by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Nearly 30 years ago, the first worldwide conflagration was moving toward its decline. With the initial impetus of the Teutonic invasion contained, the French set about reconquering lost territory. For high-level politicians and military observers, the final result of the struggle was no longer in doubt.
The entire strategy of the Germans was based on the hope of the blitzkrieg's triumph. The first toss of the dice met with immense possibilities. But it was the only one. The Germans had lost. As for the Allies, it was just a question of time. Although on the battlefields the struggle remained white hot and German cannons thundered near Paris, financiers, sociologists, and politicians had already begun to murmur behind the scenes about how they would organize the postwar world.
Their private whispering held far greater significance than the public clamor of the cannons. On the battlefields, a war that in essence had already been decided was being fought to its bitter end, while in the cabinet chambers of the victorious States, a new order was in the making. In the next era, the future would no longer be found in the barrels of guns, but in the closed-door consultations of the intelligentsia and technocrats.
While they were but beginning to tenuously draw the preliminary lines of their new world order, one of the most momentous events of contemporary history took place. Many are the skeptics who disbelieve this fact. Many more are those who are not skeptical but timid, not daring to proclaim the truths they believe. Some fail to speak for lack of faith.
Others exclude this event from the pages of history because they are cowards. But the gravest motives upon which human intelligence may base itself are patent, and they attest that Our Lady came down from Heaven to reveal to three little shepherds in an obscure and forgotten corner of Portugal the necessary conditions and indispensable foundations for the real reformation of the world.
Were mankind to hear and heed this message, we would find true peace. Were we to turn a deaf ear, our "peace" would be false and a new world war would ensue. That war came. That war is here. Now, as thirty years ago, the powerful ponder yet another global reorganization. There is no more opportune time to reconsider Our Lady's apparition at Fatima.
* * *
Let us make a test: Let us take some children one at a time and, under the pretext of a literary composition, have them imagine an apparition of Our Lady, describing her countenance, her clothing, her facial expressions, and her gestures, and taking note of her words. What would come of this? So much childishness, so many curious conceptions and, quite frankly, ridiculous features!
The level of instruction of the children of Fatima was incomparably inferior to that of the children of the city. They knew neither theater nor cinema; they had seen no books illustrated with queens, ladies of bygone courts, and so forth. Thus, they had no concept of elegance, beauty, and distinction save that which they saw reflected -- and in what muted shades! -- in the simple ladies of their village. They had not the least notion of the beauty proper to particular colors and their respective combinations.
Nevertheless, these untutored children described the lady who appeared to them with details sufficient to establish that she was a figure of sublime beauty, clothed with a rare majesty and simplicity. In short, a lady so different from what they knew of images, that they did not suspect that she was a saint, much less Our Lady. Only when Our Lady revealed her identity did they know with whom they had the privilege of speaking.
That Lady said very elevated things to them: She spoke to them of the war, of the Pope -- whom Jacinta, the youngest, did not even know existed -- of politics and sociology. And those children repeated her message with extraordinary fidelity! As Scripture says, God took for Himself, "from the mouth of children, perfect praise."
* * *
It is time for us to consider the message of Fatima. Before all else, we note that it is absolutely orthodox. It is not easy to invent an orthodox message.... Now, each and every word the Lady directed to the young shepherds is of absolute orthodoxy. Speaking on quite complex subjects, she errs not the slightest in doctrine. Assuredly, her messages could not have been invented by three little shepherds.
But there is more. The message of the lady occurred at the precise, critical moment in which the postwar world was being prepared. Disdaining the ostentatious spectacles of the false patriotism and pseudoscientific posturing of the technocrats, with great simplicity she put everything in its sole and fundamental terms.
The war was a chastisement of the world on account of its impiety, its impure customs, and its habit of transgressing Sundays and Holy Days. Were all of this settled, all these matters would be resolved. Were this not settled, no solution would resolve anything.... And if the world did not heed the lady's voice, if it did not respect the principles she proclaimed, a new conflagration would come, preceded by an extraordinary celestial phenomenon. And this conflagration would be much more terrible than the first.
* * *
The technocrats met -- those who, with the bankers, rule today's world -- et convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum [and assembled together against the Lord -- cf. Acts 4:26]. They built a peace without Christ, a peace against Christ. The world fell even deeper into sin, ignoring Our Lady's message. At Fatima, the miracles multiplied by the dozens, the hundreds, the thousands. There they were, accessible to all, open for examination by doctors of whatever race or religion. The conversions were innumerable.
Yet, notwithstanding all of this, no one heeded Fatima. Some doubted without studying it. Others denied it without examining it. Others believed but lacked the courage to say so. They did not heed the voice of Our Lady.
More than twenty years passed by. One fine day, strange signs were seen in the sky.... An aurora borealis, reported by the wire services the world over. From her convent, Lucy wrote to her Bishop that this was the sign and that the war would soon come.
The war came. It is here for all to see, and today those in power treat anew of the "reorganization of the world," to the final sounding of the trumpets of this already potentially won struggle.
* * *
Si vocem ejus hodie audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra -- If today thou hadst heard His voice, thy hearts would not be hardened, say the Scriptures. In inscribing the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on the calendar of liturgical celebrations, Holy Church affirms the timeliness of the message Our Lady gave the world through the little shepherds.
The voice of Fatima speaks to us today: Let us not harden our hearts, for only by heeding her message that we may escape the judgment of history.
(Crusade, May-Jun 1997)