"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord…"
These are the familiar opening words of the Apostles' Creed, which every true Catholic knows and believes - words, which have come down to us from the Apostles themselves. St. Paul in today's Epistle invokes the faith of his hearers, which is indeed our faith:
"I make known unto you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand, by which also you are saved: if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain" (1Cor.15:1-3).
Today the Gospel and the Apostles' Creed are undermined. "O tempora! O mores!" So exclaimed Cicero, Roman politician, philosopher and orator, about troubled times in ancient Rome. "O the times! O the manners!" The times caught up with poor Cicero when he was murdered in 43 B.C.
Like Cicero, we cannot help but cry out: "Such times we live in! Such unwholesome behavior we witness!" As we approach ever closer to utter chaos, we can trust neither our political leaders nor our religious ones to pull us out of the crisis. The world is filled with sin and ugliness. Sin is glorified, and God and His Commandments are mocked. The true Gospel is no longer preached by the contemporary church, which continues to promote "the globalization of solidarity" whatever that means, though dialogue and diplomacy.
A recent news brief from Reuters news agency reads: "Pope wants laws to stop war: Frustrated by diplomacy's failure to avoid war in Iraq, Pope John Paul will challenge the world to come up with new international laws to prevent future conflicts, the Vatican says. The pope… has chosen international law as the theme for the next World Peace Day on January 1, 2004" (July 17, 2003).
But human laws cannot bring peace to the world. Those who want peace must raise up our Lord Jesus Christ before the eyes of the world - Christ the King, Whom all would love and obey if they could believe in Him and know Him. Jesus Christ is God's plan for peace.
Jesus Himself says: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting… For He Whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for not by measure does God give the Spirit. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (Jn.3:14,15;33-36).
The lessons of history tell us what happens when the nations are "unbelieving towards the Son" and in disobedience to God. In 1673, Our Lord revealed the devotion to His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This was, she said, a "final effort of His Love to favor human beings in the last centuries of the world, and to withdraw them from the empire of satan, which He intends to destroy and to replace with the reign of His Love."
The revelations were followed in 1689 by a request from Our Lord for the consecration to the Sacred Heart of the nation of France, where the winds of atheistic world revolution were first stirring. According to St. Margaret Mary: "The eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitterness and agony which the Heart of Jesus endured in the palaces of earthly princes, wishes to make use of the reigning monarch of France to proclaim public devotion of reparation to that Sacred Heart." The king was to erect a shrine to the Sacred Heart and to request the Holy See to authorize a new Mass. In return, Our Lord promised that the king would be the friend of His Sacred Heart, and would have His blessing and protection from all his enemies.
The reigning monarch was Louis XIV, the "Sun King," whose courts were rife with luxury and scandal. The king did not respond. Wars continued throughout the rest of his reign. France was defeated by the Netherlands, and by Spain in the war of the Spanish Succession. His son, Louis XV, also failed to respond. The bloody French Revolution came in 1789, exactly one hundred years after Our Lord made His request, destroying the monarchy and attacking the Church. King Louis XVI, the grandson of Louis XIV, was beheaded, together with the queen, and 2,400 bishops, priests, and nuns. France had to endure the "Reign of Terror," in which three hundred thousand mostly innocent French citizens were guillotined.
In 1870, two hundred years after Our Lord's request, when France was on the losing side in the Franco-Prussian war, a group of lay persons petitioned the Archbishop of Paris to fulfill the requests of the Sacred Heart. The construction of a huge basilica to the Sacred Heart - Sacre Coeur - was begun on Montmartre, the hill where early Christians had died for their faith. The Archbishop, together with the bishops of France, at last consecrated the French nation to the Sacred Heart.
Heaven was not slow to respond. In 1871 Our Lady appeared to a group of children at Pontmain, a village within the shadow of the invading German armies. In Her hands was a blood red crucifix. A scroll appeared at Her feet with the words: "Continue to pray. My son allows Himself to be touched." The German armies mysteriously retreated, and the war was over. But the revolution had already spread beyond the borders of France.
History repeats itself. In 1917, Our Lady appeared at Fatima to three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, asking for the First Saturday devotions, and the recitation of the Rosary. On June 13, 1929, at Tuy (TWEE), she conveyed her request to the Pope through Lucia, by then a nun, that he consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Two years later, at Rianjo (RIANHO), Our Lord Himself spoke to Lucia, comparing the Pope's non-response to our Lady's request at Tuy, to that of the King of France, who also failed to act upon the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. On August 29, 1931, He told Sister Lucia: "Make it known to My ministers that, given the example of the King of France in not executing My command, they will in turn fall into misfortune."
But the popes, Pius XI, and even Pius XII, the "Pope of Fatima," failed to make the required consecration. The Church "fell into misfortune" with the usurpation of the papal throne by the "conciliar popes," and the so-called Second Vatican Council. As a result the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has not been made, and the Church and the world are under the darkening cloud of Divine judgment. Sister Lucia has said: "Unless this act intervenes (the consecration to the Immaculate Heart), war will end (in the world) only when the blood spilled by the martyrs is enough to appease Divine Justice."
But every cloud has a silver lining, even this one. Among those who are faithful to the requests of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, God will raise up saints and martyrs, who will be the seed of a renewed Church. A true pope will make the consecration together with all the bishops of the world. The Immaculate Heart of Mary will finally triumph, and Our Lord Jesus Christ will destroy the kingdom of satan and replace it with the reign of His love.