"Let him who has ears heed the Spirit's word to the churches!"
In times of upheaval and turmoil, especially in times of war and revolution, we all search for meaning and understanding. We look to Heaven, to God. "An evil generation looks for a sign." Our Lord said that in the Gospel, establishing for his hearers, and us, what that sign is: The cross and resurrection.
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away. - Matthew 16:4I think of that passage whenever I read articles trying to correlate the signs of the times with Scripture and or private revelation and apparitions. I do it myself. Just the other day I searched to see what connections I could find between Islam and Our Lady - especially as it concerns Fatima. Many of us already know Archbishop Sheen's hope for the conversion of Muslims through the influence of Our Lady of Fatima. Likewise we know Fatima is the name of Mohammed's daughter and the village of Fatima was named after a Muslim convert by the same name. That legend seems to be interchangeable with another one, which I won't take the time to spell out here.
Did Our Lady say anything about Islam?
As for the Blessed Virgin addressing Islam by name, the only instance I can find is based on a message from Medjugorje. Although it is believed a Sufi mystic Hasan Shushud predicted the events at Medjugorje one year before the apparitions began. Likewise Our Lady reportedly revealed:
Responding to the confusion of a Catholic priest over the cure of an Othodox child, Our Lady said: “Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before my Son and me. You are all my children. Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God, as St Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one’s conscience.
“Those who are not Catholics, are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday, the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whoever has been given much, very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgement.”(1984) Words from Heaven (Messages of Our Lady from Medjugorje)This quote pretty much corresponds to things Pope Francis has been saying as well. Note the clarification: "Certainly, all religions are not equal, but all men are equal before God."
That said, aside from the fact Our Lady has appeared in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and so on, nothing supernatural seems to have been revealed warning of Muslim persecution against Christians. Or at least I can find nothing specific.
The need to know.
We know what is happening throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia. Radical Islam is persecuting Christians and other non-Muslims, putting them to death or in some cases actually enslaving captors, seeking ransoms, and so on - much like they did in Medieval times. Hence, we do not need Heaven to tell us this is occurring in our midst. If indeed this was 'predicted' or contained in any 'secrets' still awaiting revelation through a dubious locutionist or seer, it's a bit late.
Before Garabandal: Ramona Olazábal
Which brings me to my point. In my searches, I came across a long history of dubious apparitions throughout the 20th century. A few have characteristics quite similar to Garabandal and Medjugorje (neither of which have been confirmed as supernatural). An alleged series of apparitions in 1931 took place not far from San Sebastian, a city near Garabandal. The visionary was Ramona Olazábal and her visions began on the feast of Mt. Carmel, July 16, 1931 at Ezkioga, Spain. The visions became popular and attracted crowds, but it was said they became corrupted by opportunistic Freemasons and were subsequently politicized. The apparitions were later condemned. You can read about them here.
In the 1930's and ever since, a rash of alleged apparitions have been reported in Europe and around the world. To get a glimpse of the chronology of the many unapproved apparitions, go here. It is an extraordinary record. What it demonstrates for me is how ardently human nature seeks what is spiritual in and through supernatural signs and wonders. It also points out how unreliable mystical phenomena can be, how it is subject to misinterpretation and interference from outside human influences, such as political agendas and monetary interests, in addition to diabolic manipulation.
We still search apocryphal literature and Scripture seeking a sign. The Book of Revelation, part of the canonical apocrypha is often subject to multiple interpretations in order to discern 'where we are at' in our time as concerns war and chastisement and natural disasters. In the Book of Revelation it is the spectacular signs and wonders which grab our attention and inspire our fantasies, getting our adrenaline pumping. Unfortunately we can miss the essential call, or intended message, because we are too absorbed looking for signs of the chastisement instead.
Apparition site, Ezkioga, Spain 1931
"The part necessary for the people to know was already known since 1917."
This has never been more obvious than when it comes to the Fatima message. The mysterious third secret has preoccupied many since 1960. What horror did it foretell? What disaster? What schism? What terror? Has the chastisement begun? Hence every 'new' writing to emerge adds to the drama, the speculation of apocalypse now. It attracts and stimulates the curiosity of many of us, even non-Catholics, neo-pagans, as well as occultists. It is the spectacular which attracts us - we want a sign.
Like the message of Fatima, the essential part of the Book of Revelation is a call to faithfulness, a call to repentance - as well as a sign of hope, a promise of triumph. The visions contained in the two first chapters spell out for us the need to repent and believe. In the first two chapters, Our Lord calls the churches to repentance, ending each rebuke with the caution:
"Let him who has ears heed the Spirit's word to the churches!"Yet so many of us focus upon the hidden secrets - the apocalyptic events - the action-scenes and drama. Just as we do with apparitions and private revelation. Just like we do with Fatima.
Yet Sr. Lucia, the one seer deputed by Heaven to spread the message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, explained in her writings and before she died, it was not for me to interpret the meaning of the secret, but to relate the contents. The Vatican archives affirms that. Yet it seems this is not enough for the curious.
An anecdote from the writings of Sr. Lucia says it well:
Sr. Lucia explained that Our Lady told her in 1917 that part of the secret was not to be revealed until 1927; the threat of punishment was included in this part When asked about the fact that this had not been published, she replied: "After all, this was not for the Bishop to publish since the communication had been made to the Pope. The part necessary for the people to know was already known since 1917."The authentic, approved messages from Heaven echo the Gospel:
"Repent and believe."In other words, the part necessary for people to know was already known since the beginning of Christ's proclamation and Peter's confession of faith.
In the Gospels the word penance means a conversion of one's life, a turning away from sin, and a turning back to God. As Our Lady insisted at Fatima: "Men must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins. . . . They must no longer offend Our Lord, Who is already so much offended." The Fatima message is a call for men to give up sinful practices which grieve God and draw down His chastisements on the world, and to make reparation for them. Commenting on Our Lady's request for penance, Sr. Lucia wrote: "The part of the last apparition which has remained most deeply imprinted on my heart is the prayer of our heavenly Mother begging us not to offend any more Almighty God, Who is already so much offended." - Source
That is what we need to know.