Fatima is a small town in Portugal with a giant reputation. Current population is about 10,000. It was the site of six consecutive Marian apparitions at nearby Cova da Iria, the Cove of Irene. The first visit occurred at solar noon (the sun was directly overhead) on May 13, 1917 and continued monthly, the last on October 13 at which time Mary fulfilled a promised miracle, now known as the Miracle of the Sun. She appeared to three child visionaries: seven year old Lucia dos Santos and her two younger cousins, Jacinto and Francisco Marto. The apparitions were preceded in the Spring and Summer 1916 by visits from a celestial figure who identified himself as the Angel of Peace, Angel Guardian and the Angel of Portugal. The Fatima apparitions occurred on the 13th of each month except for August. In August the children were detained by local authorities. They were interrogated about their experiences for two days, then released. The August apparition took place unexpectedly on the 19th of the month.
In the visits Mary revealed a three part, Great Secret to the children. WWI was taking place at the time. In part one she said that the war would soon end. WWI ended in November, 1918. In part two she warned of another, even worse, war which would take place in the reign of Pope Pius XI if the world continued its sinful ways. Pius XI died in February 1939. WWII officially began seven months later in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Saber rattling, however, began in 1938 when Germany illegally annexed Austria. Mary had indicated that the world would be warned of the coming, greater conflict when an unknown light illuminated the night sky. The unusual aurora borealis of the nights of January 25-26, 1938 is held by Fatima scholars to be the light to which Mary referred.
In what is thought to be an initial unfolding of part three of the Great Secret, the children were given the vision of a Bishop dressed in white accompanied by lesser Bishops, Priests and laity, all trekking up a steep mountain, praying for lost souls on the way. Having reached the top of the mountain, the Bishop in white was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him. The other Bishops, Priests and lay persons were killed in the same manner. Now days, Fatima scholars connect this particular vision to the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981. The failed attempt occurred on the 64th anniversary of the first Fatima apparition.
In her memoirs, Lucia makes note that cousin Francisco was unable to hear Mary’s (or the angel’s) voice although he was able to receive the vision. This seemingly innocuous bit of information has major implications that I will elaborate on in just a bit.
In the September visit (at high noon as always) some of the crowd said that they saw an illuminated globe in the sky and dove-shaped forms, like petals or snowflakes, falling. Some also saw a cloud-like formation hovering, growing and then dissipating over the small holmoak tree on which Mary usually stood. Otherwise, none of the onlookers were able to see Mary. In her last visit to the Cova, Mary produced the miracle she had promised. It took place before a gathering of an estimated 70,000 people, including photographers and the media, on a cold, rainy day. Here, at solar noon, the sky suddenly became partly cloudy and the sun appeared to spin then take a tumultuous descent to the earth amidst the cries of fear from onlookers. It then settled into its normal position.
The Lisbon newspaper (O Dia) reported that the rain stopped, the sun took on a gauzy veil and began to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. People fell to their knees in the muddy ground. The Editor-in-Chief of the anti-Catholic Masonic newspaper O Seculo wrote how the multitude directed their eyes to the sun which made unusual and brusque movements in defiance of the laws of the cosmos. Witnesses said that the dance of the sun, likened to a spinning fire wheel, was repeated three times over a ten to twelve minute period. In the dance, the sun appeared to descend to the height of the clouds. Many thought it was the end of the world and prayer and cries of repentance were heard throughout the gathering.
Fatima was a place where the spiritual and material worlds collided, with the former taking the initiative to deliver a clear message to the latter. The collision, however, has an element of contrived mystery. Why was it that Francisco could see Mary (and the angel) but not hear her (or him) while his sister and cousin could do both? Normally, when a person speaks he or she creates pressure fluctuations in the air which the listening party picks up with their hearing organs, creating an electrochemical impulse in the brain. This impulse correlates with the words that were spoken and manifest as sound in the stream of consciousness. How all of this actually works is a great mystery known as the “hard problem.” No one understands it. So, either Francisco’s hearing capacity was somehow blocked from processing pressure fluctuations or Mary’s talking did not create pressure fluctuations in the air. In the latter case, Mary would have had to impose the electrochemical correlate of whatever it was she was trying to say onto the brains of Lucia and Jacinto, to the exclusion of Francisco. Of course, she could have also just made her voice appear in the two girls’ stream of consciousness, thus by-passing the normal process of hearing, again to the exclusion of Francisco. Surely his exclusion wasn’t a Marian oversight. What in heavens name is going on here?
Switch now to the sun’s erratic gyrations that were witnessed by the large gathering. Did the sun actually zig-zag in the sky? Seeing is the human response to particles of reflected light entering the eyes and then converted to an electrochemical impulse in the brain whereupon an image of that which did the reflecting appears in the person’s stream of consciousness. The “dance” took place at high noon or about 1:30 PM clock time. How come no one in say, Lisbon, Paris, London, indeed all world locations where it was still daylight on Fatima time saw the dance? Moreover, how come there were no measured atmospheric disruptions as there surely would have been had the sun fallen to cloud height in the sky; three times no less. Again, Mary appears to be playing games by imposing the neural equivalent of a dancing sun into the brains of the onlookers. Or, she simply caused the onlookers to have a dancing sun experience. We can say with high confidence that the sun did not fall from the sky at high noon on September 13, 1917.
The Fatima apparitions illustrate in dramatic fashion the substantial influence the spiritual world has over the earthly realm. The human brain is more than the organ which is essential to human sensory understanding of the material world. It is also the receptacle for receiving communications from the spiritual world. Religions all over the world refer to spiritual communications as grace.
The Fatima experience also speaks to an even more storied event, Jesus’s post-death experiences. The Gospel accounts of His resurrection are varied and difficult to harmonize. He appears to Mary Magdalene, greets the early morning visitors to the tomb, shows up as a traveler on the road to Emmaus, later distributes food to His traveling companions, appears on a mountain in Galilee as a gardener, a bare chested crucified man with a side-wound who could walk through locked doors, a stranger on a coast line with cooking skills, fish, bread and cooking implements, and as a rocket-ship type of person ascending into the clouds. Was He all these different forms or were they neural equivalents of the different forms which were imposed on the brains of the followers making them think He was actually present? Remember, according to the Gospels, no one actually touched the risen Jesus.
Mary appears to be playing games by imposing the neural equivalent of a dancing sun into the brains of the onlookers. Or, she simply caused the onlookers to have a dancing sun experience show up in their stream of consciousness.
That which appeared as Jesus on the first Easter Sunday and later may have been a real body; one that reflects light, registers when placed on a bathroom scale, and makes physical impressions that are processed by the senses to create an electrical impulse in the brain. There is no precedent for a real human body appearing out of nowhere. The operative word in that last sentence is real. But, there is precedent for imposition of a neural correlate on the brains of unsuspecting people to create a reality that is not physically present. Knowing what we know about the Miracle of the Sun and the power the incorporeal, spirit world has over the human species it is inappropriate and misleading to authoritatively contend that a real body was present outside the tomb on the first Easter Sunday. The teaching is a belief, not a fact. It is wrong to influence people based on what one believes, particularly when the belief is known to be problematic. Christian leaders have a lot of explaining to do.The belief that Jesus bodily arose is foundational to Christianity and leads to the teaching that everyone will similarly bodily arise at some nebulous point in time called the end of times. It is sheer speculation that goes against everything we know about what really happened on that first Easter Sunday (i.e., the Shroud of Turin) and the capacity we all have for resurrecting (i.e., rainbow body).
Fatima also speaks to the rainbow body phenomenon. Mary died with rainbow body. Catholics call it something else. They call it Assumption. Assumption is a foundational Roman Catholic belief that she was assumed into heaven, body and soul. Assumed means not under her own power. Several non-canonical texts make reference to her strange death, finding no corpse when her grave was re-opened for inspection. Call it what you like, but I call it rainbow body, the natural way the body is designed to exit the planet. Naturalness always trumps miracle when seeking explanation for strange happenings.
In the Buddhist tradition, at death, those who achieve spiritual perfection manifest in the heavenly world in three modes of existence, called kayas. In other words, in rainbow body the physical body doesn’t dissolve. It simply changes frequency of vibration going from form to formless, visible to invisible to the naked human eye. The Dharmakaya represents the state of being where the transformed body, fully enlightened, is visible to other transformed bodies, all existing in full communion with each other. The Nirmanakaya refers to a state of being where the decision to incarnate is made for the purpose of showing the way for others. Jesus and the Buddha were Nirmanakayas. The final kaya is the Sambhogakaya. The Sambhogakaya seldom appears in the material world for any sustained length of time but communicates with it through mind to mind transmission. Under this definition Mary would be a Sambhogakaya. The tree kayas, taken together equate to the Blessed Trinity in the Christian faith: the Father (Dharmakaya), Son (Nirmanakaya) and Holy Spirit (Sambhogakaya).
Mary is my rock, my Holy Spirit, my source of grace, my teacher who communicates with me mind to mind. And all I have to do is meditate to hear her. She has been hanging with me for as long as I can remember. I don’t need to see her physically. I know she is there ready to dispense advice as I need it. And the story of Fatima draws me closer to her.