Wednesday 5 October 2016

Are the miracles attributed to Lourdes of Fatima?

In March 1996, the Sunday Oklahoman profiled Oklahoma City homemaker Mary Clamser, 44, whose deterioration with multiple sclerosis had been abruptly halted in 1994 when lightning struck her house while she was grasping metal objects with each hand and wearing her metal leg brace brought on by the disease. Suddenly, she began walking easily, and though doctors told her the condition was probably only temporary, she still walks easily today. As if that weren't enough good luck, Clamser, in order to fly to California for a TV interview in April 1995, was forced to cancel a local appointment she had made at the Oklahoma City federal building for 9 a.m. on April 19th. The building was bombed a homegrown terrorist at that time.

Were these tw0 events miracles related to the Lourdes of Fatima? Until 1917, Fátima was an unknown village involved in shepherding and agriculture. It became known worldwide because of the Marian apparitions (appearance of Mary, mother of Jesus) seen by three young shepherd children (Lúcia dos Santos later known as Sister Lúcia of Fátima) and her cousins,  Jacinta and Francisco Marto occurring between the 13th of May and the 13th of October 1917. About 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) from Fátima is a small hamlet called Aljustrel, where the three shepherd children were born.

Marian apparitions (visions or visitations of Mary, mother of Jesus) (were first seen in the first century AD and continued to the present.

In July 1917, it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as the Miracle of the Sun. A huge crowd, variously estimated between 30,000 and 100,000, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had ceased and there was a thin layer of cloud. Lúcia, seeing light rising from the apparition’s hands and the sun appearing as a silver disk, called out "Look at the sun.” She later had no memory of saying this.  Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel. Keep in mind that there is no mention of the crowd seeing the apparition of Mary. It could have been in the mind of  Lúcia only.

No movement or other phenomenon of the sun was recorded by scientists at the time. Not all witnesses reported seeing the sun ‘dance’ in the sky. Some people only saw the radiant colors, and others, including some believers, saw nothing at all. Could these visions only been in their minds of those that saw something they wanted or expected to see?

A vision  is something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy, especially as a asupernatural appearance that usually conveys a revelation to the person  who sees it.

Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally it has fewer psychological connotations. Visions are known to emerge from spiritual traditions and could provide a view into human nature and reality.

An altered state of consciousness is called an altered state of mind or mind alteration. It is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking state. It could involve day dreaming. As we have all experienced, if we are day dreaming, sometimes we are completely oblivious of our immediate surroundings and sometimes won’t even hear someone talking to us.

These changes in one's mental state are almost always temporary which will explain why Lucia had no memory of saying “Look at the sun.”

When the reduction of self-awareness and environmental awareness take effect, they produce altered states of consciousness.

Emotions can influence behavior that alters the state of consciousness. Emotions can be influenced by various stimuli. Sleep deprivation can be chronic or short-term depending on the severity of the patient’s condition. Many have reported hallucinations, because sleep deprivation impacts the brain as well.

Coupled with deprivation of sleep and oxygen, another form of deprivation includes fasting which can occur because of religious purposes or from psychological conditions such as anorexia. Sleep deprivation can also be caused simply by not having enough to eat or eating sparingly. The previous conditions for accidental and pathological causes, we can come to understand that all of these accidental or pathological causes share the component of reduced self-awareness.  False illusions can be brought about by mediation if the belief is strong enough.

There is no way to determine what was in the minds of the three children that prompted them to claim that they saw Mary in a vision. However, it is conceivable that one of them saw the vision and told the others and they too began seeing the vision of Mary in their minds.

The Three Secrets of Fátima consist of a series of apocalyptic visions and prophecies which by some are believed to have been given to the three young Portuguese shepherds

According to Lucia, on July 13th, 1917, around noon, the Virgin Mary is said to have entrusted the children with three secrets. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lúcia, at the request of José Alves Correia da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta.

On May 14th, 2000 the Vatican disclosed 'the Third Secret of Fatima which has for decades kept the shrine of the Virgin Mary at the center of conspiracy theories and doomsday cults. The Vatican described the secret as a vision of the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

 Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, explained that the concealed part of the prophecies said to have been revealed to the three Portuguese shepherd children by an apparition of the Virgin in 1917 that was a vision of an attempt to kill a pope.

According to the vision, “The bishop (the pope is the Bishop of Rome) is clothed in white who is the pope, "makes his way with great effort toward the cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred."

Cardinal Sodano made his statement as he described what he called an interpretation of the vision of the three children to 600,000 pilgrims gathered at the sanctuary where John Paul II had just beatified two of the shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta. Lucia was made a saint earlier.

Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman, shot the pope as John Paul drove through a crowd in St. Peter's Square in 1981 on the anniversary of the 1917 apparition. Among the explanations, the gunman gave prosecutors at his trial in 1985 was that his attempt was connected to the third secret of the Madonna of Fátima. Was that statement a means of passing his blame on to the Church?

The cardinal's announcement was an effort by the Vatican to put an end to the kind of fevered speculation that has at times overshadowed the shrine's spiritual  importance to hundreds of millions of Catholics.

Versions of the secret, broadcasted on hundreds of Web sites (usually under
 headlines  such as, Third Secret Revealed! and ranged from worldwide nuclear  annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that led to rival  papacies.

John Paul has always credited the Virgin of Fátima with saving his life. After he  visited  the  shrine  in  1982  to  give  thanks  for  his  survival,  a  bullet that
was extracted from his body was placeed alongside diamonds in a gold crown worn by a statue of the Virgin. The pope did refer to the prophecies speaking of Fátima, where these times of tribulation were foretold but he made no mention of the Third Secret. Instead, he once again gave thanks “for the goodness of God toward me, when severely struck on that May 13, 1981, I was rescued from death.”

He was saved from death as a direct result of the Turkish gunman’s bad aim  and the medical doctor’s expertise.

Fátima fanatics have held hunger strikes in which one even hijacked a plane to try to force the Vatican to disclose the Third Secret. During John Paul's first visit to the shrine in 1982, on the first anniversary of the assassination attempt, a knife-wielding Spanish priest tried to kill the pope, but was wrestled to the ground by security officers.

It is believed by the faithful that that particular protection seems also to have been linked to the so-called third part of the Secret of Fátima.


The cardinal said the secret in its entirety would soon be published by the Vatican “after the preparation of an appropriate commentary.”

I will be most interested in reading the commentary since I suspect that it will be an attempt to convince the faithful and non-believers alike that praying to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes of Fatima will bring miracles and forecast the future.

I for one will be very hard to convince. 


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