One day before the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Coming August 21:
Total Solar Eclipse over the United States
Ultimately it will probably be of no great significance, but we might as well spread the announcement: One day before we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, there will be a total solar eclipse over parts of the United States this year:
On Aug. 21, 2017, people across the United States will see the sun disappear behind the moon, turning daylight into twilight, causing the temperature drop rapidly and revealing massive streamers of light streaking through the sky around the silhouette of the moon. On that day, America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse.
(“Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)”, Space.com, May 29, 2017)
Although the total eclipse will be visible only along a certain path over the country, everyone in the continental United States will be able to observe some eclipse on Aug. 21, and this is something that hasn’t happened since 1918: “The total solar eclipse that will cross America this summer — an event that last happened 99 years ago — will be an important moment for scientific observers and a massive nationwide spectator event. It will also, for many people of faith, be evidence of God’s majesty — and even, to a few, a harbinger of the coming end of the world,” reports The Washington Post. NASA has put together a special web site for the event.
As we said in our post of Jan. 1, the year 2017 is a year of significant anniversaries, both good and bad:
- 500 years since the Protestant Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517)
- 300 years since the founding of modern Freemasonry, archenemy of the Catholic Church (June 24, 1717)
- 100 years since the Communist Revolution in Russia (Mar. 8 – Nov. 8, 1917)
- 100 years since Mgr. Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) was consecrated a bishop (May 13, 1917)
- 100 years since the publication of the Code of Canon Law (May 27, 1917)
- 100 years since Our Lady appeared to the shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal (May 13 – Oct. 13, 1917)
To be sure, a solar eclipse is a natural event; it occurs in nature. It is not miraculous per se and there need be no divine sign attached to it at all. According to Space.com, a total solar eclipse is visible from some place on earth once every 18 months or so.
At the same time, we do know that God can and does act through natural signs, sometimes to underscore a greater reality. When our Blessed Lord died on the Cross, there was a total solar eclipse over the area despite it being a full moon phase: “And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst” (Lk 23:45). Christ announced a solar eclipse to precede His Second Coming (Mt 24:29-30), which was also prophesied by Joel: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood: before the great and dreadful day of the Lord doth come” (Joel 2:31; cf. Acts 2:16-20).
We recall that the miracle that stunned 70,000 direct witnesses on Oct. 13, 1917 at Fatima was a miracle of the sun. In the Apocalypse, our Lady is described as a “woman clothed with the sun” (Apoc 12:1). On Jan. 25, 1938, the “unknown light” prophesied by our Lady of Fatima announced that World War II was imminent. At Fatima, our Lady asked for devotion to her Immaculate Heart. In 1944, Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart and ordered it to be celebrated every year on August 22, the octave day of the Assumption, which he himself would proclaim a dogma of the faith on Nov. 1, 1950. During that time, Pius XII himself witnessed the miracle of the sun in the Vatican Gardens, not once or twice, but as many as four times, as revealed by Cardinal Federico Tedeschini and printed in the Oct. 29, 1951 issue of La Domenica del Corriere.
Our Blessed Lord asked: “You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times?” (Mt 16:3).
The times we live in are evil. The great apostasy we now endure, the fruit of that “mystery of iniquity”, has been enabled only by a veritable eclipse of the Catholic Church, a Church that is as visible as before, but not actually seen as easily or by as many. The Pope, “he who now holdeth”, has been “taken out of the way” (2 Thess 2:7), so that
that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.
(2 Thess 2:8-11)
Ultimately, of course, what matters is not some sign in the sky per se, what matters is how such signs help us to attain salvation. What matters is the state of our soul before God and our very own personal end of the world, so to speak. It would behoove us, therefore, not to spend time in vain curiosity about when the world will end, or “how far along” we are, but to allow every sign of God, or every natural sign that reflects God’s great majesty, to remind us to do penance for our sins and prepare ourselves for the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31), whenever it may come.