By Kevin Burke, LSW
October 13th is the very special 100 year anniversary of one of the greatest public miracles since the resurrection of Jesus. The spectacular and frightening Miracle of the Sun was witnessed in Fatima Portugal by 70,000 people, including many skeptics and atheists as well as devout believers.
At the same time as the miracle of the sun, visionary Lucia saw a vision of the Holy Family – Mary with Joseph and the child Jesus who each raised their hands in blessing over the world.
The miracle of the sun powerfully echoed the call of the Angel of Fatima to the Shepherd children at the onset of the apparitions to believe, adore, and love God with all our mind, heart and soul. The Angel’s warning must be understood in the historical context where the human family was increasingly rejecting the Providence of God and was in serious mortal spiritual and physical danger.
At the same time Mary was appearing to the children, revolutionaries were planning the overthrow of the Russian monarchy to establish a movement that would institutionalize blasphemy against God.
In July 1917 the blessed Mother warned Fatima visionary Lucia, and the entire world, of this gathering darkness:
“Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.”
The Bolsheviks violently seized power in Russia in November 1917 one month after the final apparition at Fatima. The communists launched a massive persecution of the Church in their zeal to wipe out belief in God and the practice of religion in the Soviet Union and later in Eastern Europe and China.
What is perhaps lesser known, is the role of the Soviet Union in the spread of abortion.
Pioneers of Death
Geoffrey Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., who serves as the Rome Office Director for Priests for Life, shares about the roots of abortion in the former Soviet Union:
“…history attests to the fact that Russia spread her errors throughout the world… through the single greatest error of our time: abortion.
Russia was the first country ever to legalize abortion up to birth without restriction and also developed and promulgated technology to this end. Russia and areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union have the highest abortion rate in the world. Further, those countries sharing in the political and ideological legacy of Russia at that time such as China, Cuba and others continue to carry on this violent imperative.”
The errors of Russia would later spread to the United States with the legalization of abortion in 1973.
“Thus “various nations” – the innumerable children of every race, creed and culture – have indeed been “annihilated” through the fundamental error of abortion and the faulty logic behind it, namely that a human child is not a human being.”
Over 1 billion unborn girls and boys have been aborted around the world in the last 100 years.
The Mother/Child Connection Runs Deep
Pro Abortion propaganda likes to spin the abortion issue as “a woman’s right to control her private and personal reproductive health care decisions.”
The truth is, abortion disrupts a very intimate relationship that exists on an emotional as well as on a cellular level– a relationship that continues well after the child’s death.
In Science News we learn that a mother carries the cells of her unborn children within her body:
“…biologically speaking, mothers and their children are connected in a way that may surprise you… When the heart is injured, fetal cells seem to flock to the site of injury and turn into several different types of specialized heart cells. Some of these cells may even start beating, a mouse study found.
So technically…A mother really does hold her children in her heart.”
Behold Your Mother
Consider that Mary may still hold the fetal cells of her Divine Son within her assumed body. Mary and her Son shared both a physical, but also a spiritual communion as the great paschal mystery unfolded in the final days in the life of Jesus.
As Jesus suffered horrific torture on the cross, he looked down tenderly at his mother, entrusting her to the Apostle John. Yet in this action, Jesus was also proclaiming the ongoing mission of Mary as the mother of all Christians, and of the entire human family.
In this spiritual motherhood, Mary experiences an intimate and passionate love for each of her children.
Our Lady of Fatima shared with Lucia:
My daughter, look at My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me.
The metaphor of sensitive heart tissue penetrated by thorns reveals how closely Mary is attached to us, and how our sinful actions wound her at the deepest level of her being.
Mary’s heart was filled with anguish as she appeared to the Shepherd children of Fatima. She warned of the unfolding short and long-term consequences of the spread of atheistic communism and later the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Our Blessed Mother saw the diabolical power of those destructive ideologies and the political and cultural revolutions that have rocked the world over the last 100 years.
Our Lady of Fatima surely understood how the attacks upon the Providential Fatherhood of God would lead to violence against the unborn child, the corruption of human sexuality, and other developments that continue to wreak havoc on marriage and family life.
Consolation as Mercy
Like the visionaries of Fatima, we are also called to console the heart of Mary. But this consolation is really a loving and merciful gift from Mary and Jesus.
I have worked for over 20 years as a counselor with women and men who have participated in the death of their unborn children. Their testimonies reveal the spiritual and emotional suffering unleashed in their lives after the procedure, often leading to failed relationships, addictions, and multiple abortion procedures.
The symptoms of complicated grief after abortion are often manifest in an intimate and destructive way in the corruption of the relationships between men and women that can have a detrimental effect on marriage and family life.
We console our Blessed Mother by turning away from pride, by ceasing to justify and rationalize sinful actions, especially those that viciously attack the dignity of the human person, such as pornography and abortion. Mary calls us to repent of those sins of selfishness; idolatry manifested in the lust for money and power; and the scourge of prejudice, violence and hatred.
Mary pleads with her children that this life is very short – she implores us to reject all that separate us from God and threatens our eternal salvation.
It is also a great consolation to Mary and Jesus when we humbly open our darkest and shameful wounds like abortion, to the healing light of truth.
Rachel’s Vineyard and other abortion recovery programs facilitate an intimate emotional and spiritual encounter with Christ in a process that features exercises rooted in the Word of God, and the grace of the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist that are part of the weekend experience.
As parents honor and embrace their children with love, and grieve this loss in a healthy way, they can entrust their child to the Lord’s merciful care. While there is pain, there is also the consolation and peace of the Holy Spirit and the real hope of a spiritual relationship with their child in this life, and God willing, a Heavenly reunion in the next.
“My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph”
Mary reassured us that even with the massive death and destruction of the last 100 years, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Perhaps we are witnessing an anticipation of that final victory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the reconciliation and healing of women and men after abortion.
Let us pray together for a special outpouring of grace and mercy as we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima. May this commemoration facilitate a wider awakening to the fervent call of a loving mother to her millions of children that have yet to reconcile their most shameful and grievous sins, and find the healing and peace that only her son Jesus can provide.
 See, for example, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/world/americas/in-cuba-an-abundance-of-love-but-a-lack-of-babies.html and https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/china-commits-staggering-23-million-abortions-per-year-according-to-us-stat.