Interview With Author John R. VanBuskirk
By Michael K. Jones

1. Why did you agree to do an interview with Medjugorje USA?

I have yet to say "no" to anyone who has asked for my input regarding the events and messages of Fatima (or any apparition), or God, or the mysteries of the Church. Medjugorje USA is a wonderful vehicle for delivering the Truth of Jesus Christ and the events / messages of the Medjugorje visionaries. My hope is to add value to your website and contribute to your audience's "faith base" by answering a few questions. In a personal way, I gain too because your questions force me to think and thus my "faith base" grows.

Also, I'm an author who is promoting a novel. The Medjugorje USA audience is a great target for my story. Your viewers are my target readers. They're interested (and knowledgeable) in apparitions, the Vatican, God, Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother. They have great faith in God but they are also forced to struggle in an often time evil, complex, material world. My novel addresses these areas.

Michael, thank you for this opportunity and for exposing me to your immense audience.

2. What inspired you to write your novel, "Secret of Fatima"?

My Catholic religion is important to me, as is human spirituality. Religious writing is a challenge that has forced me to consider who I truly am while forcing me to also consider Who God truly is. I have learned humility from this exercise. Writing has also forced me to look at the mysteries of the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the Church in ways that most people will never consider. This effort has blessed me with a special relationship with God.

I specifically wrote "Secret of Fatima" because I have a devotion for the Blessed Mother and I wanted to clearly express my understanding of Our Lady to others. The events and messages of Fatima are so important, that I felt compelled to write to a large un-informed audience.

I routinely attend daily Mass, pray the Rosary, and meditate on the Stations of the Cross, and writing has been a means for me to educate others on the power of these practices. Many Catholics have never been exposed to the wonderful notions of contemplation, mystic prayer, and the monastic lifestyle. My novel was a vehicle for me to spark a reader's interest in these areas. The same can be said about great Catholic writers and mystics. "Secret of Fatima" gave me the opportunity to introduce a new audience to Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross.

3. What is the novel about?

"Secret of Fatima" is an action and suspense novel centered on the eighty-year-old Roman Catholic mystery. The story is set prior to the secret being revealed publicly. It describes the Vatican and CIA battling to recover the text that's been stolen from papal archives. The Vatican, fearing the repercussion of an unplanned public announcement, chooses to mask the robbery, silence the thieves, and recover the text. The confrontation pits a monk and former CIA agent against the partner who betrayed him and the woman he once loved.

4. It's rare to find factual religious events woven around a fictional-based story. What was your reasoning for such an unusual approach?

I wrote a novel that contained intrigue, romance, and gun-play with the hope of drawing-in a secular audience (perhaps an unsuspecting audience) who had never considered my religious subject matter - God, Christianity, Fatima, etc. Besides entertaining a reader, I have real hope of changing lives and enlightening people.

I've received several letters in which parents are explaining the Rosary to their children in a new way. One lady has been performing visual prayer and is ecstatic about the insights that it has led to. I am extremely proud to have made a difference.

5. Why are the events and messages of Fatima the subject of your story?

I struggled with story-lines for months, when the notion struck me. I knew immediately that I had something special because the authentic secret of Fatima had been captivating millions for almost five decades. It had been a source (and remains a source) of controversy and speculation. To get the interest a large secular audience, I could think of nothing better than a story about someone breaking into the Vatican and ending the mystery by reading the secret to the world. Focusing on the events and messages of Fatima, having the clergy (cardinals, priests and monks) be my primary characters, and locating the story in the Vatican allowed me to write naturally about God, Christ, the Blessed Mother, the Rosary, etc. rather than forcing these subjects in to a story-line.

6. What are your thoughts of actual "third secret" of Fatima released to the public June 26, 2000?

When I learned in May that the secret was to be released, I was mentally and spiritually twisted-and-torn. My human nature was devastated that my just released novel would be of no interest (since the subject of my story would no longer be a secret). My spiritual nature, however, jumped with enthusiasm. What a blessed time I was living in - to be able to read a divinely inspired letter - one dictated by the Mother of God. In the end, the release helped my book sales incredibly and was truly a blessing.

The text is unprecedented. It is undoubtedly the most prophetic apparition of our time and delivers a vision that I believe is yet to be fulfilled. "Penance, Penance, Penance" is clearly a call to action. How many times have we heard John Paul II stress, "The Fatima message is more urgent now than ever!" The message is "Penance!"

Secondly, it is no accident that the text begins with a spectacular vision of the Blessed Lady protecting the world from the flashing sword of justice. It is Mary who clearly continues to intercede for mankind by holding back the flames with her right hand. How can we not have a special devotion to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart? How can we ignore Her warning, "Penance, Penance, Penance?

Finally, the text delivers a vision of the Holy Father being killed at the foot of the Cross. In its writing, the Vatican states that Lucia and John Paul II believe that this horrendous event occurred in 1981 when our Holy Father was shot.

7. Is there one aspect of the Fatima apparitions that has deeply moved you in some way?

Interestingly, my assumptions regarding the third secret were disturbingly accurate. Readers will discover that I use the same words in my novel that Cardinal Sodano proclaimed on May 13th - "that the Popes of the second millennium walked the interminable Way of the Cross!" I coincidentally describe Pope John XXIII struggling up Calvary along with an assembly of religious and lay persons. At the summit, the Holy Father has become Pope John Paul II, who is killed by soldiers. My novel has him dying on the Cross, while Lucia's vision places him under it.

One night while praying the rosary and driving home from the airport, I had a flash of insight - the vision (the secret of Fatima) that I would deliver to my readers in my novel. It was all very sudden but incredibly vivid. I drove with one hand clutching my rosary and steering the car, while the other hand covered my mouth as if to stifle a scream or cry. Tears filled my eyes to the point that I had to pull off at an exit. The most disturbing part of the vision was John Paul's cherub face - so bloody and dirty from the journey - so sad for what mankind was doing to him. So sad for what mankind was doing to the Church.

When I read Lucia's text, I knew in my heart that the 1981 assassination attempt was not the fulfillment of the third secret of Fatima. John Paul II, as the incarnation of the Roman Catholic Church, will be forced to Walk the Way of the Cross. As St. Augustine stated so boldly, this tragedy must occur so that the Church can rise in even greater glory.

8. I have always admired Jacinta for the sufferings she took upon herself for the sake of the poor sinners. Will you share some of Jacinta's sufferings and your thoughts of Jacinta?

Jacinta Marto will be the youngest non-martyr to be canonized a saint. After the apparitions, which occurred when she was seven, Jacinta developed a great devotion to converting sinners and saving souls from hell. She constantly performed acts of mortification and asceticism. She fasted and went without water for days. She wore a knotted rope-belt around her waist that caused great discomfort. At night, she would attempt to lie in one position without moving and she'd pray. As she battled the pleurisy that would eventually take her life, the Blessed Mother asked Jacinta if she'd like to suffer still more and convert even more sinners. The little girl, who was in great pain and very much under weight, eagerly accepted.

Part of my novel is located in a monastery where Trappist monks subject themselves to the rules, observances, fasts, and labors of the contemplative lifestyle. I marvel at the devotion and discipline of these special men. When I compare the mortifications and sacrifices that Jacinta performed with those of the Trappists, I realize that age and physical maturity have nothing to do with faith and executing a deeply inspired devotion. Furthermore, when I compare Jacinta's asceticism with my own practices (fasting Wednesdays and Fridays, trying to attend Mass and recite a Rosary daily) I am deeply humbled.

The key to Jacinta's outlook on suffering was her profound knowledge that Heaven awaited her. She understood that the pain from fasting and the mortifications she endured were temporal - they would end. She also understood that the joy of Heaven was eternal. The amazing thing about Jacinta was that she aspired to spread that joy to all mankind. She aspired to elevate sinners, who were not capable of saving themselves, by performing acts of reparation on their behalf. She is certainly a saint to be admired.

9. The "Miracle of the Sun" that occurred October 13, 1917 was witnessed by thousands. Will you describe the event and your thoughts?

It was estimated that 70,000 people gathered in pasture where the apparitions occurred. Shortly after noon, the Blessed Mother appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta and spoke: "I am the Lady of the Rosary. The world must not offend Our Lord any more. Pray for His forgiveness. Say the Rosary. Say it every day." She pointed to the sun that was hidden behind storm clouds. The crowd discovered that the sun, which was slowly emerging through the clouds, was not its usual brilliance but rather pale like the moon. The people watched in amazement as the dull silver disk began to whirl in the sky. It began casting off rays of multi-colored light. Faster and faster it spun, emitting shafts of red, green, violet, and yellow. The crowd which was spellbound, watched the spectacle for nearly twelve minutes. Then the strange sun stopped spinning and stood still in the sky - but only momentarily. Suddenly, it began falling towards the earth. The onlookers, terrified that the fiery ball was to crash upon them, shrieked. The terrified crowd, feeling the growing heat, fell to their knees imploring God to stop the coming tragedy! And then the miracle ceased. In a flash, the sun resumed its normal place in the sky and radiated brightly and naturally and mercifully.

The thing that I take from this miraculous event is that the public so quickly downplayed this spectacular event which was caught on camera and witnessed by newspaper men. I wonder how quickly the world will dismiss the great sign prophesized by so many visionaries. In my mind's eye, I can vividly picture the Israelites dancing before the golden calf. Do you realize that they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea only seven weeks prior to that pagan celebration?

How easily the Divine is downplayed and the miraculous forgotten.

10. Will you summarize what the Fatima apparitions mean to you?

The Fatima apparitions remind be to be mindful. Mindful that sin exists in the world today. Mindful that I am a sinner. And mindful that acts of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice are not only necessary for the salvation of my own soul but also for the souls in purgatory. The apparitions also remind me that the Blessed Mother is present in our world today, as well as in Heaven, interceding for mankind. Through the three shepherd children, she provided you and me with the remedies that can cure our world - penance, fasting, and prayer. She invites us to accept these remedies and to accept Her Son as Redeemer and King.

11. Over the past few decades, there has been a growing number of reported apparitions in the world. Many of the visionaries warn us of troubled times ahead. Do you agree? How should the world respond?

Whenever there is an insurgence of evil in the world, there is an equal insurgence of grace. Nobody will deny that the demonic has taken over the minds and hearts and souls of millions in the world today. Over the past few decades, sad statistics continue to grow in the areas of violence, abortion, divorce, illegitimacy, etc. Why are there so many apparitions? Because there is so much sin in the world today. Our Lady is our protector, our intercessor, our advocate.

How can there not be troubled times ahead when mankind focuses on itself and neglects God. How should the world respond? Through the Peace Plan of Mary - prayer, reconciliation, and sacrifice. Be mindful that we live in a sinful time. Be mindful that God is merciful. Act on Our Ladies Peace Plan. Remember that Lucia affirms that faith and prayer are forces that can influence history and that in the end, prayer is more powerful than bullets and faith is more powerful than armies.

12. One of the apparitions not yet approved by the Catholic Church is Medjugorje. Do you believe in the events taking place there?

Without question, I believe in Medjugorje and I eagerly await reading the monthly message from the Medjugorje USA website.

Recall that it took the Vatican 16-17 years to authenticate the events of Fatima. Remember too, that the apparitions of Fatima were monthly and occurred over a six month period. The events of Medjugorje are unprecedented in the fact they have been occurring daily for twenty years now. I believe that once the final visionary stops receiving daily apparitions, that the Congregation of Faith will rapidly declare the events of Medjugorje as authentic.

The Church is always cautious with its rendering on the supernatural - it will quickly denounce a private revelation that moves us away from Christ and the Gospel, but it must apply the test of time for those like Medjugorje.

The Disciplinary Office of the Vatican's Congregation of Faith will base its decision on Medjugorje on one thing: the apparitions' orientation to Christ Himself. If the visionaries are ever found to be leading us away from Christ, or if their revelations become independent of Him, or it the seers present another (or better plan) for salvation, then the apparitions are certainly not from the Holy Spirit. After twenty years, the Congregation has yet to declare any of the messages as inappropriate. Since messages continue to be communicated, messages must continue to be tested - and the authentication process must continue as well.

13. What aspects of the Medjugorje apparitions interest you?

The notion of a great sign occurring in our future corresponding with a moment in which all of mankind views his/her own soul is fascinating. It is so incredible but then again, it's completely logical when you consider what we know about our Creator. God, who is all merciful, loves the sinner and gives the sinner every opportunity to reconcile. God is the father of the prodigal son. Christ is the shepherd who leaves his obedient flock and searches for the stray lamb. When you know God, it makes perfect sense that He will gift us with a supernatural sign and also allow us to view our own souls. By doing this, God allows us to clearly witness His greatness - which is so important to people with little or teetering faith. By holding out our souls for us to view, God will allow us to not only understand what we have done in our lives to offend Him (as well as failed to do) but also understand what is necessary for us to reconcile our relationship with Him.

Remember, Christ said from the cross, "Forgive them Father, they know not what they've done." We'll know and we'll have the opportunity to do something about it. Think about how marvelous that will be.

14. Why do you believe a chastisement will come to the world?

Since the beginning of time, God has always loved the sinner. Think of David and Magdalene, and Paul, and Peter. God so often appears to abandon his flock (those of us who try to honor Him) for the sinner. The fact that a chastisement hasn't occurred yet supports this sentiment. But someday, God's mercy will shift from the lost souls and focus instead on the minority who tries so hard to honor him. The chastisement for them will not be something to fear but something to embrace. The greatest sin of our generation is that we deny the existence of sin. Abortion is freedom of choice. Pornography is freedom of expression. We are told that tolerance is next to Godliness and so on and so forth. When a society denies sin, it ignores (or pushes away) the merciful nature of God. In a way, the society prevents God from being who He truly is - all merciful and all loving. I believe there will be a chastisement because the world will not allow God to be who He truly is. We will deny sin and thus deny God. A great sign in the sky and the ability to see ourselves as God sees us will be our Father's final act of mercy - and then BANG - a chastisement will come to the world. And God help those who have not sought reconciliation.

15. If man was to have a change of heart and return to God, what changes would take place in our lives and on earth?

I believe that mankind has the ability to move this planet back towards Paradise. Think about the technology we have today, and the capabilities of mass production, and our agricultural potential. Undoubtedly, mankind has the potential of feeding, clothing, immunizing, educating, and sheltering every individual in the world today. I really believe this.

What mankind doesn't have, however, is the desire to accomplish these tremendous acts. We're up to the challenge of splitting the atom, and inhabiting space stations, and being virtually anyplace at anytime.. but we just can't justify applying our tremendous capabilities in order to share and care for our brothers and sisters - there's no profit, no return.

Why? Because the demonic has control of society's hearts and ambitions, its sense of worth and its judgement. Satan has instilled fear and selfishness and apathy and greed into our society. He's confused us and rushed us. He's made us paranoid and, in so many instances, just made us plain tired. We have become a perversed and obsessive society. I want it and I want it now. More is better. New is better than used (or repaired). Style is everything. Celebrity holds our truths and wisdom. Tolerance is next to Godliness.

And on and on.

When our hearts return to God, the cataract of satan's illusions will fall from society's eyes and we will see the world as it truly is - so far from Paradise. But we will also see the world as it could be and should be. With the mind of Christ, we will apply our great technologies, and capabilities, and potential and begin moving back towards Paradise.

16. What is your hope for this world?

My hope is for my family and friends, acquaintances and strangers to come to know God. Be mindful that your existence is not some cosmic accident and that there is a God who made you unique from all other creatures in the world. Be mindful that God did not make us perfect and that we will mess-up and we will sin. Be mindful that God embraces the sinner and in a way, sin allows God to be who He is. Don't deny that sin happens because you must remember that you are a temporal being. You will die and you will be judged. Turn-off your electronic games, and cell phones, and cable television, and high speed technology, and for a moment listen to the silence. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

Now that you are mindful of all this, my hope is that you can make decisions with a mind of Christ. Now that you are mindful, my hope is that you will act with the mind of Christ.

17. What current projects are you working on?

I'm working on "The Art of War by Lucifer (Satan's Blueprint)". The writing lays-out Satan's strategy and framework for controlling our world and enslaving God's creatures. It's a strategy that was initiated shortly after Adam was created and it's been executed ever since. I describe the epic, starting at the time of Creation. I identify Satan's key victories, detail man's evolution (or de-evolution), describe today's battlefield, and Satan's key upcoming battles.

I'm also working on "Repopulating Christendom". There was a time when Catholics across the world believed they belonged to a special group. This group was a sort of nation, (Christendom) that had its political, economical, moral, social, and legal life inspired by the Gospel ethic. That nation has vanished. Abortion, the take down of family life, dishonesty, and even the natural virtues on which Catholic supernatural virtues are based are being discredited. "Repopulating Christendom" is my attempt to educate two generations (my children's and my peer's) to the notion of Christendom and to describe universal practices, sentiments, and Truths that made the nation great.

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