Mary and the Muslim World: Is She the Key to Evangelization?

I have often heard that Muslims hold our Blessed Mother Mary in high regard. This reverence may stop short of devotion but there is said to be a respect for her in the Muslim tradition.

 Now, I first learned this from the great Archbishop, Fulton Sheen in his book, The World’s First Love. I read it 25 years ago and have pondered it ever since. I would like to present excerpts from the chapter entitled “Mary and the Moslems” [sic], reflect on its significance and ask a few questions. Please note that the book was written in 1952 and therefore some of the spellings are not the modern ones. Here are the excerpts:

The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception, and also, in her Virgin Birth…..The Koran also has verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying, Oh Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth. In the 19th chapter of the Koran there are 41 verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary. 

Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: Thou shalt be the most blessed of women in Paradise, after Mary. In a variant of the text Fatima is made to say; I surpass all the women, except Mary. 

This brings us to our second point; namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this 20th Century should have revealed herself in the significant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” Since nothing ever happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son too. 

   Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus the very place where our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed. 

Missionaries, in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which the people already accept. Because the Moslems have devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and develop that devotion, with the full realization that our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her divine Son. She is forever a “traitor,” in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, bit will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her divine Son.

 A beautiful reflection by Archbishop Sheen and one we can surely hope will come to pass. Relations are much more tense however between Christians and Muslims today than in 1952.

This leads to my first question.

Do Muslims today still manifest the reverence to Mary that Sheen described in 1952? I have seen a few people in Muslim garb at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception here in D.C., but I was not sure if they came to pay homage to Mary or just tour. I think we Catholics ought to be careful before we presume too much of what Muslims today think of Mary. The lines in the Quran quoted by Sheen are impressive but that does not mean that Muslims either know them well or interpret them as we would wish. Hence, I am merely posing a question here. If any of you know of good sources that answer the question of the Muslim stance on Mary I would be grateful if you can point it out. The answer to this question has a lot of bearing on my speculations to follow.

Astonishing Fact – I must say,  I have always considered it nothing less than astonishing that Mary should appear in a town called, of all things, “Fatima.”  Surely this is no mere coincidence and, as Sheen aptly points out, heaven does nothing without purpose. That we are not to merely pass over this detail, is very clear to me. One of the more well known modern titles of Mary is “Our Lady of Fatima.” Fatima is the daughter of Muhammad. This is hugely significant.

Third Secret of Fatima?  For many years, before its revelation,  I was sure that the Third Secret of Fatima  had something to do with the Muslim question. Frankly I figured it likely described a great conflict with the Muslim world that would arise and lead to great suffering for the Church, even a kind of Babylonian captivity, but that ultimately Mary’s Immaculate Heart would triumph by the power of God. Imagine my chagrin when the third secret was finally revealed with a less than worldwide, apocalyptic content. Granted, the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II was a serious and significant matter but it was less than the worldwide conflict I had expected. It is also true that his would-be assassin was Muslim, but the plot was likely more communist and Russian in origin. In the end my theory was rocked back on its heels and fell flat.

But still we are left with Fatima. Why Fatima? Why a town bearing the namesake of Muhammad’s daughter? It seems clear that Mary will play an important role in the years ahead as the Muslim/Christian conflict likely grows sharper. Perhaps, as Sheen notes, she will be the bridge that connects two vastly different cultures, the common mother who keeps her children talking. Right now this connection seems little pursued, even,  as far as I can tell,  by the Vatican. But here too allow a question from me. Are there any of you who know if Our Lady of Fatima has any role in Vatican-Muslim dialogue?

The Guadalupe connection –  I wonder too if  the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe presents some historical parallels to our current struggle with the Muslim world. In the early 16th Century in Mexico, missionaries had made only meager progress in bringing the Aztec people to Christ. It was a combination of  the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the indiginous people by the Spanish soldiers, and also of the fearful superstition surrounding the Aztec gods. These gods required horrific human sacrifices and kept the people locked in with this fear that, unless they fed these gods,  their  greatest god,  the sun,  would no longer shine.

Into this fearful and suspicious setting entered Mother Mary. The miraculous image she left in 1531 was richly symbolic: Her face  is a mother’s face, gentle and compassionate, unlike the frightful Aztec gods who wore fierce masks. Her features seem to be both an Aztec and European, two cultures are combined in kindness and peace. Her attitude is one of humble prayer, so she is clearly not a god. She is a merciful mother who consoles and prays for us. She is to be honored but not adored. The black band around her waist means that she is with child and offers Jesus to the people. Her message is about him. The sun was the greatest of the Aztec gods and, by standing in front of the sun, Mary shows that she is greater than all their gods. The moon represented to them the god of darkness and death. That she is standing on the moon is a sign that these powers too have been defeated by the son she bears.

 Mary brought the breakthrough. Within ten years over 12 million Mexicans came to Christ and entered the Catholic Church.

This history is paralleled in many ways today in the current tensions with the Muslim World. In many Muslim lands today conversions are few. Part of the reason for this is  a strong aversion for the western culture from which Catholicism comes. Another reason includes many alleged grievances that Muslims have of American and Western “mistreatment.”  Finally,  a large factor is fear. Leaving the Muslim faith is likely to get you killed in many parts of the Muslim world. So, it is a combination of a wide cultural gulf, alleged grievances, and fear, that keep conversions low. All not unlike 16th Century Mexico.

Is Mary key? It took Mary to bridge all these similar gaps between the Aztecs and the Christian Missionaries. Might Mary also be that bridge today when similar gaps divide? Time will tell, but one of her greatest Modern titles is Our Lady of Fatima.  And then,  there is the crescent moon upon which Mary stands in the image of Guadalupe. In modern times the crescent moon is the symbol of Islam. Mother Mary of Guadalupe, by God’s grace, was victorious and overcame the false religion of the Aztecs with love and humility.

Might this crescent moon on which Our Lady of Guadalupe stands also point to our times, and the crescent moon of Islam?  Might it indicate that her victories, by God’s grace, are not at an end. Perhaps we can hope that what our Lady of Guadalupe was to the Aztec people of Mexico, Our Lady of Fatima will be to the Muslim people of the world.

As always, I invite your comments and answers to my questions.

Here is “Immaculate Mary” sung in Arabic

102 Replies to “Mary and the Muslim World: Is She the Key to Evangelization?”

  1. Ah, a good subject and good opportunity for discussion….My understanding is that the Virgen de Guadalupe is actually an Arabic Name….I have other thoughts about your post….I have to think about ithem before I respond.

    1. There is a “Guadalupe” in Spain, which, of course, had been conquered and occupied by Muslim armies for hundreds of years before finally being driven out in the Reconquista.

      However, the word also sounds like a word native to the language of Juan Diego. When Juan Diego asked the lady her name, she responded in his native language of Nahuatl, “Tlecuatlecupe,” which means “the one who crushes the head of the serpent” (a clear reference to Genesis 3:15 and perhaps to the prominent symbol of the Aztec religion). “Tlecuatlecupe” when correctly pronounced, sounds remarkably similar to “Guadalupe.”

      1. At first impression I wondered if a serpent could have been Quetzalcoatl, or the feathered serpent. However he was portrayed as a benevolent entity who was a teacher, usually white skinned and bearded. Why would anyone anyone want to crush the head of someone like this, perhaps “bruising their heel in the process”?
        Then I remembered how, early in any research, facts may be so meager that compatible data can appear to be in conflict due to the lack of other, interconnecting, data which may appear as pieces are added to the puzzle; somewhat like a balance beam stabilizing and being stabilized by conflicting weights that are a long ways off centre.
        As for the thought of Mary being a bridge between two conflicting viewpoints; well a good mother may work to resolve conflict between siblings rather than to punish in a way that provides an illusion of peace but, which only buries the source of conflict until later. So, it seems very reasonable that such an exceptional mother could have been chosen to do this job in superior and mysterious ways which span more years than we are used to dealing with.

  2. Wonderful post. You have many interesting thoughts and our Muslims friends do believe in the Christmas stories. Sadly they do not believe in the resurrection. They believe Jesus was a prophet. I don’t know what the “official” Muslim position is. But our Muslim friends are also very devout and pray five times daily, dress modestly, and they don’t think much of the Western culture and its excess. We have much to learn from them as well, in the way they keep their faith in the midst of all the secularism. And Mary always leads us to Jesus.

  3. I agree with you Rebecca. I have a lot of informatiojn I need to share on this but need time for reflectiojn. My son and I lived in Mali so I am verty familiar with t his teachng. I may have to send Mssgr Pope an email. This article opens up the flood gates for deep theologial and spiritual reflection as well as a goog understanding of Muslim culture. This is a tough one Monsignor.

  4. Apparently two Holy Fathers (JPII and B16) are of the same opinion!

    “From here in Ephesus, a city blessed by the presence of Mary Most Holy — who we know is loved and venerated also by Muslims – let us lift up to the Lord a special prayer for peace between peoples.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Homily at “Mary’s House” in Ephesus, Turkey, November 29, 2006

    Our Lady of Ephesus, pray for us!

      1. I seem to remember many news media outlets reporting that the Marian Shrine at Ephesus, referenced above, saw more Muslim pilgrims than Christian ones.

  5. Good day Monsignor. I find it also interesting that in Rev 12:1 there was a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet. It bears some similarity in the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

  6. Dear Father:

    My family lived in Turkey for three years back in the early nineties. While there, my brother found his Turkish wife (my sister), and we all fell in love with the Turks.. and I gained an immense respect for Islam. One of the things that deeply moved me – a seminal moment, from which I was ever changed – was when we visited the chapel purportedly built on the site of Mary’s house in Ephesus (which was located by archeologists working from a vision of Catherine Emmerich’s, who never left Austria) – the hillside there bvelow the small chapel, covered by a beautiful pine grove overlooking the Aegean – is cut away by a stone wall covered in vines tied with hundreds of pieces of cloth, from which a spring flows.

    While I was there for the first time, while filling my bottles with water there, I asked one of the nuns who keep the place about the pieces of cloth. Why were they there?

    She told me that the cloth ribbons were all prayer intentions left by Muslim women, who tear their hijabs and head scarves, leaving the ribbons there as prayer intentions.

    That was in 1992. I have never been able to be afraid of Muslims since. I’ve gone on to be an Arabic linguist in the Army, to live in Egypt, and to become friends with many Muslims, since.

    Ever since I’ve seen those ribbons, brought by Muslim women praying in response to a vision by Catherine Emmerich the world has seemed a much gladder and gentle place.

    Nothing that has happened since has changed that for me.

    As-Salam Alaikum,


      1. The Turks also tried to take over the western world, only to be stopped by Our Lady of the Rosary and Pope St. Pius V at the Battle of Lepanto. Doesn’t make them bad, but does suggest that their devotion to Mary does not extend to the rest of Catholic Church!

      2. @Richard: They’re Muslims who killed the Catholic Armenean people. That does not make them good at all.

  7. Sorry. But the Virgin of Guadalupe is and was at the time understood to be the “Mother of God.”

    However, the idea of a “Mother of God” is the highest of blasphemies in Islam, on a par with calling Jesus the “Son of God.” Also, the extent to which the crescent is a symbol of Islam (and therefore Allah), having Mary standing on top of the crescent, placing her above Allah, is likewise a blasphemy. And the penalty for such blasphemy is death.

    The Koran repeatedly and explicitly condemns the assertion that Jesus is Allah or that Allah could possibly have a Son, or that Mary could be the mother of Allah, or that anyone (e.g. Mary) could be an intercessor other than Allah himself —

    Surah 4:171-72. O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah.
    5:17. In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary.
    5:72-75. They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” . . . They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. . . . Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger.
    5:116-17. And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it.
    6:101. To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a son when He hath no consort?
    9:29-32. Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day . . . The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He.
    17:111. Say: “Praise be to Allah, who begets no son, and has no partner in (His) dominion:
    19:35. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son.
    19:87-92. None shall have the power of intercession, but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from (Allah) Most Gracious. They say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!” Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.
    23:90. We have sent them the Truth: but they indeed practice falsehood! No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him.
    39:43-44. What! Do they take for intercessors others besides Allah? Say: “Even if they have no power whatever and no intelligence?” Say: “To Allah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession: to Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: In the End, it is to Him that ye shall be brought back.”

    The verses on Mary in the Koran (see Surah 19) are intended more to condemn as blasphemous the claim that Jesus is the Son of God as they are for Muslims to revere Mary or Jesus. This is especially true since the “revelations” to “the Prophet” Mohammed in the Koran were intended to correct all of the false and corrupted scriptures of the Jews and Christians, who got it all wrong.

    To accept the true Mary is necessarily to reject the Koran. To accept the Islamic fable story of Mary is to reject Christ and Christianity. Mary may be a bridge for Muslims, as she was for the indigenous peoples of present-day Mexico, but only if they do the same as the people of the Aztec empire, who burned that bridge after crossing it by rejecting their false gods.

    1. I think I (sadly) have to agree with you.
      Muslims do not believe Jesus is the Son of God. Some of them seem to think he was a nice prophet and his mother was a nice lady, but when it gets down to it, their position is untenable in both Christianity and Islam.

    2. Yes, it seems clear that there are many obstacles and that the honor some Muslims give Mary is of a very different sort and understanding of the hyperdulia toward Mary and Latria toward Jesus that Catholics give.

  8. I cannot speak to the issue of how Muslims in general regard Mary, but I was surprised when a Christian friend of mine went with her Kuwaiti Muslim husband to visit Our Lady of Lebanon. I was even more surprised when she told me that she saw lots of Muslims there buying little statues of Mary.

  9. Might it not only be providential that Our Lady chose to appear in 1917 of all years, the year namely of the Russian Revolution which launched the beginning of the huge disaster of Communism whose effects are still felt today in Eastern Europe (I live in East Berlin and am aware of it on a daily basis). Thus Our Lady may be signifying both by the time and the place in which she appeared that she is calling for penance and conversion; and that these two groups, Muslims and Communists namely, are two of the most important groups whose conversion she wishes to pray for? Just a thought.

  10. That should read “not also be providential”, not “not only”. Sorry for the typo.

  11. I recently read – was it on Custos Fidei? – that there is a recently-established public holiday celebrated by both Christians & Muslims in Lebanon. Can anyone confirm this?

  12. There are many good and honorable people to admire, but Mary is the mother of God, try running that one to a Muslim at the local mosque.

  13. Muslims are devoted to Mary because, much like Christian heretics, their prophet Mohammad took his beliefs from elsewhere. The Qu’ran is a compilation of pseudo-gospels, Jewish folklore,and pagan myths and legends. The Hadith (Mohammad’s acts) make this clear. The pseudoscience used by Muslim “scientists” back this up.

    You have to keep that fact in mind, as well as the fact that we must seek what is good, shun what is evil. So you gotta shun the evil of Islam and look for the good in Islam: Prayer, study, almsgiving, pilgrimage, devotion to Jesus and Mary, some truths regarding God, some truths regarding Jesus, some truths regarding Mary, etc.

    1. Yes, I understand that there is a syncretistic tendency at work here. But perhaps there is still enough common ground to build understanding and trust. Or at least that is my hope

  14. I love Sheen, but he was far too irenic about Islam. In his day, and in his own writings, Catholicism had only one existential enemy: communism. Most Muslims are anti-communist, ergo, they are likely converts. Simple as that. Except it’s NOT as simple as that. Islam accepts the Immaculate Conception? How could it, when the I.C. depends on the Incarnation, and Islam considers the Incarnation to be detestable heresy (which it does, b/c to them it undermines the unity of Allah)?

    1. You have to undestand that the Muslim world view is not systematic. They do not have problems with contradiction like the Immaculate conception and Jesus not being God.

  15. A friend of mine here in the UK is a convert to Islam. While learning his faith, he’s been struck by the honour actually paid by Muslims to Our Lady. His teacher (from the Lebanon region) told him that it’s not uncommon for Muslims to pray at places of Marian devotion – he cited somewhere in Italy as an example, but I forget the name of the place. Of course, this is more common in Europe where such shrines exist, but some Muslims don’t have a problem with it.

    @ Vijaya – As for the ‘official’ position of Islam, this is a web even more tangled than Muslim ‘Marian devotion’. There is no central authority in Islam to pronounce what is authentic or not, only the different interpretations from the different schools of law, all of which trace themselves back to Mohammed, I suppose like their version of Sacred Tradition. It’s interesting you mention their devotional practices, which of course are lot like monastic practices. Could Marian devotion and Monastic life be the key to evangelising the Muslim world?

    1. It would certianly seem that one of the problems the Muslims have with the West is our lack of piety. Processions and other acts of piety at Marian shrines as well as the witness of a faithfully lived monastic life and other public devotion such as the Angelus, etc. would certianly help to convince them that piety pervaded our culture – if that were only true. Saddly, it is not. However, there are pockets of life pervaded with public acts of piety and devotion, and the more they spread the better the witness to the Muslim world.

  16. I also have heard that Guadalupe is arabic and that there is, or was a town in Spain named Guadalupe. Spain, like Portugal was once occupied by the Muslims. Does anyone know more about such a town?

      1. I have read that “Guada – Lupe” in medaeval spanish meant “Wolf River” using the arabic word for river and the Spanish word for wolf — sort of “Span-arabic” .

        Re the moon under Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feet: Quetzelcoatl The Aztec’s Feathered Serpent god in “divine” form was the god of wisdom, and to men was “the golden-bearded white man” which is why the Aztecs were dumb-struck by the appearance of Hernan Cortez in his shining armor.

        Look at the imagery, however — a serpent is still a snake even if it is prettified in fancy feathers; and the devil is also one who can “appear as an angel of light” so there is no contradiction about the two manifestations of the Aztec’s principal god, who we must not forget, demanded to be worshiped by human sacrifice. In the Sacred image on St Juan Deigo’s tilma, the crescent moon trampled under Mary’s feet (like the serpent under her feet on the Miraculous Medal) is blackened out, to show that he is “negated”.

        Islam’s the crescent moon symbol originates from the (false) name of their “god” Allah ( who is not the Holy Trinity). Allah was the name of the pre-islamic moon-god in the animist religion in Arabia at the time Muhammad was born.

  17. One thing is for sure, baring some stupendous miracle, the current situation will continue. The Vatican-Muslim dialogue doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. A more likely scenereo is that the West will continue to decline until Christianity becomes culturally insignificant. At that point the various factions of Islam will devour each other until a point of exhaustion is reached. At that point, the world will either end or the Muslim world will reach out to Christianity to restore sanity to the world.

  18. Pope Pius V declared “Help of Christians” a title to honor Mother Mary after a victory over Muslims at Lepanto in 1571. We must not weaken the Christian resolve against Muslim tyranny otherwise we end becoming victims like those in Iraq and Egypt.

    1. Yes, I understand your point. Simply caving to Muslim demands and overlooking very real persecutions is no way to have a vigorous co-existence and even less a way that we can hope to win conversions.

  19. Another instance of Mary’s intercession is at the Battle of Lepanto. The completely outnumbered Catholic forces prayed the Rosary for victory and drove back the Islamic invasion by the Ottoman Empire in 1751 and stopped the fall of Europe to the muslims. The captain carried a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle.

  20. Oops, reversed my dates, should be 1571.

    Mark, maybe the reason the teacher of your convert friend in England had so much reverence for Mary was because he was Lebanese. Lebanon used to be over 90% Catholic, so that reverence hasn’t been completely squashed until the older generations die off. Just a theory. It takes a while for islam to eradicate the history of places they take over.

  21. Regarding Our Lady and Muslims – have you read about the (Catholic and Orthodox approved I believe) apparitions of the Mother of God in Zeitun, Egypt to crowds of Christians AND Muslims? Photographs were taken (and can been seen) of these appariations. I cannot help but think that this have some connection with Christian/Muslim relations.

  22. How Mary the Mother of God will continue to be part of Salvation History is a thought that feels my heart with joy and amazement. Theologians have pent centuries explaining this, but she has only accepted and lived true to the Word of God. May our actions keep up with hers, regardless of the explanation. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

    Great post!

  23. Fascinating article and discussion. I think the situation between Christian and Moslem is better in Lebanon and Jordan. Elsewhere in the Moslem world, as far as ruling authority, it is enmity. I was had a discussion with a Moslem in NY who ran a deli. He grew furious when I said that Jesus was the Son of God. I said nothing about Mohammed. He shouted that Jesus did not say He was God when questioned by the high priest, but rather “You say that I am.” Terrible translation replacing the Douay, “Thou hast said it.” I objected that Jesus also answered: “I am” to the question in another Gospel. He was literally enraged. Rather than incite him further I left. THERE WAS NO POSSIBILITY OF DISCUSSION!!! One would have to be a “bad” Moslem to be a partner in dialogue.

    To such a one I would ask, “If God is only One Person,” what is His life? What are His inner operations, in Himself, not ad extra in creation? What is life for a Spirit? Knowing and loving, to be sure. If God knows Himself, then He knows Himself as Infinite and Eternal Spirit. His knowledge of Himself must be a perfect knowledge, whole, in One Act, Eternal. Anything self-knowledge less than this would not knowledge of Himself, but everything but. God’s knowledge, therefore, of Himself, His Self- CONCEPT, must be a Perfect Word; it must be one with His Intellect, but OTHER, at the same time, or else it is not a CONCEPT. The CONCEPT, to be perfect, cannot be less than God; it cannot be “finite” or “in parts.” For the Infinite God has no parts; He is absolutely Simple, One, in Nature. There must be, therefore, ANOTHER Person, for God’s self-knowledge to be His Inner Life. And the Word must also be Eternal, for God cannot beget “before” or “after” but in His own Eternal Act, which is NOW. The Father must always be begetting, and the Son begotten. Life, for Spirit, is also Love. There can be no Love, unless there is a Beloved. To conceive an Idea, concept, requires one person thinking, to love requires two, lover and beloved. That Eternal Act in God is One Act, the Mutual Love of Father for Son and Son for Father. That Act, the Eternal SIGH, must also be perfect love. What is perfect Love for two Eternal Persons having the same Eternal Will in nature? A Person. If not a Person, then it is not the perfect Internal Life Act of an Eternal Infinite Person. So, the Blessed Trinity, the First great mystery of the Faith, once revealed, can be defended by reason, even as NECESSARY. In other words, there can be no God who is not Three Persons. Such a God would not have vital life acts. The Moslems greatly dishonor Allah by reducing Him to no inner life activity, only creation activity.

    Finally, I do hope that Our Lady, especially among the poor victimized, Moslem women, will come to be recognized by them as Mother of God, Theotokos. And this is all because she is the mother of the God-man, the sole donor of His Flesh.

    1. Thank you for this reflection on the Trinity. Clearly as you point out the Muslim world rejects any concept of the Trinity and many consider us blasphemous for suggesting God has a son.

      1. Additionally, Christians do not really comprehend that Islam is not a logical religion, and that it has no problem with theological “Cognitive dissonnance.”

        Westerm civilization is predicated on the idea that God created Man to use his intellect critically to “Know, love, and serve Him” who is a GOOD God; however Islam forbids questioning the logical , moral, and ethical contradictions in its own teachings. It simply demands complete SUBMISSION ( which is the translation of the Arabic word “Islam.”) In fact, Muslims are permitted to lie in order to foster the rise and ascendency of Islam. All men are not brothers in Islam; non-believers are not equal to Muslims, and can be rightfully taxed, enslaved, and exploited on that account

        In fact, Islam does not even demand (logically) that God must be “Good” — His will, according to Muslim thinking and teaching, is absolute and arbitrary — if Allah were to will evil, then evil would be “good” because he willed it. You see that logic cannnot be used to convert Muslims or get them to examine the intellectual inyegrity of the Koran.

        Any “Ecumenical dialogue” between Catholics and Muslims necessarily can only articulate authentic differences. Neither is intellectually or morally capable of compromise. This is the irresistable force versus the immovable object, folks, —except we know that Christianity (through the miraculous good offices and intercession of Our Lady) is destined and prophecied to inherit the earth after many persecutions and sufferings.

        Islam will not be converted to Christianity except by miraculous intervention– but that is what must happen.

  24. Yes, women are so good at making peace aren’t they?.
    And don’t forget the angels. Muslims believe in the angels.

    I loved the Immaculate Mary in arabic!

  25. I think Sheen was overly optimistic. Sheen doesn’t mention that for Muslims, Mary is the third person of the Trinity (thus blasphemous to Allah), along with Jesus, and also, very strangely, the sister of Aaron, and thus a sibling of Moses. It’s a very mixed-up picture. However, as “Dante” mentions, the long and very public apparitions at Zeitun, with photographs and videos and newspaper accounts, in the place in Egypt where the Holy Family may have fled, are thought-provoking.

  26. “Imagine my chagrin when the third secret was finally revealed with a less than worldwide, apocalyptic content.”

    On his pilgrimage to Fatima in May last year. the holy father Pope Benedict made it clear during interviews with the Italian press that he did not believe the “third secret of Fatima” ended with the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, but referred also to the suffering and persecution of the Church since then and beyond into the future.

    «Oltre alla missione di sofferenza del Papa, che in prima istanza possiamo riferire all’attentato a Giovanni Paolo II, nel messaggio di Fatima ci sono indicazioni su realtà del futuro della Chiesa».

    The holy father also stated that much of this persecution was of the Church’s own making: «Vediamo in modo terrificante che la più grande persecuzione alla Chiesa viene dall’interno»

    It would appear that Pope Benedict believes that the recent scandals within the Church are also part of the warning Our Lady gave to the Servant of God Lucia as to what would happen if her messages were not heeded.

    As for the placename “Fatima” and its’ association with Islam , this may be a pointer to the source of future conflict: «La profezia di Fatima non si è ancora compiuta, ci saranno guerre e terrore».

    All quotes from Corriere Della Sera.

    I don’t know about you Msgr Pope, but this all seems a bit “worldwide” and “apocalyptic” to me and it may well turn out that your were in fact correct in your original assumption. Our Lady of Fatima pray for us. God bless.

  27. I have a hard time believing that the 3rd secret is the assasination attempt on JP II. C’mon. Is that what really couldn’t be known after all these years? I prefer your interpretation Father!

    1. Thanks for your support! 🙂 I too have wondered why such a big secret all these years given its final content. However Peter, in the comment just above states that Pope Benedict thinks that more is meant by the 3rd secret than just the assassination attempt.

  28. By the 3rd century, Satan realized that merely murdering Christians sheds “the blood of the martyrs” which is “the seed the Church.” Confounded yet again, the Adversary commander changed strategy and has ever since executed a 17 century internal/external Great Heresies blitzkrieg against Catholic Christendom as identified by the Historian Hilaire Belloc: Internal attacks on Christendom (Arianism , Albigensianism, Protestantism & Atheistic Statist Secularism)/External attacks on Christendom (Islam). These reflections by Sheen only make sense within the context of this cosmic global conflict.

  29. Wonderful post, full of ideas and thoughts that have run through my own mind before. I think it is very safe to say that Mary indeed has an important role to play in the conversion of the Muslim people. According to St. Louis de Montfort, she is the shortest, safest, most reliable route to Jesus. Additionally, just as she plays a very important role in the salvation story of humanity (that of theotokos), she must also play that same role in our own spiritual lives.

    Islam is very fascinating, and I am always in awe when I think about the fact that even Muslims recognize Mary as the highest woman in heaven. Truly, all generations will call her blessed! Mary plays a unique role in leading all hearts to heaven, and she would not abandon her Muslim children. I think it is extremely likely that Our Lady of Fatima will play a crucial role in bringing Muslims to Mary’s beloved Son.

  30. Wow, I just ordered that book two days ago (before you posted)… and here you are quoting it. 🙂 I figure I can’t go wrong with the good Abp Sheen.

  31. Msgr., I’m with you and Archbishop Sheen, Our Lady will triumph over Islam, but also, of course “the errors of Russia”.

    The Fatima apparitions cannot be overstated in my humble opinion: “Nations will be annihilated but finally my Immaculate Heart will triumph” said Our Lady.

    My understanding is that we are approaching the dawn of that most perfect Church as described in Apocalypse, where the whole world will convert to the one true Church, but not before a chastisement – a very severe chastisement.

  32. The vision part of the Third Secret has been revealed, not the message. As with the first two secrets, there must be a message, otherwise why did Sister Lucia begin it (at the close of the message of the second secret) with the intro: the Dogma of Faith will always be preserved in Portugal etc, etc. Sister actually wrote the etc. etc. It is in her own handwriting. So, there is a MESSAGE. Even our Holy Father, before elected pope, testified that the secret had to do with a “crisis of faith.”

    Then there is the famous quote from Luigi Cardinal Ciappi (+1996), personal theologian to four Popes up to and including Pope John Paul II:

    “In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church begins at the top.”

    Cardinal Oddi (+2001): “The Blessed Virgin was alerting us against the apostasy in the Church.”

    Father Joaquin Alonso (+1981), who for sixteen years was the official archivist at Fatima, and who had many interviews with Sister Lucy, testified as follows:

    “It is therefore completely probable that the text makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves [and the] internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence of the upper hierarchy …”

    Bishop Amaral, the third Bishop of Fatima, said the following about the Secret in a speech in Vienna, Austria, September 10, 1984:

    “Its content concerns only our faith. To identify the [Third] Secret with catastrophic announcements or with a nuclear holocaust is to deform the meaning of the message. The loss of faith of a continent is worse than the annihilation of a nation; and it is true that faith is continually diminishing in Europe.”

    When journalist Solideo Paolini asked Archbishop Francesco Capovilla in 2006 if there were another Fatima text in addition to the one describing the martyrdom of the pope, two texts in other words, Capovilla responded “Precisely so!” Capovilla read the secret with John XXIII when he was with the pope serving as his personal secretary. Capovilla had served as secretary for the three popes after John.

    Anyone wishing to know the truth about the unrevealed Third Secret should read writer Antonio Socci’s The Fourth Secret of Fatima.

  33. I would take the opposite position from that of Archbishop Sheen. One of the reasons Muslems have proven throughout their history so impervious to conversion to Christianity is that because of the Koran they believe they already know who Jesus and Mary are. Islam can praise Jesus to the highest heavens as a good man, a great prophet of God, etc., but do so in the context of firmly denying him the title “Son of God.” The Koran also explicity teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross. This eviscerates the Christian understanding of who Jesus is and what He has accomplished for us. It’s the same with Mary. Mary may be the most exalted woman in Islam but one thing she most definitely is not. She is not the Mother of God. As with “Son of God” and Jesus, take away this title from Mary and what are you left with? The Koran does not predispose Muslems to accept Christianity. Quite the opposite. It inmunizes them from it. Christianity does not get a full and fair hearing because Muslems have already been taught that the Christian gospels are corruptions of the truth. Their scripture, the Koran, has already revealed to them that Christians have it wrong and that it is the height of blasphemy and absurdity to say Jesus is God’s co-eternal Son and that Mary is His mother. It would be much, much easier to engage in dialogue with Moslems if the Koran had had nothing to say about Jesus and Mary.

      1. 30 years ago it was inconceivable that Russia could be converted- that would mean the overthrow of the entire Soviet Block. We didn’t care and kept saying our rosaries anyway because Mary promised the conversion of Russia and so let the miracles begin- her intercession is so powerful.

  34. It is interesting that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, a location named after a Muslim convert to Christianity. Similarly, I have read that the name Lourdes comes from a man named Louros, another Muslim convert to Christianity. Could it possibly be that Guadalupe or Garabandal are also named after Muslim converts?

  35. Concerning the name Lourdes coming from the name of a Muslim convert to Christianity, I found this in the following webpage: Hope the legend is true.

    “THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE RENAISSANCE: The castle stronghold—home to the Counts of Bigorre
    The legend of the eagles and the trout: In 778, Charlemagne lays siege to the fortress occupied by the Saracens. The legends tells of an eagle dropping a trout at the feet of Mirat, chief of Saracens, who offers it to Charlemagne to make him think that the castle is still well-stocked with food. The bishop of Puy-en-Velay, friend and companion of Charlemagne, proposes to Mirat that, as he does not wish to surrender to the king, he should surrender to the Blessed Virgin. Mirat accepts and is baptized under the name of Lorus. The castle, called Mirambel, now takes the name of Lorus, who gave his name to the town of Lourdes. In the 11th and 12th centuries, this site, virtually impregnable thanks to its system of enclosures, is the principle residence of the Counts of Bigorre. The fortress takes its definitive form in the 14th century with the construction of the keep, which dominates three other towers.”

  36. Matthew 10:40: He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive the reward of a prophet: and he that receiveth a just man in the name of a just man, shall receive the reward of a just man. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.:According to this, Muslims are receiving Jesus as a Prophet and as a Just Man,So that what the Muslims will receive.We from the other hand receive him as the Son of God and our Saviour with respect to the Gospel and that is what we will all receive. Jesus through his Mystical Body is representing all humanity in heaven seated on the right hand of the Father.To me it means that all humanity should live in harmony no matter what belief they live in to be able to represent Jesus on Earth. What happens afterwards it is not within our intelligence because through Jesus birth as the first man who was born without a sexual act and sinless and also through his death for all humanity He became the sole Authority of heaven and earth. There are no principals for Jesus to respect now for the simple reason that, the war is won forever. Jesus in Union with the Father,and also with the Spiritual Mother The Virgin Mary possess Infinite Love, Justice and Mercy and has the power to manoeuvre how he feels fit to please the Father.We in these days, should find a way to live in harmony,not try to convert all religions into one particular belief which is madness,and not possible for humans to achieve.The beauty of God’s Kingdom,I believe, is that we live in harmony in many mansions, even on earth.

  37. There are some crucial Moslem beliefs that need grasping. Moslems believe Adam and Eve, all the Old Testament prophets and even Jesus and Mary were born Moslems. We are all born Moslems however we are mislead into idolatries. All of these Jewish Prophets and Jesus are messngers of God. The passages in the Koran concerning the birth of Jesus under a palm tree and his talking after he was born is directly taken from Nestorian writings. After all Mohammed was friends with and protected initially by a Nestorian.
    So it follows that for Moslems other religions are corruptions and idol worshippers. The CRUCIAL point is we know Mohammed was NOT a prophet but rather a deluded, bood thirsty immoral deceiver. However Moslems think Jesus a prophet.
    From our angle they are following a false messenger, to them we are thinking God had a wife and son. We think Jesus is God but that is idolatry. So they are encourgaed to subdue is for denying the truth of their belief.

  38. For the Monsignor: Who am I to make a guess? But based on what has been revealed by those who have read the MESSAGE of the Third Secret, it treats of the “crisis of faith” WITHIN the Church. Our Lady called for the consecration of Russia (not the world) to her Immaculate Heart by the pope and bishops together. She said “Russia will spread her errors throughout the world.” What are the “errors) — notice the plural — of Russia. There are two in addition to atheistic communism. First and foremost is the error of schism. Second is the error of Zionism. As regards spreading throughout the world, atheism (materialism) and schism are everywhere, the former globally, the latter in the body of the Church. The “conversion” of Russia, promised by Mary (but “late”) will be her return to obedience to the Vicar of Christ. In order for Russia to convert, the Catholic Church has to be reformed, and the pope has to believe in his own authority. Pius IX had to make an act of Faith in his own definition on infallibility. The orthodox are not our “sisters” or “brothers” or the second “lung,” of the Church; the orthodox, who profess schism, are outside the Church.

    So, what do I think, personally, is in the Third Secret? A crisis of faith within the Church from the pope on down. THAT is why Sister Lucia had such a hard time writing it down!!! And what is the dogma of faith that will be universally lost, but preserved (among the simple faithful) in Portugal? Is it the whole sacred deposit? Or one foundational dogma? without which the whole vocation of the Church falls. I believe it is one fundamental dogma, which to deny, or weaken, is to undermine the whole Faith. That dogma can only be extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the “great Catholic dogma” as Cornelius a Lapide called it.

  39. J+M+J

    Watch this past December’s video with Catholic Austrian MP Ewald Stadler addressing a Turkish Ambassador. God bless him and protect him for his courage. May Archbishop Luigi Padovese and all those innocent Catholics so violently murdered and martyred by muslims for their faith in my Lord Jesus Christ rest in peace. Look at all the brutal killings of innocent Catholics just throughout this holy Christmas Season. Pray for the conversion of muslims. Maybe our Holy Mother will be the key to the evangelization of muslims. Here is Austrian MP Ewald Stadler video link:

    And at the bottom listen to a debate with Robert Spencer and Peter Kreeft. Robert Spencer is, by the way, on al qaeda’s death list for simply being critical of islam and islam terrorism. He has to have body guards at all times. His grandparents were forced to immigrate from an area that is now part of Turkey because they were Christians – sounds familiar? Spencer rejects the notion that all muslims are necessarily violent people and has said he would welcome any muslim who renounces jihad and “dhimmitude” [surrender to islamic demands] to join in his “anti-jihadist efforts”. No volunteers to his invitation thus far. In 2003 he founded Jihad Watch, a blog which brings public attention to what he describes as “the concerted effort by islamic jihadists to destroy non-muslim societies and bring them forcibly into the islamic world”. It‘s a lengthy video, but one both edifying and worth listening to when you have the time. Here’s the link:

    In Jesus Christ our Lord! God bless you.

  40. I notice Mary appears to Muslim converts and Catholics and I have no knowledge of Mary appearing to people on the Muslims behalf. Are there any appearances of Mary in the Islamic faith that people should know about?

    Mary for the Catholics, has given to them at least the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to Saint Simon Stock, The Medal of the Immaculate Conception (aka the Miraculous Medal) to Saint Catherine, and the Green Scapular to Justine Bisqueyburu. She has also appeared to Juan Diego in Guadaloupe, three children in Fatima, I don’t know that much about Lourdes, and still appearing to visionaries in Medjugorje on behalf of the Catholics. Her last apparition was to one of the visionaries from Medjugorje on January 2, 2011.

  41. I think Fatima is a clear message to muslims that Christianity is true. It would be as though Fatima (daughter of Mohammed) were appearing in Rome.

  42. I have often wondered what it would take for a vast Muslim conversion to Christianity. Perhaps if St. Francis had lived just a little longer…! But I do wonder if Mary might play some key roll? Perhaps there will be an apparition of some sort–perhaps she will prevent a battle from occurring. Perhaps there would be an apparition to multitudes of both faiths at the same time. Who knows? I guess what we are supposed to do is pray that all are converted and that we remain true to our faith.

  43. Neither you, kind father nor the saintly Bishop Sheen will make us any closer to Islam than our Mother in heaven did, when She made no mention of the Islam while she spoke on earth at Fatima. Instead of reading into something that isn’t there, why not accept that our Mother and Her Son demand that attention be paid to His Church and only His Church not the fairy tales of whimsey.

    1. Why appear at Fatima, a town named for Muhammad’s only daughter. As for you, I doubt our lady would be all that pleased at the way you ridicule the thoughts of others by calling the fairy tales and whimsey. Perhaps you could learn a little bit about mutual respect and allow the Lord to work on your arrogance a bit. You are of course free to differ with the content of this post, but why not do it more respectfully. I am after all your brother in faith.

  44. in the Name of God

    Dear Friends,

    as a Muslim, i thank you for this post and your discussion. The fact is that our Noble Qoran does speak of Saint Mary as the virgin mother of Jesus (peace be upon him) and as the Mistress of the women of the worlds in Sura Maryam.

    Actually the apparitions of 1917 are believed to be the apparition of his excellency Fatima, daughter of His Excellency Mohammad our cheerful Prophet (peace be upon him and his pure family) by many muslims.

    The very problem concerning this matter is that we are not sure to have all the informations about the circumstances of these apparitions and last but not least on the Messages sister Lucia had to tell us…

    Best regards

    The Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) says: “”The God is beautiful, He does like beauty”
    Also in the narrations: “what is religion if not love”.


  45. Our Lady of the Burqa, no covering can hide the beauty of your countenance, resplendent and penetrating to the heart and soul of all who gaze upon thee. You render diaphanous every attempt of man to hide the splendor and incomparable beauty, wrought by your Immaculate Conception, and the Incarnation of the Son of God in your most pure womb.

    You lay bare the futility of all those who claim a way to God without your Son, Jesus, who lovingly embraced the Holy Cross for the redemption of mankind in obedience to his Father’s will. You lay bear the hypocrisy of all who deny the Triune God in favor of a fickle god who contradicts his own ordering of good and evil with the claim of men-appointed clerics: “It is God’s will.” You lay bare the utter foolishness of self-proclaimed gods with self-deformed consciences who claim, “What is truth?” by revealing your only begotten Son, Jesus, as “the way, the truth, and the life.”

    Enlighten our minds to the providential unfolding of the Divine Rationale seeking our informed, free-will assent to the Truth.

    Liberate woman from the lustful, possessive, jealousy of men? Deliver men from their egotistical domination and exploitation of women, the environment, and worldly affairs.

    You, who best show the genius of womanhood by pointing out a practical human need to one having the power to address it, your Son; then asking those in attendance: “Do whatever he tells you.” Then, obedience! Is this not the answer to every human need, the solution to every human conflict, the pathway to peace?

    Let your feminine genius flourish in every human endeavor in a world in desperate need of your divinizing feminine touch.

    Deign to intercede on behalf of mankind, and introduce us anew to the most real, reasonable, and merciful God, Our Father, through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.


  46. Father I was at a Marian Conference on Long Island, NY seven years ago and met a young family of Muslims outside. The father asked me questions about Our Lady of Fatima whom he called, “St. Fatima”. He had a statue of her in his home. As I answered his questions about Our Lady, I sent my teenager in to buy him a book from the conference, telling her to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. She came back with a book about St. Michael just as he was telling me he had a statue of St. Michael as well!!.
    I was in awe, and wanted to continue evangelizing but I had to go to work, so I left him with my friends at the conference. They later told me the man went to an Italian priest (who is an exorcist) for prayer and was seen sobbing and praying! The man said he was an important member of a local mosque. It seems like he was converted thanks to Our Lady of Fatima!
    See what Our Lady can do?

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