I felt my spirit inundated by a mystery of light that is God and in Him I saw and heard: the point of a lance like a flame that is detached, touches the axis of the earth, and it trembles: mountains, cities, towns and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, the rivers, the clouds, exceed their boundaries, inundating and dragging with them, in a vortex, houses and people in a number that cannot be counted. It is the purification of the world from the sin in which it is immersed.
— Fatima visionary Sister Lucia dos Santos
Is God cruel and unjust?
Critics of Christianity like to cite biblical tales of divine punishment and retribution to depict a conceited, jealous, vengeful, even murdering God imposing impossible rules and tasks, then harshly, if not fatally and eternally punishing man for failing to follow.
From the banishment of Adam and Eve for eating Eden’s forbidden fruit, to the ten plagues and the Red Sea inundation crushing Pharaoh; from the Great Deluge in Noah’s day, to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — many fearsome tales in Scripture depict God’s wrath.
Even Pope Francis found reason to wonder about divine justice. Just last month at Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital, he replied, in part, to a nurse asking why children suffer: “Is God unjust? He was unjust to his son; he sent him to the cross. If we follow this logic, we have to say this.” loving, then such a being cannot possibly exist in a world of injustice and cruelty. And it’s delusion to believe in a good Creator who punishes creatures for not being perfect like him.
Even devout Catholics, recalling the messages from Our Lady of Fatima 100 years ago, may also be disturbed by God’s threats of chastisement on mankind. The First Secret showing Hell full of burning souls and demons to the terrified child visionaries — Lucia Dos Santos, turning 10; her cousin Francisco Marto, 9; and his sister Jacintha, 7 — warn of eternal agony. The Second predicted World War II, the most devastating conflict ever, decimating more than 60 million people, more than one in every 40 people on the planet then.
The controversial Third Secret speaks of the Church itself persecuted and the Holy Father attacked and killed. And in a later vision given to Lucia, quoted at the start of this article, global catastrophe looms, with a scene reminiscent of the disaster movie “2012”, with worldwide eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis wiping out huge swathes of all life.
To chastise or not to chastise
Will God really unleash all that death and destruction? And will He punish souls who die in mortal sin with everlasting torment?
Let’s talk about the second but more important question first.
That sinners who willfully reject God — that’s mortal sin — would not be with Him now and forever, seems indisputable, unless one believes the Almighty would force people to accept His love and authority against their will.
Souls who spend or end their earthly life turning away God or dismissing His existence, make it hard, maybe impossible to suddenly embrace Him and His kingship after death.
In His mercy, He may yet offer a last chance to turn away from unbelief and disobedience, and join Him in heaven. Maybe. But those who remain defiant choose eternity without God. That’s hell, even without the fire and brimstone.
What about chastisements? Will the loving and merciful God truly quake and flood the planet, as Sister Lucia saw in her vision? Indeed, is that already happening, with the doubling or trebling of strong tremors and supertyphoons in recent decades?
Actually, over the centuries, other Marian apparitions and other holy visionaries warned of such punishments. Among the most terrifying came from Our Lady of La Salette, who appeared to two French peasant children in 1846, one of ten Vatican-approved apparitions, like Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima.
In the visions to Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat, which began at 11 in the morning on Friday, September 18, 1846, the Virgin Mary appeared as a beautiful lady in tears. In her messages written by Mélanie in 1859, she warned:
“God will strike in an unprecedented way. … All the civil governments will have one and the same plan, which will be to abolish and do away with every religious principle to make way for materialism, atheism, spiritualism and vice of all kinds. … The earth will be struck by calamities of all kinds (in addition to plague and famine which will be widespread). There will be a series of wars until the last war, which will then be fought by the ten Kings of the Antichrist …
“The seasons will be altered, the earth will produce nothing but bad fruit, the stars will lose their regular motion, and the moon will only reflect a faint reddish glow. Water and fire will give the earth’s globe convulsions and terrible earthquakes which will swallow up mountains, cities, …” (From “The Secret of La Salette” < http://www.catholicapologetics.info/catholicteaching/privaterevelation/lasalet.html >.)
Here’s more from Our Lady of Akita, who appeared in the Japanese town to Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in 1973, as a statue of Mary speaking and shedding tears:
“As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the Deluge, such as one will have never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and wipe out a great part of humanity … the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.” (From “The Meaning of Akita” < http://johnhaffert.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/The-Meaning-of-Akita.pdf >.)
Will all this really happen? Why would a just and loving God do this or allow this to happen? Just to make man repent?
Let’s talk about that next Sunday. Until then, pray the Rosary. It will save your soul.