One hundred and one years ago, at Fatima on July 13, 1917, Our Lady chose to give to the Church Militant a Great Secret, in three distinct parts, in the same month in which the Church commemorates the Precious Blood of Jesus. As I asked in my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets: Is there a connection between each of the three parts of the Great Secret and July, the month of the Precious Blood? After all, St. Peter says (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-20) that we “know that we were redeemed with the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times.”
The First Secret of Fatima, which provides the means to save poor sinners of this era from hell, offers the only spiritual remedy willed by the Most High God, i.e., worldwide devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Second Secret tells the Church Militant, from the Pope and bishops to the lay Catholic in the pew, how to administer the remedy. It includes two specific requests, conditional prophecies, and an infallible promise of robust spiritual health and vitality for the Church and the world when the remedy is employed. The Third Secret, insofar as only the Vision is known (but not Our Lady’s words explaining it), describes what seems to be a particular historic era that will culminate in the Church’s Way of the Cross.
The Great Secret Revisited
The First Secret opened with Our Lady momentarily showing the children a terrifying vision of hell. Then the Virgin said “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, 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 reign 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.”
Then begins the Second Secret: “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 will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
A Vision of the Church’s Calvary
Like the First and Second Secrets, the Third Secret of Fatima has two parts. It begins with the words written in Lucia’s Fourth Memoir, “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.” At some point, the children saw another Vision (described below by Lucia), but the Church Militant and the world still await the publication of the Virgin’s words that describe this mystifying Vision. Let us again look at Lucia’s description of it, which indicates a modern-day Calvary for the Church:
“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’ And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
Truly, the Third Secret Vision is a sobering one. It brings to mind what was said by Our Lord, appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with His Sacred Heart torn and His Body so grievously wounded: “Behold the state to which I am reduced by My chosen people that should have appeased My justice, and that instead persecute Me. If they amend not, I will chastise them severely. I will withdraw the just and the innocent, and immolate the rest in My just anger, inflamed against them by their sins.” Christ’s warning came to pass in the French Revolution and the 19th century’s subsequent revolutions.
As St. Jean-Marie Vianney once said, “The good God asks not for the martyrdom of our body, but asks for the martyrdom of our hearts and wills.” Fr. Faber noted, “Each age is a stray sheep from God; and the Church has to seek it and fetch it back to Him…Each age needs persuading in a manner of its own,” but as he also observed, “Works of mercy are not attractive to hearts untouched by love.”
Only a few years before the Fatima apparitions, Fr. Waltz of esteemed memory also remarked, “In our age of luxury and religious indifference, men do not want to be reminded of moral regeneration, of the necessity of struggling against the flesh, the world, and the devil; they do not want to hear of their obligation to use the means of salvation and thus cooperate with God’s grace.” Finally, St. Paul infallibly stated, “And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).
Devotion to the Precious Blood
The Precious Blood will inspire us with a love for Jesus that is willing to make any sacrifice for Him. “The principal part of the divine work of the Precious Blood is hidden in the secrecy of souls, and there are countless triumphs of truth and grace which will never be known till the Day of Judgement. The very greatest sacrifices we have to make are hidden from the gaze of an admiring world. Those have always been the heaviest crosses which we must drag along, unseen by human eyes. The most painful struggles ever endured are fought out in the stillness of the heart. Fiercer battles have been fought, and greater heroes are to be found, in the spiritual and hidden life of Christians…These are the triumphs of the Precious Blood. They will come to light on the Day of Judgement.”
The Third Secret is a serious warning for the Church because she is the work of the Precious Blood. As Fr. Faber said, “The salvation of individual souls is dependent on the Church. Hence the building up of the Church is one of the grandest works of the Precious Blood. The conversion of nations, the history of doctrine, the holding of councils, the spread of the episcopate, the influence of the ecclesiastical upon the civil law, the freedom of the Holy See, the papal monarchy of ages past, the concordats of the present day, the filial subordination of Catholic governments—all these things alter the face of the spiritual world.”
As the “diabolical disorientation” of which Lucia spoke increases daily, the one true God Who died for us desires our reparation, so that He may grant the entire world both conversion and an era of peace. Hidden in all of the Fatima Virgin’s requests is the Precious Blood, the secret behind the Great Secret, because, as Fr. Faber once wrote, “God’s goodness is at once the most public of all His attributes and, at the same time, the most secret.” The Virgin, fountain of the Precious Blood, is the rightful dispenser of the Precious Blood, the source of all the graces which the Saviour channels through the hands of His Virgin Mother. And so, it follows that whether for a nation or an individual, it always remains true that “belonging to Mary is a privileged means of belonging to Christ.”
[This article is featured in the July 2018 print edition of Catholic Family News]
[SEE ALSO: THE THIRD SECRET OF FATIMA IS UNFOLDING ]