October 9th came and went. An important anniversary for the Church in the United States passed and very few people realized the significance of the date. My own life was consumed with the busyness that surrounded me, leaving me unable to write for the momentous anniversary. 154 years ago in Northeastern Wisconsin on October 9, 1859, the Queen of Heaven spoke to a Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise in Northeastern Wisconsin. It was the third time she had appeared, but the first and only time she spoke to Adele.
Similarly, October 13th marks another significant anniversary for the Church universal, which will be celebrated with great solemnity in the Vatican by Pope Francis. 96 years ago on October 13, 1917, in her last apparition to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, the Blessed Virgin Mary identified herself as the Lady of the Rosary. Over 70,000 people witnessed the miraculous events that followed which included the miracle of the sun. Both of these apparitions, Champion and Fatima, are vital anniversaries in the life of the Church because of the message Our Lady gave to the visionaries.
Conversion and Reparation
One of the central elements of the Wisconsin apparition was prayer for the conversion of sinners. This was emphasized by Our Lady’s appellation to Adele as the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners. It is interesting to note that Our Lady chose to reveal her functionary role as an intercessor for sinners. She continued her message by exhorting Adele,
and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.
Notice that Our Lady requested Adele to pray for the conversion of sinners, specifically by offering her Holy Communion for that intention. Now, fast forward to Fatima in 1917. What was the overarching request of Our Lady to those visionaries? Again it was the conversion of sinners, but the language of Our Lady changed; it intensified. She asks for the reparation to be made. The angel w
ho preceded the apparitions of Our Lady taught the children a prayer of Eucharistic reparation. In the final apparition to the Fatima visionary, Sr. Lucia, on December 10, 1925, Our Lady formalized the request for reparation by asking Sr. Lucia [and the world] to observe the first five Saturdays of the month by going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, praying the rosary, and meditating on the mysteries of Christ.
Notice also, the similarities between Champion and Fatima. In both apparitions, Our Lady requested that individuals go to confession. Celebrating this sacrament recognizes one’s own need for conversion. Then, she requested the reception of Holy Communion. In Champion, Communion was to be offered for the conversion of sinners, and in Fatima, in reparation for sin. The language used by Our Lady in the 58 years between Champion and Fatima changed. We are still told to pray for the conversion of sinners, but now reparation must also be made. I believe this speaks to the change in the moral climate in the world and consequently should spur us on to follow the edicts of the Virgin.
The second aspect of the Champion apparition was catechesis. Adele was told to “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments.” In the Fatima apparition, we can deduce the intensification of sin in the world, and thus the need to make reparation. If we look backwards to the Champion apparition, what we see is Our Lady’s plan for the world by right teaching. If children [and adults for that matter] are instructed in their religion, the hope is they will turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel. Furthermore, in order to make Eucharistic reparation, the faithful would require instruction. Hence, there is a continuity between Adele’s message to teach the children how to approach the sacraments and Fatima’s call to the sacraments, repentance, and reparation. The sacraments were central to both Champion and Fatima and call us to have a greater respect, appreciation, and devotion to the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist. This can only be fostered through catechesis.
Queen of October
On account of Our Lady’s apparitions to Adele Brise and the Fatima children, Mary is not only the Queen of the May, but she is also the Queen of October. In his first of eleven rosary encyclicals, Leo XIII in Supremi Apostolatus Officio hailed Mary as the Queen of the Holy Rosary and dedicated the month of October to the Rosary with special indulgences on account of the October 7th feast of Our Lady of Victory. Mary also is the Queen of Peace, a title that Pope Francis has invoked in recent weeks. When Our Lady appeared to the Fatima children she encouraged them to pray the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world. Today, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the hope of obtaining peace for the world. Peace can only begin when sinners convert, do penance, and amend their lives. This is why Our Lady has intervened in the world through her many apparitions. She comes to invite us to conversion and to return to the sacraments. When we convert from our sinful lives, peace comes into our heart, our families, and the world. As we journey through the month of October, let us hail Mary who is the Queen of October, she who is the Queen of Heaven and the Lady of the Holy Rosary. Let us beseech her intercession this month for universal peace.
If you would like to learn more about Our Lady’s message to Adele Brise and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, consider ordering one of Edward’s books from his online store.