Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mary and the Muslims

Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham posted a link to a fascinating and provocative mid-20th century article by then Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (he later became archbishop, and is now being considered for sainthood). The topic of Sheen's article is the Blessed Mother's connection to Islam.

Although not too clear on the historical specifics, I knew that Fatima, Portugal, had been occupied by Islamic powers centuries ago. I have always assumed that the city of Fatima was named for the prophet Mohammed's daughter. Bishop Sheen's article explains that the source of the name is far more romantic, involving an interfaith marriage between a Catholic young man and a Muslim girl named Fatima.

The article also details the Islamic reverence towards the Blessed Mother, something I had been vaguely aware of but had not known the depths of its fervence. He then suggests that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, might well be the conduit through which Our Lord may reach the people of Islam.

Sheen offers his conclusion that the Blessed Mother's powerful and uniquely significant role in the spiritual history of humanity may not yet be complete. Her visitations to the shepherd children in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, became world famous and gave the Blessed Mother one of her most well-known titles, Our Lady of Fatima (pictured). It is within the realm of reason that God would once again, in our current Islamic world crisis, apply her faithful willingness to do His will as a key component in His plan to "deliver us from evil."

On this subject, Bishop Sheen may have been light years ahead of his time.