Failure, Fatima and Fasting


I teach math in a public high school. Like any job, it provides daily challenges. Sometimes, though, education creates situations that really test me, both professionally and personally. For six years, I have taught Calculus III to a collection of the brightest minds in our building. The students in this course receive college credit for their undertaking. I recently administered the three-hour final exam. The next day, an administrator informed me that several of my best students had sent the questions electronically to a sister high school where the students were testing a day after us. I suffered the pain of betrayal and the poor reflection placed on me as their mentor, but upon interrogation of the cheaters, a far greater scandal emerged; none of the culprits thought they had done anything wrong. “I didn’t give answers, only the questions,” was the claim. The longer that declaration of innocence echoes in my head, the darkness of the cheating event fades, and the horror of realizing that these children are navigating life without a moral compass becomes clear. Alas, if only this mindset was limited to them. Instead, the soulless attitude infects the denizens of all high schools like a powerful virus. Where can we turn to combat this moral malaise? Fatima.

You probably have, and will likely read, much about the Fatima Apparitions during the centennial celebration. I have been meditating on the Fatima secrets off and on during my life, but have returned my attention to them with more intensity this year. Of all of the wondrous phenomena, the thing that always amazed me most was the immediate fulfillment of Our Lady’s prophecy that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. The children of Fatima could not have known much about the political situation in Russia. Paupers living in a remote village on the other side of Europe would not have kept up to date with revolutionary ideologies nor understood them. Almost immediately after the great miracle of the sun in Fatima on October 13, 1917, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia during what historians call the October Revolution. They would spend a great part of the next century spreading the greatest error the world has ever known, atheism.

This returns us to my students and perhaps other children you know. In opposition to any religious instruction, today’s media and culture have raised our youth to reject absolutes in truth and revel in relativism. In the aftermath of the cheating incident, my school’s principal lamented a lack of understanding about why children have the attitude that blatant cheating could possibly be okay. I took a gamble in pointing out to her that they have grown up in a world where what is wrong one day is no longer so the next. I did not risk my job going into specifics, but I could have articulated that these seniors will graduate high school having seen marriage redefined as freshmen and gender redefined as sophomores. While the church calls upon Christians to defend the truth, society works to dismantle it. How long can the sins of the Earth cry out to the heavens before justice prevails? As Our Lady calls for at Fatima, pray that it is longer.

The First Secret of Fatima reminds us that there is a hell. In 2015, according to a Pew research poll, 72% of Americans believed in heaven but only 58% believed in hell. In the Nicene Creed, we state a belief in “all things visible and invisible.” Live your belief in that statement and never stop defending it. The Second Secret of Fatima spoke of turning to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. How many people know of the terrifying fulfillment of the prophecy of World War II occurring as predicted by Our Lady at Fatima in 1917? She told us that if hearts did not convert, a greater war would devastate Europe. There is too much controversy about the Third Secret. I leave it to you to read about and meditate on.

In a world of moral ambivalence, the ends do justify the means. What we would once call cheating is now just another way to get a desired result. Abortion, transgenderism, unholy marriages, and research on embryos are all hallmarks of this continuance of the “errors of Russia.” Obviously, those errors existed before 1917, and they continue to plague us long after the fall of the Soviet Union. To break the unholy fog that blankets the conscience of the world, Our Lady of Fatima has called us for one hundred years to turn to her Immaculate Heart. In one vision, an angel called out, “Penance! Penance! Penance!” Make reparations for yourself and for those who are ignorant of their need to make their own. In the words of the Fatima Ejaculation, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.”

© Mark Andrews 2017

About Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews lives with his wife and two children in a Chicago suburb. He teaches high school math for a living and sixth grade religious education at his parish. He is also a lector, singer, and Knights of Columbus member. Mark's novel The Joy of the Lord is a historical fiction about the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. It is available at Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.
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4 Responses to Failure, Fatima and Fasting

  1. Mark – Thank you. Excellent insights. I think we are all struggling with the turbulence of our time. If it affects me in my 69th year, accustomed as I am to the coming and going of cultural fads, imagine what it does to my 14 year old granddaughter. We need to pray fiercely – God give us the grace and energy to do so!

    • Mark Andrews says:

      Thanks, Arthur. My daughter is 14 and it saddens me to know I can’t protect her from the dangers of the world at her fingertips.

      Best of luck to you and your family.

  2. DonMulcare says:

    I taught biology and religion in two Catholic High Schools and would agree with Mark that HS students, including Catholic HS students, have strayed from the path. The problem began with their parents. Catholic schools catered to the affluent and those who desperately avoided public education. I’ve heard these kids say, Bishop XYZ HS is a private school. The kids tolerate the religious mission but don’t buy it. The kids and their parents want the HS to get the kids into a good college. Grade inflation and moral deflation are part of the process.

    Back in ancient times, we heard about mortal sin and hell. They scared some of us straight but not all. The other feature of ancient Catholic education was the substantial support by the church. Of course, the Sisters, Brothers, and seminarians, as well as a few zealous lay teachers, staffed those schools. It cost less than today. Catholic kids were expected to go to Catholic schools. Not so much today. The religious teachers are few. Costs have risen exponentially, and many dioceses pay lip service to the support of Catholic education.

    Some Catholic Universities have programs that train teachers specifically for the ministry of education. Their capable and loving graduates and the devoted Catholic faculty members already in place have a chance of passing their living faith especially to the kids who have no example of religious life at home. Let’s hope that the hierarchy comes to the realization that the re-evangelization of the developed world can only come from Catholic education and Catholic Educators, wherever they teach.