Fourth of July, Fatima, and the Future — A Warning
Will the prophetic lessons of recent and upcoming days be enough to turn people back to God?
“There are no simple coincidences in the designs of Divine Providence,” Pope St. John Paul II said on May 12, 1982, at the Chapel of Apparitions on his trip to Fatima. He had traveled there especially to thank our Blessed Mother for saving his life a year earlier.
So was it merely a coincidence that this year’s First Reading for July 4, 2023, was from Genesis, recounting the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
“Genesis tells us so much about our present situation,” according to Father Brian Gannon, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport. He reminded that “Abraham is led by God into the wilderness to set the stage for a great nation based on freedom, but God’s freedom.”
Abraham took his nephew Lot and they eventually divided the land. Abraham gave Lot first choice, and he picked the beautiful plain near the Dead Sea, close to Sodom and Gomorrah. In his essential and highly detailed writings, first-century Jewish-Roman historian and military leader Josephus described how Sodom was “then a fine city, but is now destroyed, by the will and wrath of God.” He continued:
The Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, insomuch that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices. God was therefore much displeased at them, and determined to punish them for their pride, and to overthrow their city, and to lay waste their country, until there should neither plant nor fruit grow out of it.
Josephus said when two angels visited Lot, “the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer anything immodest to the strangers, but to have regard to their lodging in his house; and promised that if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers; neither thus were they made ashamed. But God was much displeased at their impudent behavior, so that he both smote those men with blindness, and condemned the Sodomites to universal destruction.”
Those Days Mirror Now
On the Fourth of July, Father Gannon pointed out in a homily:
Freedom was also the cry in Sodom, but a freedom that declared its independence from God, a freedom endorsed by the devil, a freedom of sexual immorality that actually enslaved and destroyed. Apparently, the culture had the right to impose its sexual debauchery on anyone who entered the city. Does that sound familiar? Even Jesus refers to Sodom’s destruction.
Later, Peter did the same, warning people to stay off that wide road to destruction:
If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:6-9).
“Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).
Father Gannon fast-forwarded to these present times and its “pursuit of pleasure, the pursuit of licentiousness — a very, very disfigured idea of what freedom is really all about.” He made clear:
The freedom cry has changed. … It has become the ‘right’ to destroy innocent life in the womb, have drag queen story hours, the ‘right’ of government to prevent parents from knowing medical choices their kids might make in school, the ‘right’ to get high on narcotics (marijuana) with assistance from the state. All the above are shamelessly proclaimed by Congress, the White House and even local Boards of Education to be human rights.
Where does that road lead? He noted:
It turns you away from God, it turns you into yourself, life becomes pleasure, life becomes an absolute rebellion against God. … So where does that lead in terms of the human desire for freedom? This is where the devil tricks us, right? By being more unbridled in your freedom. By following licentiousness to his degree, you will have a greater freedom than God permits you to have, but it leads to self-destruction because in the end, we become enslaved to our passions. And if anybody interferes with my desire for pleasure, or my desire for convenience, they become my enemy, my adversary, and must be pushed aside one way or another.
That's what we see happening in our culture today. … In many ways, the call for freedom has been distorted. Instead of self-mastery, self-possession, it has become a cry for: I want what I want. Get out of my way. And if I don't get it, I will hurt you. And I will destroy you if necessary. That's not in keeping with the gospel, and certainly not in keeping with the Founding Fathers who understood human nature very, very well.
They understood “that man has a fallen nature. Freedom is not an unbridled instinct, but a privilege extended by God that needs to be protected by virtue. The Founding Fathers, though not Catholic, understood freedom arrives only with fidelity to God.”
Many times they made clear the necessity for that fidelity. A tiny sample includes George Washington’s words:
Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society. … It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.
And John Adams’s words:
The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. … Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Even Ben Franklin:
We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel. No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
Can Be Saved Now As Then
Only Lot and his daughters were saved from the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah when God told them to leave. His wife went with them. Josephus adds that those men to whom the daughters were betrothed stayed behind because they “deemed that Lot's words were trifling. God then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants; and laid waste the country.”
Lot is saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah “only by one way: sacrificing his worldly desires and submitting to God,” Father Gannon emphasized. “This brings initial hardship, but then God’s freedom from the tyranny of the sexually debauched denizens of Sodom. God’s demanding love actually rescues him and brings true prosperity for the family. By looking back, Lot’s wife refused God’s loving demands.”
Josephus wrote that “Lot's wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her so to do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I have seen it, and it remains at this day.”
At the same time, on July 4, the Gospel from Matthew (8:23-27) brought hope. The apostles are caught in a violent storm while Jesus was asleep on the boat.
“They woke him, pleading, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing! He said to them, ‘Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?’ Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” Once they turned to him.
In St. John Paul II’s same talk at Fatima in 1982, he recounted being shot the previous year and said he “saw in everything that was happening — I never tire of repeating it — a special maternal protection from Our Lady.” He added, “I also saw an appeal and, who knows, a call to attention towards the message that came from here 65 years ago, through three children … the little shepherds of Fatima …” Yet another source of hope and direction.
Another “hint” comes into play because a “novena” of days connects July 4 and July 13, the anniversary of the very important message of Our Lady of Fatima to the children — whether the “novena” is counted from July 4 to the day before the apparitions, or from July 5 to end on the 13th, the anniversary of the apparition.
Remember that on that date Our Lady gave a terrifying vision of hell but also simple directions for the right path to save souls and the nations of the world. She said to save the “poor sinners … God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace … but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out [World War II].” God will give a sign that “he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”
To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
She called for the daily Rosary yet again. It’s a Christocentric prayer.
And these directions will help us understand that, in the words of Father Gannon, this “beautiful gift of freedom … is always found in the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ … the ultimate source of what all freedom is all about.”
Also, consider that on another Fatima anniversary in 1972, a “novena” of years began with the approved apparition of Our Lady of Akita nine years before John Paul II’s 1982 Fatima speech. Our Lady again warned:
As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one has never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.
So will we continue to do as Sodom and Gomorrah did? Or listen as Lot did? And do as our Blessed Mother says. If so, Father Gannon concludes, “Culture will prosper and will wonderfully thrive when the love of our Lord and Savior subordinates all other things … when the love of neighbor is rooted in seeking the salvation of all souls.”