This article is based on the transcript of a talk given by Father Gruner in the autumn of 1998 at the Catholic Family News Conference.
By Father Nicholas Gruner, S.T.L., S.T.D.(Cand.)
The story of Fatima is not over, but the story of Jacinta's life in one way, is. In a certain sense, we will not see the end of the story of Fatima in the history of the world until enough people cooperate with it. But at least we can see where the story should begin and end in our own lives and this is demonstrated in the life of Jacinta. We can say, without a doubt, that Jacinta accomplished her mission on earth.
We sometimes wonder what the conclusion will be, in the larger picture, with the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima, the Third Secret referring to the apostasy in the Church today, and with the second part of the Secret referring to the destruction of Christendom. With all this we could lose sight of the fact that the story of Fatima has a more fundamental impact for each of us personally. That, of course, is our own salvation.
Jacinta was most struck with the salvation of souls and certainly we all should be. But the other aspect that is not stressed enough in her life story is her great love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary and what she experienced, particularly in the first four apparitions of Our Lady.
Nor do we hear much about the appearance of an angel three times in 1916, preceding Our Lady's visits. He came in the spring, the summer and the autumn. We do not know the exact date because, as Lucy points out in her Memoirs, "We did not know how to count the days". But she did know the seasons and she tells us that the first apparition of the Angel took place in the spring of 1916.
When the Angel came, Jacinta was six years old, her brother Francisco seven, and their cousin Lucy, nine. Of the three, Jacinta was particularly sensitive. If you have studied the temperaments, it would be safe to say that she had a sanguine temperament. She was lively and vivacious but at the same time she could also be a little bit vain and slightly temperamental.
Fatima Endorsed by God
One of the great signs of the authenticity of Fatima is the great Miracle of the Sun. Another great sign is the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 that have come true since that time. But we must also count among these signs the sanctity of the lives of both Jacinta and Francisco, particularly Jacinta.
Lucy describes how, in 1916, when the Angel appeared, he came over the trees and commanded, not so much by what he said, but by his very presence. She did not speak of this publicly until 1935 when she wrote her First Memoir. Neither she, nor Jacinta, nor Francisco spoke about it to their parents. They did not even discuss it among themselves, unlike the discussions they had about whether they should tell anyone when Our Lady visited.
Lucy had prudently learned to keep silence after her experience in 1915 when she and three other companions saw an angel. They were ridiculed when they spoke of the appearance and Lucy's family dismissed it as childish imagination.
When the Angel came in 1916, he gave the children two prayers. He gave them the first prayer in the spring and the second in the autumn. Both these prayers referred to the most prevalent sin of the 20th century, the sins against God.
The sins against God in His Divinity are lack of faith, the lack of adoration, the lack of hope and the lack of love of God. The Angel taught them a very simple prayer to make acts of faith, hope and charity and acts of adoration, and at the same time to pray for the forgiveness of those who do not make these acts.
In the spring of 1916 then, the Angel prostrated himself with his forehead touching the ground and taught the children to follow his example. Then he repeated the following prayer three times:
"O My God, I believe in Thee, I adore Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. I ask pardon for all those who do not believe in Thee, do not adore Thee, do not hope in Thee, and do not love Thee."
The children remained in this prayerful position of full prostration and profound adoration from early in the day until evening, reciting this prayer for hours and hours and hours. When they finally lifted their forehead from the ground it was already night time. They continued to pray this prayer every day from that spring day until some time in the summer. Over time, though, their fervor and frequency of recitation of this prayer became less and less.
St. Bernard tells us that the spiritual life is like a man paddling up the river against the current. If you stop paddling, the current will carry you back down, away from your goal.
"Pray More: Play Less"
And so we must keep vigilance against the capital sin of sloth. Most of us translate sloth to mean laziness, but that is not exactly correct. More precisely, it is laziness in spiritual matters. The spiritual writers tell us that the sin that most holds pious souls back from advancing is actually the sin of sloth. That is: carelessness in being faithful to our spiritual duties and lack of fervor and attentiveness in our prayers and other spiritual exercises.
This law of the spiritual life was also experienced by the three children, when, by the summertime, they slackened off from saying the Angel's prayer.
And so when the Angel appeared again, at noon on a hot summer day, he found them down near the well, playing in the shade instead of praying.
By our standards we might ask what was wrong with that? After all, they were only children. But the Angel rebuked them, asking: "Why are you playing? You must pray more."
He told them to offer up sacrifices to the Most High and that the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary were attentive to the voice of their prayers.
Stop and think for a moment how you feel when you are anxiously expecting a very important phone call and it does not come. Similarly, you can understand what the Angel is trying to tell us when he says the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary are waiting to hear from you. They are attentive to the voice of your supplications. They are listening and you are not speaking to Them. The Angel explained all this to the children, that Jesus and Mary had not heard from them, and They were still waiting.
Jesus and Mary are Waiting for You
We tend to think of God as being only in Heaven and happy in Himself and so we tend to think that our prayers will not be missed by God. But whether or not we pray makes a difference to Our Lord and Our Lady. The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary are waiting for our prayers. The Blessed Virgin and the Angel at Fatima both have asked us to console Our Lord and Our God by our fervent prayers.
The Angel wants us to realize that our prayers are important and that how well and how frequently you pray matters to the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Your prayers make a difference. They are worth much more than your vote is worth when you are concerned about the governance of your country. The governance of the universe is more influenced by the prayers that you offer every day than it is by the vote that you cast.
The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary listen and if you ask Them for favors They will give them to you. If you do not ask, you will not receive. The most important grace Jesus and Mary want you to ask for is for the conversion of sinners. But aside from that, They want you to talk to Them as you would talk to your closest friend.
God Enjoys Our Friendship
Obviously there is an infinite difference between God the Creator and each of us, since we are only creatures. St. Thomas tell us that the distinguishing difference of the Catholic religion from all the other religions which are false, is in fact, the intimacy with which God wants us to be in communion with Him. He does not just want us to be that way in Holy Communion, but all the time, as much as possible.
He wants us to converse with Him and be closer to Him, not only in Heaven but here on earth just as a husband and wife are. Holy Scripture gives the image of bride and groom as being in intimate friendship. In Sacred Scripture, God uses this image to tell all souls that He desires to be in an even closer friendship with us than exists between a bride and groom. Each and every soul, whether a consecrated virgin or whatever vocation, is called to that intimate union with Our Lord.
And so the Angel is reminding the children and through them, each one of us, that the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of our supplications.
During the second appearance of the Angel, Lucy spoke to this heavenly being for the first time and said, "How can we offer sacrifices to The Most High?" He gave a very simple, but profound answer. "Let everything you do be a sacrifice". From morning to night, even when you sleep, everything you do can be offered to God. Whether it is joyful or sorrowful, everything you do has value once you offer it to God.
Fatima then, also reminds us to make our Morning Offering and to renew it throughout the day. Make the Act of Consecration of yourself to Our Lady. Make everything you do a sacrifice. Above all, accept the sufferings God sends you.
He asks these sacrifices particularly for the conversion of sinners.
This theme goes through the whole Message of Fatima and is the one that Jacinta, even though she was the youngest, understood better than the other children. And they in turn understood it better than perhaps any one of us here.
Jacinta understood the importance and the extremely great usefulness of sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. A soul is infinitely valuable not in itself but because Christ, Who is Infinitely Valuable, shed His Blood for the salvation of that soul.
Thus she understood the value of suffering, of prayers and sacrifices offered for the conversion of sinners. That is a theme that reoccurs through her whole life since the time of the apparitions, particularly when Our Lady came and explained it even further.
Artist's depiction of Vision of Hell, July 13, 1917, at Fatima. See "Light of July 1917" for more details.
God Entrusts Souls to Your Care
It is well for each of us to reflect that God has entrusted certain souls to the care of each one of us, to you and to me. You may not know who they are in this life but nevertheless there are souls entrusted to your care that will go to Hell unless you offer prayers and sacrifices for them. That person could be your mother or father, your brother or sister, or your next door neighbor, or it could be somebody you don't even know at all.
Pope Pius XII notes this fact in his Encyclical The Mystical Body of Christ which was published in 1943. He said it is a great mystery, but nevertheless true, that the number of souls saved depends on how well Catholics cooperate with God's Grace.
Our Lady puts it in Her own way: "Many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray for them and make sacrifices for them." That is a direct quote of Our Lady. She mentioned that particularly when She returned on August 19 after the children were released from jail. It was after that day that the children found a rough cord which they cut into three pieces and each of them willingly wore it around their waist day and night as a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.
When Jacinta first put this rough cord on she cried. Lucy said to her: "If it hurts you so much you shouldn't wear it." But Jacinta replied, "No, I want to wear it, I want to offer this sacrifice for the conversion of sinners."
And she did. In fact, the three of them wore this cord even when they went to bed at night, this causing them to not sleep very well.
Thus the fervor that had slackened between the spring and summer of 1916, had by now increased very greatly by September 1917 to the point that Our Lady had to tell them on September 13: "God is pleased with your sacrifices but do not wear the cord at night because that is too difficult for you."
This fact reminds us that holiness is acquired by degrees, not all at once. In our culture today, where we want everything now, if not yesterday, we must not try to make God's laws of spirituality conform to our culture. Rather, we must conform to God's laws, even when what we want is a great good. So the children grew in holiness but they did not stop there, as we will see.
Children play children's games and adults play adult games. St. Thomas tells us that relaxation is also part of Christian virtue. The virtue of moderation calls for a certain amount of recreation in order for our spirit not to snap, so to speak.
Recreation in Moderation
St. Thomas gives the example of St. John the Evangelist who, when a man asked him why he was not praying when he came to visit him, St. John told the man, "See that bow and arrow?" The bow was released and the string was loose. He said, "If we left that bow always tight, the bow would snap." So, too, would our spirit break without relaxation.
I think most of us, particularly in our present-day culture, do not have a problem of taking sufficient recreation or relaxation. On the contrary, we have the problem of taking too much, as even the children demonstrated.
According to St. Michael, if I have identified this Heavenly angel correctly, he told the children that they were playing too much. Generally speaking, in our society, I think our excess is in having too much rather than too little recreation.
And so the children were more fervent after the rebuke of the Angel and offered their sacrifices and everything they did but above all, they offered the sufferings that God sent their way.
For Your Own Good
Sufferings come in many ways. We should first understand that if someone should do an injustice to you, steal from you, malign you; whether it be by a bishop, priest, mother, father, brother, sister, neighbor, or anybody else; it doesn't mean you can't preserve your legitimate rights, especially if it be for the good of the Church, or for the good of God, or for the good of souls.
But whatever it is that irritated you or tried your patience, you should still look upon the occasion as something that God allows to happen to you for your own good. The saints tell us we should look upon our enemies as our best friends. You might say that is a very strange way of looking at things.
Our enemies, nevertheless, serve a purpose. Besides whatever punishment they will get from God for their evilness, they are serving you a good purpose and that is they are testing your virtue. You can offer that up to God and receive greater merit for yourself. Needless to say, however, we should not allow them to influence us in their evil ways.
So if you accept what God sends you, in a proper sense, your enemies are actually giving you a wealth that you can keep for all eternity; greater merit in Heaven. Jacinta would look upon it, and we should too, as a way of saving more souls. That is, by accepting these sufferings and offering them up to God for the conversion of sinners so more souls will be saved.
It depends on our perspective. If we could look at everything from a point of view of faith as the Angel taught the children at Fatima, and is teaching us here, we can 'cash in' on the evils inflicted on us by others.
Otherwise, if we find that these things only irritate us, make us lose patience and complain, seek to get even, act grumpy, etc., we thus go backward in the spiritual life. Let us not lose the golden opportunity lest we do go backwards. We may even find on judgment day that we must spend more time in Purgatory because we committed venial sins as we resisted this cross. (God forbid it be even mortal sins). So let everything you do be a sacrifice and above all accept all the sufferings that God sends you and offer them for the conversion of sinners.
This would seem to summarize Jacinta's message but it goes even further than that. The third time the Angel came was in the autumn of 1916. This time he came with the Blessed Sacrament. He had the Chalice in one hand and the Host in the other. When he came over to them he left the Host suspended in the air above the Chalice and he prostrated on the ground before the Blessed Sacrament. He told the three children to do the same and then he taught them to pray the second prayer.
|St Michael taught the children at Fatima to adore the Blessed Sacrament before receiving Holy Communion.|
The Second Prayer of the Angel
This prayer is longer. The whole prayer is as follows:
"O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee most profoundly and I offer up to Thee the Most Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son Jesus Christ present in all the Tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the blasphemies, outrages and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And I draw upon the infinite merits of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that Thou might convert poor sinners."
Let us now examine each part of this prayer.
"O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee most profoundly ..."
This act of adoration was specifically directed to the Blessed Sacrament. Yet if you reflect for a moment, he was not only adoring God the Son, but also adoring God the Father and God the Holy Ghost.
There is a subtle error alive in the Church today, that we must move the Blessed Sacrament off the main altar and put It to the side with the excuse that the Body of Christ offered in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should not be offered before the Blessed Sacrament present in the Tabernacle.
On the contrary, the best place to have "the altar of Sacrifice," to use their terminology, is before the Blessed Sacrament because the priest offers the Sacrifice of Jesus to God the Father, Who is also present with the Divinity of God the Son and of course also with the Divinity of God the Holy Ghost in the Blessed Sacrament.
So the best place to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is in fact, before the Divinity of God the Father, present in the Blessed Sacrament.
So the Angel here is adoring the Most Holy Trinity in the Blessed Sacrament because where the Divinity of God the Son is, in the Real Presence, there also is the Divinity of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit
The Angel Teaches Genuine Respect
for the Blessed Sacrament
By his example, the Angel taught them to adore the Blessed Sacrament. He insisted that they adore God present there before he gave them Holy Communion. Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Mysterium Fidei, points out that St. Augustine teaches:
It is a sin to receive the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion unless you have first adored the Blessed Sacrament.
There are many lessons taught by the Angel. Here we see, for example, the children receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. More specifically, Lucy received the Host on her tongue and Jacinta and Francisco received the Precious Blood from the Chalice.
It is interesting to note that an Angel would obviously be more worthy to touch the Blessed Sacrament than a priest. But it is also true that an Angel cannot consecrate the Host. He is not a priest. The dignity of a priest is higher. Although the sanctity and purity of every Angel is higher than every priest on earth, the dignity of the priest is higher than that of an Angel inasmuch as only the priest can consecrate. Only the priest can transubstantiate bread into the Body of Christ. The Archangel St. Michael, at Fatima, obviously took the Chalice and the Host from a tabernacle.
The Angel taught the children how to receive Holy Communion in a worthy state. Above all, we must be in the state of grace, then the first condition is adoration. That is something that is often overlooked today. We must make that act of adoration and of course when we receive Holy Communion the traditional way, the act of adoration is already present in the act of kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
This teaching of the Church is enshrined by centuries of holy tradition, if not from the very beginning. Furthermore, the Council of Trent tells us that Communion on the tongue comes from the time of the Apostles.
St. Thomas tells us that God sends prophets to every generation, not to give a new doctrine, but to remind the faithful what they must do to save their souls. (Summa Theologica II-II 174 Art.3.) God knew that the teaching and practice of adoration before receiving Holy Communion would be forgotten, by and large, by many in our time. God also knew that the greatest sin of the 20th century would be that of not giving sufficient adoration or acts of faith, hope and charity towards Him.
The errors of Russia, including Communism, are all based on one fundamental error, just as the error of abortion is based on the error that man becomes God or, stated another way, that man does not have to obey God. The feminists and abortionists say, "My body belongs exclusively to me. I can do what I want with it. Not even God Who created me can tell me what to do with my body." Furthermore, they claim that God does not have first place in the public life of a nation whether it is in the hospitals or the schools.
Of course, this error which is so prevalent even in our society is totally false and leads to tremendous evils in our day. The fact is that God, as Creator, has absolute rights over each and everyone's body. Each person is only the steward of his body and must give an accounting to God of that stewardship at the end of his life. So too, society itself belongs to God.
God's Rights Attacked
God is excluded from the schools here. You cannot pray there. It is against the ruling of nine men on a man-made committee. They now act as if they are God when they command when you can pray and when you cannot pray, and that you cannot pray in public. Of course they don't have the authority from God to do that but they've done it. That is really an attack on God's rights.
The errors of Russia have not only been spread in Russia but also in North America. The error of abortion was never practiced or legalized anywhere until it was first legalized in Russia in the 1920's. Logically, once you exclude God from the State, from the public life, then man usurps God's place or more exactly, the devil rules under the guise of man's supposed "rights".
God, in the minds and hearts of many people today, has been replaced by man. That is why it is so important that we make acts of adoration and of faith, hope and charity. I believe in God, I hope in God, I love God. All the errors of Russia and of the 20th century would ultimately be overturned if enough of us truly believe, adore, hope in and love God in all aspects of our lives.
Cardinal Newman said that if a person truly believes in God he is already 75% on his way to becoming Catholic and that there is no other religion that stands ultimately for the rights of God and insists on God being served as He should be. Because, of course, there is only one true religion, which is the Catholic Faith.
So the Angel taught the children to pray while adoring the Blessed Sacrament:
"O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee most profoundly."
The first act is an act of adoration.
"And I offer up to Thee the Most Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son Jesus Christ present in all the Tabernacles of the world ..."
The second act is one of offering.
They offer back to God, the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son, Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world.
Whatever little sacrifice we offer to God in one sense is very, very little in God's sight. That is, God does not need our money, our time, our energy or anything else. What He is really looking for from us is our heart. In turn He gives us something of much greater value, which is Himself. We can multiply what we offer to God by offering Him first of all what He gave to us; His Own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This is what the Angel taught the children to do.
Secrets of the Saints
There are secrets to prayer. They are not meant to be kept secret but they are kept from the impious scoffers and reserved for those who come with faith and try to please God. God is not trying to keep these things secret but some things you only more completely understand by practicing them. It is one thing to hear about it but you will learn it better when you put it into practice yourself.
The Angel taught the children by words and by example and then he commanded them to do what he taught. That is a more complete teaching. No doubt they were sanctified more by not only listening but also by believing and applying what they learned. This is true of all pious acts in themselves, but more importantly they offered the Most Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son, Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world. They offered That to the Most Holy Trinity, that is to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. They offered:
"In reparation for all the blasphemies, outrages and indifferences by which He Himself is offended."
They offered the Blessed Sacrament back to God first of all for reparation; to repair, to console the Holy Heart of Jesus and in fact, to console God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. After they had prayed this whole prayer (part of which we will explain further below) then the Angel gave them Holy Communion and he said:
"Receive Holy Communion and console your God, so outraged by the sins of men."
That is, He is so outraged by the sacrileges, outrages and indifference.
Specifically, God is offended by man's indifference.
Consider if you went to a lot of trouble to get a magnificent present for someone, putting your whole heart into it and going to great length to show your love for him. If that person took the gift as if it were nothing and did not even thank you, I think you would feel very saddened and offended. I am sure I would.
God lets these things happen sometimes for us to understand just a little bit how He feels. So by sending this angel God is telling us He is offended by the indifferences shown to God Himself. How many times do we pass the Blessed Sacrament and go on to our other duties without spending time with Him. God expects us to get on with our other duties too, but surely we could spend five minutes before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer, just to be present with Him.
The Curé of Ars asked an old man that used to visit the Blessed Sacrament, what he did there. The man said, "I just sit there and look at Him and He looks at me." Even that is a prayer. If we take His gift of His presence and the gift of everything He gives us, whether it is the sunrise or the sunset, good food or anything else, and we never thanked Him, that is offending Him.
Lukewarmness Offends God
Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary that He is more offended by the lukewarmness of His friends than by the outrages of His enemies. We are more susceptible to being hurt by those we love than by those who are our enemies because we have opened our heart to them. Our Lord opened His Heart to us more than to most humans and so He is offended by our indifferences.
People who commit sacrileges against Our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament, even out of weakness or negligence, offend God. It may seem hard to believe but there are also perverse people who hate God and go out of their way to offend Him. These acts of perversion and hatred of God do deeply offend Him.
Francisco's Special Devotion
Francisco prayed for sinners but his particular spirituality before the Blessed Sacrament was to console Jesus for all the sacrileges, outrages and indifferences that offend Him.
None of us can do tremendous things on our own. By ourselves we can do nothing, but no matter how small each of us is, we can all do our part to console God like Francisco did. His main motive for praying, for visiting the Blessed Sacrament, for offering sacrifices, was to offer consolation to God. He understood that God is indeed consoled by these acts of reparation.
Jacinta's Special Devotion
After the Angel had taught them to offer acts of reparation, he then had them pray:
"And I draw upon the infinite merits of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that You might convert poor sinners."
This brings us to the other motive for their prayers, which is at the heart of Jacinta's spirituality and that is to offer prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners.
Francisco was so horrified by the vision of Hell that he did not want to even think about it. Jacinta on the other hand was particularly moved by the vision of Hell and thought about it over and over again. She could not help but think about those souls burning in Hell for all eternity.
Jacinta realized that she could do something about it; that by making prayers and sacrifices she could save souls that otherwise would go to Hell.
It is a great mystery, as Pope Pius XII points out, but is nevertheless true, that the number of souls that are saved depends on how well Catholics cooperate with God's Grace.
How well the children prayed! How well they offered sacrifices! How well they accepted the sufferings that God sent them!
The Blessed Virgin, on three different occasions, opened Her hands and rays of light came from them. Each time this light did something different.
Light of May 1917
In May of 1917, the light fell on the hearts of each of the three children and in this light the children were penetrated with a foretaste of Heaven. Our Lady, on that occasion, asked them if they were willing to accept all the sufferings that God would send them for the conversion of sinners. Lucy, speaking for the three of them, said, "Yes". Our Lady then said:
"You will have much to suffer but the Grace of God will be with you to help you."
Light of June 1917
On June 13, the Blessed Virgin opened Her hands for the second time. This time the light fell on Lucy in a different way than from the other two children. It fell on Lucy and then it went down to the earth. The light from Her other hand fell on Jacinta and Francisco and then went up to Heaven. In June, when She opened Her hands, She also revealed Her Immaculate Heart encircled with thorns.
It is not often reflected upon that the special grace that all three of the children had in this June apparition was a great increase in their love for and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is a very special grace they received by having a great increase in devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Their sanctification became much easier. This is a secret of the saints.
There is a secret that God wants all His children to know about and that is the importance of devotion to Our Lady. How much it pleases Him that we should honor His Mother; that we should be devoted to Her; that we should draw closer to Her.
The children experienced this grace. Lucy said,
The two things that sanctified her cousins Jacinta and Francisco was the vision of Hell and the sadness of Our Lady.
Our Lady was never smiling when She appeared to them and they wanted to console Her. In their child-like way, as Lucy writes in her Memoirs, they kept trying to find different ways to offer more sacrifices in order to make reparation to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.
The thorns encircling Her Heart represent the sins of men. By making reparation, we could take some of these thorns out of Her Heart. The children tried many ways to offer Her these acts of consolation and reparation for the sins of others.
Light of July 1917
On July 13, when Our Lady opened Her hands for the third time, the light did not fall on the children but fell on the ground in front of them. It was in this light that the children could see below the face of the earth. It was in this light the children could see the fires of Hell.
Lucy describes in her Memoirs what she saw:
"We saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire in which were plunged all blackened and burnt, demons and souls in human form like transparent embers. Raised into the air by the flames, they fell back in all directions, like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, amidst loud cries and horrible groans of pain and despair which caused us to shudder and tremble with fear. The demons were distinguished by the horrible and repellent forms of terrible unknown animals, like embers of fire, black yet transparent."
This horrified the children so that they trembled with fear and looked up to Our Lady in supplication. Lucy tells us:
"This scene lasted an instant, and we must thank Our Heavenly Mother Who had prepared us beforehand by promising to take us to Heaven with Her; otherwise I believe that we should have died of fear and terror." Our Lady said: "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."
It was this vision then that particularly struck Jacinta and was very important to her spirituality. From that time forward she would recall that vision again and again. There was no sacrifice that was too great for her. Lucy describes this in her Memoirs.
When Our Lady appeared on July 13, She told them that when they made a sacrifice they might offer it with the following prayer:
"O My Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer this sacrifice to Thee."
You will note that first of all the sacrifice is offered for the love of Our Lord. Secondly it is for the conversion of sinners. And thirdly, in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And so the children offered this prayer frequently as they made many sacrifices.
The Children are Kidnapped
On August 13, the masonic mayor of Ourem, a town ten miles away from Fatima, kidnapped the children and put them in jail. They were imprisoned for two days with common criminals and he threatened to boil them in oil if they would not deny seeing Our Lady at Fatima. The mayor wanted to discredit the Fatima apparitions, so by getting the children to either deny seeing Our Lady or by revealing the Secret before its time, he could obviously destroy the credibility of the seers.
In fact, since Jacinta would not go along with his criminal request, he had Jacinta carried off first, to be boiled in oil until she died; since she would not reveal the Secret and she would not deny seeing Our Lady.
Then he had the policeman come to take Francisco and then Lucy. Each of them separately was willing to die rather than be unfaithful to Our Lady.
In that day alone, I think it could be said that the heroic sanctity of the children was clearly demonstrated.
It was a special grace they received, to be willing to die as a martyr. They cooperated with that grace. They were not actually martyred but they were willing to die a martyr's death. It is similar to Abraham's willingness to offer his son in sacrifice. They were willing to offer their own lives in sacrifice.
When Jacinta was in prison she cried, not because she was going to die, but because she would not see her mother and father again, particularly her mother.
I think it is well for mothers to realize that even though children sometimes don't seem to be paying attention to you, the fact is that you have tremendous influence over them and this is certainly seen in the life of Jacinta. She did not mind dying. She did not mind being in prison. But she did mind not seeing her mother again.
When Jacinta started to cry, Lucy distracted her by saying:
"We could offer this also as a sacrifice. What purpose do you want to offer it for? Should we offer it for the love of Jesus or for reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or for the conversion of sinners?"
"Francisco can offer it for the love of Jesus and you could offer it for the conversion of sinners."
Jacinta responded, "No, I want to offer it for all those intentions." And so she made the prayer of offering that Our Lady taught, offering even this sacrifice:
"O My Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and for the Holy Father, I offer this sacrifice to Thee."
This consoled Jacinta and she stopped crying.
Special Sacrifices for the Pope
Jacinta had joined to that act of offering, a fourth intention. The children did not come up with it entirely on their own nor was it part of the prayer Our Lady dictated to them. But it was from what Our Lady had told about the Holy Father that they decided to add, on their own initiative, the intention to pray for the Holy Father.
Previous to the apparitions, it is quite likely they had never heard of the Holy Father in Rome. They were well instructed but certainly the papacy is not something that you learn about in your first day in catechism. From Our Lady, they learned a lot about the Holy Father and when a good priest came by, they asked him questions about the Holy Father in Rome and they learned even more.
But in July and August we can see that the Holy Father became central to their prayer life, that is they offered prayers and sacrifices for him. Even in prison, they were prepared to offer their sacrifice of being boiled in oil and not seeing their parents again, for the Holy Father.
The Third Secret Talks About the Holy Father
Jacinta was graced with two visions of the Holy Father. Lucy and Francisco did not have them and Jacinta asked Lucy if she could tell anybody about them. Lucy told her she should not tell anyone because they were really part of the Secret.
This is another reason why we know the Third Secret concerns the Holy Father. It does not deal with the Holy Father alone but it definitely concerns him.
Pope Pius XII reflects on this. He is quoted by a non-traditional Monsignor, Georges Roche, who was the biographer of Cardinal Tisserant. Cardinal Tisserant was one of the principal actors in the Vatican-Moscow Agreement.
It is interesting that Msgr. Roche admires Cardinal Tisserant, yet quotes what Pope Pius XII has to say about the Third Secret:
"Suppose dear friend that Communism (Russia and Russia's errors in Fatima's terms) was only the most visible of the instruments of subversion to be used against the Church and the traditions of Divine Revelation ..."
Pope Pius XII clearly is suggesting that in the Fatima Message, Communism is only one of a number of means used by Russia to war against the Church. But there are also other instruments used to attack the Church from within. And surprisingly it is changes in the Mass.
"I'm worried by the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima.
"This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a Divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith in Her liturgy."
Here you have Pius XII saying that to alter the Faith in the liturgy is a mortally inflicted wound on the Church. And he goes on to tell us that it is in the Message of Fatima. Reflect again on what he said. Now you do not find what Pope Pius XII just said published in the Message of Fatima. Thus it has got to be in the Third Secret.
Pope Pius then explains what Our Lady of Fatima warns will fall upon the Church and the world if Her warning about the Sacred Liturgy is not heeded. He describes an experience in the future that perhaps all of us have had by now. Pope Pius XII continues:
"A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God... In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them, like Mary Magdalen weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, 'Where have they taken Him?'"
A day will come when the civilized world (in other words Christendom) will deny its God and the Church will doubt.
Pope Pius XII did not say "as Thomas doubted". He said "as Peter doubted". This is a subtle suggestion that the attack on the Faith may be centered even on the Pope's faith. Our Lady of Fatima said, "The Dogma of Faith will be preserved in Portugal," suggesting of course that it will not be preserved in many other parts of Europe or the world.
So it is particularly important in this time (as we are now living through the prophecies of the Third Secret) when even some high Vatican officials may doubt, or be confused — that we hang on to the Dogmatic definitions. They are infallible and cannot fail, even if others fail. The "Dogma of the Faith" particularly refers to what has been defined by the Church. To not lose our way today in this time of error, of confusion, of doubt, we must hold fast with our mind and heart to all the solemn definitions of the Faith.
Visions of the Holy Father
Jacinta's two visions of the Holy Father then take on a new meaning. She was willing to offer her dying suffering for the Holy Father. This consoled her; that she could mitigate the Holy Father's sufferings by offering her own sufferings and prayers to help the Holy Father in the crisis she was shown by Our Lady which was to take place at some future time, as well as what was revealed to her in the Third Secret.
In Jacinta's first vision of the Holy Father, he was in a large room. He is in tears. Outside, were a lot of people who hated him and were expressing their anger at him. They were saying terrible things and throwing stones at him.
In her second vision of the Pope, Jacinta sees him out in the open field, praying before an image of Our Lady. The streets are lined with people who are starving and the people are praying with the Holy Father.
Both of these are visions of the future. I do not think it is very far off. I believe it will happen in the near future if Our Lady's requests are not soon listened to and obeyed.
Some ask why we bother talking about these things. They think they are too frightening or that we cannot do anything about it. That is where Jacinta proves them wrong. We can do something about it and of course we can do what the Angel taught the children; to pray and offer sacrifices for sinners, and know that the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of our supplications for the Holy Father.
It is good to be humble in ourselves. We all have good reason to be humble but it is also well for us to realize, as St. Teresa of Avila tells us, that we will never do anything great for God if we don't realize the great gifts that God has given us. The very fact that you have the Catholic Faith at this time of apostasy shows that you are especially blessed by God. Count yourselves extremely blessed. Hold on to your Catholic Faith, despite all the things going on around you; not only in your own life but in the world in general and in the Church.
God Expects a Return For His Gifts
You can be sure of the fact that God has given you special graces. Not through any merit of your own but God, as a Good Investor, as He compares Himself to, wants a return on His investment. He says, "If I have given you five talents, I am expecting those five plus some extra in return."
He wants us to try to double our "talents" and so we must trade with the talents He has given us. We can always do better. Just as the children regained their fervor after having been rebuked. All of us could have an increase of fervor. By following the example of Jacinta, as well as Francisco and Lucy, and above all the teaching of the Angel and of Our Lady, we would find that everything we do will make a difference.
We may not see that until the day of our death, or when, God willing, we go to Heaven. Only in Heaven will we know the good we never realized we were doing while on earth. God sometimes keeps these things hidden from us so we will not become proud. He, in His goodness towards us, does not want us to become proud and lose the benefit of all our good works, as little as they may be.
Jacinta's Heroic Virtue
I'd like to dwell upon the inspirational and heroic degree of Jacinta's life. Some time after the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917, Jacinta and Francisco both became sick with the Spanish influenza. Francisco died on April 4, 1919. Our Lady appeared to Jacinta and asked her if she would be willing to suffer even more for the conversion of sinners and Jacinta, in her great generosity, said she would.
Our Lady told her she would have more to suffer and that she would go to two hospitals and not be cured. Her parents, of course, sent her there to be cured but Our Lady told her she would not achieve health in either of these hospitals but that she was going to be sent there to suffer more and that in the second hospital she would die.
Jacinta was not particularly upset about dying so young. She wanted to go to Heaven as soon as possible but she was very deeply moved at the prospect of dying alone without even her mother or father present. But she heroically accepted this suffering and as Our Lady predicted, it took place.
The first hospital was in Ourem, not too far from Fatima. The second hospital was in Lisbon, quite a distance away and her parents could not afford to visit her. There she was operated on and had four bones removed from her rib cage. That would be very painful for anyone under normal circumstances but this was not normal. I am not sure if it was because of wartime conditions or whether it was because of her particular condition but they did not give her a general anesthetic when they operated. They only gave her a local one but even it did not work. She suffered extreme pain.
The doctor who operated on her was not an especially religious man but he considered her a saint because she never complained during the whole operation. She was conscious the entire time and she never complained, even though she was in excruciating pain. When he heard her speak; he realized she was not speaking to him but that she was speaking to Our Lord. Jacinta said: "Now, Jesus, you can save many souls because I suffer very much."
Three days before her death God took away all her sufferings. She knew when she was going to die and she sent for the priest to bring her Communion. She had not received her First Communion except from the Angel back in 1916. The priest thought she would live until the following morning, but she died at night before he got there. Alone, as Our Lady had predicted.
Angels and Church Bells
Her story does not quite finish there. Portugal was still under masonic rule. By December of 1918, a little more than a year after Our Lady came to Fatima, most of the anti-Catholic laws were struck down by none other than a masonic Prime Minister. He was assassinated by his brother masons in December 1918 for his efforts.
By 1920, though, there still remained a law in the books that would not allow any church bells to be rung in the city of Lisbon. All the bell towers were locked.
Miraculously, when Jacinta's body was brought to the Church of the Angels, the bells rang by themselves. The only explanation you could give to this miracle was that the angels themselves rang the bells because of Jacinta's heroic sanctity.
Jacinta was buried in Ourem in 1920. She was buried in quick lime because they did not want the Spanish influenza to spread. In 1935 her body was exhumed to be transferred to the cemetery in Fatima and when they opened her tomb, they found that she was incorrupt. Her body was hardly changed at all. Her flesh, skin and hair all still intact.
In 1951 her body was transferred to the new basilica. They put her in a tomb up on the right hand side of the church and when they opened the tomb again, her body was still found to be incorrupt. Remember she had been buried in quick lime so not only the natural process of decomposition but even the quick lime, which normally would burn her flesh and speed up the decomposition of the body, did not ever cause her body to be corrupted at all.
People pray to Jacinta to ask her intercession on their behalf and there have been many favors obtained through her prayers. Even during Jacinta's lifetime, Lucy tells us of some of the graces that were obtained through Jacinta's prayers. Francisco too, has obtained great graces for his clients by his prayers.
I certainly recommend that you ask them to help you in your needs as well.
I hope this has given you some idea of Jacinta's sanctity and her lesson for us in our times.
Even though none of us are popes or bishops, we can make a difference by our prayers and by our sacrifices. Our Lady of Fatima, the Angel, and the example of the three children, particularly Jacinta, encourage us and actually urge us to do what we can for God, Our Lady and for souls.
What you do in this life is not unimportant — you can make a difference.
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