War and peace, at least since the apparitions of Our Mother and Queen in Mexico in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, have occupied an important place in the messages, counsels and directives communicated by the Mother of God to the Church and to the entire human family during her great apparitions. In the wake of the horrors of war since the French revolution, of the consequent breakdown of Christian and humane civilization, and of the attendant hopelessness brought about by the continuous absence of genuine justice and peace among nations, this concern of the Queen of Peace and Mother of Mercy for the elimination of these woes comes as no surprise.
What is surprising, especially in view of the cruelty of twentieth century war and politics, is the lack of attention on the part of so many and, still more, the deliberate misrepresentation and ridicule of these messages by persons who should know better. The author of the major essay in the issue of Missio Immaculatae International (No. 4 July/August 2011) is an expert who is not guilty of such spite. Dr. Richard Russell, a recent convert to Catholicism, is a well-known student of contemporary international relations, in particular of international security and military strategy. He is therefore well qualified to comment on the themes of war and peace in two of the most important appearances of Mary during the last century: to the three shepherds of Fatima toward the end of the First World War (1917), and to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam, beginning toward the end of the Second World War (1945) and continuing almost up to the beginning of Vatican II
Commentaries, not always sympathetic, on war and peace themes and on prophecies concerning them in the messages of Fatima can be found in abundance. Curiously, as Dr. Russell remarks, serious study of these themes in the messages to Ida Peerdeman, so much more numerous than in the Fatima messages, has yet to be undertaken. Lack of attention to what Our Lady of All Nations has to say concerning international relations since the end of the Second World War and to the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in these messages is perhaps a major factor leading many to question the authenticity of the messages as such and to ignore or oppose what Our Lady of All Nations wishes the Church to do. Indeed, Our Lady remarked to Ida that “my signs are in my words.” This is another way of saying that the credibility of the apparitions will be perfectly clear from the study of these comments and prophecies on war and peace in our time.
The study by Dr. Russell is particularly important not only for a better understanding of the apparitions in Amsterdam, but also of those at Fatima. Just as the First World War did not end, but was merely interrupted, and then—as a consequence of the failure to follow the counsels of Mary at Fatima on the part of the vast majority—resumed in 1939 under the title of Second World War (with the misleading implication that this war was an entirely new affair), so the messages at Amsterdam confirm and complement those given the children-seers of Fatima.
And in each of these apparitions, the prophetic character of Our Lady’s messages in regard to war and peace—specifically, to the resolution of problems linked to the elimination of war and to the secure establishment of peace—are a clear witness to the knowledge, wisdom, sensitivity and practicality of our heavenly Mother. This witness places itself in stark contrast to the repeated failures of worldly wisdom to secure even minimally these basic goals. The difference between these two approaches, according to Dr. Russell, represents the radical difference between a philosophy based on the Spirit of Truth which comes to us from Christ through Mary and a philosophy based on a materialistic-secular approach which excludes the mediation of Mary. War and the evils attendant on it need not be, but they will always continue as long as we are unwilling to subscribe to the philosophy taught by Our Lady and implement her counsels and directives for the sanctification and salvation of our souls.
This brings us to a particularly important premise in the study not only of the Amsterdam messages, but those of Fatima as well. It is a premise which the present Holy Father has explained on many occasions. This premise concerns the difference between prophecy and prediction.
Dr. Russell clearly distinguishes between prophecy and prediction along the lines of the present Holy Father in explaining the third secret of Fatima. Prediction is a prophecy concerning a particular future event or events destined to come, independently of what men may freely do or not do. The prediction of the final overthrow of the Prince of this world in the victory of the Woman and her Offspring, viz., of Mary and Jesus in Genesis 3:15, the Protoevangelium, is one such example. Another is the prophecy of the Virgin Birth of the Emmanuel in Isaiah 7:14. Even though Achaz declined to ask for a sign and angered the Prophet, nonetheless God gave a sign destined to occur some seven centuries later, a sign guaranteeing the survival of Israel despite the King’s action.
But prophecy concerning the future need not include a prediction in this narrow sense. Such prophecy may well be considered a kind of warning indicating chastisements surely to come, if men do not follow the counsels of the prophet and replace the logic of the flesh with that of the spirit. Indeed, such disasters, among which wars and the destruction of nations are prominent, do come about in the event that the counsels, e.g., of Mary at Fatima, are not put into practice. Unlike the mere prediction, the fulfillment of such prophecies does engage our freedom as well.
The messages of Our Lady of All Nations to Ida Peerdeman contain far more of this kind of prophecy than any similar revelations of the past. Dr. Russell has reviewed these in three categories: those which have already come to fruition from the end of the Second World War up to the end of the cold war (c. 1990); those which are coming to fruition now, first in the Balkans and then in the Muslim world of the Near and Middle East and North Africa; and, finally, those still to be realized, particularly those touching on chemical and biological warfare between nations throughout the world.
In a way, long before the actual transition from the second epoch to the third prophesied by Our Lady of All Nations, she indicated four signs by which the change, once underway, might be accurately identified and understood, signs which in no way could have been the fruit of historical study or shrewd guesswork. The first sign is climate change, together with natural catastrophes. The second is the economic and currency crises and the protectionism accompanying these. The third is the upheaval in the Near and Middle East, centered in Egypt. And the last is the current crisis in the Church. A university degree is not needed to recognize the presence of all these signs today and to suspect strongly that they signal profound changes already in course.
According to Dr. Russell, an examination of these prophecies plainly reveals Our Lady’s wisdom about the affairs and evils of men, especially in wars. The record of men in foreseeing their future, whether of individuals or of communities and nations, is a dismally unsuccessful one. History is littered with examples of prognostications which proved to be onehundred percent illusory. On the contrary, the record of Mary at Fatima, and still more at Amsterdam, is very good. At both places she has used them to authenticate her counsels of salvation and to awaken us to the importance of implementing them for their own sake.
Among these counsels are the image of Our Lady of All Nations and the prayer to be recited while venerating it for the conversion and redemption of men and for the peace of the world today. In this work, the proclamation by the Church of the “fifth dogma” concerning Our Lady as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate enjoys special importance. This mystery, which is at the heart of Our Lady’s comments on the theological situation of the Church since the end of the Second World War, has since come to occupy the very center of theological argument in the Church.
Dr. Russell briefly observes that Mary’s choice of Amsterdam as the place for the central shrine of this devotion has particular significance for her role as the Lady of All Nations. Since the end of the Second World War, Amsterdam has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world. It is a crossroads where every nation might find the Lady or Queen of All Nations and so come to recognize how that unity of the human family, so much desired by Jesus, is to be realized concretely: through the mediation of Mary, because she shares uniquely with Jesus the triumph of Calvary over sin and death.
These counsels and requests of Mary in her messages to Ida Peerdeman are treated more in detail from a doctrinal and biblical standpoint in other articles of this issue. Those who ponder carefully the reflections of Dr. Russell will quickly grasp the importance of Mary’s directives for the conversion and sanctification not only of souls, but for the return of that peace which only Christ can give and with which life is worth living, now and in the world to come.