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It's the Month of Mary. It's the month of the first Fatima apparition. It's the month during which Saint John Paul II -- great opponent of Communism -- was shot (saved, he felt, by the Virgin of Fatima; he is said to have been the "Pope of the secret").

And so we are in a fascinating moment.

John Paul II has just been canonized at the same time that the old Soviet Union seems, in a way, to be rising again.

There was Crimea. There is Ukraine. Yesterday, for the first time in decades, Moscow celebrated May Day.

Russia and atheism were a focus of the Fatima prophecies. The Blessed Mother had said that if this country was consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and if we embraced Communion of reparation the first Saturday of each month ("First Saturday" devotion), it would return to Jesus.

Such a consecration, she had indicated, would bring about not only conversion but a "period of peace" to the world.

During the 1990s, in a series of interviews with visiting bishops and cardinals, the sole surviving Fatima visionary, Lucia dos Santos made a number of intriguing and surprising, perhaps startling, remarks. Among them: that the consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart in 1984 by Saint John Paul II had prevented an "atomic war" from occurring the following year, in 1985.

When we look back, 1985 was a critical time of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, whereby any little crisis in any part of the world might blow up into a nuclear conflagration. It was the Reagan era, when Russia and its satellites were declared to be an "evil empire."

Soon, however -- and miraculously (no one expected it; no "expert" predicted it) -- Communism fell first in Poland (as John Paul II worked with the Gdánsk shipyard organizer, Lech Walesa) and then in surrounding nations and finally inside the Soviet Union itself. Among the republics that broke away, the largest and most important one was Ukraine -- which harbored a bevy of nuclear weapons.

The "Pope of the secret" -- now the saint of the secret -- was the single most responsible person for the fall of Communism

After this occurred, in those Nineties interviews (with prelates such as Cardinal Antony Padiyara of Ernaculam, India, on October 11, 1992, and Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of the Philippines exactly a year later on October 11, 1993), Sister Lucia said that the Consecration had caused the collapse of Communism and that the world had now entered that promised period of peace.

Put the emphasis on the word "period" -- not "era," as some have attempted to reshape it, but as stated at Fatima: a period of peace, of relative tranquility, as indeed, with the fall of Soviet Russia, tensions between the superpowers suddenly and miraculously dissipated and more amazingly still, Russia surged toward a resurrection of Christianity, with long-closed Orthodox and Catholic churches (turned into warehouses or museums during Communism) suddenly restored and Russian leaders (even cosmonauts) lighting candles in churches (and sporting medals of Mary). In a remarkably short time, Christianity not only reopened in the former Soviet Union, but Russia, and especially leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin, visited with the Popes and even financed the reconstruction and even new erection of churches -- something that could not occur in the secular U.S.

Notes a frequent visitor there: "The number of parishes has grown from 7,000 two decades ago to 30,000 today, monasteries from twenty-two to eight hundred, and seminaries and theological schools from three to more than a hundred." Although actual church attendance is low, it is one of the few countries where religion is becoming more important to the average person, not less.

At least at the level of government, Russia was suddenly more religious than the West -- certainly less tolerant of things like drugs, profane rock shows, pornography, and homosexual marriage (though fine with abortion). At Medjugorje in formerly Communist Yugoslavia, seers reported a message in which the Blessed Mother told them that Russia would be the nation in which God is most glorified -- that the West had progressed, but without God.

Which was the "evil empire" now? Which has strayed most from God?

That question -- astoundingly -- now hangs in the air. Is America the Christian superpower or has that mantle been passed to Russia?

There are other questions that "hang" also.

With the recent moves by Putin and Russia to take back a chunk of Ukraine, reinstituting May Day in Red Square, and threatening other parts of territory to the south, the first question is whether the old Soviet Union is reconfiguring. And if so, does it even play into other prophecies? There were the predictions of Ukrainian mystic Josyp Terelya, who "saw" fires across the landscape as conflict erupts in that part of the world, while in north-central Spain, high up in the Cantabrians, was an apparition -- in the tense 1960s -- that said major events in the world would occur when Communism returned.

Is the resurgence of Russia in a quasi-Soviet style what might have been meant by that? Is the "period" of peace (a period is a specified division or portion, an interval of time, much shorter than an "era") about to end?

So far, considering the fall of Communism during the later 1980s, the period has lasted about a quarter of a century (Poland shook off Communism in 1989 and Ukraine in 1991). Let us thus ask again: is the "period of peace" -- a quarter of a century old -- approaching its conclusion?

And if so, what will be the trigger?

What will be the climax?

Claimed a seer from that Spanish apparition (as interesting as it has been controversial, twice rejected by local bishops, but last we checked in the hands of a somewhat more favorable one): "The Great Tribulation of Communism: During the first of the 'nights of the screams' the young girls (then ages twelve to thirteen) were shown the 'sudden and unexpected' tribulation of Communism led by Russia that will have an effect on the whole world, and which will happen before the Divine Warning to the entire human race. No one expects this because the world has been lulled into the false belief that Communism has died with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

"It seems that the greatest trauma of this tribulation will be felt in Europe. Our Lady said that Communism will 'come back' and that it will also come to Spain, but Spain would not suffer as intensely as the rest of Europe apparently because it had suffered Communism in the 1930’s. [The aunt of a seer] testified that she heard the girls say, while in ecstasy, that 'if we don’t amend our ways, Russia will take possession of the whole world. Our Lady told the girls that during the time of this tribulation the Church would seem to disappear, the sacraments would be difficult to receive and the priests would have to go into hiding. [Apparently many priests will be killed.] When things are so bad that all hope seems lost, then God will send the warning to all mankind. The great miracle will follow within twelve months, and there will be conversions of many nations, including Russia."

Might Communism really return like that? Could it? Will Russia be the nation in which God is most glorified (while the U.S. continues to fall into dark secularism, as it certainly has been doing for decades now), or is Putin -- a former KGB official -- bringing back, if not Communism, Soviet-style hegemony? (By the by, besides the consecration, how about the First Saturday devotion. Was that request met?)

I guess we must say, as we did fourteen years ago -- when this Catholic news site was first instituted (on the very day of Vatican release of the third Fatima secret, which was our first headline) -- "stay tuned."

A great harbinger will be if Ukraine (home to Chernobyl, which means "wormwood") erupts.

-- Michael H. Brown, 5/2/14

[resources The Final Hour and Witness]

[Note also: Michael Brown retreat: Philadelphia-New Jersey]

[see also: an interview with Sister Lucia and The controversy over consecration; for wormwood see the Book of Revelation, 8:11]

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