Abp. Lefebvre's Reflections on the Immaculate Heart through Her Fatima Apparitions
On August 22, 1987, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, accompanied by a large number of priests and 2,000 faithful, went on pilgrimage to Fatima.
During the Solemn Mass, the Archbishop consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and gave this magnificent homily, "Ask Our Lady for These Graces," a reflection of his devotion to the Woman who is Mother of the Church.
Sermon by Archbishop Lefebvre in Fatima, August 22, 1987
Let us give thanks to God and to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary for having gathered us today, on this feast of her Immaculate Heart, to sing her praises and to try for a few moments, for a few days, to live out our faith. For if the Virgin Mary wished to come to this land of Portugal, to Fatima, if She wished to appear to these few children to give them a message for the world, it is surely because She desired that our souls be lifted up toward heaven.
Let us try, then, my dear brothers and sisters, to place ourselves in the setting in which these little shepherds found themselves, like the persons who came to accompany them on the 13th of each month of that year 1917, until the month of October, when that extraordinary miracle took place, right here. Right here because, they say, this miracle was seen within a 40-kilometer [25-mile] radius of Fatima, and consequently, if we had been present on that day, October 13, 1917, we would have seen that extraordinary phenomenon of the spinning sun, shooting out lights of all colors, drenching the entire region with its magnificent colors. And it did this for thrice ten minutes! Finally, we would have seen the sun descending as it were from heaven to draw near to the faithful who were present, to manifest the truth of the apparition of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to these children of Fatima.
So That Our Souls May be Saved
Once again, why this apparition of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary? It was so that our souls may be saved, it was so that our souls may go to join her one day in heaven. In a few extraordinary pictures, She manifested to these children of Fatima the whole reality of our faith. Indeed, the children admired Her and admired Her in such a way that they were as if in ecstasy, rapt, carried away, not knowing how to express the beauty of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. However much anyone might have tried to provide them with comparisons, no comparison could be made in the sight of the beauty of the Virgin Mary whom they had seen.
And then the Virgin Mary was not the only one who was manifested. She wished to manifest something of heaven to them: Saint Joseph carrying Our Lord in his arms and blessing the world. She wished to appear also under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Sorrows, and generally She appeared as Our Lady of the Rosary. This was because She wished to inculcate in the children the necessity of praying the Rosary, the necessity of suffering with Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows. Thus She wished to manifest her interior sentiments so as to communicate them to these children, so that these children in turn might communicate these sentiments to all those who will have the opportunity to hear their message. Then the Archangel Michael appeared to them.
Our Lady spoke to them also about the souls in purgatory, when Lucia questioned her to find out where such-and-such a soul was, where a particular dead person was—“Was she in heaven? In purgatory?”—She sometimes told them: “No, that lady is not yet in heaven, she is in purgatory.” She wished also to show them the reality of hell. It is therefore right here, in this vicinity, that the Most Blessed Virgin wished to show what hell was to these horrified children, so as to encourage them to do penance, so as to encourage them to pray to save souls, thus showing that the Immaculate Heart of Mary is altogether directed toward the glory of Her Divine Son and toward the salvation of souls. To save souls is to cause them to go to heaven. Therefore it is our entire catechism in a way that these children saw in an image, and this happened through the grace of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
Pray and Penance
Let us try then to put ourselves into this setting today too, because what happened in 1917 is still true today, and perhaps even more than at that time, because the situation in the world is even worse now than it was in 1917. The faith is disappearing, atheism is advancing everywhere, and the Most Blessed Virgin Herself announced it. For although She wished to show us a vision of heaven, She also wished to speak about the earth. She told these children essentially:
It is necessary to pray, it is necessary to do penance so as to stop the devastating effects of this terrible error, Communism, which will dominate the world if people do not do penance and if they do not pray and if they do not carry out my will.”
Her will was to broadcast the secrets that she had given to Lucia.
Alas, we are in fact obliged to note that since these secrets have not been broadcast, the error of Communism is spreading everywhere! Let us strive, then, my dear brothers and sisters, to put ourselves into this setting, in these dispositions so as to share the convictions of these children, so as to unite ourselves to the Heart of Mary, so that our hearts may burn with the desires that were in the Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and that still are there today, desires for the reign of her Son.
What else can She wish but to see Her Divine Son reign over the whole earth, over souls, over families, and over societies, as He reigns in heaven? This is why She comes down to earth, to beg us, every one of us: “It is necessary for Jesus to reign over you.” She wishes it, She desires it, and She gives us the means.
The first means is prayer. “It is necessary to pray.” The Blessed Virgin unceasingly repeated this to Lucia, because Lucia asked her the question each time: “O Lady, what do you want of me? What do you want me to do?” A fine question! There can be no better dispositions. Is this our disposition also? Mary! What do you want us to do? Then Mary said:
It is necessary to pray, take your rosary, recite the rosary every day to sanctify yourselves and to save souls, to save the souls of sinners.”
She repeated this every time She came. She also encouraged Holy Communion, receiving the Holy Eucharist, since She even enabled the angle to come and give Communion to these children. Can Mary wish anything else but to give us Her Son, to give us Jesus in our hearts?
That We Might Keep the Faith and Grace in our Souls
Next: why these secrets? The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, in Her love for us, in Her gracious condescension toward us, wished to warn us. She wished to announce future events to us, so as to enable us to keep our faith, to keep grace in our souls. This is why She gave us Her secrets. The Most Blessed Virgin asked Lucia to broadcast the third secret as of 1960—and that this secret be broadcast by the Pope—and not without reason: it was because she knew that after 1960 the Church would have to go through the crisis of these very serious events in its history. She wished to warn us, and She wished to warn the authorities of the Church so as to avoid these misfortunes, so as to avoid the loss of faith and the perdition of souls. Thus we are warned, we know that after 1960 some serious events in Church history would cause a crisis, and particularly with regard to those who lead the Church. Unfortunately, this is probably why the leaders of Holy Church did not wish to broadcast the secret. They thought that it was not opportune to make it public. A great mystery, my dear brothers and sisters, a great mystery!
So you see, then, if the Most Blessed Virgin Mary wishes us to have in our souls dispositions of the love for God, dispositions of prayer, a readiness to unite ourselves to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, a willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the sinners of this world, well, then, let us ask for this grace today.
The Mystery of the Situation of Rome Today
Here you are, gathered around the Virgin Mary in Fatima, having in your hearts the dispositions of these little children who welcomed the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and saw Her: ask, let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to unravel this mystery, that She may come to our aid. The great mystery of Rome, the great mystery of the situation in the papacy today.
They often tell us: do not rend the Church, do not divide the Church, do not cause a schism; yet, my dear brothers and sisters, tell me: where is the unity of the Church? What causes the unity of the Church? Open all the theology books, open all the books by the saints, open all the books by the doctors and theologians: what causes the unity of the Church is the unity of faith. When someone no longer has the Catholic Faith, he separates himself from the Church. There you have it! And every person invested with authority in the Church since Our Lord founded it, every person who has some authority in the Church and particularly all the clergy, and particularly the bishops, and especially the Pope, all of them are at the service of this unity, they are at the service of this faith: “Go teach the Gospel,” not some other Gospel and not just any Gospel: “Go teach the Gospel.” Be at the service of this message that I have given you, but you must not change the message.
Well, then, we keep and cherish the whole faith; not for anything in the world would we want to remove one iota, the least bit of our faith; we want to keep it intact, absolutely intact. And it is because we want to keep this unity of faith that that those who are losing it persecute us. This is the true current situation in which we find ourselves, a mysterious situation, probably announced by Our Lady of Fatima in Her third secret, saying that those who want to remain Catholics will be persecuted by those who, while having authority in the Church, stray from the faith; and since they stray from the Faith, they would like to drag us along with them. Because we disobey them by our unwillingness to lose the faith with them, they persecute us. But Our Lord said it, He predicted that there would be bad shepherds and said that we must not follow the bad shepherds; we must follow the good shepherds. This is the mystery that we are living through today.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin then to unravel this mystery for us; it is a martyrdom for you, for us, for all who live in this era, a true moral martyrdom, perhaps worse than the martyrdom of blood, to see that those who ought to preach and defend the Catholic faith for the unity of the Church are abandoning this Catholic faith and seeking to get along with the world, with modern principles, with the principles of this society that is guided more by Satan than by the Good Lord.
Ask for the Grace of Fidelity
Let us make the resolution, here at the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and let us ask her for the grace to keep the faith, to remain Catholics until the end of our days, to have this grace of final perseverance in the Catholic faith. Why did all the martyrs shed their blood? In order to keep the faith. If we must be martyrs, if we must be not martyrs by blood but martyrs in our souls, in our hearts, in our minds, well, then, we will be martyrs, and we will be the heirs of those who shed their blood so as not to deny their faith.
This is what we must promise the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and try to make everyone around us understand so that they might not lose the Faith... lest, in losing their faith, they lose their souls. These, my dear brothers and sisters, are the resolutions that we must make today: to pray, to sacrifice ourselves, to make the sacrifice of our life, to offer our life for the redemption of the world, for the salvation of souls, for the salvation of our souls, the salvation of the souls of our families, of the members of our family.
And Ask That the Church may Regain Her Splendor
And finally ask for the renewal of the Holy Catholic Church: that the Church might regain her splendor, that the Church might regain her unity in the faith, that the Church might regain her thousands and thousands of religious vocations as before, that once again novitiates might be filled, that seminaries might be filled so as to keep the Catholic Faith, so as to live the Catholic Faith! This is what we are striving to do, my dear brothers and sisters, together with those whom you see present here, these young priests, these young seminarians. As soon as people want to keep the faith, as soon as people want to keep the Sacrifice of the Mass and the true Eucharist, as soon as people are devoted body and soul to the Church, there are vocations, because we are in the truth. Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to bless our seminaries, to bless our young priests so that they might be apostles; to bless our religious, the Sisters of the Society, all the sisters who devote themselves to Tradition, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, the Benedictines...all these nuns who want to keep the Catholic faith and want to spread it.
And may the Virgin Mary deign to bless us so that we might continue courageously, despite the trials, to serve the kingdom of Her Divine Son. Adveniat regnum tuum, may Thy kingdom come, yes, O Lord Jesus, may Thy reign extend over persons, over families and over societies, so that this reign may continue in eternity!