1. To understand the set of visions and communications with which Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were favored, we must first review Catholic doctrine on the communion of saints.
The prayers and merits of one person can benefit another. Thus, the prayers, sacrifices and offering of their lives by the three children, especially after spiritually benefiting from the apparitions of the Queen of All Saints, could also benefit a large number of souls and even entire nations. Our Lady came to ask the three seers for prayers and sacrifice. To Jacinta and Francisco, she also asked that they offer their lives as expiatory victims for the sins of men. She asked Lucia to stay in this world to fulfill a mission we will speak about below.
2. Another premise to understand the events of Fatima is the universal mediation of Mary Most Holy. By God’s free and sovereign choice, she acts as supreme and necessary Mediatrix between the offended Redeemer and sinful humanity. As Mediatrix, she is always heeded and thus commands the course of events. This Royal Mediatrix will be glorified with the victory of her maternal Heart, which is the most refined expression of God’s own victory.
3. Speaking to the little shepherds, Our Lady addressed the whole world, urging all men to prayer, penance and the amendment of life. She especially addressed the Pope and the sacred hierarchy, asking them to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.
4. The Mother of God made these requests given the religious situation of the world in 1917. Our Lady called that situation highly calamitous. Impiety and impurity had so dominated the earth that a real hecatomb, the First World War, broke out to punish men. That conflict soon ended, and sinners would have the opportunity to heed the Fatima appeal by amending their lives. Humanity would then know peace. If the message were unheeded, an even more terrible war would come. And if the world remained deaf to this warning from the voice of its Queen, a supreme and worldwide hecatomb of ideological nature, with serious religious persecutions, would afflict all men. It would bring great trials to the Roman Pontiff: “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church … The Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
5. These last calamities would break the stiff neck of contemporary humanity, and a conversion of souls will take place on a large scale. This conversion will be specifically a victory of the Most Pure Heart of the Mother of God: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph…” It will be the reign of Mary upon men.
6. To more effectively incite humanity to accept the message, Our Lady had her three confidants see souls condemned to hell. It was a tragic scene which they admirably described in a way sufficient to bring hardened sinners back to virtue. That gloomy sight shows well how wrong it is to affirm that meditation on the eternal torments is not suitable for contemporary men.
7. To prove the truth of the apparitions, and therefore the message’s authenticity, the Virgin arranged three circumstances surrounding the events:
a) The influx of large numbers of spectators while she spoke to the seers. Even though the latter were the immediate recipients of the message, the bystanders could tell by their common psychological sense that the three children were neither lying nor deceived. They perceived the seers were in contact with Our Lady and heard and spoke to a being invisible to others.
b) The prodigy of the sun’s movements and changing colors. This miracle was noticed in an area so far beyond the place of the apparitions that a phenomenon of collective suggestion cannot explain it. (Incidentally, this would be extremely difficult to occur with the 50-70,000 people present at the Cova da Iria).
c) Confirming the prophecy, World War I ended shortly after the Fatima apparitions. Also confirmed was the prophecy that another world war would break out if humanity did not convert. The extraordinary Northern Lights [aurora borealis] that illuminated the skies of Europe before the second conflagration were observed from several countries and known to the whole world. The Lady had warned the seers that this would be the sign of imminent punishment. And soon afterward, the punishment indeed came.
The prediction of the supreme punishment, which is the spread of communism, began to come true shortly after the apparitions.
The Blessed Virgin’s announcement that “Russia will spread its errors throughout the world” was more or less unintelligible at the time of this prophecy on July 13, 1917. Indeed, tsarism had just been overthrown and replaced by the still bourgeois regime of Kerensky. Thus, no one could know what those Russian errors would be. It was not the spread of the Greek-schismatic religion, which was mummified and deprived of any force of expansion. The rise of Marxists to power in unfortunate Russia in November 1917 was already an eloquent beginning of the prophecy’s confirmation.
Then the Russian Communist Party began to spread its errors worldwide, further accentuating the coincidence between the Virgin’s announcement and the course of events. Communist expansion became even more marked after World War II because many nations, subjugated by fraud and force, fell under Soviet domination. The USSR thus became a worldwide danger. Even to this day, communist aggression is like a sword of Damocles suspended over the West. Thus, the threat posed by Our Lady, which might seem confused and unlikely in 1917, became a real danger that still shakes the whole earth.
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Faced with these statements of apocalyptic grandeur, we must make an observation. Today’s world is increasingly divided into two families of souls.
One family sees present history as the product of a bundle of errors and iniquities, which began in the religious and cultural sphere with Humanism, the Renaissance, and the Protestant Pseudo-Reformation. Such errors were aggravated by the Enlightenment and rationalism and culminated in the political sphere with the French Revolution.
From the political terrain, the errors spread to the social and economic field in the nineteenth century with utopian socialism and so-called scientific socialism. With the coming of communism in Russia, this accumulation of errors began at first an incipient, but later massive transposition into the concrete order of facts. The result was the Moloch communist empire, spanning from Germany to Vietnam with indisputable unity (the division of communism into a “Russian” and “Chinese” line is a mere propaganda bluff).
At the same time, especially since the First World War, Western morality declined with breakneck speed, preparing its surrender to communism, which is the most audacious doctrinal and institutional expression of amorality.
The historical framework just outlined is set out in the article “The Crusade of the Twentieth Century,” published in the first issue of the magazine, Catolicismo. We sought to give it a broader development in the essay, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, which this journal published in its hundredth issue. Finally, this perspective is expressed with great elevation and clarity in the historical document in which two hundred Conciliar Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, at the initiative of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer and Archbishop Geraldo de Proença Sigaud, called for a new condemnation of Marxism. For the countless souls in all states, nations and living conditions who share this conviction, the message of Fatima is most consistent with Catholic doctrine and the reality of events.
There is also a second family of souls, which makes little or no links between modern problems and immorality and ungodliness (considered a guilty deviation of the intellect). They believe that all problems are exclusively caused by involuntary misunderstandings, which can be resolved by scientific knowledge and common sense. Incidentally, such misconceptions result from economic shortcomings. They are caused by hunger and will thus disappear when it is eliminated. Until this happens, these problems will linger. The crisis of humanity will be solved with the aid of science and technology.
There is more. Since amid the dangers and catastrophes in which we find ourselves the notion of guilt and punishment is not the tonic note among this family of souls, the notion of a universal punishment becomes incomprehensible. Especially since, for them, communism is not intrinsically evil so they can compromise with it to avoid uncomfortable persecutions.
Of course, for the sake of brevity, the description of these two families of souls briefly summarizes the panorama. There are many intermediary positions between the two poles, and thus we cannot portray them all here. The Fatima message becomes either understandable or incomprehensible to the extent that these intermediate currents approach one pole or the other. Thus, Fatima is a true watershed dividing contemporary mentalities.
In any case, the requests, warnings and prophecies (all with the character of private revelations) at the Cova da Iria were made and are largely being confirmed. To the skeptics, we say: “Qui vivra verra …” [He who lives will see].
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Will the events foretold at Fatima and not yet accomplished take place? All contemporary humanity is asking this question. In principle, there can be no doubt. Because some prophecies have already been fulfilled with remarkable precision proves their supernatural character. Once proven, there can be no doubt that the heavenly message will be fulfilled in its entirety.
Someone might object that the prophecies of July 13, 1917, are conditional. They would take place if the Pope and the bishops in union with him did not consecrate Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pius XII made a consecration of the world (in 1942) and later another of Russia (1952). Therefore, the punishments foreseen by the Lady of the Rosary will not occur.
Two answers can be given to this objection.
First, in a 1943 letter of Sister Lucy to the titular Bishop of Gurza, she said that Our Lord told her that the consecration of the world made by Pius XII, although pleasing to God, did not fulfill all the conditions made by the Mother of God. Thus, it is debatable that the consecration will have the effect of forestalling the predicted calamities. These words communicated by Our Lord to Sister Lucy are highly credible. Since her mission is to confirm the message of Fatima, it would be normal for her to receive messages from heaven to guide the world regarding the interpretation of Fatima and its relationship with unfolding events. Thus, Jesus and His Mother must also give this faithful woman religious, so loved by the Sacred Hearts, all the assistance to carry out her mission without falling into error or misleading humanity.
Secondly, at the Cova da Iria, Our Lady formulated two conditions, both of which are indispensable to avoid the threatened punishments.
One of these conditions was the consecration. Even if it were done as the Blessed Virgin requested, there remains the second condition: the spread of the practice of the Communion of Reparation on the first five Saturdays. To this day, this devotion has not spread in the Catholic world as desired by the Mother of God.
Another condition, implicit in the message, is also indispensable. Our Lady asked the world to overcome the thousand forms of impiety and impurity that have dominated it. Everything indicates that this has not happened and that, on the contrary, this problem is reaching a kind of paroxysm. Thus a change of course is becoming increasingly unlikely. As we move towards this paroxysm, we are more likely moving towards effective punishment.
Here, we make an observation. The message of Fatima would be absurd if we failed to see things in this way. In 1917, Our Lady affirmed that the sins of the world had reached such a height that they cried out for God’s punishment. Since then, these sins have only grown, and the world has obstinately and definitively refused to heed her Message. It would be absurd to affirm that the punishment will not come. It would be as if Nineveh had not done penance yet expected the threats of the Prophet to go unfulfilled.
Indeed, the consecration requested by Our Lady alone could not avert the punishment while humanity remains ever more attached to impiety and sin. Without abandoning sin, the consecration would be incomplete and stripped of real content.
Since the immense spiritual transformation requested at the Cova da Iria has not taken place, we are increasingly moving towards the abyss. As we move forward, that transformation becomes ever more unlikely.
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As we end these reflections, we should dwell on the ultimate perspectives of the Fatima message. Beyond the sadness and extremely likely punishments toward which we are moving, we have before us the sacral flashes of the dawn of the Reign of Mary: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” This grandiose prospect of the universal victory of the regal and maternal Heart of the Blessed Virgin is a soothing, attractive and especially majestic and exciting promise.
What can we do to avoid punishment to the tenuous degree it is avoidable? How can we obtain the conversion of men to the weak measure in which, in the common economy of grace, it is still obtainable before the punishment? How might we hasten as much as possible the blessed dawn of the Reign of Mary and obtain aid during the hecatombs that so seriously threaten us? Our Lady herself provides the answer: Increase fervor in devotion to her, pray, and do penance.
She encouraged us to pray by appearing with the characteristics associated with the invocations of Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Mother of Sorrows and Our Lady of Carmel. She thus indicated her pleasure in being known, loved and venerated under those titles.
Thus, the already abundantly proven theological value of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary finds in Fatima a precious and impressive confirmation. On the other hand, the insistence of the Blessed Virgin demonstrates the extreme timeliness of this devotion.
Therefore, whoever takes the revelations of Fatima seriously must place the increase of devotion to the Immaculate Heart as one of the top priorities to update one’s life of piety. And this is our ardent recommendation to our readers.
Taken from an article in the Brazilian magazine Catolicismo of May 1967. It has been shortened and adapted for publication without the author’s revision. –Ed.