Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ’s proclamation: the Father’s love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion.- the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “The Message of Fatima”
Is this the End Times?
The fire at Notre Dame of Paris Cathedral, the more than 2,000 acts of vandalism against churches in France, and the recent deaths of nearly 300 victims in a coordinated attack on 7 churches in Sri Lanka this Easter Sunday are enough to make one think the world has gone MAD! A quick Google search of “church bombings” in the last year will prove just how global this madness truly is. How do we interpret the signs of our times? What role does prophesy play in understanding this present darkness? What are we as believers called to do?
When our priest announced from the altar, at the start of our service, the sorrowing news of the church attacks in Sri Lanka, just hours before our Easter Celebration of the Mass had even begun, I couldn’t help but find my heart united to them. We were invited to pray for the victims and the lost souls given over to the confusion and violence of this world as we continued our celebration, but I was finding it difficult to celebrate.
I kept looking at our two children, singing in the choir, so beautiful were their souls in the glow of the stained-glass window-light behind them.
Issues with the church electrical systems were causing the house lights to dim on and off throughout the service. The glow from the windows were a beautiful and welcomed source of light, such that the service could continue without interruption. But what if there were an interruption?
What if the darkness had chosen our church that day?
I could envision the mass hysteria, the sanctuary clouded with debris and smoke, parishioners screaming and running to exit doors. A few valiant men running after the perpetrator, how do you chase after a suicide? Guns and security protocols are useless against a man who’s set his face like flint to death. Our Lord’s cross hanging over the altar reminded me of these things.
What if it happened during the highest, most holy part of the Mass?
I thought of the horror of watching Our Lord’s body desecrated once more in the profanity of such an abrasion during the most holy consummating act of intimacy between the Lord and his people.
What if the bomb had come crashing through one of those windows and the bruised and bloodied bodies of my children were suddenly laid out before me?
I thought of Mary.
Truthfully, in every case, I could not stop thinking of Mary. How had she responded when the darkness came for her son? How had she stayed with him during the hysteria? What signs of humility and grace had she displayed when she leaned over his dead body? Oh Lord, could I do the same?
When the Hallelujah reached its crescendo and brought me back to earth, I realized I had just been invited into a vision that would change my heart forever. And, it’s a vision where each one of us invited to participate. How would you respond?
Prophecy and vision are part of the Scriptures. The Prophecies at Fatima and Medjugorje, which I am inviting you to continue reading about below, (and many others not mentioned here) are an invitation to each of us. The gifts of the Spirit are poured out in every generation, not to foretell future events as though they are imminent and unchanging, but to invite us to participate in the plans of Heaven in order to create our best future! Prophecy should change our hearts to see the good and become it.
Peter Herbeck, vice president and director of missions for Renewal Ministries, said prophetic messages can show the broad lines of what may be coming, given Scripture says that the Lord “reveals his secret counsel to his servants the prophets.”
However, he said, every prophecy needs to be tested, often over time. St. Paul, he explained, exhorts Christians not to despise prophecy, but also to test everything and to seek what is good. The first indicator of a prophecy’s credence can be the impression it leaves on those who first hear it, Herbeck said. In such instances, there is a sense of “pay attention to this.”
“There is a certain weight to it, a certain clarity and maturity to it,” he said.
Father Joseph Esper, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and author of several books dealing with prophetic messages, said in the Old Testament, God raised up prophets as a kind of back channel of communication to the people because those who made up the religious establishment of the day were not doing what they were called to do.
“When religious leaders are fulfilling their duties, prophets, especially in the form of private revelation, are not really needed,” he said. “The fact that there has been much alleged private revelation over the last few centuries indicates that, sometimes, leaders of the Church have fallen short.”
For example, many of those who heard a prophecy given in 1975 in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by Ralph Martin, an early leader of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal who is now president of Renewal Ministries, have said they felt a tremendous sense of conviction.
The message said, in part, “Because I love you, I want to show you what I am doing in the world today. I want to prepare you for what is to come. Days of darkness are coming on the world, days of tribulation. … Buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there. … I will strip you of everything that you are depending on now, so you depend just on me.”
Herbeck said the message parallels what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said as a young priest about how the Church would lose its prestige, voice in politics and influence, and shrink through testing, trial and purification.
Likewise, St. John Paul II’s response to German Catholics in 1980, when he was asked what was going to happen to the Church, was strikingly similar:
“We must prepare ourselves to suffer great trials before long, such as will demand of us a disposition to give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ. … With your and my prayer, it is possible to mitigate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only thus can the Church be effectively renewed.”
Mark Mallett, a Canadian author, blogger and evangelist who sees his role as one of watching, praying and listening to what God is saying to the Church, said he believes Mary and the popes have been key prophetic voices for this time.
Mary’s encouragement and admonitions are echoed in papal teachings, he said, adding, “For well over a century, the popes have been warning of an attack upon the foundations of the Church by secret sects (Freemasons), communism and so forth. Far from conspiracy theories, these are warnings that appeared in encyclicals, apostolic letters and other authoritative statements.”
Mallett added, he thinks the most striking reason for the vast array of prophesies in our day lies in the Protestant disavowal of the Marian dimension of prophecy.
“Ironically,” he said, “Our Lady appears symbolically in the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, as a key figure in salvation history. Catholics are actually far more biblical in this regard by acknowledging the Blessed Mother’s role.” When Mary appeared in Guadalupe, Mallett said, St. Juan Diego described her appearance as though “clothed with the sun,” a direct reference to the biblical book of Revelation, and her other apparitions also indicate this sign, which has been acknowledged by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to be a symbol of Mary, the Church and the People of God,
Without the Marian dimension, Mallett said, Protestants do not hold the key to understanding the end times. By focusing on the Bible alone, they also lack the benefit of the Church’s body of mystical theology and the voices of prominent saints and mystics.
Added Herbeck, “St. John Paul II used to say that part of the call of the vicar of Christ is to be able to read the signs of the times and interpret what the Spirit is saying. I thought he did that magnificently and was uniquely gifted at it.”
Unfortunately, Mallett said, many have not listened. Because of rationalism, he said, “We have become a Church that remains mostly in the head, often disconnected from the heart. Thus, we have lost the essential ingredient to inheriting the Kingdom: a child-like disposition. Without that, even some of the Church’s best apologists have tended to sneer at the mystical, at the apparitions of Our Lady and the phenomena that often accompany them. We have lost our ability to discern prophetic words, suggesting that even they can be ignored, even when they have attained ‘approval.’”
Those listening, Mallett said, are often obscure, little and unknown souls. Herbeck agreed. Frequently, he said, ordinary people living devout lives with hearts pursuing the Lord have a good sense of what God is doing. “I’m never surprised how tuned in very prayerful people are to what the heart of the Lord is doing.”
Nonetheless, Mallett said, “It is not hard to see the ‘signs of the times’ today. And so, I believe that what many of us have known and accepted for decades is beginning to be acknowledged by those who have resisted these prophetic truths.”
Father Esper recalled that, as long ago as 1976, when St. John Paul II was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, he said, “We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the Antichrist. … it must be a trial which the Church must take up and face courageously …”
Similarly, he said, Sister Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries, spoke in 1957 of how the devil was looking for a decisive confrontation and that his primary targets would be the family and the priesthood. “It doesn’t take much investigation or evaluation of current times to see that those assaults have been underway in a powerful manner.”
“At the end of the day,” Herbeck said, “the end times may be here, but every one of us is to live our days with our lamps burning. If we’re actually living that way, we’ll be ready for the end times, whenever they come.”
“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 Fatima, 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.”
The “Secret” of Fatima
The first part is the vision of hell.
In the words of one of the three child visionaries, Lucia dos Santos:
“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. 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.
We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly:
“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. 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. 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”.
The third part of the “Secret” wasn’t revealed publicly until 1981:
“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 splendour 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.”
Public Revelations vs. Private Revelations of Prophecy
The Theological Commentary on “The Message of Fatima” provides excellent instruction on the dangers to avoid in interpreting and using the Spritual Gift of Prophecy:
“Because God is one, history, which he shares with humanity, is also one. It is valid for all time, and it has reached its fulfillment in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Christ, God has said everything, that is, he has revealed himself completely, and therefore Revelation came to an end with the fulfillment of the mystery of Christ as enunciated in the New Testament.
To explain the finality and completeness of Revelation, the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes a text of Saint John of the Cross:
“In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word—and he has no more to say… because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty” (No. 65; Saint John of the Cross,The Ascent of Mount Carmel, II, 22).
Because the single Revelation of God addressed to all peoples comes to completion with Christ and the witness borne to him in the books of the New Testament, the Church is tied to this unique event of sacred history and to the word of the Bible, which guarantees and interprets it. But this does not mean that the Church can now look only to the past and that she is condemned to sterile repetition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in this regard:
“…even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made fully explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries” (No. 66).
The way in which the Church is bound to both the uniqueness of the event and progress in understanding it is very well illustrated in the farewell discourse of the Lord when, taking leave of his disciples, he says:
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority… He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (Jn 16:12-14).
On the one hand, the Spirit acts as a guide who discloses a knowledge previously unreachable because the premise was missing—this is the boundless breadth and depth of Christian faith. On the other hand, to be guided by the Spirit is also “to draw from” the riches of Jesus Christ himself, the inexhaustible depths of which appear in the way the Spirit leads.
In this regard, the Catechism cites profound words of Pope Gregory the Great:
“The sacred Scriptures grow with the one who reads them” (No. 94; Gregory the Great,Homilia in Ezechielem I, 7, 8).
The Second Vatican Council notes three essential ways in which the Spirit guides in the Church, and therefore three ways in which “the word grows”: through the meditation and study of the faithful, through the deep understanding which comes from spiritual experience, and through the preaching of “those who, in the succession of the episcopate, have received the sure charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, 8).
In this context, it now becomes possible to understand rightly the concept of “private revelation”, which refers to all the visions and revelations which have taken place since the completion of the New Testament. This is the category to which we must assign the message of Fatima. In this respect, let us listen once again to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church… It is not their role to complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history” (No. 67). This clarifies two things:
1. The authority of private revelations is essentially different from that of the definitive public Revelation. The latter demands faith; in it in fact God himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church. Faith in God and in his word is different from any other human faith, trust or opinion. The certainty that it is God who is speaking gives me the assurance that I am in touch with truth itself. It gives me a certitude which is beyond verification by any human way of knowing. It is the certitude upon which I build my life and to which I entrust myself in dying.
2. Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back to the definitive public Revelation. In this regard, Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, the future Pope Benedict XIV, says in his classic treatise, which later became normative for beatifications and canonizations: “An assent of Catholic faith is not due to revelations approved in this way; it is not even possible. These revelations seek rather an assent of human faith in keeping with the requirements of prudence, which puts them before us as probable and credible to piety”. The Flemish theologian E. Dhanis, an eminent scholar in this field, states succinctly that ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation has three elements: the message contains nothing contrary to faith or morals; it is lawful to make it public; and the faithful are authorized to accept it with prudence (E. Dhanis,Sguardo su Fatima e bilancio di una discussione, in La Civiltà Cattolica 104 , II, 392-406, in particular 397). Such a message can be a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to use.
The criterion for the truth and value of a private revelation is therefore its orientation to Christ himself. When it leads us away from him, when it becomes independent of him or even presents itself as another and better plan of salvation, more important than the Gospel, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel and not away from it. This does not mean that a private revelation will not offer new emphases or give rise to new devotional forms, or deepen and spread older forms. But in all of this there must be a nurturing of faith, hope and love, which are the unchanging path to salvation for everyone.”
Understanding the “Heart” of Prophecy – Interpreting Fatima
According to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Prefect for the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI, “The first and second parts of the “secret” of Fatima have already been so amply discussed in the relative literature that there is no need to deal with them again here.
“I would just like to recall briefly the most significant point. For one terrible moment, the children were given a vision of hell. They saw the fall of “the souls of poor sinners”. And now they are told why they have been exposed to this moment: “in order to save souls”—to show the way to salvation. The words of the First Letter of Peter come to mind: “As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1:9).
To reach this goal, the way indicated —surprisingly for people from the Anglo-Saxon and German cultural world—is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A brief comment may suffice to explain this.
In biblical language, the “heart” indicates the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the “immaculate heart” is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to perfect interior unity and therefore “sees God”. To be “devoted” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat—“your will be done”—the defining centre of one’s whole life.
It might be objected that we should not place a human being between ourselves and Christ. But then we remember that Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: “imitate me” (1 Cor 4:16; Phil 3:17; 1 Th 1:6; 2 Th 3:7, 9). In the Apostle they could see concretely what it meant to follow Christ. But from whom might we better learn in every age than from the Mother of the Lord?
Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!
Thus we come finally to the third part of the “secret” of Fatima which for the first time is being published in its entirety (You can read the full text here on the Vatican website). Sister Lucia responded by pointing out that she had received the vision but not its interpretation. The interpretation, she said, belonged not to the visionary but to the Church. After reading the text, however, she said that this interpretation corresponded to what she had experienced and that on her part she thought the interpretation correct. In what follows, therefore, we can only attempt to provide a deeper foundation for this interpretation, on the basis of the criteria already considered.
“To save souls” has emerged as the key word of the first and second parts of the “secret”, and the key word of this third part is the threefold cry: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” The beginning of the Gospel comes to mind: “Repent and believe the Good News” (Mk 1:15). To understand the signs of the times means to accept the urgency of penance – of conversion – of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the images that follow. Allow me to add here a personal recollection: in a conversation with me Sister Lucia said that it appeared ever more clearly to her that the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people to grow more and more in faith, hope and love—everything else was intended to lead to this.
Let us now examine more closely the single images. The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgement which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword. The vision then shows the power which stands opposed to the force of destruction—the splendour of the Mother of God and, stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance. In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image which the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed.
Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite:it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction.
The next phrases of the text show very clearly once again the symbolic character of the vision: God remains immeasurable, and is the light which surpasses every vision of ours. Human persons appear as in a mirror. We must always keep in mind the limits in the vision itself, which here are indicated visually. The future appears only “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor 13:12).
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 fulfilment 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.
Let us now consider the individual images which follow in the text of the “secret”. The place of the action is described in three symbols: a steep mountain, a great city reduced to ruins and finally a large rough-hewn cross. The mountain and city symbolize the arena of human history: history as an arduous ascent to the summit, history as the arena of human creativity and social harmony, but at the same time a place of destruction, where man actually destroys the fruits of his own work. The city can be the place of communion and progress, but also of danger and the most extreme menace. On the mountain stands the cross—the goal and guide of history. The cross transforms destruction into salvation; it stands as a sign of history’s misery but also as a promise for history.
At this point human persons appear: the Bishop dressed in white (“we had the impression that it was the Holy Father”), other Bishops, priests, men and women Religious, and men and women of different ranks and social positions. The Pope seems to precede the others, trembling and suffering because of all the horrors around him. Not only do the houses of the city lie half in ruins, but he makes his way among the corpses of the dead. The Church’s path is thus described as a Via Crucis, as a journey through a time of violence, destruction and persecution. The history of an entire century can be seen represented in this image. Just as the places of the earth are synthetically described in the two images of the mountain and the city, and are directed towards the cross, so too time is presented in a compressed way. In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a century of suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of World Wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years and have inflicted unprecedented forms of cruelty. In the “mirror” of this vision we see passing before us the witnesses of the faith decade by decade.
Here it would be appropriate to mention a phrase from the letter which Sister Lucia wrote to the Holy Father on 12 May 1982: “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’”.
In the Via Crucis of an entire century, the figure of the Pope has a special role. In his arduous ascent of the mountain we can undoubtedly see a convergence of different Popes. Beginning from Pius X up to the present Pope, they all shared the sufferings of the century and strove to go forward through all the anguish along the path which leads to the Cross. In the vision, the Pope too is killed along with the martyrs. When, after the attempted assassination on 13 May 1981, the Holy Father had the text of the third part of the “secret” brought to him, was it not inevitable that he should see in it his own fate? He had been very close to death, and he himself explained his survival in the following words: “… it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death” (13 May 1994). That here “a mother’s hand” had deflected the fateful bullet only shows once more that there is no immutable destiny, that faith and prayer are forces which can influence history and that in the end prayer is more powerful than bullets and faith more powerful than armies.
The concluding part of the “secret” uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith. It is a consoling vision, which seeks to open a history of blood and tears to the healing power of God.
Beneath the arms of the cross angels gather up the blood of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making their way to God. Here, the blood of Christ and the blood of the martyrs are considered as one: the blood of the martyrs runs down from the arms of the cross. The martyrs die in communion with the Passion of Christ, and their death becomes one with his. For the sake of the body of Christ, they complete what is still lacking in his afflictions (cf. Col 1:24). Their life has itself become a Eucharist, part of the mystery of the grain of wheat which in dying yields abundant fruit. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians, said Tertullian. As from Christ’s death, from his wounded side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the Church.
Therefore, the vision of the third part of the “secret”, so distressing at first, concludes with an image of hope: no suffering is in vain, and it is a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, which becomes a sign-post for man in his search for God. The loving arms of God welcome not only those who suffer like Lazarus, who found great solace there and mysteriously represents Christ, who wished to become for us the poor Lazarus.
There is something more: from the suffering of the witnesses there comes a purifying and renewing power, because their suffering is the actualization of the suffering of Christ himself and a communication in the here and now of its saving effect.
And so we come to the final question: What is the meaning of the “secret” of Fatima as a whole (in its three parts)? What does it say to us? First of all we must affirm with Cardinal Sodano: “… the events to which the third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima refers now seem part of the past”. Insofar as individual events are described, they belong to the past. Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity. What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the “secret”: the exhortation to prayer as the path of “salvation for souls” and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.”
Even if the events to which the third part of the “secret” of Fatima refers now seem part of the past, Our Lady’s call to conversion and penance, issued at the start of the twentieth century, remains timely and urgent today. “The Lady of the message seems to read the signs of the times—the signs of our time—with special insight… The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness” (Pope John Paul II, Message for the 1997 World Day of the Sick, No. 1, Insegnamenti, XIX, 2 , 561).
The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind.
My Immaculate Heart will Triumph – The Message of Medjugorje
The vision of Fatima did not end there.
In 1981, around the same time John Paul II fulfilled the Fatima call to consecration, even though it was too late to avoid the chastisement of WWII, the Holy Spirit once more brought Our Lord’s message to the world through his Mother who appeared this time to 5 children in then Yugoslavia, now Bosnia-Herzegovina. Each of the visionaries reinforcing Our Lady’s words at Fatima, the errors of Russia will run its course but our conversion of hearts can lessen the chastisement if we commit to bring the Gospel of Our Lord into our daily lives. But the truly prophetic significance of Medjugorje and the Prophecies of Our Times – Lourdes, Fatima and others – is perhaps best expressed in the closing words of Cardinal Ratzinger in the official response of the Vatican in “The Message of Fatima.”
“I would like finally to mention another key expression of the “secret” which has become justly famous: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.”
And, Our Lady’s messages at Medjugorje offer proof of this promise at work in our world today. In the end, Russia’s consecration will make manifest its sanctification and the abolition of its errors and Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will Triumph, so long as we persevere in prayer, faith, hope and love. Her messages have been coming daily and continue unto this present day, (You can read more about the Message of Medjugorje here). Wherever a soul is committed to give Christ their fiat, her Immaculate Heart Triumphs – Heaven comes down!
Mother of all individuals and peoples, you know all their sufferings and hopes. In your motherly heart you feel all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, that convulse the world: accept the plea which we make in the Holy Spirit directly to your heart, and embrace with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord those who most await this embrace, and also those whose act of entrustment you too await in a particular way. Take under your motherly protection the whole human family, which with affectionate love we entrust to you, O Mother. May there dawn for everyone the time of peace and freedom, the time of truth, of justice and of hope. – Saint Pope John Paul II, June 7, 1981 Pentecost, “Act of Entrustment”
*Excerpts from Catechism of the Catholic Church, Vatican “The Message of Fatima” and National Catholic Register “According to Prophecy: Are These Difficult Times the ‘End Times’? Don’t overlook the scandal’s mystical dimension” by Judy Roberts