By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas
This coming Sunday, May 13, will be the end of the one-year observance of the 100th anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal. All the prophecies she made to the three children, especially the Communist take over of Russia and the attempted assassination of St. John Paul II, have been fulfilled, except the annihilation of nations. A little over a year ago, the world was facing a nuclear holocaust with the confrontation between the leaders of North Korea and the United States. As the yearly publication World Peace Index 2017 of the World Peace Forum of Seoul, Korea reported, “It is regrettable that the intense political situation of 2017 Korean peninsula, which was involved with the most intense military tensions since 1950 Korean War due to North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) test, now has to be covered by the World Peace Index 2018 next year. It is easily anticipated that World Peace Index 2018 would show the deteriorations in peace indexes of North and South Korea, China, Japan, and the United States as well as global level.” The possibility of a nuclear war was not discounted by a nervous world.
We now know that this very understandable pessimistic forecast made in late 2017 by some pundits has been reversed. On April 27, 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in met at the line that separates the divided Koreas. As CNN reported: “Kim then stepped over the raised Military Demarcation Line, entering territory controlled by the South for the very first time. After posing for the cameras, Kim then grasped Moon’s hand and they briefly crossed into the northern side.” They then signed the Panmunjom Declaration of Peace Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. The document commits the two formerly warring countries to a nuclear-free peninsula and talks to bring a formal end to the Korean War. The Korean leaders thus agreed to end a 68-year-old war and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation of nations in the Asia Pacific region.
What was known only to a few in the Catholic world was that on June 5, 2017, the Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Fatima had been brought by a group of South Korean priests and lay people to the Demilitarized Zone. There at the border between the two nations, they prayed for peace and reconciliation of the two warring nations. There was a symbolic turning of the pilgrim statue towards North Korea as the assembly prayed fervently. To the devotees of Our Lady of Fatima, there is no doubt that the sudden turn of events in the Korean peninsula, comparable to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, can only be attributed to the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This reminds me, to give credit to whom it is due, of the efforts of the late Alejandro Melchor (former ambassador to Russia) and his wife Charito, together with then ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee, to convince then Pope John Paul II to finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady requested of the three children of Fatima. That was in 1987. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall was in 1989. To me and devotees of Our Lady of Fatima, this was no coincidence.
During this month of May, which especially in the Philippines is a month devoted to the Blessed Virgin, it is very timely to remember what the Mother of God had asked the followers of Christ through the three children: “Pray the Holy Rosary and make reparation.” Let us make sure that especially in the provinces, we do not lose the beautiful tradition of the “Flores de Mayo,” a custom of villagers to daily bring flowers to a statue of Our Lady in their respective parish churches and to pray the Holy Rosary. There is also the pious practice of making a May pilgrimage to a Shrine of Our Lady (there are really hundreds of Shrines of the Blessed Virgin all over the country, such as Antipolo, Manaoag, Baclaran, Lipa, Piat, etc.). One possible way of making this pilgrimage, especially with the entire family, is to pray one mystery of the Rosary on the way to the Shrine, another part right inside the Shrine, and the third part leaving the Shrine heading for home.
As St. Josemaria Escriva wrote in the book The Holy Rosary, “To say the Holy Rosary, considering the mysteries, repeating the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary,’ with the praises to the Blessed Trinity and the constant invocation of the Mother of God, is a continuous act of faith, hope and love, of adoration and reparation.” Pope Pius XII, in an Address on October 16, 1940, said that “The Rosary is a crown of roses, a delightful custom which among all peoples represents an offering of love and symbol of joy.” St. John XXIII in the Encyclical Grata recordatio adds.” “It is the most excellent means of meditated prayer, constituted in the manner of a mystical crown, in which the angelic salutation, the Lord’s Prayer and the doxology to the August Trinity are intertwined with the consideration of the highest mysteries of our faith. In it, by means of many scenes, the mind contemplates the drama of the Incarnation and of the Redemption of Our Lord.”
St. John Paul II, who consecrated himself totally (Totus Tuus), to Mary had this special advice to Christian families: “The saying of the Angelus and of the Rosary must be for every Christian and even more for Christian families, like a spiritual oasis during the course of the day, from which we can get strength and confidence…Guard jealously that tender and confident love for our Lady, which characterizes you. Don’t ever let it get cold…Be faithful to the traditional exercise of Marian piety in the Church: The saying of the Angelus and in a special way, the Rosary. Would that there be a resurgence of that beautiful custom of praying the Rosary in the family.” May the whole month of May be an occasion for all Christian families to intensify their devotion to the Mother of God and our Mother through the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary.
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