Cardinal Carlo Caffarra – who died just a few weeks ago – revealed in 2008 that shortly after Pope John Paul II charged him with founding the Pontifical Institute for the Studies on Marriage and the Family he had written to Fatima visionary, Sr. Lucia, asking for her prayers. To his surprise, a few days later he received a lengthy response from Sr. Lucia. Included in her letter was this startling statement:
The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.
However, Sr. Lucia also offered words of encouragement to Cardinal Caffarra, who had just stepped into the front ranks of this battle, adding: Don’t be afraid, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.
Sr. Lucia concluded: However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.
How can we not be overwhelmed by these words, simultaneously troubling and comforting, when we look around and see that not only our secular culture but even Holy Mother Church is being convulsed with dissension precisely in relation to fundamental questions surrounding marriage and the family?
The enemies of Christ have long set their eyes on the family, recognizing that the family, as the domestic church, first government, first school, first hospital, first economy and the first mediating institution of society, is the primary obstacle to their moral revolution.
Indeed, in many respects the history of this past century is the history of the attack by the anti-Christ on the family – an effort which appears only now to be reaching its true climax, as we witness divorce, contraception, pornography, cohabitation, and even so-called same-sex “marriage,” and transgenderism becoming the nearly unquestioned societal norm!
Because of short-sightedness, many think that the assault on marriage began with the attempt to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Nothing could be further from the truth! What we are witnessing now is but the culmination of a revolution launched many, many decades ago, long before most of us even heard of same-sex “marriage”!
When people hear that Our Lady warned at Fatima that the “errors of Russia” would spread around the world “raising up wars and persecutions of the Church,” they naturally think of the communists’ revolutionary economic and political ideology; which, indeed, caused innumerable wars, and led to the violent deaths of untold millions. But we must not forget that Marx’s ideas – which the Russian revolutionaries put into practical effect and exported globally – were not merely political.
In The Communist Manifesto, Marx was clear that he believed the nuclear family was a tool of the capitalist bourgeoisie, and must be abolished to pave way for his revolution. Marx believed the family should be replaced with a “community of women” – i.e. a radical form of “free love” – and that children should be held in common and educated by the state.
Attacking the family was one of the very first things Vladimir Lenin and the other communists did after they seized power in Russia: replacing religious marriage with civil marriage, legalizing practically on-demand divorce, and handing over all education to the state.
In 1926, a reporter for The Atlantic visited the Soviet Union, and exposed the horrific impact of these innovations: a catastrophic rise in divorces – in many cases initiated by men who serially abandoned young and vulnerable women – as well as abortions (a previously nearly unheard-of crime in Russia), and the number of abandoned children. The article in The Atlantic is difficult to read, not only because of how it depicts the suffering of the Russian people at that time, but because of the disturbing parallels it bears to our current age.
Ironically, the Soviet Union was soon forced to abandon and even completely reverse many of their anti-family policies. The social and financial costs of the breakdown of the family were drastically weakening the state, threatening its very existence! Thus, the Soviet Union learned the hard way the truth summed up so pithily in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, namely: The well being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life. [CCC, 1603]
But the Communist-Marxist hatred of the family did not go away. On the contrary, Marx’s radical ideas were seized upon and expanded upon by the so-called “cultural Marxists”: a loose-knit group of ideologues who have inherited the Communist loathing of “bourgeois” Judeo-Christian Western civilization and revolutionary zeal, but who have recognized that the real revolution has to take place at the cultural level, especially in regards to sexual morality.
In many respects, where the Communists failed in 1918, the sexual revolutionaries of the 1960s have succeeded: overturning the old moral order, and embedding Marx’s ideas about the family so deeply within law and culture that it is hard to imagine how their revolution might be reversed.
So many of the ills of the modern world can be traced to this demolition of sexual mores and of the family – not least of which is the mass apostasy of the West from its Christian faith, a phenomenon which is only accelerating. After all, with the wholesale destruction of the family, the domestic church, the “seedbed of faith,” what hope does the Church Herself have to impart and nourish a faith that is thwarted at every step from the moment a child comes into the world?
That of course was the goal of the atheistic revolutionaries from the very first. The destruction of the family itself was never the final goal, but rather only the means: the most assured path of eradicating the Kingdom of God, and setting up the kingdom of this world.
And yet, rather than despair, we must call to mind the words of Sr. Lucia, who reminded Cardinal Caffarra that Our Lady has already crushed its head. In other words, victory in this war is assured.
And yet, that does not mean that there is not much work (and suffering) to do in the meantime. Listen to Our Lady’s words at Fatima, so simple, so direct, and so powerful:
I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day.
Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, ‘O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Right now the Church’s mission – and our mission – is to defend Christ’s crystal-clear teaching about the nature of and indissolubility of marriage, not as an oppressive imposition on our freedom, but rather as the only route to true freedom: the only path towards creating a true culture of love!
But the only sure path forward is to listen to our Blessed Mother’s requests: to repent, to pray (especially the Rosary), and to sacrifice for the salvation of sinners. If we do these three things, not only will our own families be strengthened, but the tide will turn, and the enemies of the family will begin to retreat.
In this 100th anniversary year of Fatima, let us pray: Our Lady of Fatima. Pray for us!