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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Russia and the Mother of God

By:   Solange Hertz
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Our Lady of Kazan Our Lady of Kazan

The apparition of the Mother of God at La Salette in France was succeeded by two more great mariophanies. At Lourdes in 1858 she identified herself to little St. Bernadette Soubirous as the Immaculate Conception and requested the recitation of the Holy Rosary. At Fatima in 1917, while World War I was still raging on the European continent, she announced that she wished to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart, insisting once more on the recitation of the Rosary, to which she promised to attach “a new efficacy” for the salvation of souls. She also told little Lucy dos Santos that at some future date, “I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia.” That day turned out to be Thursday June 13, 1929.


At the close of a vision of the Most Blessed Trinity granted in Tuy, Spain, our Lady told Lucy, a Dorothean sister at the time, “The moment has come in which God asks of the Holy Father to make, and to order that in union with him and at the same time, all the bishops of the world make the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart,” promising to convert it because of this day of prayer and worldwide reparation.[1] As we know, this request has yet to be fulfilled as specified. In a letter to Fr. Gonçalves Lucy wrote on May 13, 1936, “Intimately I have spoken to our Lord about the subject, and not too long ago I asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making that consecration?” She says our Lord replied, “Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its cult later on, and put this devotion beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.”

At Fatima our Lady never mentioned the word Communism in relation to Russia, but only its “errors.” In point of fact Communism cannot even be included among the errors proper to that nation, for as Br. Michel de la Sainte Trinité points out in The Whole Truth about Fatima, “One of the first important truths which must be established, under pain of dangerously deceiving ourselves concerning Russia and Communism, and consequently the words of our Lady of Fatima as well, is that the Bolshevik revolution is not Russian. It is fundamentally, essentially anti-Russian, as Solzhenitzyn has never tired of demonstrating to the West, which has voluntarily blinded itself on this point.” Br. Michel’s superior the Abbé de Nantes also pointed out, “Neither the Orthodox religion nor Slavic tradition have the least affinity with its inhuman dialectic. And if Communism took possession of this country, it is not in virtue of an illusory ‘historical dialectic,’ but quite simply because this great body with a sick head was easier to take and undoubtedly had no other agitating minority beside the Jewish Bolshevik clan.” [2]

In other words, whatever Russia’s errors may be, they cannot be ascribed to Communism. If that great body suffers from a “sick head,” the cause is schism, the separation from the Vicar of Christ which proved to be the fountainhead of all the subsequent separations which Christendom suffered as a consequence. The fall of Byzantium loosed the Renaissance, and the Renaissance spawned the Reformation, which in turn forged the Revolution now engulfing the world. That first debilitating rift in unity, which so many saints – and some enlightened Tsars – have longed in vain to heal, affected not only the Orthodox millions, but the entire Church, which can be said to have kept its head, but lost its heart. Like a man whose wife has left him, the Church retained its God-given authority, but at the price of fruitfulness.

Until the erring East returns, what real hope is there to Christianize the rest of the world? When our Lady asked the Pope to consecrate Russia in union with “all the bishops of the world” is there not reason to suspect that she may have been including the schismatic bishops of Orthodoxy, who despite their illegitimacy, are nonetheless valid bishops? Would not their willing participation in such a Consecration in conjunction with the Pope of Rome constitute of itself a healing of the schism?   Despite its “sick head” and longstanding disobedience, Russia still has a heart which can be appealed to, and essentially that heart is the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Lady who appeared so spectacularly on that nation’s behalf at Fatima.

Perhaps because she figures so prominently in their liturgy, devotion to her has survived every horror of Russian history from the Turks to the Communists, and let us hope, socialist democracy. The ordinary of the Mass in the Byzantine Rite is lavish in its references to Mary, whose role is as central to the sacrificial action as it is to mankind’s salvation. The celebrant begins by incensing and kissing her icon along with that of Christ, beseeching her to “Open the portal of your deep mercy to us who put our trust in you, so that we may not be brought to confusion, but through you may be delivered from adversity, for you are the salvation of the Christian fold!” The First Antiphon meets with the repeated response, “Through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Savior, save us!” concluding with, “Let us remember our all-holy, spotless, most highly blessed and glorious Lady the Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary with all the saints.”

During the Commemorations after the Consecration, the faithful raise their voices in the venerable hymn, “It is fitting and right to call you blessed, O Theotokos: you are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God, higher in honor than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, you gave birth to God the Word in virginity. You are truly the Mother of God: you do we exalt!”

At the conclusion of the Sacrifice the Last Blessing is asked of God not only “through the prayers of His spotless and all-pure Mother,” and all the saints, but specifically through those of her parents, “the holy and just ancestors of Christ Joachim and Anne.”

The Melkite liturgy for Corpus Christi especially dwells on the integral role of Mary as source of the Eucharist, reminding us that “the Holy Spirit formed the divine Bread for us out of her own blood.... Hail, O Virgin, who brought forth for us the Wheat of Life! Hail, O Mystical Banquet from whom we receive holy Food! O Blessed Mother, by the fruit of whose womb all the faithful are nourished,” so that to receive the Eucharist is to receive Mary together with Christ.

The more sober Latin liturgy of the West is also mindful of the dignity of the Virgin Mary, according her the place of honor in the Communicantes, begging her intercession in the Libera nos, and even confessing to her in the Confiteor, but it cannot match the exuberance and theological acuity of the Byzantines.

A recent convert to the Faith from Protestantism was heard to remark, “Catholics of the Latin Rite give lip service to Mary, but they aren’t really devoted to her like the Easterners!” Is this why so many Marian apparitions occur in the West? True Marian devotion is certainly to be found throughout the Roman Church by anyone seriously seeking it out, but its manifestations on the whole are largely peripheral to what might be described as its “official” life. What surer sign of creeping apostasy than tepidity towards her who “destroys all heresies!”

That our Lord wishes “My whole Church to acknowledge” the act of consecration may be extraordinarily significant, leading us to suspect that the consecration of Russia may be intended as much for the benefit of the West as for Russia’s. Is something seriously wanting to western piety and to its Marian devotion in particular? It is recorded fact that all the great apparitions of the Mother of God in modern times have taken place in the West, first in America, and then in Europe, presumably always where Marian devotion was most in need of encouragement. After all, it was to the West, and not to the East, that God sent great Marian apostles like St. John Eudes and St. Grignion de Montfort.

The same radical disbelief which met the Secret confided to Mélanie Calvat of La Salette prevented the very disclosure of the Secret confided to Sr. Lucy seventy years later at Fatima, which remains secret to this day. If disbelief were not the underlying cause, why has the consecration of Russia not been made? By the same token, why are the five First Saturdays of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which were requested of Sr. Lucy at Pontevedra not a compelling priority on the agendas of the hierarchy? Isn’t it possible, nay, probable, that the Consecration of Russia, on which hangs the deliverance of the long-suffering Slavic peoples, is at the same time heaven’s way of demanding a concrete, long overdue re-affirmation of faith in Mary’s intercession on the part of the whole Church, under its Pope and bishops?

Remonstrating with our Lord about the prevailing indifference to His wishes in the matter, Sr. Lucy said, “But my God, the Holy Father probably won’t believe me, unless You yourself move him with a special inspiration.” To which she said our Lord replied, “The Holy Father. Pray very much for the Holy Father. He will do it, but it will be late. Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to her.” When that time comes, Holy Mother Russia, pray for the rest of us!


[1] Account to Fr. Gonçalves dated Nov. 6, 1929.

[2] “L’Erreur de l’Occident,” Livre de Poche, 1980.



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