While one might readily think of Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the idea of associating Fatima with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary might seem much more forced – but, in fact, that is not so. From its very beginnings the phenomenon of Fatima bears the imprint of the two Hearts. From a strictly theological perspective this must necessarily be true because one can only understand the theology and the cultus of the Heart of Mary with reference to the Heart of Jesus – and this is consistently verified in all that is associated with Fatima.

The primary witness of the events of Fatima, of course, is Sister Lucia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart dos Santos, O.C.D. who lived from 30 March 1907 to 13 February 2005, dying at the advanced age of 97 and whose cause for beatification has now been opened with the special permission of Pope Benedict XVI. (1) Hers is the third such cause in recent times to be opened by special papal concession prior to the five-year waiting period after the death of a servant of God. Her little cousins, Francisco Marto (11 June 1908-4 April 1919) and Jacinta Marto (10 June 1910-20 February 1920) both died illiterate at a very young age and were beatified at Fatima by Pope John Paul II on 13 May 2000. (2) Thus all of the testimony about Fatima comes from Sister Lucia who has left us six memoirs, (3) letters (4) and what we might call a final memoir (5) which she wrote in her final years and which summarizes her experiences and her meditations of a lifetime on those profound experiences. It is of particular significance that this latter volume was explicitly “authorized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”.

The Framework of the Apparitions

Sister Lucia began her very first Memoir, written at the request of Dom José Alves Correia da Silva (1872-1957) before Christmas of 1935, in this way:

Having implored the protection of the most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, our tender Mother, and sought light and grace at the foot of the Tabernacle, so as to write nothing that would not be solely and exclusively for the glory of Jesus and of the most Blessed Virgin, I now take up this work, in spite of the repugnance I feel, since I can say almost nothing about Jacinta without speaking either directly or indirectly about my miserable self. I obey, nevertheless, the will of Your Excellency, which, for me is the expression of the will of our good God. I begin this task, then asking the most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary to deign to bless it, and to make use of this act of obedience to obtain the conversion of poor sinners, for whom Jacinta so generously sacrificed herself. (6)

Thus we note that, in the mind of the primary witness, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are a fundamental point of reference. They are mentioned twice in the first few lines of the memoir while Lucia also mentions once that this undertaking is “solely and exclusively for the glory of Jesus and of the most Blessed Virgin”. Here it should be made clear that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the language of theology and mysticism represent the persons of Jesus and Mary with all of the affective resonances connoted by the word heart which I already touched upon in my conference on “The Alliance of the Two Hearts and Mariology”. Further, it goes without saying that the Heart of Jesus is the symbol of the God-man while the Heart of Mary is the symbol of a creature, even if the most perfect human person conceivable. Thus, whenever Sister Lucia links the two hearts together the Heart of Jesus is always given precedence.

Lucia continues in her third paragraph:

As I have no free time at my disposal, I must make the most of the hours when we work in silence, to recall and jot down, with the aid of paper and pencil which I keep hidden under my sewing, all that the most holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary want me to remember. (7)

Concluding the First Memoir, she wrote:

And now, I have finished telling Your Excellency what I remember about Jacinta’s life. I ask our Good God to deign to accept this act of obedience, that it may kindle in souls a fire of love for the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. (8)

It is quite likely that in writing this First Memoir, Lucia had in mind the three apparitions of the Angel of Peace, the Angel of Portugal, in 1916, but it was only in the Second Memoir, finished on 21 November 1937 that she revealed these important preludes to Our Lady’s six apparitions in 1917. She described her impressions of the Angel thus:

It was a young man, about fourteen or fifteen years old, whiter than snow, transparent as crystal when the sun shines through it, and of great beauty. On reaching us, he said:

“Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me.”

Kneeling on the ground, he bowed down until his forehead touched the ground, and made us repeat these words three times:

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You.”

Then rising, he said “Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” (9)

Profound adoration of God, an exercise of the theological virtues, a prayer of reparation are taught by the Angel – and then he declares that “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” The connotations are not yet logically worked out as Sister Lucia will later develop them in “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, (10) but the foundation is already laid and the mediators of this ardent call to worship are precisely the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The second apparition of the Angel took place in the summer of 1917 and is sketched by Lucia in this way:

Suddenly, we saw beside us the same figure, or rather Angel, as it seemed to me.

“What are you doing? Pray! Pray very much! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.” (11)

In effect, Sister Lucia devoted a chapter of Calls to “the call to sacrifice”. (12) She explains:

We are all ill, we all have many defects and sins; hence we all have a duty to make sacrifices, in union with Christ, the innocent victim, in reparation for our own sins and for those of our brothers and sisters, because we are all members of the one and the same Mystical Body of the Lord. …

This is the Call of the Message: To make sacrifices as an act of reparation and in supplication for the conversion of our brothers and sisters who have wandered off on false and erroneous paths. (13)

The Hearts of Jesus and Mary: Icons of Redemption and Coredemption

With the third apparition of the Angel, we enter into the very heart of the mystery of the Eucharist as sacrifice. Let us listen to the description which Lucia gives us in the Second Memoir. The immediate context is that the three shepherd children were praying together the prayer which the Angel taught them during his first apparition with their foreheads touching the ground:

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You …” I don’t know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was happening, and beheld the Angel. He was holding a chalice in his left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops of blood fell into the chalice. Leaving the chalice suspended in the air, the Angel knelt down beside us and made us repeat three times:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”

Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He gave the Sacred Host to me, and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco, saying as he did so:

“Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” (14)

In Calls Sister Lucia offers a masterful catechesis based on this apparition (15) and with particular reference to our theme of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Fatima Message she offers us these incisive and limpid comments. They are somewhat lengthy, but deserve to be presented in their entirety:

At this point, I ask myself: Why is it that, since the merits and prayer of Jesus Christ are sufficient to make reparation for and to save the world, the Message invokes the merits of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and calls on us, too, to pray, to make sacrifices, to offer reparation?

I have to say that I do not know! Nor do I know what explanation the theologians of the Church would give me if I were to ask them. But I have meditated on, and thought about this question. I open the Gospel and I see that from the very beginning Jesus Christ united to his redemptive work the Immaculate Heart of Her whom He chose to be his Mother..

The work of our redemption began at the moment when the Word descended from Heaven in order to assume a human body in the womb of Mary. From that moment, and for the next nine months, the blood of Christ was the blood of Mary, taken from her Immaculate Heart; the Heart of Christ was beating in unison with the Heart of Mary

And we can think that the aspirations of the Heart of Mary were completely identified with the aspirations of the Heart of Christ. Mary’s ideal had become the same as that of Christ Himself, and the love in the Heart of Mary was the love in the Heart of Christ for the Father and for all human beings; to begin with, the entire work of redemption passed through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, through the bond of her close intimate union with the divine Word.

Since the Father entrusted his Son to Mary, enclosing Him for nine months within her chaste virginal womb – and “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and hear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Mt. 1:22-23; Is. 7:14) – and since Mary of her own free will opened herself entirely to whatever God willed to accomplish in her – “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord: let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38) is what she said to the angel – in view of all this and by God’s disposition, Mary became, with Christ, the Coredemptrix of the human race. (16)

Sister Lucia, with great modesty, but with the sureness that belongs to one who spent her life, like Our Lady and under her guidance, “meditating on these things in her heart,” (17) offers us a brilliant elucidation on Mary’s unique role in the mystery of our redemption. She asks herself:

Why is it that, since the merits and prayer of Jesus Christ are sufficient to make reparation for and to save the world, the Message invokes the merits of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and calls on us, too, to pray, to make sacrifices, to offer reparation?

And she admits: “I have to say that I do not know!” She readily acknowledges that “the merits and prayer of Jesus Christ are sufficient to make reparation for and to save the world” and so she asks why “the merits of the Immaculate Heart of Mary”? She even goes on to add “I (do not) know what explanation the theologians of the Church would give me if I were to ask them.” The fact is that classical and traditional Catholic theologians have consistently given the answer that she proceeded to give until at least the mid-twentieth century when the word “Coredemptrix” was banished from use in the Second Vatican Council’s major treatment on Our Lady in Lumen Gentium, chapter eight. The word was banished from the conciliar text – unfortunately in my estimation – as an ecumenical gesture of good will to Protestants, (18) but happily the doctrine was taught more clearly than in any previous ecumenical council. (19) The problem remains, of course, that all too many contemporary mariologists have done their best to minimize the import of the conciliar teaching which clearly states that

The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering. There she associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. (20)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in effect, summarizes the teaching on Redemption and Coredemption – precisely what Sr. Lucia has been commenting on in this way:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons, and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all. (21)

In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering. (22)

These magisterial texts, then, beautifully illustrate the profound value of the prayer taught by the Angel in his third apparition and the commentary offered by Sister Lucia on this prayer. Once we understand that the word “Coredemptrix” applied to Mary does not mean that she is equal to the Redeemer, but rather is his helpmate as the “New Eve” beside the “New Adam” (23) and that her role is secondary and subordinate to his and entirely dependent upon it, I don’t believe there is a better word to describe her mission in our redemption without resorting to complicated circumlocutions. The word itself was used three times in discourses of Pope Pius XI and seven times in discourses by Pope John Paul II. (24) The term cooperator, collaborator, associate or ally in the work of redemption is generic and can refer to anyone. A term is needed which refers to Mary’s altogether unique role and I know of none better than Coredemptrix once it is clear that this does not put Mary on the same level with her Son.

Now many contemporary mariologists are highly allergic not only to the term “Coredemptrix” but also to the doctrine which it represents. In this regard the present Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. made a very significant admission in his book on Sr. Lucia, The Last Seer of Fatima. He acknowledged that there has been criticism about the use of the term “Coredemptrix” on the part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, especially in light of the ecumenical dialogue, and that that criticism was effectively supplanted by the “sober form” (25) in which Sister Lucia used the term no less that eight times in her book. (26) This should be kept in mind along with the fact that Calls has the distinction of being “authorized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”.

Our Share in the Work of Redemption

According to Monsignor Brunero Gherardini,

The conditions by which a doctrine is and must be considered Church doctrine are totally and amply verifiable in Marian Coredemption: its foundation is indirect and implicit, yet solid, in the Scriptures; extensive in the Fathers and Theologians; unequivocal in the Magisterium. It follows, therefore, that the Coredemption belongs to the Church’s doctrinal patrimony. (27)

I believe that we can make the same assertion about “the alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary” which basically has to do with the unique collaboration of Jesus and Mary in the work of our redemption. Their Hearts are not only the symbols of their persons, one divine, the other human, but they are also the icons respectively of Redemption and Coredemption. This is so in such a way that even the “little ones” of the Lord can readily understand, yet remains a stumbling block for the worldly-wise.

The distinction between Mary’s unique cooperation in the work of our redemption and our own was beautifully drawn out by the late Pope John Paul II in a catechesis which he gave on 9 April 1997:

Down the centuries the Church has reflected on Mary’s cooperation in the work of salvation, deepening the analysis of her association with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. St. Augustine already gave the Blessed Virgin the title “cooperator” in the Redemption (cf. De Sancta Virginitate, 6; PL 40, 399), a title which emphasizes Mary’s joint but subordinate action with Christ the Redeemer.

Reflection has developed along these lines, particularly since the 15th century. Some feared there might be a desire to put Mary on the same level as Christ. Actually the Church’s teaching makes a clear distinction between the Mother and the Son in the work of salvation, explaining the Blessed Virgin’s subordination, as cooperator, to the one Redeemer.

Moreover, when the Apostle Paul says: “For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), he maintains the real possibility for man to cooperate with God. The collaboration of believers, which obviously excludes any equality with him, is expressed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in their personal contribution to its taking root in human hearts.

However, applied to Mary, the term “cooperator” acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity. (28)

The Pope makes clear, then, that both Mary’s cooperation in the work of redemption and ours is truly human and always subordinate to the work of Christ, but a key distinction is that Mary cooperated “during the event itself and in the role of mother”, that she “merited the salvation of all mankind” in a way subordinate to Christ and that “she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity”. Our cooperation, on the other hand, “takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits (we) endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice”. Scholastic theologians thus say that Mary’s cooperation is in actu primo, in the actual working out of our salvation, and also in actu secundo, in distributing the fruits of salvation. Our cooperation, however, is not in actu primo, but only in actu secundo. All of this the Pope managed to say in a very concise way.

But collaboration in actu secundo is not unimportant; indeed that is our special call to enter into the “alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary”. The Message of Fatima makes this clear in a very emphatic way in calling us to prayer, penance and reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The third apparition of the Angel makes explicit the call to reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in these words: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.” (29) Sister Lucia calls us to this collaboration in commenting on the first part of the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity:

Thus, having led us to offer to the Most Holy Trinity the merits of Jesus Christ and those of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who is the Mother of Christ and of his Mystical Body, the Message then goes on to ask us to contribute also the prayers and sacrifices of all of us who are members of that one same Body of Christ received from Mary, made divine in the Word, offered on the Cross, present in the Eucharist, constantly growing in the members of the Church. (30)

The Mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In classical theology, of which, unfortunately, only too many are ignorant today, Our Lady’s role in distributing the graces of salvation which she has helped to merit for us, is referred to as her mediation of all graces. This is her cooperation in the work of our redemption in actu secundo, which differs from ours in terms of its magnitude and extension. That Mary is our Mediatrix with the Mediator, that her Heart mediates with his on our behalf is consistently underscored in the Message of Fatima. I offer here but some examples. In the Third Memoir, finished on 31 August 1941, Lucia offers us this profound insight into the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

As I have already written in the second account, Our Lady told me on June 13th, 1917, that she would never forsake me, and that her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God. As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts. I think that, on that day (of the second apparition), the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.

From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From time to time, Jacinta said to me: “The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Don’t you love that? Her Heart is so good! How I love it!” (31)

Here the images of Our Lady’s mediation are quite striking. Her Heart will be Lucia’s “refuge and the way that will lead her to God.” Secondly there is the image of Mary’s hands opening and the light streaming from them. This is reminiscent of the vision of Saint Catherine Labouré, but here there is the understanding that through Mary’s mediation one can receive special insights into the Most Blessed Trinity as well as into her own Immaculate Heart.

Lucia goes on to report to us some of the extraordinary insights of her little cousin Jacinta:

You will remain here to make known that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When you are to say this, don’t go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to her. If I could only put into the hearts of all, the fire that is burning within my own heart, and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so much!” (32)

Here we may note Jacinta’s firm conviction about the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with God and “that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side”, a confirmation that the recognition of the “alliance of these Two Hearts” is the will of Jesus.

According to Lucia’s Fourth Memoir, finished by 8 December 1941, her little cousin Francisco had a remarkable insight into the light streaming from Our Lady which penetrated their hearts and enabled them to “see Our Lord”.

He said to me on one occasion: “I loved seeing the Angel, but I loved still more seeing Our Lady. What I loved most of all was to see Our Lord in that light from Our Lady which penetrated our hearts. I love God so much! But He is very sad because of so many sins! We must never commit any sins again.” (33)

Here is another of his testimonies recorded by Lucia:

At the second Apparition on June 13th, 1917, Francisco was deeply impressed by the light which, as I related in the second account, Our Lady communicated to us at the moment when she said: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God.” At the time, he (Francisco) did not seem to grasp the significance of what was happening, perhaps because it was not given to him to hear the accompanying words. For this reason, he asked later:

“Why did Our Lady have a Heart in her hand, spreading out over the world that great light which is God?” You were with Our Lady in the light which went down toward the earth, and Jacinta was with me in the light which rose towards heaven!”

“That is because you and Jacinta will soon go to heaven,” I replied, “while I, with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, will remain for some time longer on earth.” …

He remarked sometimes:

“These people are so happy just because you told them that Our Lady wants the Rosary said, and that you are to learn to read! How would they feel if they only knew what she showed to us in God, in her Immaculate Heart, in that great light! But this is a secret; it must not be spoken about. It’s better that no one should know it.” (34)

Here let us observe that the light streams from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “spreading out over the world that great light which is God.”

The light streaming from Our Lady, from her hands and from her Heart are all graphic images of her mediation of graces and seems to be a special feature of the Fourth Memoir which supplies details not found in the first three. Here is Lucia’s description of the first apparition of Our Lady on 13 May 1917 in the Fourth Memoir in which her description of Our Lady’s appearance makes one think of the description of the “Woman clothed with the sun” in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation:

We had only gone a few steps further when, there before us on a small holmoak, we held a Lady all dressed in white. She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it.

We stopped, astounded, before the Apparition. We were so close, just a few feet from her, that we were bathed in the light which surrounded her, or rather, which radiated from her. …

As she pronounced these last words “… the grace of God will be your comfort”, Our Lady opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors. Then, moved by an interior impulse that was also communicated to us, we fell on our knees, repeating in our hearts:

“O most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!” (35)

Consecration and Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The opening of Our Lady’s hands on 13 July 1917 was perhaps the most conspicuous illustration of the mediation of her Immaculate Heart. Here is Lucia’s narration of Mary’s exhortation and revelation on that occasion:

“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times to Jesus, especially whenever you make some sacrifice:

‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’”

As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a sea of fire. … Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

“You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, 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 my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. (36)

This July 1917 apparition manifests the great efficacy of the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I shall try to enumerate some of the most important characteristics of this mediation.

As above, we note the opening of Our Lady’s hands and the light streaming from them. Now there is a new development: the light from Our Lady’s hands penetrates the earth to the point of revealing hell to the three terrified children. Not only does this horrifying revelation come about through Our Lady’s mediation, but that same mediation sustains them and keeps them from dying of fright as they look instinctively to her for help.

Then let us note that she tells the children that God wants to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart as a means of preventing people from falling into hell. Thus, as she collaborated in the work of redemption during the earthly life of Jesus in actu primo, God now wants her mediation in actu secundo, precisely in the form of devotion to her Immaculate Heart, in order to save souls from hell. If people accept this Gospel call to conversion and act on it with recourse to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” If, however, “people do not cease offending God, a worse (war) will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.” To prevent the evils which will come upon an unrepentant world, Our Lady says that she will come to ask for two specific acts of devotion to her Immaculate Heart: consecration and reparation. The consecration in question is that of Russia and the act of reparation is the Communion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturdays.

Let me point out just one fascinating feature of this request. In that apparition of 13 July 1917 Our Lady was effectively stating that the fundamental elements of devotion to her Immaculate Heart, which is explicitly willed by God, are consecration and reparation. Now what is particularly interesting is that Pius XI, the Pope whom she mentions and who will only be elected in 1922, was to write in his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor of 8 May 1928 that the two principal acts of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are precisely consecration and reparation. (37) Here we see the truly remarkable harmony between what we may call the “hierarchical order” and the “charismatic order”. Almost eleven years before Pius XI solemnly enumerated the principal acts of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as consecration and reparation, Our Lady speaks of the principal acts of devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as consecration and reparation in strict analogy to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It should also be pointed out that reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a fundamental feature of the Message of Fatima which is already presented to the shepherd children in the third apparition of the Angel at Valhinos in 1916. (38)

What I want to underscore here is the statement made by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort in his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

We consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to the most holy Virgin and to Jesus Christ: to the most holy Virgin as to the perfect means which Jesus Christ has chosen whereby to unite Himself to us, and us to Him; and to our Lord as to our Last End, to Whom as our Redeemer and our God, we owe all we are. (39)

As we already saw in the conference on “The Alliance of the Two Hearts and Mariology”, there is an analogy between Jesus and Mary, between his Heart and her Heart, between consecration to his Heart and to her Heart – an analogy, but not an identity. Consecration to her and to her Heart is always a means of arriving at him and His Heart. Thus we see that consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is justified on the basis of the concept of analogy and mediation. We consecrate ourselves to Mary in order to belong more entirely to Jesus. Saint Louis-Marie gives us the rationale in this way:

All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus. (40)

This, of course, seems like utter foolishness to our Protestant brothers and sisters and – unfortunately – to not a few of our Catholic brothers and sisters, but this is part of the mysterious designs of God who wills Mary’s mediation as the most direct way to Jesus. Now the specific plea of Our Lady at Fatima, clarified subsequently to Sister Lucia at Tuy, Spain on 13 June 1929, (41) was the consecration of Russia, but the principle remains valid for all.

The second major act of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary formulated in the July apparition of Our Lady is that of reparation. Just as she would come later to Sister Lucia to ask for the consecration of Russia, so the Lord himself would also come later to her to ask for the Communion of reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart on the five First Saturdays of the month. This happened in Pontevedra, Spain on 10 December 1925 and on 15 February 1926. (42) As I already indicated in my conference on “The Alliance of the Two Hearts and Mariology”, the theology of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary remains virgin terrain. It is repeatedly illustrated in the lives of the three shepherd children in all four memoirs, but its theological elaboration remains to be further explored.

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In the July apparition to the children Mary states:

If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. (43)

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not based on any condition. It is an absolute declaration and it is based on God’s infallible word about the Woman who will crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) and the Woman clothed with the sun (Rev. 12). From all that we have seen thus far, it is clear that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart will prepare the way for the triumph of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It could not be otherwise. God has ordained that the mediation of the Woman, of her Immaculate Heart, should be a fundamental component in the ultimate victory over sin and death.

There is no question, then, about the ultimate triumph of the Immaculate Heart. The only question is when and that is a question that we can help determine. To the extent that we accept and live what Sister Lucia calls the “Calls” of the Message of Fatima, we will hasten that triumph. That is our insertion into the “Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary”. Sister Lucia puts it this way:

Mary was chosen by God to be the Mother of his Son – the Mother of Jesus Christ – and the Mother of his Mystical Body, the Church, which is her spiritual progeny. When He was dying in agony on the cross, Jesus gave her to us all as Mother, in the person of St. John: “Behold your Mother” (Jn. 19:27). We are the children of the suffering and bitterness of the heart of Jesus Christ, and of the heart of his Mother, and ours.

It is for this reason that all suffering united with his completes our dedication and commitment to God and contributes to the salvation of our brothers and sisters who have gone astray. (44)

To the extent that we ignore those calls, we will retard that triumph. The beginning of the conversion of Russia was delayed for many years because of inaction regarding its consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lord himself said to Sister Lucia:

Like the King of France, they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars, and persecutions of the Church; the Holy Father will have much to suffer. (45)

The King of France referred to was Louis XVI who consecrated his kingdom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in his prison cell in 1792 before he was led off to the guillotine. (46)

Finally, I am personally and profoundly convinced that there is a fundamental prerequisite for the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart: the recognition, celebration, proclamation in teaching and preaching and the solemn definition that Mary, already acknowledged as the Immaculate, Ever-Virgin Mother of God, gloriously Assumed into Heaven, is also Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate for the people of God. This is clearly and repeatedly illustrated in the Message of Fatima and Mary’s Heart is the most perfect symbol of this role which God has given her in union with the Redemptive mission of her Son. This, I believe is the specific meaning of what Blessed Jacinta Marto was expressing when she said: “Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side.” (47)

Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins is an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome, a contributing member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy and the author of Totus Tuus. He is internationally known for his numerous articles on Our Lady and for his scholarly work in the fields of dogmatic and spiritual theology.

Notes

(1) Cf. L’Osservatore Romano of 15 February 2008, p. 1.

(2) Cf. Andreas Resch, C.Ss.R., I Beati di Giovanni Paolo II, Vol. 4: 1996-2000 (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004) 321-324.

(3) The first four memoirs are contained in Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (Ed.), Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words trans. Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary (Fatima: Postulation Centre, 1976) = Kondor. The fifth and sixth memoirs are contained in Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (Ed.), Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Volume II: 5th and 6th Memoirs trans. by Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary and of Mosteiro de Santa Maria (Fatima, Portugal: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 1999).

(4) Cf. Antonio Maria Martins, S.J. (Ed. and trans.), Memórias e Cartas de Irmã Lúcia (Porto, Portugal: Simão Guimarães, Filhos, Lda., 1973) = Martins; Antonio Maria Martins, S.J. (Ed.), Documents on Fatima & Memoirs of Sister Lucia (Alexandria, SD: Fatima Family Apostolate, 1992).

(5) Sister Lucia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, O.C.D., “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, trans. by Sisters of Mosteiro de Santa Maria and Convento de N.S. do Bom Sucesso, Lisbon (Fatima: Secretariado dos Pastorinhos, 2002) authorized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith = Calls.

(6) Kondor M 1:16 (Henceforth the number following M refers to the volume number of the Memoir and the number after the colon refers to the page number). Italics my own.

(7) Kondor M 1:20. Italics my own.

(8) Kondor M 1:46. Italics my own.

(9) Kondor M 2:62. Italics my own.

(10) Calls 59-100.

(11) Kondor M 2:62. Italics my own.

(12) Calls 101-109.

(13) Calls 101, 103. Italics in text.

(14) Kondor M 2:63; M 4:152. Italics my own.

(15) Calls 110-116.

(16) Calls 114-115. Italics my own except for those used for citations from Scripture.

(17) Cf. Lk. 2:19, 51.

(18) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Marian Coredemption and the Contemporary Papal Magisterium: The Truth of Marian Coredemption, the Papal Magisterium and the Present Situation” in Maria “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione”. Atti del Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, Fatima, Portogallo 3-7 Maggio 2005 (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) (= TMC) 139-142. Cf. also Brunero Gherardini, “Ecumenismo e Corredenzione” in the same volume 463-475.

(19) Cf. Lumen Gentium #56-58, 61; TMC 142-144.

(20) Lumen Gentium #58.

(21) Catechism of the Catholic Church (= CCC) #616.

(22) CCC #618.

(23) Cf. TMC 113-131.

(24) Cf. TMC I 56-158. Since writing that article I have discovered a seventh use of the term by Pope John Paul II on 10 December 1980.

(25) Tarcisio Bertone con Giuseppe De Carli, L’Ultima Veggente di Fatima. I Miei Colloqui con Suor Lucia (Milan: Rizzoli, 2007) 47-48.

(26) Cf. Calls 115, 137, 178, 195, 266, 278, 279, 294.

(27) Brunero Gherardini, “The Coredemption of Mary: Doctrine of the Church” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Vol. 2 (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, 2002) 48.

(28) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II XX/1 (1997) 621-622 (Pope John Paul II, Thetókos – Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 2000) 185-186). Italics my own.

(29) Kondor M 2:63.

(30) Calls 115.

(31) Kondor M 3:107. Italics my own.

(32) Kondor M 3:111-112. Italics my own.

(33) Kondor M 4:124. Italics my own.

(34) Kondor M 4:126. Italics my own. Cf. also M 4:161.

(35) Kondor M 4:158. Italics my own.

(36) Kondor M 4:162. Italics my own.

(37) Acta Apostolicae Sedis 20 (1928) 167-169.

(38) Cf. Kondor 1:63.

(39) True Devotion #125.

(40) True Devotion #120.

(41) Cf. Kondor Appendix 2:199-200.

(42) Cf. Kondon Appendix 1:189-197.

(43) Kondor M 4:162. Italics my own.

(44) Calls 178-179.

(45) Kondor Appendix 2:200.

(46) Cf. Margaret Williams, R.S.C.J., The Sacred Heart in the Life of the Church (NY: Sheed & Ward, 1957) 135, 138.

(47) Kondor 3:111-112. Italics my own.