Jodi Marlin
March 24, 2023 // Local

‘God Has Designs of Mercy on You,’ But Denial of Sin Has Consequences, Says World Apostolate of Fatima Speaker

Jodi Marlin

An engaged audience reflected on the urgency of the message of Fatima during a Lenten mission offered by the World Apostolate of Fatima U.S.A. Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocesan Division on Thursday, March 16. The hearts of around 200 people gathered at the Orchid Events and Catering Center in New Haven were prayerfully prepared by WAF Chaplain Glenn Kohrman and Father Brian Isenbarger during a Eucharistic liturgy that preceded dinner and the talk, and then were opened to deep reflection on the apparition whose message is still so impactful today.

Fatima expert Dr. Ralph Martin addressed the crowd, encouraging them to heed the warnings the Holy Virgin issued and accept the promises she made to three young Portuguese children.

Theologian Dr. Ralph Martin of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit was the evening’s invited speaker. Martin, the President of Renewal Ministries and the Director of Graduate Theology Programs in Evangelization, is an author, a well-known radio personality, and has the longest-running Catholic television show on EWTN. He has been appointed by the Vatican to two positions on a council and synod on the New Evangelization.

Thursday night, Martin began by expounding on what he called “some of the major deceptions” that are affecting life in the Church today. One of those is the changed perception of marriage and sexuality.

“Our culture has just gone off the deep end,” he said, noting that even some Church leaders advocate for changing Church teaching to accommodate same-sex relationships and marriages.

“One of the things that Mary said when Jacinta was dying was that so many souls are going to hell because of sins of the flesh. The world is trying to get us to think they’re no big deal. People in the Church are starting to think it’s no big deal. But Jesus said ‘I haven’t come to take anything away from the law of God, but to fulfill it. You’ve heard it said, don’t commit adultery; I say to you don’t look with lustful thoughts in your heart.’ Don’t entertain them, don’t enjoy them. Reject them. And of course, St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, ‘Don’t let anybody deceive you, the immoral will not enter the kingdom of God.’”

Around 200 people celebrated Mass at the Orchid Events and Catering Center, enjoyed a light supper, and then listened to Martin’s presentation.

Indulging in temptation is an offense to God, he reiterated. “It offends the dignity of sexuality as He gave it to us. He wanted one man and one woman to come together in Holy Matrimony and be open to new life. … I know it’s shocking to say it out loud, but it’s the truth that has been revealed to us about what we need to do to enter eternal life.”

Because of these sins and others, too many people, even Catholics, are “going through the wide door,” and taking the easy path, Martin said, instead of the narrow door and difficult road that leads to heaven.

“The devil likes to mock the things of God by turning them upside down and backwards. … Today we have, infiltrating into people’s minds, the opposite of what Jesus said.

“Perhaps at the height of Christendom people were at least pointing the right direction. That’s no longer the case. Back then, at least most people didn’t want to die without going to confession: You don’t hear that much anymore. People don’t even want to talk about sin or about confession.”

The Lord wants all people to come to the knowledge of the Truth, but He won’t force anyone, Martin continued. He noted that it’s one thing to know what Jesus said, it’s another to take it to heart and choose to obey it.

Martin’s own journey to a convicted Catholic life, which he shared with attendees, may not be unlike many others’ — particularly in that it began despite his own best intentions and has continued to develop throughout his adult life.

“I have nothing more profound to tell you than that Jesus is Lord,” he professed. “And that is everything. The only response to that is unconditional surrender.” Surrender, then, gives way to an obligation to share the Good News when the opportunity presents itself.

Highlighting a few aspects of Mary’s apparition to Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco, Martin asserted that the Portuguese children themselves became one of the messages of Fatima. The angel that preceded Mary’s visit asked the children to pray incessantly and to make of everything they did a sacrifice for reparation and the conversion of sinners, which according to Lucia “‘was indelibly impressed upon our souls.’” The children did as the angel, and then Mary, asked.

“They were already being initiated into this two-fold dimension of prayer and sacrifice not just for themselves, but for others. We, too, should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is making indelible in our souls. We need to ask the Holy Spirit what would be a meaningful sacrifice for us, not just during Lent but year-round.”

Photos by Judy Kohrman
The World Apostolate of Fatima Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocesan Division gathered Thursday, March 16, in New Haven to reflect on the message Mary shared at Fatima in 1917 and its meaning for people today. All WAF events are open to the public and new participants are always welcome.

Even the life of the reportedly laid-back Francisco was transformed by the heavenly visitors, Lucia reported in her diary. When, as a child, she had asked the Holy Virgin if they would go to heaven, Mary affirmed that they would — “‘but first Francisco will have to pray many rosaries,’ she said, as she looked with compassion and a little sadness at him.”

“She effectively said, ‘Francisco, you’ve got to up your game,’” said Martin. “And that’s what she’s asking of us as well: We’ve got to up our game. That’s what the Holy Spirit is asking us to do.”

He added that the vision of hell Mary shared with the children frightened them deeply, and it should frighten people today as well. “In the darkness of the world we don’t see the evil of sin. We don’t see how truly horrible it is to offend the Lord.”

But since nothing happens in the world apart from the Lord’s providence, he posed a question: Why is sin permitted to happen?

For the purification of the Church and the world, Martin suggested. “He has designs of mercy on you — every one of you — and on the whole world.”

“Nothing happens outside of God’s providence. No sin happens that He does not have a plan for, a plan to redeem us if we listen to Him.”

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