Was it the sun that danced at Fatima on October 13, 1917? In three phases the sun appeared to leave its central position in space and zig-zag towards the earth like a giant Catherine-wheel. Tens of thousands of witnesses thought the end of the world had come. People called out for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Multiple colors alternatively transformed the landscape and the people. Multiple colors for multiple graces. This was a miracle that had been foretold months in advance, even to the exact day and hour, by Our Lady, “so that all may believe.”
If the miracle of the sun that happened on October 13 was but a natural occurrence, a true physical disturbance in the sun, then it should have registered on astronomical equipment. None was reported by scientists any place in the world. People present felt they could reach up and touch the ball of fire before it reversed itself and ascended back into the sky.
Atheists who came to scoff were instead awestruck at the miracle. This testifies that what seemed to be the sun hurling itself to the earth was not due to mass hallucination. People who were expecting no miracle joined as one with the multitude of witnesses to attest to the existence and power of the triune God. Fatima is for faith, and this miracle was a visible supernatural occurrence to bring people to faith and conversion. It marked the beginning of an “explosion of the supernatural.”
If it was not the sun that danced in the sky, that luminous celestial body around which the earth and planets revolve, from which they receive heat and light, and which has a mean distance from the earth of 93,000,000 miles—what was it? I submit that it was a foreshadowing of a new Pentecost, a sign of the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was to be ever more manifested as the twentieth century drew to a close and the twenty-first century began. It foreshadowed the new Pentecost that will accompany the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope Leo XIII had dedicated the twentieth century to the Holy Spirit, and heaven had taken the Pope seriously.
Members of the Church, especially as we begin the third millennium, are ever more conscious of the Holy Spirit in their lives. In fact, Pope John Paul II has said: “The Church cannot prepare for the new millennium ‘in any other way than in the Holy Spirit.’” (1)
The apostles were so powerfully regenerated at the first Pentecost with the visible signs of tongues of fire that it is known as the birthday of the Church. St. Augustine, early in the fifth century, said: “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”
We are living during the time of the greatest changes ever witnessed in the world or in the Church. The last fifty years has seen more change in scientific technology and the acquiring of natural knowledge than any era since the beginning of the creation of man. The problem is that mankind’s morality has not kept up with man’s technology. Only by openness to the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the souls of individuals can our faith keep pace with the changing world. True faith does not change. It is immutable. But our understanding of the faith must develop ever deeper. For this and for increased divine life we need the Holy Spirit.
Pope John XXIII, soon after being elected to the Chair of Peter, suddenly announced in January 1959 that he, who was already seventy-seven years in age, would convene an ecumenical council for the entire Church. He was moved by the Holy Spirit to do this with the certainty that the Holy Spirit was about to bring a new springtime to the Church. Shortly before his death Pope Pius XII also foresaw this new springtime, and Pope John Paul II at Fatima in 1991 spoke of the Church being at the dawn of a new springtime.
The problems the Church faces today are not the result of the Second Vatican Council (1963-65). If this Council had not been called the problems in the Church of today would be much greater.
The Second Vatican Council was a Marian Council guided by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Council opened on the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary (October 11, 1962). It closed on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (1965). There is no outpouring of the Holy Spirit except in communion with the intercessory prayer of Mary, Mother of the Church.
Ten days after Vatican II opened it issued a message to the world. It said: “Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we intend to renew ourselves and to become better witnesses of the Gospel. We strive to offer the people of this age the truth of God in a pure form, so they can understand it and accept it freely.”
Each Pope since 1930 has said in some way, “Fatima is a reaffirmation of the Gospels.” Our Lady was a catechist at Fatima, trying to help us since she saw the lack of knowledge and love for Jesus Christ and His Church’s teachings engulfing the world. Heaven foresaw the godlessness of the twentieth century getting underway. Diabolic hatred and the spirit of atheism and materialism became the signs of the time, and brought the greatest persecution to Christianity in its 2000 year history. But Fatima gave a supernatural sign that the Holy Spirit would overcome the forces of evil in the world and in the mystical body of Christ.
Our Lady, after showing the three children the terrible vision of hell, said: “But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” That triumph of the Spouse of the Holy Spirit can come only with a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the life of the Church and the lives of us all. Her Heart, the Heart of Her Son, and the Soul of the Church are inseparable.
Our Lady started the charismatic movement of the Holy Spirit during this present age at Fatima. No less than Fr. Joachim Alonso, official historian of Fatima, said to me: “The Holy Spirit is working in the Church today through Fatima.”
On May 18, 1986, Pope John Paul II, looking forward to the third millennium, issued the encyclical letter, Dominum et Vivificantem, On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World.
In the Holy Spirit encyclical the Pope said: “Thus one can understand the profound reason why the Church, united with the Virgin Mother, prays unceasingly as the Bride to her divine Spouse, … ‘The Spirit and the bride say to the Lord Jesus Christ: Come.’”As individuals we must ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church. Thus we can know that when we pray, think and act with the Church, the spirit acting in us is Holy.