100 Years After: Getting to the Core of the Fatima Message
There are many books on Fatima that tell the story and comment on its historic context. There are others that seek to discern the meaning of Our Lady’s message to the three shepherd children in 1917. However, there are few that delve deeply into the core of the message which is the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, author Luiz Sérgio Solimeo addresses this challenge well in his new book, The Immaculate Heart of Mary and God’s Plan for America.Mr. Solimeo’s contention is that everyone talks about devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but few understand what this devotion is, why it is important and how it is to be done. This is the subject of this short book, which is a project of the America Needs Fatima campaign. It features a foreword by Catholic pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler.
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” writes Mr. Solimeo, “permeates the whole story and message of Fatima. One may well say that it is the very core of the message, as well as the solution presented for the problems of today’s world.”
Indeed, the book points out Our Lady’s constant references to this devotion and the tragic consequences if it were not practiced and spread. As she predicted, the world has seen wars, famines, and the spread of Russia’s errors or communism. There has also been the decline of marriage, the onslaught of abortion, and other grave moral errors that make the Fatima message and this devotion-solution especially timely.
One of the greatest obstacles to spreading this devotion is having a proper understanding of what is meant by the heart. Mr. Solimeo’s careful treatment of this matter is extremely helpful. He explores the symbolism of the heart, Scriptural references to the heart and the Church’s teaching on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Quotes of popes and theologians help the reader understand the heart as the symbolic center of charity and unity with God.
All of this is a preparation for explaining the meaning of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Just this explanation alone makes the whole book worth obtaining and reading. An exact rendering of what is meant by the Immaculate Heart desperately needs to be inserted into the debate. One can then easily see that this devotion is a powerful weapon against the evils of the day.
However, it is not enough just to know the meaning of this devotion. One must also act and practice it. Devotion is the will to give oneself readily to the service of God and to unite oneself entirely to Him, says Saint Thomas Aquinas. Accordingly, Mr. Solimeo outlines ways to practice devotion to the Immaculate Heart including the prayers of the Seven Sorrows and the personal Consecration to Mary according to the method of Saint Louis de Montfort. He also points out that this devotion must not be limited to private practices but must extend to public devotions and efforts such as actively spreading knowledge of this devotion or public acts of reparation against offenses to the Immaculate Heart. There is also a very insightful commentary on the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary requested by Our Lady at Fatima.
The final sections of the book are very necessary because they put everything into an historic context. The Brazilian author identifies the historic processes that have led to the present moral chaos. Mr. Solimeo, a disciple of the Brazilian Catholic thinker Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, cites from his mentor’s work, Revolution and Counter-Revolution. From this perspective, it becomes clear that Our Lady’s coming at Fatima was meant to counter what Prof. Corrêa de Oliveira called the Revolution that has long attacked Christendom.
The conclusion of the book, like the Fatima message itself, is a message of hope. What Our Lady promises is not only the defeat but the triumph of her Immaculate Heart over this Revolution. Catholics need to confide in her Immaculate Heart that she will effectively reign not only in hearts but in history.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary and God’s Plan for America is an important book that all Catholics devoted to Mary should read and apply to their lives. More than just a book, it is a manual to help understand and act in the coming times.
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