Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fatima as the Answer

            With the collapse of historical Marxism ultimately because of its disregard and repression of the human person, and the loss of trust in Capitalism as a method independent of the virtue of its personalist constituency, the ultimate truth that the organization of society, national and global, must look to is the working person. We are now in a down time of Nihilism and awaiting the emergence of a truth that will order freedom.  The Church offers no political or economic solutions. But it points to the human person as the central and total truth of the entire social order.

             It will be important to get a wider sweep of the camera. A student of modernity, David Walsh, has suggested the following consideration with a special sighting of three relative contemporary persons: Dostoevsky, Camus, Solzhenitsyn and Voegelin. Walsh writes:

             “When the cup of misery of the twentieth century had been drained of its bitterest dregs, the miracle of life and hope sprang forth anew. The possibility of resurrection haws dawned for modern civilization now that the abyss of evil contained within it has been confronted and surmounted. A struggle for spiritual growth has been the indispensable means of overcoming the spiritual crisis endemic to our world. This is the staring development so little noticed amid the din and distraction, the endless competition for attention that is the forum of discourse in contemporary society. We sense that somet9ing has changed, but we are apt to overlook its most significant dimensions. Unless it is identified for us we may not recognize the full implications of what has occurred…

             “What is occurring is nothing less than the definitive resolution of the spiritual crisis of the modern world. For this is no piecemeal effort of resistance to the erosion of moral standards, or to the expansion of individual egotism, or even to the spread of political oppression. It is a liberation from the spirit of the age that has furnished the justification for the unprecedented cruelty and the unlimited menace of our own time. This liberation has at last become possible as a result of the recognition that the evil is not simply the responsibility of this or that dictator, political system, or specific set of circumstances. The problems lie deeper in the nature of modern civilization itself.

The spiritual vacuum at its core has finally been confronted. Modernity has been overcome.

             “Of course, it goes without saying that this recognition has not yet become a widespread social admission. As a society we are only aware of certain vague changes taking place. We understand that our historical direction is no longer that of unending technological, industrial, social, and political ‘progress,’ which is the picture that has dominated the Western imagination ever since the Enlightenment. We have not yet comprehended the degree to which we have separated ourselves form the spirit of modernity itself; we do not yet recognize the extent to which we have become in the deepest sense postmodern. That is the fascination of the thinkers who are the focus of this book. For they are distinguished from all their contemporaries by the depth of their penetration of the problems confronting us. The struggle, they realized, is not against this or that symptom of the contemporary upheaval, not even against the specific forms that tyranny and injustice may temporarily have assumed, but against the historical abyss of evil that ultimately lies at their core. As a consequence, the victory the attained is not over particular manifestations of inhumanity or vacuity, but over the underlying spirit of recolt from which these phenomena derive.

             “This is what makes the experiences of Dostoevsky, Camus, Solzhenitsyn, and Voegelin of more than individual importance. The problems the surmounted are the very ones with which we are faced, so that their successful resolution is not merely an interesting or edifying biographical aside. It is pregnant with significance for the future of our civilization. Insofar as some individuals managed to extricate themselves from the ideological chaos of our time, they have uncovered the means by which all others may undergo the same liberation. They have become exemplars of the resolution of the spiritual crisis within our civilization. By their confrontation with the extremity of evil in our century, they have understood its relationship to the revolt against God at the root of the modern world. Through their successful resistance to this destructive force, they rediscovered the power of transcendent Love, from which a genuine restoration of order can begin. They have completed the course that remains to be chosen by our civilization.”[1]


The Defining Ground of the Truth of the Person:


A) Each person is called to be: “Ipse Christus”


A) The grounding charism of Opus Dei is to be Christ (not to follow Christ, nor imitate Christ or become like Christ).


To that effect, quotes from St. Josemaria Escriva:


  1) “We all have to be ipse Christus – Christ himself. This is what St. Paul commands I the name of God: Induimini Dominum Iesus Christum – put on the Lord Jesus Christ.


            “Each one of us – and that includes you – has to see how he puts on that clothing of which the apostle speaks. Each one personally has to sustain an uninterrupted dialogue with the Lord” ( Forge 74).


2) Live your life close to Christ. You should be another character in the Gospel, side by side with Peter, and John, and Andrew. For Christ is also living now: Iesus Christus, heri et hodie, ipse et in saecula! – Jesus Christ lives! Today, as yesterday, he is the same, for ever and ever (The Forge, 8).


B) But this is daunting. It is impossible. How does one go about achieving this?


“Ask our Lady, along with me, to make it come true. Try to imagine how she spent these months, waiting for her Son to be born. And our Lady, Holy Mary, will make of you alter Christus, ipse Christus: another Christ, Christ himself (Christ is passing by, 11)! 




Is this scripturally grounded?




Gal. 2, 20: “I love; no not I. Christ lives in me.”


Gal. 3, 36: “The promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. He does not say, ‘And to his offsprings,’ as of many; but as of one, ‘And to thy offspring,’ who is Christ.”


Gal. 3, 28: “For you are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are the offspring of Abraham, heirs according to promise.”


Gal. 4, 20: “until Christ is formed in iyou.”


1 Cor. 12, 12: “For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, many as they are, form one body, so also is it with Christ(i.e. all the members are Christ).


2 Cor. 13, 5: “Do you not know yourselves that Christ Jesus is in you?


Rom. 3, 14: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts.”


Eph. 4, 24: “Put on the new man, which has been created according to God in justice and holiness of truth.”


Col. 3, 10-11: “Strip off the old man with his deeds and put on the new, one that is being renewed unto perfect knowledge ‘according to the image of his Creator.’ Here there is not ‘Gentile and Jew,’ ‘circumcised and uncircumcised,’ ‘Barbarian and Scythian,’ ‘slave and freeman;’ but Christ is all things and in all.”


 B) Each must become the Mother of God in order to engender Christ in him. Hence, Fatima!! Without Mary, no Christ.

 Mary’s Fiat changed the entire course of history.

 The Creator is the Eschaton immanent in His creation. The Absolute is in the contingent. The Eternal is in time. The world is on a different course than it would have been had Mary not said “Yes” and God had not walked the earth.

 Similarly, those who live Sonship to Mary will also change the entire course of history. As her “Yes” was causal, so also will the sons of Mary be causal. She became the mother of a new race. She is the “Second Eve.” And we are called to become the mother[2] and do the same.


Mary’s Causality in Engendering Christ


At the time of the first Eve, Newman says, “there were three parties concerned – the serpent, the woman and the man; and at the time of their sentence, an event was announced for a distant future, in which the three same parties were to meet again, the serpent, the woman and the man; but it was to be a second Adam and a second Eve, and the new Eve was to be the mother of the new Adam: ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed,’[3] The Seed of the woman is the Word Incarnate, and the Woman, whose seed of son He is, is His Mother Mary. This interpretation, and the parallelism it involves, seem to me undeniable, but at all events… the parallelism is the doctrine of the Fathers, from the earliest times; and this being established, we are able, by the position and office of Eve in our fall, to determine the position and office of Mary in our restoration.”[4]


Newman names the three Fathers: St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 120-165), St. Irenaeus (A.D. 120-200) and Tertullian (A.D. 160-240). His point is that is that they are so close chronologically to the time of Christ that they are reporting a Tradition received almost from the lips of the apostles themselves. That is, that the doctrine of Mary has not been the work of historical lucubration over the centuries, but is heat and light emanating from the flash-point itself of the Incarnation. Hence, the Anglican Church is wrong, and the Catholic Church is correct in its dulia of the Blessed Virgin, from the beginning. Thus, Newman: “Having then adduced these three Fathers of the second century, I have at least got so far as this: viz., that no one who acknowledges the force of early testimony in determining Christian truth, can wonder, no one can complain, can object, that we Catholics should hold a very high doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin, unless indeed stronger statements can be brought for a contrary conception of her, either of as early or at least of a later date. But, as far as I know, no statements can be brought from the ante-Nicene literature, to invalidate the testimony of the three Fathers concerning her; and little can be brought against it farm the fourth century, while in that fourth century the current of testimony in her behalf is as strong as it is in the second; and, as to the fifth, it is far stronger than in any former time, both in its fulness and its authority. That such is the concordant verdict of the ‘undivided Church’ will to some extent be seen as I proceed.”


            Thus Mary is “New Eve” as cause of  the Incarnation of God. Newman’s point will be that Mary is not merely a “mere instrument” employed by God to get a humanity for Himself from within the free development of our sinful history[5], but a free “co-operator” who, by saying “Yes,” most literally becomes the causative Mother of the divine Person of the Logos. What a mystery! She cannot “cause” God who is the Creator-Cause of all reality outside of Himself. But she is the cause of putting no obstacle in the way of the Spirit of God to impregnate her (egg) with His Seed. She becomes the free instrumental cause of engendering the humanity of the Son of God. She gives the flesh that will be informed by a human soul, all of which will be assumed by the divine Person of the Logos. The body and soul of Jesus of Nazareth is assimilated as the body and soul of the divine Person. They are not mere instruments of His divine Person, but His very Self such that every human act is the act of the divine Person without ceasing to be human: “I [Divine] have come down not to do my own [human] will, but the will of Him Who sent Me” (Jn. 6, 38). Hence, Mary is the mother not only of the humanity of Christ, but of Christ Himself. She becomes the mother of God (Theotokos: as defined by the Church in the Council of Ephesus in 431).


D) This historical moment, the beginning of the Third Millennium, has been sighted by the Magisterium of the Church as the moment for the creation of a new civilization built on a new culture. The civilization is “love,” and the implementation of it will take place by a new “culture of work” where work becomes an act of love. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith voiced it in the following terms: “The culture which our age awaits will be marked by the full recognition of the dignity of human work, which appears in all its nobility and fruitfulness in the light of the mysteries of creation and redemption. Recognized as an expression of the person, work becomes a source of creative meaning and effort.[6] The Congregation went on to assert that if a civilization centered on the working person emerged, “then there will take place a profound and peaceful revolution in people’s outlooks and in institutional and political structures.”[7] It went on to specify what this could mean: “It will acknowledge that the person of the worker is the principle, subject and purpose of work. It will affirm the priority of work over capital and the fact that material goods are meant for all. It will be animated by a sense of solidarity involving not only rights to be defended but also the duties to be performed. It will involve participation, aimed at promoting the national and international common good and not just defending individual or corporate interests. It will assimilate the methods of confrontation and of frank and vigorous dialogue.”[8]


This means that after the collapse of the ideology of Marxism and now, perhaps, Capitalism as the ideological ordering principle of a progressively materialized democracy, the culture we await will reintegrate the part of the truth that both ideologies espoused and isolated, sucking the living air out of both and freeze-drying them into desiccated structures. Marxism was a social dictatorship trumpeting the universal destination of the fruits of labor; Capitalism boasted (and boasts) of free enterprise and the right to private property, but reducing the dynamic to the mechanical calculus of supply and demand. The Christian anthropology of Gaudium et Spes 24 is the living dynamic of the Person of Christ as prototype of man that embodies the full truth that was dismembered and abstracted into one and another of the ideologies.

 The reintegration of the abstractions of Socialism and Capitalism into the dynamic of the working person as “finding self by sincere gift of self” can only take place by the faith-experience of the Person of Jesus Christ who is the prototype of the human person, created as he/she is in the image and likeness of the divine Logos. The Christology of the divine “I” of the Logos assimilating into Himself the human will of the concrete humanity of Jesus of Nazareth (no human person) gives us the inner workings of what it means to be man.

 The major point to the Christology as developed in the Patristic period is the distinction between person and nature, which is equivalent to the distinction between object and subject. There is only one “I” in Jesus Christ. That “I” assimilates the human will to be “His” will. There is no human person willing. There is only a divine “I” who wills with a human will that is not diminished or destroyed by the assimilation into the divine. Rather, it is exalted to achieve its full power to will as free – and here freedom takes on its profound meaning as self-gift - by obeying to death on the Cross. This is the perfection of the human will without losing its autonomy but being enhanced in the exercise of transcendent Personhood. Man is not a natural being. He is uniquely a creature in the image of the divine “I.” He is a subject who can only be understood by his mastering himself to possess himself in order to make the gift of himself.


To understand the human person as self-gift is to understand anthropology as agapic love, and to understand work as the living out of this love and imbuing secular society with it. This is the great “challenge” that was voiced in The “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation” 20 years ago, and more so today (2009) as we find ourselves in a sort of nihilistic battle field strewn with the corpses of failed ideologies, the disappearance of any experiential grounding of morality with statistical probabilities as the only certainty.


History is not Inexorable: Freedom Enters

“It was a motherly hand that guided the bullet’s path, and the agonizing Pope, rushed to the Gemelli Polyclinic halted at the threshold of death.”[9]

The Pope lived to serve


The third “secret” of Fatima was really all about John Paul II: “a Bishop dressed in White – ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father’… going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks…: before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city…; 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.”[10]


The reality was that he was not killed. He commented on May 19, 1994: “We all remember that moment during the afternoon when some pistol shots were fired at the Pope, with the intention of killing him. The bullet that passed through his abdomen is now in the shrine of Fatima; his sash, pierced by this bullet, is in the shrine of Jasna Gora.

“It was a motherly hand that guided the bullet’s path, and the agonizing Pope, rushed to the Gemelli Polyclinic, halted at the threshold of death.”[11]


Cardinal Ratzinger, as head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was asked by John Paul II to make the interpretation. He points to the call to exercise freedom. The course of history is not ineluctable. It can be changed. He mentioned that the “The vision… shows the power which stands opposed to the force of destruction - the splendor of the Mother of God and, stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance. In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image which the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocable fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction… The vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.”[12]


Cardinal Ratzinger then comments on the justly famous expression: “My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Again, the gist of his exegesis is freedom in history. He says: “The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world – because thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time.”[13]

  The Transformation of Culture


            Joseph Ratzinger once commented that the first Christians had no apostolic plan or strategy for the conversion of the Roman Empire save the very living of Christianity such that they referred to each other “saint.” And that was sufficient. It was enough for Christ to become incarnate in each one such that he was “alter Christus.” The greatest power in the world is the immanentization of the “Eschaton” which has already taken place in the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and which occurs by the conversion and transformation of each of us into Christ.


The Collapse of Marxism: 1989


The collapse of the Marxist ideology is suggestively connected to the consecration made to our Lady of Fatima on March 25, 1984. This consecration was made in the presence of 200,000 person in St. Peter’s Square.  Sister Lucia (the surviving vidente of Fatima) remarked to the Apostolic Nuncio in Portugal after the consecration or May 13, 1982, that it should not be considered effective according to the desires of the Virgin Mary. She said that none of the consecrations of Russia had been made with the unon of all the bishops of the world, a condition that she declared to be indispensable. “This is why I said to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Portalupi, that the consecration that the Virgin Mary requested had not yet been carried out. It was later made by the present pontiff John Paul II on March 25, 1984, after he wrote to all the bishops of the world, asking that each of them make the consecration in his own diocese with the people of God who had been entrusted to them. The pope asked that the statue of Our Lady of Fatima be brought to Rome and he did it publicly in union with all the bishops who with His Holiness were uniting themselves with the people of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, and it was made to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ and His Mystical Body, so that, with her and through her with Christ, the consecration could be carried and offered to the Father for the salvation of humanity.


“Thus the consecratin was made by His Holiness John Paul Ii on March 25, 1984. I believe there is no contradicitno here, and that we must keep in mind that the most important thing about this consecration is the union of all the people of God, as Christ desired and asked of the Father, shortly before his death on the Cross: ‘I do not pray only for these, but also for those who through their word, will believe in me that all may be one, as You Father, are in me and I in you. May they too be one in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me’ (Jn. 17, 20-21).


“In this way, this union depends upon the faith that is in the world, and I said Christ makes us responsible for this: if we separate ourselves from the Pope, who is the supreme representative of Christ on earth, we separate ourselves from Christ, leader and head of His Church, represented among us in the person of him whom the Holy Spirit has chosen, presently John Paul II.”


Consecration of the Third Millennium to the Heart of Mary:


“On October 8 John Paul II will entrust the Third Millennium to Our Lady of Fatima. The news was announced by Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary general of the Vatican Jubilee Committee. That statue of the Blessed Virgin will be brought from Portugal to Rome for the occasion.


The consecration will take place at at the very moment the Bishops from around the world are meeting in Rome to celebrate their special Jubilee.


The idea of bringing the Fatima statue to Rome originated with the Pope himself.”


Connection to October 2008 +?


The Point of it all: Will the engendering of Christ again in all those who achieve the heart of Our Lady bring about the new culture and civilization that we are awaiting for the development of this third millennium of Jesus Christ? That is, will each of us become “alter Christus” in the ordinary life of work and family life such that the absolute truth of the human person (imaging the prototype, Jesus Christ) become the ordering principle of freedom.


The content of that truth of the person:

- “the person of the worker is the principle, subject and purpose of work.

-  “the priority of work over capital and the fact that material goods are meant for all.”

-  “a sense of solidarity involving not only rights to be defended but also the duties to be performed.:

  - “participation aimed at promoting the national and international common good and not just defending individual or corporate interests.”

  - “assimilate the methods of confrontation and of frank and vigorous dialogue.”




-         “the political authorities will become more capable of acting with respect for the legitimate freedoms of individuals, families and subsidiary groups.”

-         “ they will thus create the conditions necessary for man to be able to achieve his authentic and integral welfare, including his spiritual goal.”


[1] David Walsh, “After Ideology” CUA Press (1990) 2-3.

[2] “‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’ (Lk. 8, 20-21). This he said ‘looking around on those who sat about him,’ as we read in Mark (3, 34) or, according to Matthew (12, 49), ‘stretching out his hand towards his disciples’” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater #20.

[3] Genesis 3, 15.

[4] John Henry Newman, “The New Eve,” Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland (1952) 13-14.

[5] Ratzinger comments: “St. Matthew… searches out the human ancestors of this man Jesus and attempts to located him in relation to the history of the race. He shows the human origins of this life which did not drop straight from heaven but grew on a tree with a long history and ultimately sprang from the two great roots named Abraham and David” (Dogma and Preaching Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 19. The large point is that salvation comes from God, not from us, and it takes place from within our freedom, sinfulness and failure.

[6] “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation” SCDF March 22, 1986 #82.

[7] Ibid. 83.

[8] Ibid. 84.

[9] Inside the Vatican June/July 1994, 16.

[10] L’Osservatore Romano, 28 June 2000 – special insert.

[11] Inside the Vatican June/July 1994, 16.

[12] L’Osservatore Romano, op. cit.

[13] Ibid

[14] Gaudium et spes #24: “Man, the only earthly being God had created for itself…” Wojtyla explained this in his “Love and Responsibility” (Ignatius, [1990] 27): “Nobody can use a person as a means towards an end, no human being, not even God the Creator. On the part of God, indeed, it is totally out of the question, since, by giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else’s ends.”

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