With this year’s centenary of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions in 1917, many devotees fear Apocalyptic end times are approaching. Many fret over the Third Secret of Fatima, published in 2000 despite the Blessed Virgin’s instructions to disclose it in 1960, as conveyed by visionary Sister Lucia Dos Santos.
As in the first two Secrets – touching on hell and World War II – the Third spoke of chastisements for man’s disregard of God and transgressions against His law.
Wrote the late Fatima expert Fr. Malachi Martin: “Lucia’s single page written formulation of the ‘Third Secret’ covers three main topics. A Physical Chastisement of the nations, involving catastrophes, man-made or natural, on land, on water and in the atmosphere of the globe. A Spiritual Chastisement, far more frightening and distressing – especially for Roman Catholics – than physical hardship, since it would consist of the disappearance of religious belief, a period of widespread unfaith in many countries.”
One vision spoke of the Pope with companions climbing a hill over dead people, being slain by bullets and arrows. Speaking about the Third Secret in 1980, Pope Saint John Paul II said that divine punishments could no longer be stopped, though praying the Rosary could mitigate them.
The following year, on the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition on May 13, John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square, a failed assassination attempt seen as possibly fulfilling Sister Lucia’s vision.
Those who closely followed the life of the shepherd girl-turned-visionary nun, who died at 97 in 2005, may be most worried about the warning she received from Jesus Christ Himself. At a monastery in Rianjo, Spain, in 1931, He told her in a vision: “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune.”
The Lord was believed to be referring to the Catholic hierarchy’s failure then to execute the instruction delivered by Our Lady of Fatima, for the Pope in communion with all other bishops to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, for the nation’s conversion and world peace.
“If not, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, fomenting wars and persecution of the Church,” said Sister Lucia of Mary’s warning in 1917, the year before the Christian monarchy became the communist Soviet Union and spread atheism and totalitarianism worldwide.
The Vatican contends that St. John Paul II fulfilled the instruction in 1984, when he consecrated all nations to the Immaculate Heart. Several years later, the Soviet empire dissolved, and the communists lost power in Russia.
Today, its authoritarian government is strengthening the Russian Orthodox faith, restoring church property seized by government under communism, and building places of worship using state funds.
It’s not over till it’s over
So should the Fatima warnings no longer bother us. Not so fast.
Addressing half a million pilgrims in Fatima on May 13, 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI cautioned: “Whoever thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is over, is deceived.” Both he and Sister Lucia have said that the Third Secret speaks about the end times, and reflects the prophecies in the Bible.
She is quoted in a 1986 book on the Third Secret: “The Most Holy Virgin made me understand that we are living in the last times of the world.”
Another Fatima disciple, the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a hugely popular American TV preacher in the last century, declared: “… the two great forces of the Mystical Body of Christ and the mystical body of Antichrist are beginning to draw up their battle lines for a catastrophic contest.”
That echoes Sister Lucia’s own words in a 1957 interview: “She told me that the devil is about to wage a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin, … where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also, from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil; there is no in-between.”
‘The world has gone the opposite way’
Well, if the Fatima apparitions are supposed to get mankind on God’s side in some cataclysmic final confrontation, it looks like the world missed the message.
The year after being nearly fatally shot, John Paul II reviewed the Third Secret, then lamented: “The world has gone in the opposite direction than the one intended by Our Lady at Fatima.”
In 1957, Sister Lucia told her interviewer Fr. Augustin Fuentes: “Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner.”
That was six decades ago. Now, a century after Fatima, God may be tired of waiting.
A couple of years ago, University of California, Santa Cruz, professor Thorne Lay told LiveScience.com that between 2004 and 2014, the average annual rate of earthquakes of magnitude 8 or stronger nearly tripled to 1.8. Yet smaller quakes didn’t increase.
In Nature.com last September, oceanographers Wei Mei and Shang-ping Xie reported that “over the past 37 years, typhoons that strike East and Southeast Asia have intensified by 12-15 percent, with the proportion of storms of categories 4 and 5 [like Yolanda and Nina]having doubled or even tripled. In contrast, typhoons that stay over the open ocean have experienced only modest changes.”
Add to that the surge in Zika, Ebola, SARS and other incurable diseases, plus escalating tensions pitting the West against Russia, China, and the Islamic world.
But maybe it’s all coincidence, and we can just continue our merry way. Or as St. Alphonsus Liguori, the 18th Century saint who popularized the Wednesday novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said: “Many sinners will not believe in the divine threats until the chastisement has come upon them.”