Fatima, July 13th, 1917: Why the Message Means More Today than Ever

What Our Lady of Fatima did 100 years ago on this day inspired many to convert, but provoked others to reject the faith. Her message was also very close to St. ‘s heart.

Our Lady revealed to three little shepherd children – Lucia, Francisco and Jacinto – that a global war was immanent and that it would usher in a new age of martyrdom. She also told them that “this war will end,” “but if men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin.” But instead of simply telling them to pray the rosary again as she had before, she showed them a terrible sight: hell.

Lucia wrote:

“Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.

We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: “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. If what I say to you is done (recitation of the rosary/prayer, penance, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart), many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html

By today’s standards, this is “emotional abuse.” Why did she do it? Because hell is a real place, and people are in danger of ending up there.

Salvador Dali painted an image based on this description.

The essence of the message of Fatima is the perennial message of Christianity: in order to have an ideal world, each person should “repent and believe the good news.” Many people today observe that Christianity is dying in the west; this is expressed well in John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” People no longer believe the gospel because they deem Christianity an outdated and divisive superstition barely hanging-on in a modern age.

What Our Lady observed in 1917 was that faith is in fact dying in our modern age, but that fact does not alter the reality. Each person, created by God, chooses an afterlife of heaven or of hell. Imagining no hell below us or heaven above us, then, is probably not very helpful to those people. Imagining peace on earth without Christ will not end well, and the relatively recent events of Fatima serve to remind us of the consequences of the course that many are taking.

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