Not many of us may be interested in anything that might limit our well-being and comfortable life, much less would care to thinks of martyrdom. Yet martyrdom is an everyday fact in about half the world under communism.
“The good will be martyred…” When Our Lady mad this prediction back in 1917 on a condition- “If Her requests were not heard” – there was some religious foretaste of what is to come.
Our Lady’s requests, evidently, were not heard, for again according to Our Lady’s prediction-World War II came and in its wake Communist “liberation of the masses.” Following the war, Communist persecution continued unabated throughout the world-it rather increased to such an extent that Bishop Sheen could say: “The Church probably has had more martyrs in the Last 50 years of communist persecution than in the first three centuries of Roman persecutions.” We might add that it is quite probable that we have not yet seen the height of the modern persecution of the church. We don’t know what might be in store for us, but it is easy to surmise that whatever it is will have to be severe in order to smash our “stubborn” love of freedom.
Back in 1946 Sister Lucia, the surviving seer of Fatima, made a clear statement to William Thomas Walsh to effect that every country without exception would be overcome by Communism; If Our Lady’s requests at Fatima continued to be ignored. Since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, over 130 Million people have died at the hands of Communism in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Tibet, Cuba, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Africa, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland etc; in 72 years of the most brutal mass killing in history. And now Cuba’s Communist-trained agents are infiltrating the whole Latin America in order eventually to ‘free the poor from capitalistic oppression’ as Castro did in Cuba.
In view of the alarming threat of world domination by the Reds, which any thinking, free man cannot afford to ignore, the all-important question is: Are we doing something really effective to stem the Red tide? – Are we sufficiently heeding Our Lady’s requests?
Indeed, especially since John XXIII and the Vatican Council which he activated, a new spirit of hope has taken hold of many in the Church and outside the Church. Yet this hope can turn into frustration unless each one of us feels oblige to actually implement Pope John, remember, reiterated the Gospel call to penance through his encyclical on penance, Paenitentiam Agere, particularly in view of making the Vatican Council really effective and fruitful.
Our Lady’s requests-our heavenly Mother’s modern reminder and plea to her Children perfectly coincide with Gospel message and the Church’s teaching.
Now if we judge from the successes of Communism and from the advance of materialism and immorality it doesn’t seem we are as yet heeding Our Lady of Fatima’s requests. Atheism and “disaffiliation” from God is gaining greater acceptance. With less and less thought of God morals decline – a harbinger of national decay. Immodesty in dress even among Christian women is gaining acceptance. Motion picture and TV are continuing downgrade on their immoral way.
Major crime, especially among young, is also on the increase. The sense of sin and moral guilt is being excused as an emotional disturbance. And popular sympathy is influencing justice, as in the case of the young Belgian mother who, after murdering her deformed child, was vindicated in a court of justice amid cheers of spectators.
While justice and the natural law are being relegated to the trash heap in Europe in such a dramatic and publicized way, in America the highest court in the land is helping to make the mere mention of God in educational, social and political dealings as something improper and unpopular.
In view of these facts would anyone be so optimistic as to say that Our Lady’s requests are being heard? And if they are not being heard then the frightening predictions of Fatima are still threatening – “the good will be martyred and various nations will be annihilated.”
How prepared and ready are we for martyrdom? We may be forced to undergo a “wet,” bloody martyrdom or a bloodless, “dry” one of long-lasting, tortous oppression.* We will be ill-disposed to accept one or the other due to our soft and comfortable ways. If the simple and unequivocal requests of Our Lady of Fatima** are too much for us, how would our faith be able to withstand the isolation for years, as is common in countries behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains.
Actually, all Our Lady is asking for is essentially the return to true Catholic living. Catholic living imposes crosses and privations upon us, but sometimes we make the mistake of letting this sadden us and we renege on our convictions. The reason for this is because we fail to evaluate things properly. Crosses and privations are Christ’s special invitation to us to share in his special friendship. He asks u to take up our cross and follow him. He wants us to believe him as he assures us that our crosses will be turned into crowns. Our Short-lived sorrows will be turned into everlasting joys.
At Fatima our Mother pleads with us to listen to Her Son. But perhaps we can’t take that type of talk from our Mother; the harsh and even diabolical treatment of a Communist occupation may be what we really need. In any event, She is ever ready to help us whether we voluntarily do penance according to her Son’s Gospel wishes or we are forced to do penance “the hard way” and become martyrs through the actual Communist oppression. She is the Queen of Martyrs and the Cause of our Joy, and She has assured us “in the end He Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
* Martyrdom – “wet” and “dry.” Bishop Sheen who uses these terms considers wet martyrdom a bloody, properly-so-called martyrdom; the dry martyrdom is one suffered by those oppressed, particularly in our day, under communism. In the latter victims suffer great mental tortures, degradations and other abuses – a lot often more trying than a bloody martyrdom.
** Requests of Our Lady of Fatima:
1. Prayer: "Say the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world. Add after each decade the following prayer: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."
2. Sacrifice: Our Lord appeared to Lucy in 1943. He complained bitterly and sorrowfully that there are few souls fulfilling Our Lady’s request saying: “The sacrifice required of every person is fulfilment of his duties in life and the observance of My Laws! This is the penance I now seek and require!”
3. Consecration and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: "I promise to help at the hour of death with graces needed for salvation, whoever: on the 1st Saturday of 5 consecutive months, shall confess and receive Holy Communion; recite 5 decades of the Rosary; and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to my Immaculate Heart."
4. Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope and all the Bishops of the World. Our Lady said: “God is going to punish the world by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If people attend to my requests, Russia will be converted and the world will have peace. If not Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, fomenting wars and persecutions of the Church…”