In the End
by Mark Fellows
“In the end,” Our Lady of Fatima told the children, “My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”1 The question is, are we at the end?
It seems evident that the Immaculate Heart of Mary has not triumphed in the Church, and it is perhaps for this reason that the Immaculate Heart has not triumphed in Russia.
According to some influential members of the Vatican hierarchy, the answer is yes. In Fatima on May 13, 2000, after the beatification ceremony for Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano told hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that the Fatima Secret concerned only past events: Russian Communism, and the 1981 assassination attempt on His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), agreed. In a June 2000 document issued by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone, entitled The Message of Fatima, Ratzinger stated: “We must affirm with Cardinal Sodano … the events to which the third part of the secret of Fatima refers now seem part of the past.”2
More recently (December, 2001) the Vatican made public an interview between Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone (the then CDF secretary) and ninety-five-year-old Sister Lucy, the sole surviving visionary of the Fatima Apparitions. According to Msgr. Bertone, in their interview Sister Lucy stated, in contradiction to her prior statements, that Pope John Paul II had successfully consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1984.3 Moreover, Msgr. Bertone maintained that, again contrary to her previous remarks,4 Sister Lucy now believed the Vatican had published the entire Third Secret of Fatima.5
According to the Vatican, then, we have reached “the end” referred to by Our Lady of Fatima on July 13, 1917. The Holy Father has consecrated Russia, and the entire Fatima Message has been published. Our Lady said that “in the end” Her Immaculate Heart would triumph, Russia would convert, and the world would enjoy a period of peace. If the Vatican is correct in its assessment of the Fatima Message, we must now be experiencing the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
The Conversion of Russia
|Moscow's Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II refuses to allow the Pope to visit Russia.|
Readers may be excused for not realizing this. Russia’s conversion to Catholicism which, according to Our Lady of Fatima, would coincide with the consecration of Russia, has been, well, subtle. The approximately six hundred thousand Russian Catholics6 are a tiny, legally persecuted minority in a nation where two-thirds of the one hundred and forty-five million people belong to the schismatic Orthodox Church,7 whose Patriarch refuses to allow the Pope to visit Russia.
Moreover, it is difficult to find evidence of even a veiled or embryonic conversion to Catholicism in pronouncements from the Orthodox Church — like a recent blast in which a spokesman for Patriarch Alexy II expressed indignation that the Church might attempt “missionary activities among the people of our country, which has never been Catholic.”8 So subtle is Russia’s conversion to Catholicism that Alexy called the Vatican’s simple restructuring of the Russian Catholic Church into dioceses “an unfriendly act.” Speaking of unfriendly acts, in April Russian police detained Msgr. Jerzy Mazur, the Catholic bishop of Russia’s largest diocese, and without explanation expelled him from Russian soil, forbidding him to return.9 Now that’s subtle.
It is likely the small remnant of faithful Russian Catholics are unaware of their nation’s conversion to Catholicism. They are, one imagines, accustomed to making the best of a bad situation. And the situation in Russia is bad and getting abysmal. The societal indicators point not towards a national conversion to Catholicism, but towards a decline into barbarism. The details have been chronicled elsewhere,10 but can be briefly summarized as woefully high rates of abortion, alcoholism, and organized crime.
The inconvenient fact of the matter is that Russia’s decline seemed to accelerate after Pope John Paul II’s 1984 consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart.11 The razing of the Berlin Wall, the apparent attempts at democratic government, and the influx of consumerism and Western culture into Russia have been taken as signs that Russia is “normalizing” after decades of Communist oppression. Although that is debatable, it is evident that none of these signs — including Russia’s recent inclusion into NATO12 — is proof of a religious conversion to Catholicism of the magnitude of the Fatima prophecy.
On this point it is worth recalling portions of a letter Sister Lucy wrote in 1936. Responding to a priest’s inquiry about the consecration of Russia, Lucy answered:
“I have spoken to Our Lord about the subject and not too long ago I asked Him why He would not convert Russia without the Holy Father making the consecration. (He replied) ‘Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cult later on and put the devotion to the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.
“‘Pray very much for the Holy Father. He will do it but it will be late … Nevertheless, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. It has been entrusted to Her’.”13
So we have it on divine authority that, although ‘it will be late’, in the end, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will save Russia. In order to properly honor Mary, it is necessary for the Pope and the bishops to solemnly consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart. Only then will Russia convert. Consequently, it is not mere semantics to insist that a consecration of the world is not what Heaven is seeking.
Given Heaven’s insistence that the Immaculate Heart be properly honored — Jesus “wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart” the Blessed Virgin told Lucy14 — we may safely assume that the conversion of Russia will be a prodigious event that commands attention, similar in magnitude to the Miracle of the Sun that occurred at the final Fatima apparition on October 13, 1917 — just before Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power.
That such an event has not occurred is further evidence — were it needed — that Russia has yet to convert to Catholicism. The reason is that Russia has not been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary according to the requirements of the Fatima Message.
The Third Secret Visible
Our Lady also said that “in the end” there would be a period of peace which would coincide with the consecration and conversion of Russia. As the events of September 11, 2001, put in bold relief, however, there is no peace. Civil wars and persecution of the Catholic Church — particularly by Islam — occur daily throughout the world. These sobering events are a jarring counterpoint to well-publicized interfaith ecumenical gatherings, like Assisi.
Are we at the end of the Fatima Message? Are we living in the period of peace Our Lady of Fatima promised would occur with the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart? There is, unfortunately, nothing factual to support this. Well then, where are we?
That we are living in a period of remarkable upheaval in the Catholic Church is not merely a plausible argument supported by statistics and a myriad of post-conciliar horror stories. It is a fact attested to by the present Pope, his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and other notable members of the hierarchy like Cardinal Ratzinger. The phrase they have used, “crisis of faith”, is an all embracing term for the utter decadence in religious orders, an insipid, ever devolving liturgy, a corresponding steep decline in Mass attendance and belief in the Real Presence, the indifference or defiance of the world episcopate to papal authority, and numerous other indicators of a universal loss of faith — in a word, apostasy.
(The most recent catastrophe has been the discovery of hundreds of homosexual American clergy who for decades have been preying — not praying — on adolescent boys. Anyone wondering why vocations to the priesthood are down, at least among heterosexual men? The numbing magnitude of this latest crisis is unrelieved by the reaction of the American hierarchy: no anguish, no remorse, no contrition; just well managed press conferences staged by a corporation doing public relations damage control.)
Rather than document a depressing litany of scandal, heresy, and aberration most readers are probably already aware of, suffice it to say that in the Church, like the world, there is no peace. It seems evident that the Immaculate Heart of Mary has not triumphed in the Church,15 and it is perhaps for this reason that the Immaculate Heart has not triumphed in Russia.
Which brings us to the Third Secret of Fatima, and an answer to the question: where are we? To be precise, we don’t need to know the exact contents of the Third Secret of Fatima to acknowledge that the Church is undergoing a convulsive apostasy affecting not just the laity but priests, bishops, and Cardinals. However, it is interesting that all Fatima experts, and of course, Sister Lucy, have pointedly implied or expressly stated that the Third Secret concerns widespread apostasy in the highest levels of the Church.
There have been other apostasy-ridden periods in Church history, but few of them have been predicted and given a prescription ahead of time by the Mother of God in a public apparition. If, as most experts think, the Third Secret of Fatima concerns apostasy in high levels of the Church, it is surely significant that the Blessed Virgin wanted the Third Secret revealed by the Church in 1960.16 It was not. Thus began the time of the Third Secret, which coincided with a great falling away from the truth. It would seem that until the Fatima prescriptions are followed, the falling away will continue, and in all likelihood accelerate. Evil, like good, has a momentum of its own, and a myriad of unforeseen consequences.
So where are we? We are not “at the end” of the Fatima Message. We are living in a time of great apostasy, which coincides almost exactly with the Third Fatima Secret which was supposed to be revealed in 1960. In my humble opinion, this is not mere “coincidence”.
Before the End
In 2000 Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone issued a booklet entitled The Message of Fatima that purported to reveal the entire Third Secret. The curious thing about this document, however, is that it did not address the words commonly believed by Fatima experts to be the beginning of the Third Secret: “In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved …”17
The Church-appointed historian of Fatima, Father Joaquin Alonso, explained: “All authors have taken into consideration how Lucia, in the fourth Memoir, introduced the famous paragraph with the words ‘In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc. ...’ They have deduced as certain that the third ‘thing’ began there. These words introduce the revelation of the third part of the Secret.”18
Father Alonso spoke often to Sister Lucy while researching his multi-volume work on Fatima. Frère Michel sums up Alonso’s opinion on the Third Secret:
“It is therefore completely probable that the text makes concrete references to the crisis of faith within the Church and to the negligence of the pastors themselves. He (Alonso) speaks further of ‘internal struggles in the very bosom of the Church and of grave pastoral negligence by the upper hierarchy,’ of ‘deficiencies of the upper hierarchy of the Church’.”19
If Father Alonso and Frère Michel are right, many things are explained, including the issuance by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone of a booklet that allegedly reveals the Third Secret of Fatima, but in fact omits the only known words of the Secret.20
Sister Lucy spoke of a “diabolical disorientation” that had gripped the clergy. Indeed, when one looks objectively at the level of evil in the Church and the world, and then hears prominent Churchmen describing this wretched period of misery as the “new advent of humanity”, or worse, the work of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to feel disoriented. It is interesting to note that pre-conciliar Popes did not share the current optimism.
Pope Pius XII, who died less than five years before the Second Vatican Council opened, declared:
“We believe that the present hour is a dread phase of the events foretold by Christ. It seems that darkness is about to fall on the world. Humanity is in the grip of a supreme crisis.”21
His predecessor, Pope St. Pius X, related the following vision: “I saw one of my successors taking to flight over the bodies of his brethren. He will take refuge in disguise somewhere; and after a short retirement he will die a cruel death. The present wickedness of the world is only the beginning of the sorrows which must take place before the end of the world.”22
St. Pius’ vision is similar to the vision of Sister Lucy which Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone represented as the entire Third Secret. Sister Lucy saw a Pope leading a small remnant through “a big city half in ruins,” past corpses, and up a steep mountain to a cross where he and his followers are murdered en masse.23 The visions of St. Pius X and Sister Lucy recall Blessed Jacinta Marto’s visions of a weeping Pope “kneeling by a table with his head buried in his hands,” surrounded by enemies, and of “highways and roads and fields full of people who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat.”24
Jacinta’s visions are often assumed to refer to World War II and Pope Pius XII. Yet Jacinta may have been shown a future conflict. As Father McGlynn noted in 1950, “there is no indication in Her (Mary’s) message that this (peace) will be achieved before another war.”25 The point, however, is that the events seen by Lucy and Jacinta — and perhaps by Pius X — may come to pass before “the end,” that is, before the triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, the consecration and conversion of Russia, and the period of peace. Father Alonso said:
“The final triumph of Mary’s Heart is certain and it will be definitive. But it will take place in the end, that is to say, after a terrible purification of sinful humanity, in a baptism of fire, blood and tears.”26
Father Alonso’s implications are sobering. He would seem to be in agreement with St. Pius X, that we are in the “beginning of sorrows.” One wonders how many more catastrophes will occur before the Fatima prescriptions are followed.
A Vision of Triumph
Sister Lucy’s vision in Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone’s The Message of Fatima is assumed to refer to the Third Secret, and well it may, although from its content it could also refer to what is commonly called the Second Secret: Mary’s warning about Russia’s errors resulting in nations being annihilated, the good being martyred, and the Holy Father having "much to suffer." Another Fatima vision concerned what is commonly called the First Secret: the sight of multitudes of souls falling into hell — like snowflakes, Lucy said — because there was no one to pray and sacrifice for them.
Yet there is another Fatima vision that must not be neglected. It happened during the apparition of June 13, 1917. After promising Lucy: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge,” Mary opened Her hands in a gesture Lucy later compared to the Dominus Vobiscum at Mass.27 From Her palms issued rays of an “immense light” which appeared to simultaneously bear Francisco and Jacinta to Heaven and immerse Lucy on earth.
“In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it,” Lucy said. “We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.”28 The light from Our Lady’s palms “penetrated to our inmost hearts,” said Lucy, adding: “I think that on that day the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.”29
“From that day onwards,” Lucy writes in her Third Memoir, “our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”30 What did this triumph of the Immaculate Heart in the lives of the seers look like?
Much of it was, like the life of the Blessed Virgin, hidden. The children kept the Secret Mary gave them. They pondered it in their hearts, the same way Sacred Scripture describes Mary “pondering all these things in Her heart.” They prayed much, and developed a thirst for penance and suffering. It was later discovered that Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucy all wore heavy knotted ropes and engaged in other physical mortifications very unusual for children their ages.
Perhaps their zest for suffering was the outward manifestation of a love of the Blessed Trinity. Lucy said that in previous apparitions Mary had provided them with intimate knowledge of God and the Holy Trinity. Who can better teach us how to love God than the Blessed Virgin? What creature knows better how to please God, or wills what God wills more ardently? And if God wills that children do penance and mortification in reparation for offenses committed against the hearts of Jesus and Mary, what does this mean for the rest of us?
Mary’s mantle spreads to cover all Her children, but it does not protect them from crosses. Instead crosses, properly used, accelerate love of God and develop a more intimate knowledge between creature and Creator. Francisco Marto developed a love for the “hidden Jesus” so strong he spent all his free time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, until his last days, when illness kept him bedridden. He confessed to Lucy that he suffered much, and added: “But it doesn’t matter. I suffer to console Our Lord, and in a little while I shall be with Him.”31
When he died, Jacinta was too sick to go to his funeral. She was put in the bed Francisco died in, but it was her fate to die far away from her home and family. She was devoted to the Immaculate Heart, and when the Blessed Virgin showed Jacinta that she would die alone in a Lisbon hospital after much suffering, the little girl embraced the repugnant fate with tears but without complaint. “If only I could put in the heart of everybody,” Jacinta told Lucy, “that light that I have here in my breast to burn me and make me love the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary so much.”32
The “little Mother of Heaven,” as Jacinta called Her, had told the children they would “have much to suffer,” but She promised that "the grace of God will be your comfort.” To Lucy She made an additional promise: “I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”33 The assurance of not being forsaken was surely intended to comfort Sister Lucy over a long life as hidden and penitential as her cousins’.
How similar are these lives to the life of the Blessed Virgin, whose Heart was pierced time and again by swords of sorrow and thorns of grief. Just as Mary did not avoid the Cross, so no one who follows Her can avoid the Cross, be it three Portuguese shepherd children or the remnant of Russian Catholics. However long it takes, in the end She will triumph universally because God has so ordained it. Meanwhile, the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart in the lives of souls is as humble and hidden as Her own life, or any life that is completely absorbed in God.
To the eyes of the world, such triumphs are as incomprehensible as the triumph of the Cross was to the Sanhedrin. May those who wish to be Her children be given eyes to see, ears to hear, and the grace to follow to the end this sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of our Mother of Fair Love.
1. Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD, Editor, Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, The Ravengate Press, p. 162.
2. The Message of Fatima, the booklet published by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone on June 26, 2000.
3. Sister Lucy has in fact consistently maintained that a valid consecration must explicitly mention Russia by name and significantly involve the world episcopate. Pope John Paul II’s 1984 consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary did neither.
4. The web page of the Italian daily la Repubblica carried an interview with Father Luigi Bianchi, an old friend of Sister Lucy’s. In the interview Bianchi said Lucy agreed with his assessment that the Vatican issued only a “watered down” version of the Third Secret. The November 2001 issue of Catholic Family News (CFN) published a photocopy of the article in Italian, with an accompanying English translation.
5. From a press release issued by the Vatican on December 20, 2001, and later published in the January 9, 2002 English Edition issue of L’Osservatore Romano.
6. Everything is disputed, however. The Orthodox claim there are not this many Catholics in Russia; the Vatican puts Russia’s Catholic population at 1.3 million.
7. From an AP news report from Moscow, April 1, 2002, entitled “Head of Russian Orthodox Church says talks with Vatican remain on hold.”
8. “Russian Orthodox Church Angered by Vatican Diocese Plan,” reported in Agence France Presse, February 11, 2002, from Moscow.
9. As reported in Catholic, from a Fides News Report of April 20, 2002.
10. By the author of this article in the “This Present Darkness” series, published in Catholic Family News (CFN) in the summer of 2000, and more recently by John Vennari in CFN, February 2002.
11. It has been maintained by some that this satisfied Our Lady of Fatima’s request that Russia be consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. Such assertions are generally made without offering supporting evidence.
12. Russian head of state Vladimir Putin scored a coup at a May summit meeting near Rome when Russia signed onto NATO, pledging to fight alongside the United States against world terrorism. Doing his best Pope John XXIII imitation, Putin told reporters: "We’re convinced that what unites us outweighs what divides us." See news.colm.au - "NATO-Russia pact signed, May 29, 2002."
13. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume II, Immaculate Heart Publications, p. 631 (hereinafter reffered to as TWTAF.) The italicized words are Our Lord’s response to Sister Lucy.
14. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 161.
15. In the current liturgical calendar the feast of the Immaculate Heart is optional — the lowest rank possible.
16. TWTAF, Volume III, p. 472. When asked in 1946 by Canon Barthas why the Secret was to be revealed in 1960, Lucy replied: "Because the Blessed Virgin wishes it so." This was also the reply of Lucy’s bishop, Bishop da Silva.
17. Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, op. cit., p. 162 (Lucy’s fourth memoir).
18. Father Joaquin Maria Alonso, C.M.F., The Sectret of Fatima, Fact and Legend, Revised Edition, The Ravengate Press, Cambridge, 1979, pp. 69-70.
19. See Frère Michel, The Whole Truth About Fatima, Volume III, p. 704, published by Immaculate Heart Publications. Frère Michel is quoting from the Spanish translation of Alonso’s Fatima Fact and Legend.
20. Except in a cryptic, unexplained footnote.
21. As quoted in Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy, The Coming Chastisement, Rockford, Illinois, Tan Books, 1970, p. 22.
22. As quoted in ibid., p. 22.
23. Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone The Message of Fatima, p. 17.
24. From Lucy’s Third Memoir, as quoted in Kondor, op. cit., pp. 108-9.
25. Thomas McGlynn, O.P., Vision of Fatima, Little, Brown And Company, Boston, 1950, p. 213.
26. As quoted in Catholic Counter Reformation Journal, English language translation, August 2000, p. 30. Emphasis supplied.
27. McGlynn, op. cit., p. 95. Lucy also described the Blessed Virgin as being bathed in “waves of light” (p. 103).
28. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Fourth Memoir, p. 161.
29. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, Third Memoir, p. 107.
30. Ibid., p. 107.
31. William Thomas Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1947, p. 168.
32. Ibid., p. 178.
33. Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p. 161.