Opinion8 020324

Wasn’t There Some Sort of Secret?

One hundred years on, the Message of Fatima is more urgent than ever.

French writer Paul Claudel said Fatima was “The most impressive explosion of the supernatural  in a world dominated by materialism.” Brazilian author Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira agreed, saying “Fatima is the most important event of the twentieth century.” And no less a person than Pope John Paul II called it “The most important message of our time.”

Fatima is not just another nice Marian devotion

Fatima was an historical event of great grandeur. It was widely reported in the newspapers of the time. It was impressed on the public imagination by the spectacular ‘miracle of the sun’.

These events of 1917 happened on a patch of farmland called Cova da Iria, in the then remote I am always struck by how people of all ages and backgrounds are intrigued by Fatima.

I remember handing out Fatima flyers on the streets of Sydney one bright summer morning. A passer-by reached for a flyer and somewhat absent-mindedly held it out for a second to see what it was. Then, as if snapping out of a daydream, he abruptly halted, wheeled about to face me, and said, “Wasn’t there some sort of secret?”

I’ve seen this same reaction so many times when doing Fatima awareness in public. It’s one of the standard reactions of passers-by. It’s also a great way to open a conversation about Fatima.

Public curiosity about Fatima is a constant. But it is not matched by a similar curiosity regarding other Marian apparitions, which tend to be relegated to that mental pigeon hole called “Catholic things”’.

There is a universal feeling, albeit a diffuse one, that something tremendously important happened at Fatima, the likes of which didn’t happen elsewhere.

Which is true, of course.

Township of Fatima, in the high-country of Portugal’s Serra de Aire Range.

In the years since the apparitions at Fatima, the topic has been investigated, re-investigated, praised, ridiculed, loved and hated by multitudes.

In 1919, a mere two years after the Fatima apparitions, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima authorised public cult to Our Lady of Fatima. The diocesan canonical investigation emphatically concluded in 1930 that it was a supernatural event ‘worthy of belief’. Four Popes have been to Fatima as pilgrims.

It is not just the existence of a mysterious ‘secret’ that makes Fatima so intriguing.

The direct intervention of Our Lady in world events was without precedence. Even though she appeared many times throughout history, to deliver messages, convert people, and cure people, never before did she come to address the of whole of mankind as a messager from God.

It is the message Our Lady delivered to the world that makes Fatima an event of outstanding historical importance.

And this is the core of the matter. Our Lady said that many people are going to hell “Because there is no one to pay for them.” Adding, “To save them, God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If they do what I say, many souls will be saved.” This was the First Part of her message. It concerns personal sin and the consequences of personal sin.

Then she moves on from personal sin to collective sin. “The war will end, but if they do not stop offending God, another, even worse war will begin in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is a 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.”

Why would God allow war in the world? Both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas explain that war is a punishment for the collective sins of mankind. Some sins are committed by individuals; others are committed by entire societies, and these are collective sins. With this in mind, it is easier to understand Our Lady’s words.

“If my requests are heeded Russia will be converted”

She was not only warning; she was also giving a solution. “To prevent this [war], I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and 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. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted, and a time of peace will be granted to the world.”

Our Lady is saying that the world will be punished with wars and with the scourge of Communism. Jacinta of Fatima expanded the concept by saying, “If men don’t convert, there will be a punishment the likes of which was never seen before.”

Sister Lucia wrote in a letter to Pope John Paul II: “Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message…. Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides.”

“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.”

This concludes the Second Part of the message that Our Lady delivered to mankind at Fatima.

The Third and final part of the message was declared published by the Vatican in the year 2000. When the Vatican’s text was made public it caused surprise and controversy because it did not consist of words, as had been expected. Rather, it was a vision of an apocalyptical scene of death and destruction, ending with the conversion of humanity.

Now, let’s put all three parts together into a meaningful whole.

The Message of Fatima is (i) an admonishing of the world for sin, (ii) a call to conversion, (iii) a waning of chastisement unless conversion happens, (iv) a foretelling of how that chastisement will happen, and (v) the eventual conversion of mankind and peace.

It is a message so simple yet so grand; so personal yet so universal.

And what about the secret?

Our Lady appeared to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. They were nothing more than three illiterate peasant children, utterly insignificant in the eyes of the world. Yet they were chosen for the task of transmitting the most important message of the twentieth century.

She instructed them not to tell the message to anyone until the right time, which She would make clear later. This is the origin of the ‘secret’ of Fatima.

Of course, today it is no longer secret. It is available to anyone who wants to know it. And it is the work of Australia Needs Fatima to give as many people as possible the opportunity to know it.

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Opinion piece written by Paul Folley.

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