Reflections on praying for peace during World War I

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In 1917 the First World War, a war with no real reason and no clear goals, raged across Europe for a fourth miserable year. Russia was not only at war with outside forces but also within as the struggle for power in the country caused Nicholas II to abdicate, bringing to an end the monarchy after more than 1,000 years of rule. Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized the opportunity provided by the chaos to start a revolution and by Nov. 8 he was Chairman, the ruler of Russia. Communism was rising.

On Good Friday, April 6, the Congress of the U.S. voted to declare war on Germany.

Portugal was on the outskirts of the Great War; a few of her men went to fight but largely life went on as usual until May 13. On that day three shepherd children, Lucia, 10, and her cousins Francisco, 9, and Jacinta, 7, were visited by a lady “from heaven” whom they described later as “dressed all in white, more brilliant then the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water, pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” The message was simple: come back at the same time and day for six consecutive months and pray the rosary daily for peace and an end to the war. Each month they came back and the “beautiful lady” appeared to them and each month the crowd grew larger as word spread. None but the children could see or hear the vision.

The message was similar each time: God is greatly offended by sin, pray and sacrifice yourselves for sinners, many souls go to hell because there is none who pray for them. Pray the rosary for peace, for an end to the war. The lady also promised a miracle when they came in October so that all would believe.

October 12 brought rain and people from far and wide made the soggy journey to this pasture near the town of Fatima. At midday of the 13th the rain finally stopped as the crowd of 70,000 looked on. The vision appeared and introduced herself as the Lady of the Rosary. St. Joseph, carrying the child Jesus, appeared in the clouds and gave them all a blessing. Then they saw the sun with colors whirling about; it broke free from its orbit darting about the sky while spinning different colors around. For more than 10 minutes the people watched the sun with no harm done to their eyes.

She said the war would end soon; it ended 13 months later. She warned of Russia and the error of her ways before communism reigned its terror. She warned of a more terrible war to come if people did not stop offending God; there was a second world war. She promised a miracle and the sun danced. The Lady of the Rosary beckons us to her son, the Prince of Peace. Let us look to him and pray for peace.

Scott Schwab is a farmer and lifelong member of Our Lady of Fatima parish in Moses Lake.

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