I believe there can be group hypnosis or group hysteria but when it comes to a crowd of 70,ooo (that is an average of the crowd at Fatima; one reliable estimate was as high as 100,000), whoa. You don’t sway that kind of crowd without a speaker who can be heard. The three shepherd children Our Lady, in her humility had picked, had no amplifying sound system. And nobody could see what they said they saw.
Of course there were people there who wanted to see the whole thing fail and become a laughing stock. Apparently things turned out just the opposite. There are many, still, inexplicable things on this earth, leave alone in the universe, that perplex scientists and cognoscenti, but we’ve been able to take some of them as a challenge, and the Keeper of Secrets has been willing to let them go. (Quantum mechanics still mystifies and awes, while evolution is now recognized as God’s modus operandi.)
Our knowledge is still changing, and we have so much to be grateful for. My granddaughter has been urged by her fourth grade teacher to read, and read, and tonight she called up her grandmother to thank her for the books she’d been gifted. As John the Evangelist said, “God (and His knowledge) is Love.”
It was 102 years ago, in a place ninety miles from the country’s capital, Lisbon, Portugal (I was caught there in 1942, sliding on the banister of the stairs in the American Embassy). The government in Portugal in 1917 on October 13 was Marxist, and because the newspapers had inadvertently publicized the scheduled miracle by criticizing it and making fun of it, the entire side of the mountain at Fatima was covered with 70,000 citizens. Thus the setting of the Miracle of the Sun, performed by the Almighty for the mother of his Son.
Witnesses from the 70,000 said although it had rained for hours that morning, and everyone was soaked, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds, spinning like a pinwheel and exuding all the colors of the spectrum, which dotted all the spectators with gules of light. It seemed to dip within about 500 meters of them all, and when it returned to its place in the sky, their clothes and the ground were dry. This was witnessed by people within a 400 square mile area, even those who were not attending on Fatima mountain.
Some scientists who saw it said it was a mass hypnosis or collective suggestion, which in English translates to “mass hysteria.” Mass hysteria for 70,000 people, some of whom turned purposely away?
anyway, we’re commemorating that day in Syosset.
There are people knocking on our
Southern door, begging to get into a country where they can find work, get an
education, and acquire some of the finer things of life. Sure, while they may be uneducated, they are
members of Western Civilization, not people who have to be taught the rudiments
of civilization. Are there criminals
among them? There are criminals among whatever
mix of humanity you can find. There are
criminals among your Park Ave. residents.
say welcome them. You don’t have to give
them citizenship right away. Let them
work for it, like my father did. They’ll
be grateful for it; they learned gratitude with their mother’s milk.
cannot keep the world’s benefits without sharing, without mercy, without
spreading them. And they have learned
from us to grow into Nobel laureates, inventors, artists, leaders. No Castros, no Maduros from the U.S. taught
immigrants. Most people revere their teachers.
Yes, the St. Mary’s grammar school
eighth grade boys decided to play the Plandome Road School boys in an informal
game of football. They didn’t plan well,
because not everybody had a helmet, and Plandome Road had a player nobody yet
knew. His name was Jim Brown, and he was
from the Valley. (That’s the same Jim
Brown who went on to play all sports at Manhasset High, on to Syracuse and the
the St. Mary’s boys soon realized they had a “good” opponent, and he was big
for an eighth grader, but John, who later became a dentist, said, “Wait ‘til he
carries the ball. I’ll tackle him.”
the next time Jim came around the end with the ball, John was a halfback. He zeroed in on Jim Brown – and bounced right
off him. Well, God took care of both Jim
Brown and John. Jim Brown was on the
sports page most of his life, and John took care of my teeth.
I was among a crowd of mostly women, the
people who bear the country’s weight of education—it was the seasonal meeting
of the Levittown Retired Teachers. I was
at a table opposite two young grade school teachers from the Abbey Lane School,
fourth and third grade respectively, and I knew I was looking at the face of
God’s angels. Of course by “young” I
meant younger than I.
were attentive to my contributions to the conversation, and I found out one
came from Middle Island and the other from Niagara Falls. They were discreet. When we discussed politics they merely
acknowledged Donald Trump made some courtesy errors, and when I mentioned my
Catholic education, they quickly admitted they’d been educated in Catholic
schools. One was Polish, and before the
meeting was over we agreed the Poles had effected the end of Western
Civilization’s bout with Communism.
I was at the diner cash register, paying
for Loretta’s and my brunch bill on a Sunday morning, and the cashier had just
handed me two fives and three singles in change. I took them in my right hand and stepped back
a bit, bumping into a guy about my age who had been standing way too
close. I turned to my left to apologize,
and felt the bills in my right hand rustling.
The guy on my right was also way too close.
But I’m not that old. I had a tight grip on the bills in my right hand and my wallet was still firmly in my left. When I told this to Loretta later, she said, “Your novelist’s imagination is getting the better of you.” Could be. I replied I was tempted to give the guy on my right the whole fist full of money with a “Here, you need this more than I do.”
“I ask that…prayers…be offered for everyone…that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life.” That’s what I heard from St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, as he called himself, two hours earlier at Mass. Good thing I didn’t get too Celtic (Yes, some of the Swiss are Celtic from Caesar’s time).
I just had a meal you can’t get in a
restaurant. Loretta has perfected her
stew-making ability. The meat was
tender, the Vidalia onions savory, the carrots and potatoes practically melted
on the tongue. And to top it off, I made
a plum pie the old-country way. It wasn’t
much for looks. It looked like a boy
scout made it to pass his cooking merit badge.
But I got all the ingredient proportions right (I guessed at some of
them) and the resulting taste was heavenly—two jiggers of kirsch in the
custard, two eggs, milk, flour, and of course the brown sugar, plums, and cinnamon.
Europeans (after all, this is Western civilization) like their plum pies
uncovered, and saftig (juicy), with
the custard absorbing the excess juice.
Make that Italian plums. And the
crust is usually crispy, not flaky. It
was a perfect evening, and Loretta remembered her psych nurse training to make
me feel the pie was excellent, despite its looks.