May 23, 2000
volume 11, no. 97
THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA Series INTRODUCTION|
During this "month of Mary" and the focus on Fatima with the beatifications on May 13th of the Fatima Shepherd Children Jacinta and Francisco Marto by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and with the debut of the DailyCATHOLIC now being published daily in Russian to reach all parts of the former Iron Curtain, we present a special series written by Father Robert J. Fox, director of the Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of the full color Immaculate Heart Messenger. We are delighted to work with Father Robert Fox in bringing you this special series on Our Lady's plans for the conversion of Russia. If anyone knows the temperature of the Faith in the former Soviet Union it is Fr. Fox. These articles first appeared in earlier issues of his full-color magazine Immaculate Heart Messenger which Fr. Fox edits and publishes. To order a subscription or to find out about other materials such as books and tapes or about the upcoming 18th Annual National Marian Congress to be held on the weekend of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 9-11 at the Shrine in Alexandria, South Dakota, call the toll-free number: 800-721-MARY or 800-213-5541.
Last October I thought the first small group of Russian pilgrims to Fatima would be interested in seeing and venerating the "Our Lady of Kazan" icon which is housed in what has commonly been called "The Russian Chapel," in Domus Pacis, operated by the Blue Army. We were received there graciously. The Latin-Rite pilgrims (and we must remember that the Kazan Cathedral is being rebuilt by the Russian Orthodox Church) expressed surprise to discover such an icon of Kazan with the attached claims. I was told that the oldest replica of the original "Our Lady of Kazan" icon of their acquaintance is a couple hundred years old and of much larger size. It was more the size of the famous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland.
Ongoing Gradual ConversionWhile the Church struggles even under greater freedom in Russia it is clear that the conversion promised by Our Lady of Fatima will be gradual. What is happening has been sudden in many ways although far faster than most could have imagined but a few years ago. Criticisms that Our Lady has to yet begun her work of conversion in Russia because the events do not match our Western standards or the way some thought it should happen seem to stem from lack of information of the great challenges faced by the peoples of Russia today. They are without basic necessities in many cases.
Ask Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz how he can be helped and he'll mention the things we take for granted such as paper and other common things which are difficult to come by even if one has the money.
While some have been wondering whether the Collegial Consecration of Russia as requested by Our Lady of Fatima has taken place that subject was a foregone conclusion for the new Archbishop of Moscow, spiritual head of the Latin-Rite and European Russians and responsible for evangelizing millions who have been deprived of Jesus Christ being preached for decades. He merely looked to Our Lady of Fatima to thank for the new religious freedoms and did not hesitate to state immediately before the sacred spot on earth where God's Mother mentioned the conversion of Russia, that things began to change when the Holy Father, in union with bishops, consecrated the world and therefore Russia to the Immaculate Heart. He named the day for the beginning of these changes. It was March 25, 1984.
Whatever Sr. Lucia and the Archbishop of Moscow talked about last October 1991 when the two met at Carmel in Coimbra, the two are not telling. I know what Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz said before he went there. I know what he said in the Russian language before the sacred spot where the Mother of God stood and spoke of Russia and its conversion at Fatima. Sr. Lucia has met popes, cardinals, bishops of the world. Her eyes have gazed upon the Mother of God more than once. What God's Mother said must have rushed back into her mind when the Archbishop of Moscow stood before her.
May 23, 2000 |
volume 11, no. 92
THE CHURCH IN RUSSIA