The Three Days of Enlightenment
Note: All names used in this story are fictional; any similarity to actual persons is entirely coincidental.
That Saturday started out like any other. Nadine Fenwick-Brown was preoccupied as she drove up to the Women’s Clinic located on Ryerson Street near downtown. There were six procedures scheduled for that morning, the first one in under an hour, and as facility director it was her responsibility to make sure everything was ready. “Please,” she thought, “let this new doctor get here on time, and let the anti-choice zealots sleep in, or at least go to a different clinic for a change.” It was getting harder to find a doctor willing to come in on a Saturday morning; this time she actually had to recruit someone from out of state, which cost a lot of money—and that meant she couldn’t afford to have those infuriating “pro-life” demonstrators scaring off any paying customers or patients.
Nadine parked her car in back, got out, and walked to the clinic’s rear entrance, where she punched in the four-digit security code on the keypad: 1-9-7-3 (the year in which the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to choose). She heard the loud click as the lock disengaged, but when she went to pull the door open, it wouldn’t move: it was jammed shut, and didn’t budge, no matter how hard she pulled on the handle. Cursing under her breath, Nadine called the clinic’s contracted maintenance firm; when she finally got past voicemail and reached an actual person, she demanded someone come out right away—it was an emergency! Half-an-hour later a sleepy-looking young man—obviously rousted from bed by his boss—pulled up and walked to the rear door with a small set of tools.
By this time the clinic’s other employees had arrived (but not yet the doctor), and Nadine now heard the obnoxious sound of praying out front—obviously those disgusting demonstrators and religious kooks had shown up. She testily ordered the maintenance worker to get the stupid door open, and he tried, with her breathing down his neck—but nothing worked. The electronics seemed fine, but the door simply wouldn’t give; it was as if some force was holding it closed. Trying to stay calm, but failing, Nadine screamed in rage, and began pounding on the door with her fists. The visiting abortionist, a Dr. Albert Hansen, happened to drive up just at that moment. Seeing a woman apparently having a break-down, he asked one of the other clinic employees what was happening, and upon learning that the building for some inexplicable reason couldn’t be opened or entered—even as that day’s first patient arrived, while the sound of praying out front grew louder—Dr. Hansen, prone to superstition and with deep unacknowledged feelings of guilt regarding his profession, decided to drive away quietly.
No Abortion Clinic Would Open
Nadine’s confusion-and-rage-causing experience was duplicated across the entire country; no abortion clinic throughout the United States was physically able to open its doors that day: they were all sealed shut in a manner that baffled every maintenance worker, building manager, and engineer. The same thing was true in hospitals and doctor’s offices where abortions were committed; either the doors to the rooms used in the procedure refused to open, or the drawers containing the abortionist’s tools of death were invisibly welded shut, or the instruments themselves were suddenly too heavy to lift or move. Word quickly spread as clinic and hospital workers called or texted colleagues, friends, or sympathizers in the mainstream media, sharing their bewilderment and frustration over this unprecedented situation (with a few of them even suggesting some sort of right-wing, anti-woman plot). The expression “death takes a holiday” occurred to some of the clinic workers, though none dared voice this heretical thought aloud.
It wasn’t only the abortion industry that experienced a proverbial “shot across the bow”; all sorts of morally-objectionable activities experienced inexplicable obstacles or difficulties. The flummoxed operators of X-rated theaters discovered that no matter what racy or suggestive movies were cued up on the projector, The Song of Bernadette or a similar religious movie showed up on the screen (prompting furious viewers to demand a refund). Pornographic websites—part of a multi-billion dollar business—would for some unknown reason only display images of happy families praying and playing together, much to the disgust and anger of their would-be patrons. Online hackers—whether rogue individuals or teams of cyber-warriors sponsored by foreign governments—were flabbergasted as their computers literally began smoking and melting as this message appeared on their dissolving computer screens: God does not approve of what you’re doing, so your tools of iniquity are being destroyed. Repent!
A Call to Repentance
A call to repentance was occurring not only in the United States (where it was perhaps most desperately needed), but throughout the world, causing fear and disorientation among nominal religious believers and atheists alike. Scam artists discovered that whenever they tried to use their smartphones or computers for dishonest purposes, the instruments simply wouldn’t function (even though they worked just fine for routine, unobjectionable communications). Millions of callers wanting to leave voicemails regarding sinful plans and activities instead reached recordings of children praying aloud the Rosary. The internet underwent a never-before experienced “scaling down” in size as it became impossible for users to access violent, immoral, or illegal sites (even on the so-called Dark Web). Wholesome programming was unaffected, but morally-offensive television shows and online videos suddenly switched-over to documentaries about Fatima and other sites of Marian apparitions.
Sins Against the Sixth Commandment
It was at Fatima, of course, that Our Lady had revealed that more souls condemned themselves to hell for sins against the Sixth Commandment than any other—so it’s not surprising that the world’s promotion and experience of all forms of sexual immorality suddenly halted in its tracks. Adultery, fornication, homosexual activity, incest, bestiality, and every other form of perversion were all affected; everyone attempting to engage in such things was suddenly overtaken by intense shame and self-disgust. Indeed, there was absolutely no enjoyment or satisfaction involved in any sort of sexual experience other than loving intercourse (open to life) within traditional marriage.
Violent physical activity was also altered across the globe, with a particular restraining effect on soldiers, terrorists, and criminals. Armies and insurgents shot at each other as vigorously as ever, with their weapons apparently functioning normally—but the bullets, grenades, artillery shells, missiles, and other explosive devices seemed to vanish or dissolve into nothingness as soon as they were fired. Knives, spears, and bayonets were instantly transformed into soft rubber or cardboard facsimiles as soon as they were wielded; clubs, rocks, and other improvised weapons capable of inflicting harm suddenly became too heavy to lift. As a result, no one was killed or injured—and when this was realized, all fighting ceased. Military commanders, terrorist masterminds, and gang leaders were all at a loss as to what was happening—and whenever any of their soldiers or underlings attempted physical violence, they discovered they were only able to move and fight at one-third of their normal speed and strength, making it impossible for them to cause any real injury to their opponents.
Murder, robbery, rape, and other types of physical assault became literally undoable; the same thing was also true in regard to any form of substance abuse. Cocaine turned out to be nothing more than powdered sugar, and other illegal drugs were found to have been chemically-altered so that it was impossible for them to produce a high; alcohol—whenever it reached the point where it was about to be used excessively—was instantly transformed into soft drinks or flavored water. Cigarettes and marijuana joints simply would not light (though cannabis products needed for legitimate medical reasons were unaffected), and vaping had no effect on its users whatsoever.
Irresponsible social behavior resulted only in shame and confusion for the perpetrators. For instance, elaborate stereo systems—whether in cars, homes, or discotheques—no longer played pounding rhythms, heavy metal music, or offensive rap lyrics, but only classical, religious, or easy-listening music, much to the anguish and dismay of their listeners and operators. Reckless drivers found their vehicles would no longer produce excessive noise or allow them to violate traffic laws or drive over the speed limit. Vandals and petty criminals began feeling woozy or even passing out whenever they attempted any type of improper activities. Would-be litterbugs discovered that their trash or cigarette butts stuck to their hands if they tried to dispose of them anywhere other than in a proper receptacle. An especially humiliating experience awaited playground, neighborhood, and office bullies: they found themselves reverting to baby talk whenever they tried to insult, threaten, or intimidate their would-be victims.
Heavenly Pause Button
Many much more serious offenses against God’s creation, including humanity itself, also temporarily ceased—almost as if a “heavenly pause button” had been pushed. Ecological sins, such as strip mining, slash-and-burn clearing of jungles, dumping of every form of waste into the oceans, and the pollution of sea and sky, along with the dangerous creation of genetically modified organisms, came to a sudden halt; those involved in such things, whether on a local or global scale, were suddenly made aware of the harm they were causing (and of the shameful legacy they were creating for themselves). The earth’s population was almost miraculously and simultaneously filled with a divine perspective on the horror of such things as genetic experimentation and the manipulation of human life, euthanasia, biochemical warfare, organ harvesting, sex trafficking, slave labor camps, torture, the exploitation of workers, child and elder abuse, mistreatment of animals, occult rituals and various forms of black magic, and every other sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance. Furthermore, persons guilty of any form of racial or ethnic prejudice had the shock of seeing their skin tone, facial features, or physical attributes change into something they despised (though in fact their appearance remained the same in the eyes of everyone else).
Every single human being over the age of reason knew that something unprecedented was happening, something both wonderful and terrifying. People reacted with a wide range of emotions: terror, denial, guilt, confusion, doubt, shame, hope, and—in the case of faithful Catholics and other persons of goodwill—gratitude. Those with a religious perspective had the easiest time coping and making sense of things (though there were many who were convinced these things meant the end of the world was at hand). Hundreds of millions of persons fell to their knees in prayer, begging God for mercy and promising to amend their lives.
“Sanctified Saturday” was the term used by one leading religious commentator, and it quickly caught on with those who had been praying for a return to traditional moral values. Many members of the cultural elite, however, responded with scorn and derision, refusing to acknowledge even the slightest possibility that there was a God and that He was sending a message to sinful humanity.
World Turning Upside Down
It seemed the world was turning upside down, and even with alarmed speculation and reports by breathless radio and TV newscasters and apocalyptic-sounding email alerts, most people only slowly began to process and attempt to make sense of the experience. One of the greatest effects of this global shake-up was the complete transformation of human speech: namely, it was no longer possible for people to use the Lord’s Name in vain or tell a deliberate lie. This latter restriction, of course, had profound implications for many professions, especially politicians, talk show hosts, newscasters, salespersons, and attorneys. More than a few of them had a conversation similar to this:
“This is just like that silly Jim Carrey movie Liar, Liar,” “What do you mean?” “He played a lawyer who, because of his son’s birthday wish, couldn’t tell a lie for twenty-four hours.” “Seriously?” “Yeah, he had to speak the truth, no matter what.” “Well, that would be a problem; let’s hope this situation doesn’t last any longer than that.”
Politicians—always adept at recognizing threats to their power and image—quickly decided to lay low and avoid public statements and appearances until the dust had settled; some of the more prominent ones had their staff cancel their already-scheduled appearances on Sunday morning talk shows or weekend radio interviews. Even so, there were many casualties of truth: senators (such as Andrew Hardesty of Ohio) now unable to deny allegations of extra-marital affairs and sexual misconduct toward staff members; governors (such as Ellen Mae McKinley of Colorado) forced to confess to instances of financial impropriety and abuse of power; and federal judges (such as the Honorable Lincoln Matherson III of the Fifth Court of Appeals) no longer able to cover-up cases of bribery and personal corruption. Most nominees for public office suddenly felt the need to shun publicity, fearing the possibly catastrophic effects of having to give honest answers to probing questions or the exposure of long-hidden skeletons in their closets.
Dishonest journalists began worrying about being held accountable for their biased reporting, and business owners specializing in low-quality products and excessively-high prices—especially in poor neighborhoods—fretted over a possible backlash from their customers. University professors accustomed to imposing their own views and allowing no dissent or honest discussion in their classrooms wondered if their students would begin confronting and challenging them during their lectures the coming week. Lawyers had a particularly difficult time; many of them worried over how they’d be able to function effectively in the courtroom if stretching the truth was no longer an option. (A few of them even tried to find inspiration by watching Liar, Liar, but the Jim Carrey movie was of little consolation.)
Some television evangelists faced a dilemma: it was too late to cancel the next day’s taping of their syndicated worship and praise services, but what were they to say about this unprecedented event? How were they to sound knowledgeable and reassuring regarding what God was doing, without hurting their ministry’s bottom line? The Rev. W. Eustace O’Connell, for instance, was famous for his highly profitable “Living Through Giving” Sunday morning show (which he irreverently called “Fleecing the Flock” in his more cynical moments). What was he supposed to do? Confess that his ministry was more a vehicle for his own luxurious lifestyle than for humbly serving the Lord?
Many—though far from all—Catholic religious leaders also fell prey to guilt, doubts, and confusion. Some avant-garde theologians and seminary professors feared they might have been too quick to cultivate publicity and popularity by playing fast and loose with the traditional teachings of the Church. More than a few pastors and priests worried that they might at long last be held accountable for their spiritual laziness and indifference in caring for the needs of their people. Above all, many members of the hierarchy—not only in America, but across the globe—anguished over whether this apparent divine intervention in the world meant they had been tried and found wanting. This was true not only for those cardinals and bishops guilty of mishandling the sexual abuse crisis or even engaging in misbehavior themselves; prelates who had persecuted faithful clergymen or failed to defend the Church’s moral teachings were also plagued by guilty consciences.
Fortunately there were many brave and faithful pastors—Catholic and otherwise—along with lay evangelists and commentators, willing to speak about and try to make sense of what was happening. This occurred in pulpits across the nation, on numerous radio and television interviews, and in countless homes throughout the United States. The message proclaimed by these humble prophets and servants of the Lord was simple: God is showing us that things cannot continue as they are; He is giving us this unique and unprecedented opportunity to repent, and we must not waste it. If we do not heed His voice, there will be dire consequences. This truly is the acceptable time; now truly is the day of salvation! (2 Cor. 6:2).
People who genuinely loved the Lord easily accepted this message and took it to heart, vowing to redouble their efforts to resist temptation, grow in holiness, and resist the false values of the world. Millions of other persons also opened their hearts—including not only the religiously lukewarm, but those who had previously denied any need for God.
The Holy Father, after spending most of “Sanctified Saturday” in prayer, issued an Address to the World, in which he urged all persons of good will to give thanks to Almighty God for this miraculous opportunity for repentance and renewal. This papal exhortation was quickly translated into numerous languages, and shown or read aloud at most Masses throughout the world on the following day (to standing-room only crowds). A majority of other religious leaders, both Protestant and non-Christian, felt compelled to issue their own proclamations (with varying degrees of sincerity and credibility).
Even so, many skeptics demanded, “If this really is a message from God (assuming He even exists), why doesn’t He show Himself and speak plainly?” Religious believers responded, “How many more signs do you need? Nothing like this has ever happened before, and this is a wonderful chance for us to get things right before it’s too late.”
The “pro-God side” seemed to have the better argument in the eyes of millions of confused and uncertain persons across the world, and large numbers of conversions resulted. Planet Earth’s ruling elite, however, by and large adopted an attitude of derision and denial, claiming these global interruptions of normal life and commerce were a form of “cosmic brainwashing” and “religious manipulation” (without offering any convincing explanation of how such a thing might even be possible). The battle lines were drawn, even as humanity wondered how long this changed state of affairs would continue.
Unique Divine Intervention
As it happened, this unique divine intervention lasted for a total of three days (with many Christian commentators later claiming this symbolized the Savior’s three days in the tomb). God had sent legions of angels early on Saturday to impose a “spiritual truce” or “prophetic pause” on the world, limiting the power and activity of the devil and binding his human agents—thereby giving righteousness a chance to make its influence known and felt. (One sign of this was the remarkable ease with which exorcisms were performed during this period.) On Tuesday morning, however, these angels stood down; they still offered guidance and protection to those persons who called out to them—but by the Divine Will, they no longer imposed a quarantine on human sinfulness.
For a short time God had decreed “Enough!” to a sinful world, forcing it to pause and reflect on the reality of its rush toward spiritual disaster and destruction—but the Lord would not ultimately override human free will. Each person would decide what response to make, if any, to this heavenly summons. Some, like the former abortionist Dr. Albert Hansen, humbled themselves and sought God’s forgiveness; others, like the unrepentant clinic manager Nadine Fenwick-Brown, were transformed into even more-hardened promoters and purveyors of the culture of death. Sin and spiritual self-destruction once again became possible. Millions of people quickly returned to their former ways, acting as if nothing significant had happened. Millions of others, however, were permanently changed, thereby altering their eternal destiny in a wonderful and grace-filled manner.
Would these favorable changes resulting from the “Three Days of Enlightenment” (as many religious believers referred to the event) be enough to make a difference, and save humanity from the devil and from itself?
The answer to this all-important question is being determined by each one of us, and is being played out before our eyes.
This fictional story is obviously an indirect and imaginative reference to the Warning—the long-prophesied spiritual event in which every person on earth will, for a short while, see the state of his or her soul from God’s perspective, and thus know whether Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory were to be merited if he or she were to die at that moment.
Instead of a divine decree of “Enough!” to the world, we might instead say that the Warning will be the Lord’s way of individually asking each person, “Are you sure this is the eternal destiny you want for yourself?” As a result of this “spiritual x-ray,” the just will grow in their love of God and, confirmed in their desire to travel the way of grace and righteousness, overcome the evil one’s temptations and make rapid spiritual progress.
The wicked, however—including those people who don’t consider themselves to be bad persons, but who have a weak faith or insufficient room in their lives for God—will be confronted with the undeniable truth of the horrible fate awaiting them if they fail to repent. It’s precisely because God is merciful that He will allow many millions of sinners to undergo an almost unbearable spiritual experience—for He is concerned not with humanity’s earthly comforts and conveniences, but with our eternal destiny.
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a prophetess whose visions of future catastrophe always proved correct, but whose warnings were never believed or heeded by her people. Jeremiah and some of the other Old Testament prophets had a similar experience; their messages on the need for national repentance were often angrily—and sometimes even violently—rejected (cf. Jer. 26:8-9; 37:15). Nowadays experts speak of a “normalcy bias,” in which people tend to assume their current, comfortable state of affairs is the way things should be, and will remain; most persons are psychologically incapable of imagining, or unwilling to admit the possibility of, drastic and upsetting changes to their way of life (and quite often resent those trying to enlighten them). As a result, warnings of impending danger are usually dismissed or ignored, and opportunities for necessary—and even urgent—spiritual and material preparations are by and large wasted.
What is the Lord to do in such a case? Scripture tells us that in the days of Noah, the Lord “regretted that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was grieved” (Gen. 6:6). Noah obeyed God by building an ark, but during the lengthy construction process, this righteous man was presumably subjected to much mockery and derision; a scornful and sinful humanity could not conceive of its coming destruction.
Even though the earth was cleansed of sin by the Great Flood—a forerunner of baptism (1 Pt. 3:21)—humanity did not learn its lesson and forsake wickedness. Some generations later, “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah [was] so great, and their sin so grave” (Gen. 18:20), that God allowed these two iniquitous cities to be destroyed by sulphurous fire (Gen. 19:24). A major theme in many Old Testament books is that stubborn and continuing human sinfulness offends divine justice and often leads to various sufferings as a form of punishment or divine discipline.
Even though Jesus presents God as a loving and merciful Father, He teaches that the Almighty nevertheless exercises His awesome power on behalf of His oppressed children (Mk. 9:42; Lk. 18:7-8). Furthermore, Our Lord speaks of the very real possibility of terrible events frightening or afflicting even the righteous in the last days (Mt. 24:9, 15ff)—a theme further echoed in the Book of Revelation (12:17, 13:7).
The children of God are caught up in the ongoing cosmic struggle between good and evil. The Lord will preserve them from serious harm (Ps. 1:6), but it’s not enough for God merely to save the righteous: He desires not the death of sinners, but that they repent and live (Ezek. 18:23). Many human beings, however, prefer the darkness of sin to the light of truth (Jn. 3:19-21)—forcing the Lord to take drastic measures.
The Warning—in whatever form it occurs—is intended to serve as a global “wake-up call” for the salvation of mankind, and an unprecedented effort by God to save sinners from the tragic consequences of their evil choices.
When and how will the Warning occur? Will it achieve its purpose—namely, successfully bringing about the repentance of millions of persons who would otherwise be lost? Will its results be sufficient to mitigate or even prevent various other prophesied chastisements (up to and including the Three Days of Darkness)?
No one on earth knows the answers to these questions, but we can say with certainty that the Warning (as foretold by the visionaries of Garabandal, among others) will occur, and probably in the not-too-distant future. In light of the mercy of God, and the sinfulness of the world, it could hardly be otherwise.
Let us heed the message of Fatima (and other apparitions of Our Lady) by offering our prayers and penance for true peace in the world, for the spread of the Gospel, and for the conversion of sinners—for in this way humanity may finally come to say “Enough!” to the devil’s lies and temptations, and “Yes!” to the Good News of salvation.