Last Thursday was the 99th anniversary of the last Fatima Apparition: the one which included the Miracle of the Sun. Next year, May 13 is the centenary of the First Apparition.
We get a lot of Special Years. Some are more overtly successful than others. Pius XII had a liking for Marian Years. I had great hopes of the Pauline Year, a joint initiative of the Sees of Rome and New Rome, since I feel close to the S Paul whose epistles I taught for nearly three decades, to the great benefit of myself, whatever the experience may have done to my students. Pope Benedict hoped that the Year of Faith would open the pages of Vatican II. Now we have the Year of Mercy; its spiritual graces are known to God. But in PR terms, it has been cleverly managed; all those doors have served to keep the idea alive in the minds of many.
2017 should be a Fatima Year. Clearly, the Vatican has not pronounced it such. But Papal bright ideas are not the only gifts the Almighty has for his Church. It is open to bishops, priests, and people to create a Holy Year which, rather than being imposed from above upon us below, arises spontaneously from the love God has set in our hearts for His immaculate Mother ... a Holy Year by popular acclamation and devotion.
Arrangement are in hand for the Travelling Statue, blessed by Roman Pontiffs, to tour this country accompanied by relics of two of the visionaries ... I wonder if it will include Oxford in its travels. Many will recall the spectacular grace-filled visit of S Therese in 2009: the Oratory crawling with Pontifical Masses, Private Masses, queues for the confessionals, Solemn EF Vespers, Rosaries galore ...
The most holy Theotokos protected Christendom from Islamic onslaughts so many times over two millennia; who would have thought that we would be calling on the hypermakhos strategos yet again in this third millennium? Has she got to do it all over again: pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, Scarlet running over on the silver and the golds, Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds ... In our own Western societies, our home-grown corruptions are, possibly, even more corrosively dangerous than the external threats because we have grown resigned to them. We can arrange our own domestic problems for the Victrix of Lepanto to line up in her sights.
The Victory is already won. Her Son has said tharseite, ego nenikeka ton kosmon: where (John 16:33) the Greek perfect tense nenikeka indicates a present fact constituted by a decisive action in the past. The Victory is there; mopping up operations are all that is left.
That is why our Lady of Victories can confidently predict: My Immaculate Heart will prevail.