Many of you have asked us about the events organised for the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima. Alas, apart from the Pope’s visit to Fatima for the 13th of May, and the different pilgrimages organised by parishes or religious communities, there isn’t much to report. Consulting the official website for the centenary, http://www.fatima.pt/en doesn’t tell us much more.
It is somewhat disconcerting to see that there is more publicity and more ceremonies planned for the fifth centenary of Luther’s Reformation than for the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima. Why is there such an attitude on the part of our religious authorities? Why is it that the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima has not been given the same importance as that of the Year of Mercy? The answer can be found in the file attached to the text of the third secret released by the Vatican on the 26th of June 2000. This is what appears in the Theological Commentary, the most important of the seven documents of this file:
Theological anthropology distinguishes three forms of perception or “vision”: vision with the senses, and hence exterior bodily perception, interior perception, and spiritual vision (visio sensibilis -imaginativa - intellectualis).
It is clear that in the visions of Lourdes, Fatima and other places, it is not a question of normal exterior perception of the senses: the images and forms which are seen are not located spatially, as in the case for example with a tree or a house. ( … ) Therefore, we are dealing with the middle category, interior perception. For the visionary, this perception certainly has the force of a presence, equivalent for that person to an external manifestation to the senses. ( … ) It involves true “objects”, which touch the soul, even if these “objects” do not belong to our habitual sensory world.
Thus, according to the Theological Commentary, there was not really an apparition at Fatima: the three little shepherds only had an interior vision. (For more details, see the book by Joseph de Belfont Mystères et vérités cachés du troisième secret du Fatima (The Mysteries and Hidden Truths of the Third Secret of Fatima), especially chapter 15, an extract of which can be found HERE. If it was only an interior vision then there were, strictly speaking, no words, and therefore, no secret. Consequently, the words and the secret are just simply a way imagined by Sister Lucia to illustrate the spiritual experience that she had (see also newsletter n°34). Moreover, the Commentary affirms: “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.”
This is probably the reason why the numerous and extraordinary manifestations are not recalled, neither the Miracle of the Sun seen, moreover, by about 70,000 people, including many non-believers, nor the witnesses who were several kilometres from the site of the apparitions (see newsletters 8, 10 and 12). Furthermore, Sister Lucia herself was convinced that she saw, with her own eyes, what she affirmed during the course of the Canonical Commission of Inquiry: “I am certain that I saw Her and that I am not mistaken. Even if I were to be killed, no-one could make me say the opposite!” All these elements could not have been the product of a simple interior vision. It has to be said that there would have been a certain malice on the part of Heaven in giving so many signs which have a real exterior presence to something which was only a simple interior vision. Consequently, despite the affirmation of the Theological Commentary, we believe that our Heavenly Mother came with Her Glorious Body on this earth and manifested Her presence by signs which leave us in no doubt.
The official position of the Church can surprise us, even upset us. However we shouldn’t rebel against our Church leaders: on the contrary, we should pray even more for them. Since its birth, the Church has never ceased to encounter difficulties, to have glorious, and some not so glorious, times. She has endured ordeals and betrayals; but whether she be in holy times or difficult times, the Church remains the Church of Christ. We should pray for her, so that her leaders always be worthy of the position they hold.
Jacinta had such a profound perception of the compelling need to pray for the Holy Father that she had the temerity to modify one of the prayers taught by Our Lady on the 13th of July 1917: “O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” (See newsletter n°6). Here is what Lucia reported in her first memoir regarding their imprisonment at Vila Nova de Ourem in August 1917:
Raising his eyes and his hands towards Heaven he [Francisco] made this act of offering: “O my Jesus! This is for love of Thee and for the conversion of sinners!” Jacinta added: “This is also for the Holy Father and in reparation for offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Her cheeks wet with tears, raising her eyes and her hands to Heaven, she [Jacinta] made her act of offering: “O my Jesus! This is for love of Thee and for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father and in reparation for offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
And from that moment on, the little seers had the habit of adding “and for the Holy Father” at the end of the prayer taught by Our Lady. A little later, Our Lady gratified Jacinta with two visions of the Holy Father, thereby showing that what she had proposed conformed to Her will. Here is how Lucia reported these facts in her third memoir:
Jacinta called to me: “Haven’t you seen the Holy Father? No? I don’t know how it happened but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling in front of a table, and crying, with his head in his hands. Outside, there were a lot of people and some of them threw stones at him, others cursed him and said lots of nasty things to him. Poor Holy Father. We have to pray a lot for him!” (…)
On another occasion, we went to Lapa do Cabeço. When we arrived we prostrated ourselves on the ground to say the Angel’s prayers. After a while, Jacinta stood up and called to me: “Don’t you see all those roads, all those paths and fields full of people crying because they’re hungry and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And all those people who are praying with him?”
We should therefore pray a lot for the Holy Father. And we should spread, more and more urgently, the message of Fatima in its entirety. It’s up to us to do this. In December 1956, Sister Lucia had already said to Father Fuentès: “Father, we shouldn’t wait for the Holy Father’s call to the world for penitence to come from Rome; we shouldn’t wait for it to come from the bishops in their dioceses either, nor from the religious congregations. No. Our Lord has already used these means so often and the world has not paid any attention. This is why, now, each of us should himself begin his own spiritual reform. Everyone must save not only his own soul, but all the souls which God places in his path.” (See more extracts from this interview HERE)
So then, let’s not wait; let’s not wait any longer! Spread the message of Fatima around us. Pray and offer sacrifices for the Holy Father. The centenary year has begun, but it is not too late to do this. Today’s Gospel (in the Extraordinary Form) has us meditate on the workers of the eleventh hour. The project of Cap Fatima 2017 is already almost two years old and there are only eight months left from now until the end of the centenary. It’s not exactly the eleventh hour, but it’s close to it. So, be numerous in following the example of these workers and pass on to those around you what you learn, or what you are reminded of, in these newsletters. And happy are the workers of the eleventh hour, for they will receive as much as those of the first hour!
In union of prayer in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Yves de Lassus,
Cap Fatima 2017.