by Donal Anthony Foley
Christ is the Light of the World
On the first Easter Sunday, early in the morning in the garden near Calvary, there was a moment of great light for the world; the moment when Christ rose from the dead after His terrible sufferings on Good Friday.
At the site of the tomb, Mary Magdalene found the stone rolled back and the angel, whose “appearance was like lightning,” sitting there. He gave her the joyous news of the Resurrection and instructed her to tell the disciples (Mt 28:1-10). Thus, the good news about the risen Christ began to spread.
During his earthly ministry, Christ proclaimed that He was the “light of the world,” and that those who followed Him would not walk in darkness, but would have the “light of life” (Jn 8:12). In saying this, He was echoing the words of Simeon, who had prophesied about the Christ Child that He would be “a light to the revelation of the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32).
Gradually over the centuries that light spread as Christianity spread, first throughout the darkness of pagan Roman Empire, and then to all parts of the known world.
Our Lady of Fatima Combats the Growing Darkness
As the great Catholic commonwealth of Christendom was reaching a high point in medieval Europe, the seeds of decay were present and these came to fruition in Martin Luther’s revolt. The darkness grew in strength after the Protestant Reformation, followed by the French and Russian revolutions. Yet, Our Lady came in response to these outbursts of evil, appearing at places such as Guadalupe, Rue du Bac, la Salette, Lourdes and Fatima.
She appeared at Fatima in 1917 just as the Bolshevik revolution in Russia was unfolding. The revolution would usher in an unprecedented time of satanic darkness for a country that had previously been a bastion of Christianity and Marian devotion, to the extent of being known as “Holy Russia.”
But Our Lady was not to be outdone by Satan and his Marxist followers, and the Message of Fatima was her response to atheistic communism that enveloped Russia and many other parts of the world.
In opposition to the red army of communism, with all its brutality, violence and gloom, she appeared to humble, little children in order to build a more powerful army for Christ. She, herself reflected His light, shining so brilliantly the children could hardly look at her, and her message was also one of light and hope.
In her first apparition, Sister Lucia recounts that the Lady “opened her hands for the first time, communicating to us a light so intense that, as it streamed from her hands, its rays penetrated our hearts and the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.”
The light the children experienced so profoundly was in some mysterious way God.
Somehow, we have to see beneath the surface in this world, beyond the darkness and negative news headlines, to the light that Our Lady reflects – the resurrected Christ.
Inviting the Light into our Own Lives
Our task, in turn, is to allow that light to shine out from us, despite our sinfulness, so that we become candles in the darkness. As Jesus told His followers during the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the word. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:14, 16).
That is an amazing thought, really – that we, poor sinful creatures, by our presence and actions, are meant to drive out the darkness from our land and glorify God! If we are called to do this by Jesus, then we can be certain He will give us the grace to do it.
The situation in the world does not encourage hopefulness or joy, but to counteract this we need to keep our eyes on Christ and take refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the sure path to stay the course.
Another reason for hope and joy is the feast of Divine Mercy this Sunday. We have an incredible opportunity to bolster our strength in the faith by having all our sins and the punishment due to them completely wiped away. Jesus wants us cleaned out so our light can shine brighter amidst the increasingly darkened world. As our “candles” become more brilliant like Our Lady, we will drive out the evil and glorify our Father in heaven.
At this time, too, we need to ponder on the words of St. John Paul II: “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
Let us also remember Our Lady’s promise of salvation to those have embraced the devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and the great promise made by her at Fatima that her Heart will triumph.
All of this should give us a great sense of Easter joy and hope; whatever happens in the world, ultimately, provided that we are faithful, we will partake in the eternal bliss of heaven.
Donal Anthony Foley is a U.K.-based author of several books on Marian apparitions and a new series of fictional books for young adults called the Glaston Chronicles. He is a frequent contributor to Soul Magazine and the WAF USA blog.