the Holy Family. These commonly used little insults, namely the “Immaculate Reception” and the “Hail Mary Pass” will be paraded out in full force by sports commentators throughout the nation. The history on how these sacrilegious insults developed is as follows.
The term “Immaculate Reception” was coined in the year 1972 — December 23, 1972 to be exact. In a divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, the Raiders were ahead by one point with only twenty-two seconds left on the clock. Franco Harris caught the game winning touchdown pass that had bounced off of another player just before the ball was about to hit the ground. This “miraculous” ending led to the infamous moniker called the “Immaculate Reception,” which was a play on the “Immaculate Conception,” the dogma proclaiming that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ and the Son of God, was conceived without original sin.
The Immaculate Reception was first used publicly by Myron Cope, a Pittsburg sportscaster. He thought that changing Conception to Reception was not only clever but humorous as well. However, Cope was initially hesitant about using this on his show. Perhaps he was concerned how the Church Militant would respond to what could be interpreted as an insult to this sacred dogma? After all, it wasn’t so long ago that the Church would not only have voiced abhorrence to such an insult, but would have demanded a public apology for such brazen behavior. The Catholic Church had moral authority back then, and mocking its dogmas could lead to serious repercussions. But this was 1972. Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council, a change in the Church’s ecumenical thinking was now in full swing. Cope might have recognized that the once Church Militant had now softened and was more concerned with embracing the world rather than standing forthrightly against those evils that were corrupting it. Whatever his thoughts might have been, Cope decided to take a chance. He used the term “Immaculate Reception” on his television show. It was not only well received, but has endured until this day. In fact, a statue of Franco Harris catching the “Immaculate Reception” pass is in the Pittsburgh International Airport for all to see.
In our upside down world, many would consider the changing of the Immaculate Conception to the Immaculate Reception as a harmless little joke. They would argue that poking a little fun at the Church and its beliefs is nothing to get alarmed over. Secularists and lukewarm Catholics would consider that “going along to get along” is a virtue. After all, that is what being ecumenical is all about.
But there is another dimension that needs to be considered. Would Jesus Christ, Who COMMANDED that the Pope and Bishops of the world Consecrate Russia to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart, view Cope’s play on words to be a harmless little joke? Or would He consider this to be an insult to His Mother, who was conceived without original sin and brought Him into the world to save mankind? Our Lord has repeatedly sent His Mother into the world, warning mankind about the chastisements that would be inflicted on us if we failed to obey Him. Does this sound like a God Who would “laugh off” irreverent wordplay, substituting Reception for Conception? How would He react to those who participate in this unholy charade, especially those of us who were brought up in the Catholic faith and should know better?
Yes! The Immaculate Reception entered the world unscathed and even heralded by football enthusiasts across the country. It has not only become an accepted part of American football, but it opened the floodgates for other insults that would be directed toward Our Lady. Three years after the Immaculate Reception, on December 28, 1975, another playoff game took place between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were leading the Cowboys with only twenty four seconds remaining. The Cowboys had the ball at midfield. Roger Staubach, the Cowboys’ quarterback, threw a fifty yard pass that was caught for the winning touchdown. Staubach was interviewed by the press following the game. He was quoted as saying, “I got knocked down on the play…..I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”
Staubach, who was a practicing Catholic, meant no disrespect when he made this comment. In fact, he was probably earnest in seeking Her assistance in his quest for this victory. However, it is unlikely that the secular press would have viewed it in this light. To them, the Hail Mary pass became the new moniker for every desperation pass thrown in the last few seconds of a football game in which the odds of winning were very small indeed. It is unlikely they would have considered that the Hail Mary is a most revered prayer, the first part given by God himself. Rather, the Hail Mary pass became the newly coined phrase to replace the “alley-oop” and the “long bomb” as the last ditch effort to win a football game. Like the Immaculate Reception, there were no complaints about the light-hearted way in which the Hail Mary was treated. The term has caught on and continues to be used today. In fact, the Hail Mary moniker is now used to describe a last minute desperation shot in a basketball game with only a few seconds left to play. The irreverent use of the Hail Mary has gone beyond the game of football.
To add insult to injury, the greatest Hail Mary pass that was ever thrown occurred on November 23, 1984. Boston College, a Catholic institution, played the University on this day. Boston College was losing the game with only six seconds remaining. Doug Flutie, their quarterback, threw a forty eight yard desperation pass toward the end zone, which was caught for the winning touchdown. Again, the Hail Mary pass moniker was paraded out in full force in describing the play. In fact, Boston College commissioned the statue of Doug Flutie, who is a Catholic, commemorating his throwing of the pass that led to their victory. On the base of the statue, there is a sign referring to the Hail Mary pass in quotes. This statue is proudly displayed on the campus today. The Hail Mary moniker had become accepted and quite common since the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the Minnesota nine years earlier. As a result, no one seemed concerned that treating the Angelic Salutation in this fashion could be viewed as sacrilegious to those inside and outside of the Catholic Church.
While many would contend that the preceding is “no big deal,” the important point to consider is how Our Lord would view this irreverence. What would He think about the Hail Mary being treated in this way? Statues commemorating the Immaculate Reception and the Hail Mary pass raise no complaints. Yet, Our Lady’s request that Her Immaculate Heart be consecrated to Russia is “blown off” and ignored. Concocting clever rationalizations and “going along to get along” will be unacceptable when Our Lord finally judges our true motives and the results of disobeying Him.
Like it or not, irreverent language is sacrilegious. It shows contempt for God and His Church, thereby depriving Our Lord of the sacredness to which He is entitled.
“Hail Mary. Full of Grace. The Lord is with Thee. Blessed are Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God. Pray for our sinners, now at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Yes! It has been 100 years since the Miracle of the Sun occurred on October 13, 1917. We have been warned repeatedly that the failure to Consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will lead to dire consequences. Yet, we carry on as though the prophecies associated with this great Miracle never happened. Will we, like the King of France, wake up before it is too late? Or have we carelessly flittered away the time that Our Lord has allotted to us?
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who warned the King of France to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus pray for us. Pray that the Pope and his Bishops consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Pray that we still have time to avoid the fate of Louis XVI, the King of France.