My Marian journey began in 1960 when the Catholic world was waiting for Pope John XXIII to reveal the third secret of Fatima. Now, as we start the third millennium, there is again an eager anticipation among God’s people of an imminent theophany when God will manifest His presence to save His people. John Paul II, in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, expressed this sentiment when he said that Our Lady’s words to the children of Fatima seem close to their fulfillment. The victory, he said, when it comes, shall be brought by Mary.
His elaborate preparation for the Great Jubilee Year that he called the hermeneutical key and the defining point of his pontificate is without doubt in anticipation of this victory.
FATIMA: Its Prophetic Force into the Third Millennium
In 1981 while I was researching the Fatima message, I came across a commemorative message broadcast over Vatican Radio. In part, it said:
Neither Pope John XXIII, nor Pope Paul VI, considered it advisable to reveal to the world the third part of the Secret of Fatima. However, there is a certainty that the third part of the Secret contains a particular gravity, confirmed by the tragic reality that the entire world is living today. Have we reached the fullness of times? Are we living the beginning of the Apocalypse prophesied by St. John? The time has come when words are not enough anymore. It is now necessary to act immediately if we wish that humanity, that each of us, may be able to see, besides the fire, the light.
I sensed that the Holy See was issuing a wake-up call. This reference to fire and apocalyptic times from the authoritative and conservative Vatican Radio must have a special meaning. All doubt disappeared when the news was flashed on television that Pope John Paul II was shot by an assassin. The day was May 13th, the anniversary of Fatima. I knew in my heart that this was not a coincidence and that we are to see the Fatima message fulfilled in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. How I wished then that I could meet him face to face and talk to him about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Two years later, Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., a freedom fighter, was assassinated as he came home from exile. The nation mourned his death; two million Filipinos marched in his funeral. The country was in turmoil and the Philippine Bishops turned to Mary for help as they declared a Marian Year to commemorate her anniversary in 1985. Five million Filipinos pledged to pray her Rosary daily, praying for liberation and salvation. Elections were held but the Catholic Bishops Conference, unprecedented in the history of the universal Church, declared the proceedings fraudulent. Amidst dramatic events led by the people and the power of prayer, the dictator fled and Maria Corazon Aquino took her oath as the seventh President of the Third Philippine Republic. The day was February 25, 1986, the feast of Our Lady of Victory. On May 13th, the anniversary of Fatima, the new President called me and asked if I could be her Ambassador to the Holy See. I knew then that I was on a mission for Our Lady but I did not know what the mission was.
I presented my credentials to the Holy Father on the eve of Our Lady’s birthday, and after the ceremonial exchange of formal messages, His Holiness invited me to his study for a private conversation that lasted forty-five minutes. My desire to interview the Holy Father, made five years ago, was granted by Our Lady in a grand manner beyond my dreams. I related to the Holy Father how our democracy was restored with Our Lady’s intercession at the end of the Philippine Marian Year. His Holiness listened attentively, nodded and repeated the words “Marian Year.” He then explained to me how Our Lady of Fatima saved his life in 1981. He said that, by an act of divine providence, the bullet that struck him missed his vital organs and he had sent this bullet to Fatima to be imbedded in the crown of Our Lady.
Imagine my amazement during the Pontifical Mass on New Year’s Day at St. Peter’s Cathedral when the Holy Father announced a Marian Year for the universal Church. The next day, L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Holy Father was inspired by the events of the Philippines during the Marian Year. Our Lady had accomplished my mission, which was kept secret from me.
In his Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, announcing the celebration of the Advent of the Third Millennium, the Holy Father attributed the miraculous events in Eastern Europe following the Marian Year to our Blessed Mother which, he said, “remain surprising for their vastness and speed with which they occurred. One could discern the invisible hand of Providence at work with maternal care.”
His Holiness said that these historic events were only a prelude to a greater victory that “will find fuller expression in the Year 2000, the Great Jubilee Year.” For the year 1998, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, he specifically asked that we renew “our hope in the definitive coming of the Kingdom of God, preparing for it daily in our hearts….”
The Pope was not speaking of a figurative coming. He says: “The term Jubilee speaks of joy; not just an inner joy but a jubilation which is manifested outwardly, for the coming of God is also an outward, visible, audible and tangible event.”
After the Philippine Marian victory, Cardinal Jaime Sin gathered a number of renowned theologians for an international symposium in Fatima on the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This was to comply with the wish of Our Lord, expressed to Sr. Lucia, that “my entire Church acknowledge this victory as coming from My Mother so that the devotion to her Immaculate Heart can be placed alongside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.” Cardinal Sin wanted to pay tribute to Our Lady for our Marian victory and for the whole Church to acknowledge the high stature that God has given to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that her Triumph might be realized in the world.
This proposal met with obstacles from the beginning. Some theologians said that there was no theological basis for joining the Two Hearts together. One is the heart of God and the other the heart of a woman, albeit the Mother of God. This objection is similar to the objection to the Fifth Dogma of Our Lady Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces, and Advocate that “no creature, not even Mary, can be placed on level with the Word of God in this particular redemptive function.” Cardinal Jaime Sin courageously decided to proceed anyway and he wrote the Holy Father to ask for His Holiness’ blessing, which the Holy Father granted immediately.
A preliminary meeting was held at the Vatican with Cardinal Ciappi, the personal theologian of the Holy Father, presiding. During the discussions, the theologians from the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith proposed to limit the symposium to the Immaculate Heart alone, and not in conjunction with the Sacred Heart. Not only did Cardinal Ciappi stoutly defend the original inspiration of Cardinal Sin, but all objections disappeared after the Holy Father himself gave a series of Angelus homilies on the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The theologians led by Cardinal Sin presented the symposium papers with two vota to the Holy Father. The first votum was for the Holy Father to issue an important document on the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The second votum was to elevate the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Heart from an optional to an obligatory memorial.
Ten years later on January 1, 1996, the second votum was granted. The Holy Father authorized a decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship elevating the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to an obligatory memorial on the day following the feast of the Sacred Heart. This essentially complies with the request of Our Lord for the Church to honor the Immaculate Heart of His Mother properly. I believe this is a prelude to the coming Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Fifth Dogma and Our Lady’s Triumph
Mary’s rightful place beside Jesus needs to be established to prepare for the fulfillment of a promise made by Our Lady at Fatima, which was the conversion of Russia. Today, it is the long awaited Triumph of her Immaculate Heart promised at Fatima that will bring peace to all nations. The entire Catholic world, led by the Holy Father, is anticipating this victory. The conversion of Russia was conditioned on its solemn collegial consecration by the Holy Father to the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the Bishops of the world, and this victory had to be acknowledged by the entire Church as coming from the Mother’s Heart.
The stakes are even greater today. For Our Lady to bring peace to all nations, the Holy Father is asked to solemnly proclaim the privilege and power which the Holy Trinity has bestowed on the Lady and Mother of All Nations: that she is the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate. The Holy Father seems predisposed, as he has spoken several times of Our Lady as Coredemptrix. In Redemptoris Mater he refers to Mary as Mediatrix. And as well His Holiness has called her Advocate. Yet, these titles are creating much controversy today, particularly among theologians. Why?
Theology is the science of God. Perhaps, as a Philippine Bishop suggested to me, the theologians might be approaching the problem too clinically. Theology is a discipline of which I do not have the slightest expertise. Allow me then to offer a few insights on Our Lady’s titles by the simple approach of a layman, who understands this dogma predominantly with his heart.
The first is inspired by His Eminence Christoph Cardinal von Schönborn, O.P. In his thesis submitted to the Fatima Symposium on the Alliance of the Two Hearts, Cardinal Schönborn said:
Why is it that theology finds the center of its heart in the heart of a woman who is Jesus’ mother? Mary is the guarantor of Christian realism; in her becomes manifest that God’s word was not only spoken but also heard; that God has not only called, but that man has also answered; that salvation was not only presented, but also received. Christ is God’s word, Mary is the answer; in Christ, God has come down from heaven; in Mary the earth has become fruitful. Mary is the seal of perfect creatureliness; in her is illustrated in advance what God intended for creation.
From my simple understanding of Cardinal Schönborn, the gift of redemption, freely and perfectly given, must be freely and perfectly received. The Heart of Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. But what is the Word of God if it is not heard and received by the heart of man? The Heart of Jesus represents the love of God for man, but again, what is the love of God if man does not respond to it? The longings of the Heart of Jesus are perfectly fulfilled in the Heart of Mary. Her Heart is the only untarnished receptacle of the Word of God. The Heart of Mary has perfectly responded, love for love, to the perfect love of God.
Our Lady is the “seal of perfect creatureliness.” From this light, she is indispensable in God’s plan for the redemption of man. She is indispensable not because God is incapable by Himself to redeem us, but because He wants man, whom He has created with a free will, to cooperate freely in his own redemption to make this redemption truly redemptive, worthy of both God and man.
This redemption would be unworthy of God if it is imposed on man. And it would be unworthy of man if he did not desire this redemption of his own free will. The Redeemer therefore needs man to be his coredeemer, to cooperate in his own redemption. This role of coredemption was offered to Mary who was conceived without original sin. Only she could begin a new blood lineage liberated from the slavery of sin. Her Immaculate Conception ended man’s legacy of sin, qualifying her alone to be Coredemptrix, who like the paschal lamb must be unblemished. This offer was made by the Lord through the Angel Gabriel, and with her fiat she accepted on behalf of all mankind and became Coredemptrix.
This is why in the 1945 Amsterdam apparitions of “The Lady of All Nations,” which Bishop Joseph Maria Punt, the local ordinary of Haarlem, approved on May 31, 2002, Our Lady said: “The Lady is Coredemptrix, not because I am the Mother of God, but, mark this well, because I am the Immaculate Conception.”
The Ecumenical Question
Some oppose the fifth Marian Dogma on the grounds that it would be divisive, that it would not be a catalyst for unity in the Church. The argument goes something like this: “I believe in my heart that Our Lady is Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, but I cannot support its proclamation at this time. It might divide the Church.”
I found a response to this objection in the writings of His Eminence, Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, the author of the book El Espiritu Santo. The Cardinal wrote:
Two sanctifiers are necessary to souls, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, for they are the only ones that can reproduce Christ … The first is the sanctifier by essence because He is God, infinite sanctity … and it belongs to Him to communicate to souls the mystery of that sanctity. The Virgin Mary, for her part, is the co-operator, the indispensable instrument, in and by God’s design … These two, then, the Holy Spirit and Mary, are the indispensable artificers of Jesus, the indispensable sanctifiers of souls. Any saint in heaven can co-operate to the sanctification of a soul, but his co-operation is not necessary … while the co-operation of these two Artisans of Jesus is so necessary that without it souls are not sanctified (and this by actual design by Providence). Such is the grace that the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary have in the order of sanctification. Therefore, Christian piety should put these two artisans of Christ in their true place, making devotion to them something necessary, profound and constant. The Sanctifier by His Essence … the Virgin Mary the Cooperator, the indispensable instrument.
This, I believe, is the most powerful and compelling argument to support the Fifth Marian Dogma: that by divine fiat, no sanctification can be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit, who is the Essence, and the Cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the indispensable instrument of mediation.
With this thesis, we can say with conviction that it is not enough that we believe the truth of this dogma in our hearts. But this knowledge must make us understand that this dogma is essential to our Catholic Faith, not in its periphery but in its core. And we must proclaim it to the world in order for the Immaculate Heart to Triumph and the Holy Spirit to come, in our hearts first and then in all nations. Truth in itself does not cause division; only the rejection of truth.
This proclamation is not for her sake, as we cannot add any title that the Holy Trinity had not already bestowed on her, but it is for our sake that we understand and accept this truth, for our own sanctification and grace.
As for the timeliness of the Marian definition now, this truth must be proclaimed today because our need is urgent as the battle between the Gospel of Life and the culture of death is raging in our midst, and the conflagration of evil engulfs the world. As Vatican Radio had admonished, words are not enough anymore, we must act resolutely now.
From May 13, Fatima to May 31, Amsterdam
While Fatima is undoubtedly the most important Marian apparition of the twentieth century, foretelling the events of that century that impact on our faith and the future of mankind, the messages of the Lady of All Nations, which lasted for fourteen years, are an extension of the Fatima messages. The Amsterdam messages, approved by Bishop Punt of Haarlem, are meant for our time as they contain three elements, each one connected to an important event that is yet to come.
The first element is the coming of the Holy Spirit, to be sent by the Father and the Son into the world for a Second Pentecost. As an act of Divine Mercy, He is to come and “live in the hearts of all nations, to preserve them from degeneration, disaster and war.”
The second element is the grave warning of “tremendous forces threatening the world,” of “terrible scourges” and of “gravest events” including a general loss of faith.
This grave time, the Lady of All Nations said, has come upon us. She spoke of a great chastisement by fire that could be a description of a nuclear holocaust. “Hurricanes of fire will pour forth from the clouds … an uninterrupted rain of fire will take place…”
The third element of the Amsterdam messages is a message of hope. Our Lady said:
This Dogma will be and is the crowning glory of your Mother and when it is proclaimed, the Lady of All Nations will obtain peace, peace for the whole world. The Holy Spirit of peace is nearer now than ever before but He will only come if you will pray. He is the salt. He is the water. He is the light. He is the power that overshadowed your mother. He has proceeded from the Father and the Son and it is He who has endowed the Lady of All Peoples with His power, and because of this she can and may distribute graces to you.
The times have arrived. The Holy Spirit must come upon the earth. The Holy Spirit must again come down and this time it will be upon all peoples. The Lady comes to announce the Holy Spirit and she comes to prepare the way for this.
AKITA: Continuation and Confirmation of Fatima and Amsterdam
Twenty-eight years separate the 1917 Fatima apparitions and the Amsterdam apparitions which began in 1945. Another twenty-eight years after 1945, in the year 1973, a wooden sculptured image of the Lady of All Nations, in a convent of contemplative nuns in the city of Akita, in the diocese of Niigata, Japan, began to shed human tears, sweat human perspiration and bleed human blood. Sister Agnes Sasagawa Kasuko was the chosen witness who received the stigmata from Our Lord and messages from Our Lady. The third message was on October 13, 1973, which coincides with the date of the miracle of the sun in Fatima.
As The Lady of All Nations did in Amsterdam, she again warned at Akita of a chastisement of fire upon mankind: “If men do not repent and better themselves, the Heavenly Father will inflict a great punishment on all humanity. It will definitely be a punishment greater than the Deluge, such as has never been seen before. Fire will plunge from the sky and a large part of humanity will perish.”
Bishop John Ito, the superior at Akita, issued an important statement on the Akita apparitions in 1991 when he visited the Philippines. What he said is important as Our Lady herself told Sister Sasagawa that Bishop Ito will provide the authoritative interpretation of the Akita events. This is what he said:
The distinctive characteristic of the Marian apparition in Akita is that the wooden statue of the Blessed Mother stands before the Cross. This posture of the miraculous statue means that the Blessed Mother has a deep relationship and linkage with the redeeming Passion of Christ on the Cross in Calvary.
The statue was carved from a reproduced card of an oil painting of the Blessed Mother of Amsterdam, who appeared to a Dutch Catholic woman name Ida Peerdeman from 1945 to 1959. In Amsterdam, the Blessed Mother identified herself as Coredemptrix. This role of Coredemptrix means that the Blessed Mother gave birth to the Redeemer and shared in the sufferings of Christ. Christ came into the world as the Redeemer and the work of redemption was the Cross, with all its sufferings, both body and spirit. The Blessed Mother suffered with Her Son Jesus, standing in front of the Cross. While the suffering of Our Lady is not the essential principle of the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord, the suffering of the Blessed Mother was necessary to enable mankind to receive Divine graces that come from the redemption by Christ on the Cross.
Fr. Thomas Teiji Yasuda, SVD, the spiritual director of Sister Sasagawa, was quoted in the book, Akita: Mother of God as Coredemptrix as saying, “The miracles of the bleeding and weeping of the statue of the Blessed Mother in Akita were brought about by God in order to illustrate the truth of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix.”
Even the Miraculous Medal, the apparitions of which constituted the true beginning of the Marian message to the modern world and the work of Marian coredemption, also depicts the Blessed Mother as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate. She appears as Mediatrix of all Graces with her hands extended dispensing graces. The words inscribed “Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” present her as the Advocate of sinners. The cross is intertwined with the letter M at its foot, as a clear reference to Mary as Coredemptrix, as it is by the cross that Christ has redeemed the world.
The Mother of All Peoples and the New Advent
We have seen how these three messages of the twentieth century, Fatima, Amsterdam and Akita are interlocked, guiding the destiny of mankind as we enter the third millennium. Fatima occurred in 1917. Twenty-eight years after Fatima, in 1945, the Lady of All Nations came to Amsterdam and after another twenty-eight years, she manifested herself in Akita in 1973. And if we add another twenty-eight years after Akita, it will bring us to the year 2001, the first year of the third millennium.
Bishop Ito, the Ordinary of Akita who approved the apparitions, wrote to me after he briefed the Holy Father about the Akita events and presented his pastoral to Cardinal Josef Ratzinger for approval. Bishop Ito was certain that Akita was an extension of Fatima, and Cardinal Ratzinger personally confirmed to me that these two messages, of Fatima and Akita, are essentially the same. Bishop Ito said: “The Father wants to purify mankind before it enters into the third millennium.” Bishop Ito said categorically that the Akita miracle confirms the authenticity of the Amsterdam messages as the Akita statue that wept and bled was a sculptured image of the Lady of All Nations. Heaven would not have allowed the supernatural events at Akita to be focused on an image of Our Lady of All Nations if her messages at Amsterdam do not represent the truth. And if it is the truth, why are we suppressing the proclamation of the truth? The proclamation of the Fifth Dogma is no longer our prerogative; it is now our duty. We must heed the advice of Vatican Radio that “the time has come when words are not enough anymore. It is now necessary to act immediately if we wish that humanity, that each of us, may be able to see, besides the fire, the light.”
Two thousand years ago, during the First Advent, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and when the power of the Most High overshadowed her, she conceived Jesus, Son of God. Now, during this New Advent, it is the Mother of All Peoples, the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate, who will accompany her Spouse to descend into our hearts and souls and recreate in each of us—if we give our fiat—the likeness of Jesus. United with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in their passion for the Father’s Will, with the fire of the Holy Spirit blazing in us, we can dispel the darkness that shrouds the world and renew the face of the earth.
The Honorable Howard Q. Dee is the former Vatican Ambassador from the Philippines. This article was originally published in Contemporary Insights On A Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Theological Foundations III, Queenship, 2000.