The Theotokos’ Great Commission: Pray the Rosary
On October 7 in the Roman Rite, we celebrated Our Lady of the Rosary, or a commemoration of the Victory of Lepanto. This feast was celebrated for the 448th time this year. The Church attributed this Title to the Theotokos. Both as the heavenly originator of the Holy Rosary, and as the glorious intercessor for the Victory of Christendom (over the Moslems at Lepanto). It wouldn’t be until 1917 that Our Lady would declare herself to be the bearer of this title to Sts. Jacinta & Francisco and Sr. Lucia, the “Fatima Shepherd Children.”
October 13 commemorates the final apparition and Miracle of the Sun that our Lord wrought in testament to the truth of Our Lady’s message, revealed to those humble, saintly children.
Below is a slide show of photos taken of the crowd who witnessed the Miracle on October 13, 1917.
What was our Lady’s message? Primarily, it was a commission: repent and pray the Rosary.
Position of the Church
The Magisterium of the Church has officially endorsed and universally proclaimed as “worthy of belief” the message of the Apparitions of the Theotokos at Fatima. The Church does not demand the acceptance of private revelation on pain of sin, however. One need not believe any particular private revelation in order to be saved.
The local bishop always has jurisdiction to affirm or deny the authenticity of any private revelation that happens in his diocese. The Bishop of Leiria-Fátima’s 1930 approbation has been upheld to this day and serves as the basis for the Church’s endorsement:
“In virtue of considerations made known, and others which for reason of brevity we omit; humbly invoking the Divine Spirit and placing ourselves under the protection of the most Holy Virgin, and after hearing the opinions of our Rev. Advisors in this diocese, we hereby: 1) Declare worthy of belief, the visions of the shepherd children in the Cova da Iria, parish of Fátima, in this diocese, from 13 May to 13 October 1917. 2) Permit officially the belief of Our Lady of Fátima.”, Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, 13 October 1930.
Fatima: The Byzantine Take
We’ve spoken previously of the the deeply Scriptural nature of the Rosary that makes it a suitable devotion for all Catholics, not just those of the Western Rite. We also previously mentioned the fact that especially in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Rosary has been spread by the Byzantine Redemptorist Fathers. These missionary priests spread their devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (a Byzantine icon) and the Rosary wherever they preached.
But is there a Byzantine connection in the actual Apparitions of Fatima? Surprisingly, yes, there is!
This is centred around the Theotokos’ petition for a Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. [NOTE: We take no position on whether or not the Consecration of Russia has taken place or whether the entire 3rd Secret has been released to the Laity. We encourage our readers to research these topics and draw their own conclusions, always bearing in mind the official proclamations of the Church on these topics.]
Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada and Fatima
Essentially, Our Lady requested this consecration in order to avoid much of the suffering that the world witnessed at the hands of atheistic Soviet Communism, which spread its errors to much of the world. She promised that Russia would be converted and that there would be a time of peace.
Around the same time that the Theotokos was giving these messages to the visionary children, Our Lord was directing a faithful son, Rev. Achiel Delaere, C.Ss.R., to begin his Apostolic work among the Byzantine Catholics of Western Canada.
Father Delaere had this to say about his mission in 1910, quoted at length:
“Approximately 40 million Ukrainians live in Russia, among whom many who were previously united to Rome are now compelled to be schismatic. In their heart, they have remained Catholic. […] Whenever the borders of Russia open up to the Catholic apostolate, there will be immeasurable field work for Ukrainian missionaries to cultivate. And who knows the secrets of God’s Providence? The conversion of the East has to begin with the conversion of schismatic Ukrainians, and afterwards through them (emphasis added). That is what the zealous Pope Urban VIII had in mind and desired […] Perhaps it will be that the conversion of Russia is not going to take place without difficulties and opposition. Yes, they will be there…But difficulties and oppositions we can forsee should not prevent us however from undertaking a good work… ” 
Recent Popes, including Pope St. John Paul II, the first Slavic pope in history (though some claim Pope St. Pius X was born to Polish immigrants to Italy from the Opole Voivodeship in Southern Poland, bordering Czech Republic), have consecrated the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and following Vatican II, have given a commission to the Eastern Catholic Churches to work in bringing our separated Orthodox brethren back into Communion. A daunting task indeed.
These works have not been in vain, either, as can be seen in the small, struggling, but still vibrant Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, including Our Lady of Fatima Russian Byzantine Parish in California. Neither the Russian State nor the Russian Orthodox Church recognize the existence of the Russian Byzantine Church, and give very little rights to the Roman Catholic Church in Russia.
What you can do
- Pray the Rosary, 5 decades (Meditating on 1 of the 3(4) sets of Mysteries) EVERYDAY.
- The First Saturday Devotion (in addition to the First Fridays) for Reparation to the Immaculate Heart.
- Be holy! Frequent the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and live a life of conversion…in short, be a saint!
The Byzantine Life
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 De Vocht, C.Ss.R., Rev. Jozef. Eternal Memory! Father Delaere & Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. Yorkton, SK: Gravelbooks, 2005, pp. 167-168.