First of Two Parts
Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, celebrated today in the Catholic Church, reaffirms the core Catholic belief that Jesus Christ shares with the faithful His True Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the host and wine consecrated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
That very doctrine was taught by the Angel of Peace when he appeared to three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos, then 9; and her cousins Francisco and JacinthaMarto, 8 and 6, respectively, in the rural parish of Fatima, Portugal, 101 summers ago.
In his third visit to the child visionaries the summer before Our Lady of Fatima made her six apparitions from May to October 1917, the Angel, believed to be Saint Michael The Archangel, gave Lucia and Saints Francisco and Jacintha, canonized on the 100th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition on May 13, the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist.
In word and gesture, the Angel taught that Jesus Himself, the divine Son of God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, imparts forgiveness and holiness to our souls with His own Body and Blood through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus saves in this life, too
What the Angel of Peace didn’t say, however, was that Jesus also saves us from earthly misfortunes and threats. That message of Christ giving material succor in this world, besides spiritual redemption in the next, was the message — or rather, the reminder — that Our Lady of Fatima imparted to the children a year later.
It was a reminder, because our faith, in many accounts throughout the Bible, had always taught that God sustains and saves His people from evil on earth, not just in heaven. So said Psalm 147, read at mass today: “Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise the Lord, O Zion. For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you. He has granted peace in your border; with the best of wheat he fills you.” (Psalm 147: 12-14)
Believe in the Lord and He will safeguard you, your loved ones, your people and your land. This Holy Scripture recounted in the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the protection of the prophet Daniel in the lions’ den, the freeing of the jailed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Not to mention the greatest deliverance of all: Jesus’ Resurrection from the inevitable fate of all life, from which no redemption was thought possible.
That same message came from Our Lady of Fatima. She warned a century ago of a more disastrous global conflict to follow the First World War ravaging Europe then, but pledged that the conflagration could be averted if men repented and returned to God.
The Vicars of Christ disobeyed Him
To show, support and sustain man’s repentance, she asked that the Pope, together with all other bishops throughout Catholicism, consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Then the nation would be converted, and the world would be spared from chastisement.
Why Russia? Our Lady didn’t spell it out, except to warn of its errors spreading worldwide. But really, if the Mother of God delivered an express instruction from her divine Son to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, should His bishops debate it?
Well, they debated. By 1931, one and a half decades after Fatima, no consecration. That showed how lacking in faith and obedience even Church leaders were.
No wonder Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Lucia, then a Carmelite nun in Rianjo, Spain, on August 23, 1931, and warned: “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune.”
To hear it from our Lord, the French monarchy also disobeyed. On June 17, 1689, He had appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who propagated the devotion to His Sacred Heart. Jesus wanted Louis XIV to consecrate France to His Sacred Heart, and put the fiery, thorned icon on the French flag.
Three successive monarchs didn’t. On June 17, 1789, exactly 100 years to the day our Lord told St. Margaret Mary to convey His instruction, the French elite established the National Assembly and stripped Louis XVI of power.
Two months later, the French Revolution erupted, the royal family was guillotined, and the Church was persecuted. Priests and nuns were killed, churches and monasteries destroyed or shut, and Christianity was banned for a time.
And we all know what happened the decade following Jesus’ warning to Sister Lucia: In 1933, Japan invaded Manchuria, arguably the first conflict of the Second World War. That same year, Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor.
Five years later, he annexed Austria without resistance. The following year, in September 1939, Germany invaded Poland in the first battle of World War II in Europe.
Some 60 million souls would perish between 1933 and 1945, and man would unleash the most destructive weapon in history, the atom bomb.
Truly, the wages of sin — man’s disobedience toward God — is death.
What if Russia were consecrated?
Many wonder how things might have gone if the Popes since Fatima, along with their fellow prelates across the world, had listened and followed Mary.
Maybe Russia might not have spread Godless, ruthless communism to half of humanity. Maybe abortion and divorce, both first legalized by Moscow, might not have gone global.
And Russia might have returned to its Christian roots much, much sooner than it is doing so under President Vladimir Putin.
After all, Russia began its swing back to Christ just a couple of years after Pope Saint John Paul II consecrated all nations to the Immaculate Heart in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev became president of Soviet Russia. His reforms collapsed the Soviet empire, and paved the way for Christianity’s revival, now promoted by Putin.
(On Tuesday, we discuss what the Consecration has done and can do for our nation.)