In honor of Mary, I’ve chosen to focus my columns this month on what I consider an intriguing connection between the messages of Fatima and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB). In the previous column, I explained how the assassination attempt on John Paul II was a fulfillment of the “third secret” of Fatima. Coincidentally, the day he was shot – May 13, 1981 – was not only the annual memorial of Fatima, it was also the day he had planned to establish his Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. Could it be that there were forces at work that did not want John Paul II’s teaching to reach the world?
Part of Mary’s message in Fatima was that “Russia would spread her errors throughout the world.” However, “In the end,” she said, “my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” When we hear of the errors of Russia, we rightly think of the spread of communism. But communism has roots that go deeper than Marxist economic theory.
As most of us learned in school, Marx considered class struggle to be the defining factor of history. But digging deeper, Marx also believed that the fundamental “class struggle” was found in monogamous marriage and, indeed, in the sexual difference itself. “The first division of labor,” Marx co-wrote with Friedrich Engels, “is that between man and woman for the propagation of children.” In turn, Engels affirmed that Marxist theory “demands the abolition of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society” (see The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State ).
It seems the deeper revolution — and, I would contend, the deeper “error of Russia” — is the one aimed at destroying marriage and the family. Indeed, those who seek to deconstruct sexuality in the modern world often draw straight from Marx. As feminist author Shulamith Firestone wrote in The Dialectic of Sex : “Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was … the elimination of the … economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be … the elimination of … the sex distinction itself [so that] genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.” Welcome to the deep-seated sexual confusion in which we’re now immersed.
But here’s the good news: Just as John Paul II’s vision of the human person inaugurated a new kind of revolution that led to the fall of communism, his TOB has also inaugurated a new kind of revolution that will, I believe, lead to the collapse of the dominant sexual ideology.
In his book The Last Secret of Fatima , Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote: “The Communist system seemed invincible, and it looked as if it were going to endure for centuries. But then the whole thing collapsed like a house of cards.” Perhaps we can expect the same with the deeper “error of Russia.” Indeed, in the Book of Revelation, the “whore of Babylon” — that mysterious feminine figure who mocks the Bride of the Lamb — is brought to ruin in “one hour.” And as she collapses, all the merchants who “gained their wealth from her” (think the porn industry, Planned Parenthood, etc.) “weep and mourn” (Rv 18).
And then comes the triumph of the New Jerusalem, the Bride who has “made herself ready” for her Bridegroom. She is dressed in “fine linen, bright and immaculate ” (Rv 19:7-8). She is “clothed with the sun” (Rv 12:1). This radiant Bride, of course, is personified in Mary. “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” What does this mean? In short, it means that purity of heart will triumph. Somehow the pornographic lies will be redeemed . All of “Babylon’s” distortions will be untwisted and we will come to see the human body as it really is — as a glorious sign of “the mystery hidden from eternity in God” (TOB 19:4).
By showing us the path to authentic purity (never to be confused with puritanism or prudishness!), John Paul II’s TOB paves the way for Mary’s triumph. Is it a coincidence that John Paul began writing his TOB on the feast of the Immaculate Conception? Is it a coincidence that he devoted the entire work to “Mary, all beautiful?” Is it a coincidence that she saved his life on the memorial of Fatima so that his teaching could reach the world?
Let us pray for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. It may be closer than we realize. Already in 1994, John Paul wrote that Mary’s words spoken in Fatima “seem to be close to their fulfillment” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope , p. 221). Let it be, Lord, according to your word.