”…we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand; pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried out in a loud voice: “Penance, Penance, Penance!”
On May 13, 2000, Francisco and Jacinta were beatified by Pope John Paul II at Fátima. This gave added credence to the horrific vision of Hell Our Lady showed to the three young children on July 13, 1917. Lúcia stated: “This vision lasted but an instant.”
It was so grotesque that the children stated: “How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother who had already prepared us by promising, in the first apparition, to take us to Heaven? Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.” Jacinta was only seven years old; yet, Our Lady did not spare her from that vision of Hell.
After this vision, Our Lady told them: “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.
“The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
Our Lady then told Lúcia: “When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”
Mary sternly warned us that, ”…if people do not cease offending God…” the world would be punished by means of wars, famines, and persecutions of the Church. Indeed, all too soon, the elements for these scenarios were being fulfilled and, by the end of 1918, anti-clerical Communism had marshaled its followers in two nations: Portugal and Russia.
In October 1918, exactly one year after that miracle of the Sun in Fátima, a young corporal fighting for the Germans in World War I was blinded in a mustard gas attack. He was sent to a military hospital where he eventually recovered his sight. By 1924, he had written a book entitled Mein Kampf which would list his desires for a world conquest by a super race.
Thus began the meteoric ascent of Adolf Hitler in Germany. This would culminate in another war, that “…worse one” Our Lady warned about. It eventually became known as World War II.
On October 29, 1929, owing to an over inflated stock market, the Wall Street Crash occurred. It was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States and signaled the beginning of the Great Depression that affected all Western industrialized countries. The economic depression that ensued engulfed the entire world. It didn’t end in the United States until 1947, several years after World War II was over.
As if the depression wasn’t difficult enough, over-farming of the prairies began. Whether through ignorance or greed, the plains were so overworked that the protection of the native grasses that grew there was decimated. Thus, when an extremely long dry spell occurred, the infamous Dust Bowl began. It ravaged mid-America. In 1932, fourteen dust storms were recorded on the Plains; in 1933, there were thirty-eight storms.
By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of farmland had lost most or all of the topsoil to the winds. In 1935, the entire month of April consisted of a series of dust storms which pummeled the Plains; yet, nothing they had ever seen prepared them for the cloud that appeared on the horizon on the 14th. The storm winds were clocked at 60 mph, reaching its apex on what is now referred to as Black Sunday. No one was spared from its ravages!
Those who survived inhaled so much dust into their lungs that they were stricken with permanent lung diseases. Children had to be relocated away from their families in order to live, some never to see their parents or siblings again. There was nothing to come back to: no topsoil; no people; the Oakies had all moved westward, settling mostly in California. A movie The Grapes of Wrath chronicled this difficult time for the farming people of Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Then, in the evening of January 25-26, 1938, the prophetic sign Our Lady warned about in 1917 was fulfilled. I was only five-and-a-half years old at the time and can vividly remember standing in the street until quite late with my parents in Baltimore, Maryland, wondering at this ghostly phenomenon. We were entranced by the dancing, changing hues covering the entire sky. An aurora borealis had rarely been seen in that area before, and never that color.
This aurora was seen over the whole of Europe, across the Atlantic to Bermuda and Southern California, and as far as Southern Australia. The color throughout Europe was of a distinct blood-red hue. Londoners actually thought their entire city was aflame. Many alarms were rung as the fire departments dashed about in all directions.
In England, a hook-and-ladder brigade was summoned to Windsor Castle to put out a nonexistent fire. In Bermuda, people thought that a ship at sea was on fire. In some quarters it was assumed the world was coming to an end!
Steamship agents took the precaution of checking with wireless stations to inquire if there had been any SOS calls. This phenomenon was also responsible for delaying express trains on the Manchester to Sheffield line: electrical disturbances hit the signaling apparatus.
There was interference with short wave radio sets and teletype systems at the local office of the Western Union were started without human intervention. They, too, thought the world was coming to an end.
I’ve seen many diverse night skies at sea but never any similar to that one. It wasn’t until much later that I learned how unusual that aurora truly was. Astronomers in New England said the lights differed from previous aurorae. That difference was attributable to the intensity of the color and the direction of the beams, instead of appearing as usual in parallel lines.
It appeared as a low-altitude red aurora which only happens during intense geomagnetic storms. The immense arcs of crimson light – with shifting areas of green and blue – radiated from this brilliant auroral crown near its zenith. Normal aurorae are red on top with extremely red hues, and green on the bottom.
However, in the all-red aurorae, the low-energy electrons strike the upper atmosphere. The red light is the ejection from atomic oxygen; however, when the electrons don’t have enough energy to penetrate the lower altitudes of this planet, they cause ejection of the normal green hues.
Sr. Lúcia later confirmed that this was the “…unknown light…” Our Lady warned about in Fatima in July 13, 1917 when she emphatically stated: “When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”
Fifteen days later, on February 10, 1938, Adolf Hitler addressed the Reichstag about the Rearmament of Germany, thereby breaking The Treaty of Versailles that was signed on June 28, 1919. The war that followed was the worst in history! It was the first time civilians were deliberately bombed. The toll on humans was incalculable for it was impossible to keep records of all those who were injured.
Finally, after enduring five years of horrific battles and millions of dead, the free world overcame the tremendous obstacles and won the war.
However, even in the early 1950s, most of the world continued to suffer, especially those whose infrastructure and governments had been completely destroyed. It invariably involved a struggle for control of the destiny of nations and the ensuing power.
Many people wondered if the third part of the secret of Fátima contained a solution: after all, Sr. Lúcia said it could be revealed either after 1960, or upon her death, subject to which ever occurred first. Would it contain a solution for our troubles; perhaps a further chastisement; an apocalyptic struggle for survival? Only Sr. Lúcia and various popes knew for certain.
The Vatican states that the sealed envelope containing the secret was initially in the custody of the bishop of Leiria. The bishop of Leiria informed Sr. Lúcia of this; also, he advised her he had not read the contents of the envelope. On April 4, 1957, in order to ensure better protection for the secret, the envelope was placed in the Secret Archives of the Holy Office in Rome.
On August 17, 1959, with the agreement of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the envelope containing the third part of the secret of Fátima was brought to Pope John XXIII by Fr. Pierre Paul Philippe, O.P. After some hesitation, His Holiness said, “We will wait. I shall pray. I shall let you know what I decide.”
In fact, what he decided to do was to return the sealed envelope to the Holy Office without revealing any information concerning the third part of that secret, the as yet undisclosed portion of the message.
Like many others who were aware of Our Lady of Fátima’s efforts, I wrote to Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani in the early 1960s, asking if he could reveal its contents. Cardinal Ottaviani sent a courteous response that His Holiness judged it better not to do that, stating quite clearly that, for reasons only the Church was privy to, “…It was a personal message for the Pope, and he alone could choose to reveal its contents.”
In 1964, during the solemn closing ceremonies at the end of the third session of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI renewed Pius XII’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On March 27, 1965, Paul VI read the contents of the third part of the secret in that envelope but decided not to publish the text. Instead, he returned the envelope to the Archives of the Holy Office, determined it did not refer to his time.
On May 13, 1965, as he had announced at the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI presented the Golden Rose in Fátima through his Papal Legate, commending the whole Church to Our Lady of Fátima’s care. Two years later, on May 13, 1967, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Fátima apparition, the Holy Father went on another pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima. Paul VI died on August 6, 1978; the third part of the secret remained unrevealed to the public.
John Paul I was elected Pope on August 26, 1978; however, he died on September 29, 1978, only thirty-three days after his election. It is therefore unknown whether he had the opportunity to read the contents of the envelope.
Pope St. John Paul II exhibited his approval of Fátima many times, visiting there on the 13th of May in 1982, 1991 and 2000.
During his homily at the Mass in Fátima on May 13, 1982, he said: “The appeal of the Lady of the Message of Fátima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the Message imposes a commitment on Her. The Message is addressed to every human being…Because of the continuing increase of sin and the dangers, such as nuclear war now threatening humanity, the Message of Fátima is more urgent and relevant in our time than it was when Our Lady appeared 65 years ago.
“Today, John Paul II, successor of St. Peter, presents himself before the Mother of the Son of God in Her Shrine at Fátima. In what way does he come? He presents himself reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fátima 65 years ago.
“Yes, he reads it again with trepidation in his heart because he sees how many people and societies, how many Christians have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the Message of Fátima. Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.”
John Paul II made the Feast day of Our Lady of Fátima universal by ordering it to be included in the Roman Missal. While he was recuperating from the assassination attempt in Rome on May 13, 1981 – a date which coincided with the 64th anniversary of the apparitions in 1917 – he requested the envelope containing the third part of the secret of Fátima.
On July 18, 1981, Franjo Cardinal Šeper – then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – gave two envelopes to Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo: one white envelope containing Sr. Lúcia’s original text in Portuguese; the other, orange, with the Italian translation of the secret.
John Paul II opened the envelope and read the contents. On the following 11th of August, Archbishop Martínez returned the two envelopes to the Archives of the Holy Office.
As is well known, John Paul II immediately thought of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He, himself, then composed a prayer for what he called an Act of Entrustment.
It is quite likely that the Holy Father had previously communicated this with Sr. Lúcia regarding the meaning of the final part of the secret because, on May 12, 1982, she wrote to the Holy Father giving an indication for his interpretation of the third part of the message [secret]:
“The third part of the secret refers to Our Lady’s words: ‘If not [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.’
“The third part of the secret is a symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message itself asks of us: ‘If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, etc.’ Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors.
“And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfillment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc.
“And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness, God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us; hence people are responsible.”
In order to respond more fully to the requests of Our Lady, during the Holy Year of the Redemption, the Holy Father desired to make the Act of Entrustment of May 7, 1981 more explicit. Although it had been repeated in Fátima on May 13, 1982, the Holy Father asked Sr. Lúcia if the consecration was done in accordance with Mary’s request.
However, she responded negatively with the following: “Our Lady clearly stated: ‘…God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.”’
Finally, on March 25, 1984 in St. Peter’s Square, while recalling the fiat uttered by Mary at the Annunciation, the Holy Father, in spiritual union with the Bishops of the world who had been convoked beforehand, entrusted all men and women and all peoples to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in terms which recalled the heartfelt words spoken in 1981, which began:
“O Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and their hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart.
“Embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples. In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.”
When His Holiness inquired of Lúcia if this consecration had been accepted by Heaven, she responded in the affirmative by way of a letter, dated November 8, 1989. In that correspondence, she personally confirmed that this solemn and universal act of consecration corresponded to what Mary wished, stating: “Yes, it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984.”
We know for certain that Christ told Sr. Lúcia the Holy Father “…will do it but it will be late.” Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to her.”
“On April 27, 2000, a meeting took place in the Carmel in Coimbra, between Lúcia, Archbishop Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the bishop of Leiria-Fátima. Sister Lúcia was lucid and at ease; she was very happy that the Holy Father was going to Fátima for the Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, something she had looked forward to for a long time.
The bishop of Leiria-Fátima read the autographed letter of the Holy Father, which explained the reasons for the visit. Sister Lúcia felt honored by this and reread the letter herself, contemplating it in own her hands. She said that she was prepared to answer all questions frankly.
“At this point, Archbishop Bertone presented two envelopes to her: the first containing the second, which held the third part of the secret of Fátima. Immediately, she said: ‘This is my letter’ and then, while reading it, said: ‘This is my writing.’
The original text, in Portuguese, was read and interpreted with the help of the bishop of Leiria-Fátima. Sister Lúcia agreed with the interpretation that the third part of the secret was a prophetic vision, similar to those in sacred history.”
“She repeated her conviction that the vision of Fátima concerns above all the struggle of Communism (atheistic Socialism)i against the Church and against Christians, and describes the terrible sufferings of the victims of the faith in the twentieth century.
When she was asked: ‘Is the principal figure in the vision the pope?’ Sister Lúcia replied at once that it was. She recalled that the three children were very sad about the suffering of the pope, and that Jacinta kept saying: ‘Poor Holy Father, I am very sad for sinners!’
“Sister Lúcia continued: ‘We did not know the name of the pope; Our Lady did not tell us the name of the pope; we did not know whether it was Benedict XV, or Pius XII, or Paul VI, or John Paul II, but it was the pope who was suffering and that made us suffer too.’
“As regards the passage about the bishop dressed in white, that is, the Holy Father: the children immediately realized this during the vision, who is struck dead and falls to the ground, Sister Lúcia was in full agreement with the pope’s claim in May 13, 1994, that: ‘…it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the pope halted at the threshold of death.’
“On June 17, 1944, before giving the sealed envelope containing the third part of the secret to the bishop of Leiria-Fátima, Sister Lúcia wrote on the outside envelope that it could be opened only after 1960, either by the Patriarch of Lisbon or the Bishop of Leiria. Archbishop Bertone therefore asked: ‘Why only after 1960? Was it Our Lady who fixed that date?’
Sister Lúcia replied: ‘It was not Our Lady. I fixed the date because I had the intuition that before 1960 it would not be understood, but that only later would it be understood. Now it can be better understood. I wrote down what I saw; however it was not for me to interpret it, but for the pope.’
“Finally, mention was made of the unpublished manuscript Os apelos da Mensagem de Fátima which Sister Lúcia has prepared as a reply to the many letters that come from Marian devotees and from pilgrims. She was asked if she would be happy to have it published, and she replied: ‘If the Holy Father agrees, then I am happy, otherwise I obey whatever the Holy Father decides.’
“The action of God, the Lord of history, and the co-responsibility of man in the drama of his creative freedom, are the two pillars upon which human history is built. Our Lady, who appeared at Fátima, recalls these forgotten values. She reminds us that man’s future is in God, and that we are active and responsible partners in creating that future.”
“Sister Lúcia wants to present the text for ecclesiastical approval, and she hopes that what she has written will help to guide men and women of good will along the path that leads to God, the final goal of every human longing. The conversation ends with an exchange of rosaries. Sister Lúcia is given a rosary sent by the Holy Father, and she in turn offers a number of rosaries made by her. The meeting concludes with a blessing.
‘Finally, on June 26, 2000 in Fátima, Pope John Paul II authorized the revelation of the third secret. With Sister Lúcia at his side, it was read to the millions tuned into the Beatification Mass for Jacinta and Francisco, the other two children to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917:
“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but, they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: ‘Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God, something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it, a bishop, dressed in white; we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’
”’Other bishops, priests, men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.
Beneath the two arms of the cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God’ (Tuy-3-1-1944).”
“Fátima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions wherein most of the events have come to pass. The first and second parts of the message [secret] refer especially to the frightening vision of Hell, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, World War II and, finally, the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism.
The decision of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to make public the third part of the secret of Fátima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil, yet pervaded by the merciful love of God and the watchful care of the Mother of Jesus and of the Church.”
The Church has always attributed this scripture to Mary: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1) and, as such, has been given the grace from God to use as much power as she deems best to accomplish a specific mission!
Our Lady advised: “…the sin which sends most people to perdition [Hell] is the sin of the flesh; that they should do without luxuries; that people should not remain obstinate in their sins as they had done up to then; that it was necessary to do much penance.”
The children noted: ‘On saying this Our Lady was very sad.’ Because of this, Jacinta often exclaimed: ‘Oh, I am so sorry for Our Lady! I am so sorry for her!’
Then, shortly before Jacinta’s death on April 4, 1919, Our Lady told her: “Certain fads [fashions] will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much; Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God; Most people go to hell because of sins of the flesh.”
Will we do what the angel demanded: ”Penance, Penance, Penance” or will we just go on our merry way, choosing instead to wait and see? What will happen to us: our children; our country; the world around us if we do not do that ”Penance”?
During the miracle of the sun at Fátima, In 1917, many of the witnesses fell onto their knees into the mud crying out to Heaven: “Forgive me; don’t let me die in my sins!” They truly believed the world was coming to an end.
In 1931, Msgr. Eugenio Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII in 1939, stated: “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fátima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul.
“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search for the red lamp where God awaits them, like Mary Magdalene weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken him? (Jn 20:13).’”
On March 17, 1990, Silvio Cardinal Oddi alluded to “dark times for the Church; grave confusions and troubling apostasies within Catholicism itself.”
The Bible refers to a time when “…a terrible calamity will come upon the earth…There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken…But, when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your head because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 21:23, 25-26, 28).
As we will see in several of the ensuing chapters, Our Lady advises us, we “should be prepared for the worst”; we should “not be afraid to die tomorrow.” She is doing all she can for our conversion during this grace filled period.
If we are true believers we will accept death peaceably, knowing we will one day be in Heaven with our Lord. We can be of help to others by our prayers and sacrifices. How we respond to Our Lady’s pleas is a choice that will be put to each one of us!
In Fatima, on May 13, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI further stressed: “We would be mistaken to think that Fátima’s prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God… Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end.
“In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: ‘Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which He will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?’
“At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from Heaven offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart.
“May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”
At Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on August 15, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI, referring to the words of one of his predecessors, [Benedict XV], reminded us again: Although Mary was assumed into heaven, she “has not abandoned her mission of intercession and salvation” on Earth.
Before the Marian prayer at noon on Assumption Sunday, he highlighted Mary’s historic role in the Church, inviting “continued trust in the Mother of God and prayer for her aid on earth.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005. It is quite likely he chose the name, Benedict XVI, owing to his great respect for Our Lady, and her immediate response to the earnest pleas of his predecessor, Benedict XV, at the height of World War I.
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