Here is something else courtesy of the often prophetic Venerable Archbishop Sheen. It comes from his book The World’s First Love. In a chapter titled “Mary and the Moslems,” he points out the extraordinary devotion that Muslims have to Our Lady, who mentioned with veneration a number of times in the Q’uran. Muslims also believe in her Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth. But there are more ties even than that. Our Lady’s most famous 20th-century appearance was in a town named for Mohammed’s daughter. Sheen believed that this in itself was a sign for our time.
Since nothing ever happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son too.
Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.
Mary and Jesus in an old Persian miniature (Wikipedia)
The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception, which the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned earlier. Moslems attended the church services in honor of Our Lady, they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.
Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In an apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her divine Son. She is forever a “traitor,” in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Read the rest here.
It pains me a great deal to see the Catholic blogosphere — even various Catholic media apostolates at times — filled with ever harsher polemics against Islam and the Muslims. No one can deny that Muslim militancy is deadly, and that whole swaths of Western secularists are indifferent to the danger. But this does not apply to all Muslims as people. I hear cries of alarm from everywhere about the increasing Muslim population in Europe and the U.S. We are going to be overrun, our Christian spiritual heritage is in danger! — this is the cry from everywhere. Our faith is endangered — but mostly from the inside. Why do so few realize that our faith is our salvation and that of others? We need to pray, every day if possible, for conversions among the Muslims. There are signs that a great many are converting already. Bonnie Engstrom, mother of Bishop Sheen’s “miracle baby” shares the story of a Muslim convert. Pray the Rosary and invoke our Lady of Fatima for them! She loves them as they love her. We certainly have nothing to lose by doing so.
Thanks, Archbishop Sheen.
Great news! The beatification cause for Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen has surmounted an important hurdle: today it was announced that a miracle attributed to the late beloved television star has been unanimously approved by a medical board who declared that it could not be attributed to natural causes. Now the theological board and then the cardinals in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have to approve it.
The miracle was almost literally a raising from the dead, of an apparently stilborn baby The family comes from Sheen’s own home diocese of Peoria, Illinois. It took place on September 16, 2010. Here is the report from Catholic News Service.
James’ mother, Bonnie Engstrom, described what happened when she addressed a 2012 gathering of the Midwest region of the Catholic Press Association in Peoria.
When Engstrom was pregnant with James, a feeling came over her that “God wants this baby to exist,” she said. “Maybe he’s going to be the pope. We didn’t know, but we were shooting high.”
During delivery, what caused James to be stillborn was that his umbilical cord had knotted itself, cutting off his blood flow and oxygen supply. The more he progressed through the birth canal, the tighter the knot became. “He was born stillborn,” Engstrom said, remembering how “his arms flopped by his side” when she reached for him to hold him.
Others at the home birth did CPR and chest compressions for 20 minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Engstrom said she had no pre-composed prayer asking for help from Archbishop Sheen. “I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen,” she recounted. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
At the hospital, James was described as “PEA,” for “pulseless electrical activity.” Medics tried two injections of epinephrine. Neither worked. A nurse held one of James’ feet in an effort to give him some measure of comfort, and Engstrom said she remarked later, “It was so cold, it was so cold. It was like in the saying ‘cold and dead.’”
Engstrom remembered that a doctor in the emergency room said, “We’ll try for five more minutes, then call it,” meaning recording the time of death. “If he had known about the previous 40 minutes” of efforts to revive him before arriving at the hospital, she said, “he would have just called it.”
She added, “They were just about to call it when his heart started beating — 148 beats per minute, which is healthy for a newborn. And it never faltered.”
Even after the baby revived, Bonnie and her husband Travis were told James would certainly have irreversible brain damage after an hour without a discernible heartbeat or pulse. The original tests did show brain damage. But later it disappeared as people continued to pray. Today James is a healthy, active 3-year-old.
Bonnie blogs at aknottedlife.com. You can read there about James today, and his parents, brothers and sisters. His mother blogged his amazing medical story as it happened here.
I also blogged more about Archbishop Sheen’s cause here.
No two ways about it: this is extraordinary. Our new Pope is a man who can reach out and touch anyone’s heart. Even the heart of Bible-Belt, traditionally anti-Catholic Protestantism.
I recall coming across TV Pentecostal preacher Kenneth Copeland and his TV show a couple of times, years ago — maybe 20 years ago. He’s much older now. Back then, he was arm waving and strutting around, and to be frank, he struck me as a little crazy, but then I knew very little about Pentecostals.
But now through a Evangelical preacher turned Anglican bishop, who Copeland knew and mentored when he was a boy, he’s gotten a message from the Pope. Watch the whole thing if you can. (The Pope’s message starts at 31:50)
Like Joseph and his brothers, he says, “Our tears will unite us.”
I was amazed and touched at Rev. Copeland’s reaction.
Glory to God!
A miracle attributed to Pope Paul VI was just approved by a team of theologians, and now just needs to be approved by the Cardinals on the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If this happens, the way will be cleared for his beatification. (He was declared Venerable in December 2012).
My guess would be that even if the approval comes soon, Pope Francis will delay the beatification ceremony until the fall of 2015, to coincide with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the solemn close of the Second Vatican Council, which in many ways, was the true glory day of Pope Paul’s pontificate.
It still bothers me a great deal that Pope Paul is still so maligned — to the point of disgraceful slander — by haters of Vatican II. I wrote more about this here.
He deserves every thanks from the Church, and I would love to see his beatification take place. No matter how much Francis’ famous “sourpusses” complain.
On a lighter note, not the least of the complaints of the naysayers — though it’s hard to keep track of so many — is that Pope Paul carried a crozier or ferula with an “ugly” and “modernist” crucifix. The same crozier was later borne by John Paul I during his short month as Pope, and then for more than 26 years by John Paul II. Pope Benedict chose another crozier, but Paul’s is still used occasionally by Pope Francis.
I think the crucifix is rather striking myself. In fact, someone (not me) gleefully pointed out to the complainers on Fr. Z’s blog the other day that the “ugly” crucifix will become a second class relic when John Paul II is canonized in April. And I added that if Paul himself and John Paul I are canonized, it will be a second-class relic three times over. “So what?” one of the complainers snarled “It’s still ugly!” Poor baby.
All the same, not many croziers will be as blessed as this one will.
Hard to believe, but it’s been a year — a whole year today — since Pope Benedict XVI told us he was renouncing his ministry as Pope. As I recalled my feelings that day, they come rushing back. Here’s what I wrote in the comments over at Fr. Z’s that day:
I feel terribly shaken. I figured Pope Benedict’s death, or even resignation, down the road, would be months or years away, and I wouldn’t have to think about it for a long time. I am just not ready for another Pope!
And I am SO not ready for all the stupid, inane and blasphemous newspaper speculation about Benedict’s reign and his successor. Just think, this time the outgoing Pope gets to read all of it! (I hope he will wisely refrain).
May God bless our dear Papa and protect him whatever he does wherever he goes. I know he didn’t make this decision lightly. May God watch over His Holy Church, and may the Holy Spirit inspire the cardinals to elect a good successor.
The whole month beginning this day last year was something else! And topped off by the election of our new Pope Francis, in a way Benedict’s gift to us, who is jump-starting the Church and lighting fires under lazy and inert Catholics in all sorts of startling ways.
What a ride it’s been! I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Update: Rocco’s coverage is superb as always.
And some interesting comments from Abp. Ganswein, Benedict’s secretary and the head of Francis’ papal household. And still more here.