by Lourdes Policarpio
Of all the apparitions of the Blessed Mother during the last hundred years, the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima stand out as the most wide-ranging in scope and in dramatic impact on mankind.
Way back 1917, Our Lady voiced out her motherly concerns about the world to three shepherd children in the simple village of Fatima in Portugal. She prophesied the errors Russia would spread through Communism and spelled out clearly what God wanted for mankind to be rid of this menacing threat. She said that God had entrusted the peace of the world to her and consequently, she laid down what each of us must do to work out this peace. What is singularly striking and amazing about the messages of Our Lady of Fatima is that if you study everything closely read through our simplified chronology of events, you will discover that events from 1917 to the present give a glimpse of how God collaborates with man for man to obtain peace in this world.
Here's a specific example. For the conversion of Russia, God wanted a consecration of the world, especially Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be done by the Pope in union with the Bishops of the world (a "collegial" consecration). Several Popes consecrated the world to Our Lady but it was only in 1984, with the prayers and sacrifices of millions of Fatima devotees over the years, that the proper collegial consecration which God wanted was finally done, in accordance with the request of Our Lady of Fatima.
When Lucia asked Our Lord why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making the desired consecration, He replied, "Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary... The result of all the prayers and sacrifices of Fatima devotees and the collegial consecration was the dramatic, peaceful collapse of the Soviet Communist empire from within its own borders without a single shot fired.
The Chronology of events below attempt to capsulize and simplify the messages of Our Lady of Fatima. Compressing the main points in a few pages has been a little difficult considering their gravity and the very long time frame the events encompass. The Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima may baffle and mystify.
But with all the images these pages evoke, we hope that what will predominate with you is that striking scene in the Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima: the Angel with a flaming sword, flashing his sword towards us and crying out for penance, his sword giving out flames that look as though they would set the world on fire but on the other hand, Our Lady vanquishing the flames with the splendor that radiated from her.
We thank Our Lady of Fatima for the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, considered as one of the greatest dramas of our age, and the vision of hope found in the Third Secret. But as our glance turns to other parts of the world, we sigh, alas!, that the turmoil is not yet over.
In these times of global uncertainty and turbulence, like little children let us hasten to Our Lady of Fatima, our Mother in Heaven.
An angel appears three times to three children, Jacinta (6), Francisco (8), and Lucia (9) in Fatima, Portugal.
May 13, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima's first apparition to the three children. She asks them to come during the next six months on the 13th day. Tells them to say the Rosary devoutly everyday to obtain peace for the world and the end of World War I which was then raging.
June 13, 1917
Second apparition. Our Lady of Fatima tells Lucia she will take Jacinta and Francisco soon but Lucia will remain here for some time yet so she could be the living voice of Fatima.
July 13, 1917
Third apparition. Our Lady of Fatima gives Lucia three secrets. The first secrets referred to as the vision of hell. In Lucia's words:
We saw...a great sea of fire submerged in that fire were demons and souls in human shapes who resembled red-hot, black and bronze-colored embers that floated about in the blaze... amidst shrieks and groans of sorrow and despair that horrified us and made us shudder with fear. The devils stood out like frightful and unknown animals with horrible and disgusting shapes....
Our Lady of Fatima told them:
You saw hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. If they do what I shall tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.
The second secret contains the warning on Russia. Our Lady of Fatima said:
The war (World War 1) is going to end, but if they do not stop offending God, another even worse war will begin in the reign of Pius X1 (World War II). Behold a night illuminated by an unknown light will be the great sign that God shall give you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent it, I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If they listen to my requests, Russia will convert and there will be peace; if not, it will spread its errors throughout the worlds, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and several nations will be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia which will convert to me, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.
The first two secrets were however revealed by Lucia only in 1941 after asking permission from Heaven. The third secret (text found in next page) was made public only last May 13, 2000.
October 13, 1917
Our Lady says she wants a chapel built in Fatima. As promised, Our Lady of Fatima performs a miracle that all may believe. The sun danced for around 10 minutes, witnessed by about 70,000 people and seen up to 25 miles away from the place of the apparition.
In Russia, the communists under Nikolai Lenin gain power. Religious instruction is abolished. Atheism becomes official policy, thousands of priests are imprisoned and put to death, many churches are destroyed and desecrated. From 1917 through the second half of the 20th century, communism spreads to the world from Russia. In the 1970s and 80s, almost a third to a half of mankind was considered under communist domination with other countries suffering from it in varying degrees. The years since 1949 especially have been full of tensions between democratic and communist countries.
December 10, 1925
The Blessed Virgin with the Child Jesus at her side appears to Lucia. Among other things, Our Lady of Fatima announces the First Saturday devotion:
Tell men that I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, confess, receive Holy Communion, pray a Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour meditating on the fifteen mysteries with the intention of offering me reparation.
A year later, Lucia told Our Lord that going to confession on Saturdays posed a problem to some people and she requested that confession within a period of eight days before and eight days after the first Saturday be valid. Our Lord answered,
Yes it can even be within many more days, provided they are in the state of grace when they receive Me and have the intention of offering reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
June 13, 1929
Our Lady of Fatima tells Sr. Lucia the moment has come for God to ask the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart. He promises to save Russia by this means.
October 13, 1930
After seven years of inquiry, the Bishop of Fatima judges the apparitions worthy of credence and authorizes officially the cult of Our Lady of Fatima.
October 31, 1942
Upon request of Sr. Lucia, Pope Pius XII consecrates the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary including an indirect reference to Russia. Although this was done without the participation of the bishops, Sr. Lucia said God was pleased and promised to end World War II soon but the conversion of Russia would not yet be granted.
Subsequent consecrations were later done again by Pope Pius XII and also, Pope Paul VI. But these consecrations were considered insufficient because they were not done in union with the bishops of the world.
January 3, 1944
Lucia writes down the Third Secret at the insistence of the Bishop of Leiria - Fatima when she was gravely ill. The sealed envelope was eventually kept in the Secret Archives of the Holy Office.
International apostolates, like the Blue Army of Our Lady Fatima, spring up spreading the Fatima Messages. For the conversion of Russia and world peace, devotees pledge to say daily the Morning Offering and offer up every day the sacrifices demanded by daily duty, pray the Rosary daily, consecrate themselves to Our Lady and wear the Scapular of Mt. Carmel as a sign of this consecration. The spreading of the apostolate of Our Lady of Fatima is deemed important inasmuch as Sr. Lucia said that God will permit the collegial consecration (a condition for the conversion of Russia) when a sufficient number of people are fulfilling the above requests.
August 17, 1959
The sealed envelope on the Third Secret is brought to Pope John XXIII. The Holy Father opens it, decides not to reveal it and returns it to the Holy Office.
May 13, 1981
On the 64th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, Pope John Paul II suffers an assassination attempt. To the Pope, this event is a reminder of the urgency of the Fatima messages. The next year, on May 13, 1982, he undertakes a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank Our Lady for saving his life.
June 7, 1982
U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the Pope meet at the Vatican for the first time. Time magazine much later reports that both men agreed to undertake a clandestine campaign to hasten the end of the communist empire with Poland, native land of the Holy Father, as the focus.
Decembers 8, 1983
The Holy Father writes the bishops of the world asking them to join him in collegial consecration to Our Lady on March 25, 1984, feast of the Annunciation, each bishop in his own diocese.
March 25, 1984
Collegial consecration to Our Lady of Fatima made by the Holy Father in union with all the bishops of the world, while Russia is not directly mentioned, the Pope prays, "We consecrate to you those men and those nations who have a special need to be entrusted to you in this way. Shed your light in particular upon those peoples from whom you yourself await our consecrations." Sr. Lucia told the Papal Nuncio that this consecration was finally accepted by God. She said that God will keep His word regarding the conversion of Russia.
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes head of the Soviet Union. Under his leadership, he initiated reforms which later spun out of his control and led to the breakup of the Soviet Communist empire.
June 7, 1987
Following a Marian Year in the Philippines, the Pope inaugurates a special Marian Year to be completed on August 15, 1988. The declaration of Marian Year could have contributed to the prayers necessary for the dismantling of Soviet Communism.
Dec. 1, 1989
The Pope receives Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican. In introducing the Pope to his wife Raisa, Gorbachev refers to the Holy Father as the "highest moral authority on earth".
Soviet communist empire disintegrates: first in the Pope's beloved Poland, then in Eastern Europe, and finally in the Soviet Union itself. In his first visit to post-communist Prague, the Pope says Communism "had revealed itself to be an unattainable utopia because some essential aspects of the human person were neglected and negated: man's irrepressible longing for freedom and truth and his incapacity to feel happy when the transcendent relationship with God is excluded.”
May 13, 1991
The Pope undertakes a second pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on the 10th anniversary of the assassination attempt on his life. He publicly gives thanks to Mary for the liberation of east central Europe from communism.
May 13, 2000
The Holy Father beatifies Jacinta and Francisco in Fatima, Portugal with Sr. Lucia in attendance. He makes public the Third Secret.
After the two parts (or the two secrets) which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and 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 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 which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of the cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big City haft in ruins and haft 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 arrow at him, and the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priest, 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 the hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Excepts from the Theological Commentary on the Third Secret by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith:
….the figurative of the vision is symbolic. In this regard, Cardinal (Angelo) Sodano stated; ‘(they) do not describe photographically the details of future events. But synthesize and compress against the single background fact which extend through time in an unspecified succession and duration! “The angel with the flaming sword… represents the threat of judgment 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 splendor of the Mother of God and, stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance.
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. Therefore, we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the “secret”, such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 (Pope Paul II’s) was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely...
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 represented in a compressed way. In the vision we can recognize the last century as a century of martyrs, a century of a suffering and persecution for the Church, a century of World Wars and the many local wars which filled the last fifty years…
The concluding part of the ‘secret’ …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…
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