Rorate Caeli

Fatima, 100 Years Later: A Call for the Whole Church

Fatima 100 Years later: a Marian Call for the whole Church

by Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta

This year the Church is particularly blessed for the celebration of the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions. The ‘White Lady’ came to speak – from May to October 1917 on the thirteenth of each month – to three little shepherds, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. The last two were canonised last 13th May by Pope Francis, while the process for the canonization of Lucia is progressing. Of all the private revelations approved by the Church, Fatima is one of particular significance give its theological vision of history. Our Lady not only delivered a supernatural message – a call to penance and prayer for rescuing sinners from eternal perdition in hell, but also foretold what would happen if her call were unheeded. As a celestial appeal, Fatima is not something belonging to the past, but a prophecy for the Church today.

It is extremely interesting to revisit what Pope Benedict XVI said at Fatima in his homily during the Mass on 13th May 2010, which sounded to many like a ‘correction’ of what he had previously said as a Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, when, in giving the official theological explication of the third part of the Secret (revealed in the year 2000), he declared that the vision of a city half in ruins with corpses of bishops, priests, religious and lay people laying on the ground was something referred to the great persecution of the Church in the 20th century. Therefore, something already accomplished. As a pope, Benedict put forth a new scenario stating:

“We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete. […] In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: ‘Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?’ (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162)”.

Fatima tells us that it is God who guides the course of history; his Divine Providence leads all events to a salvific end, though the personal judgement is different: eternal happiness for those who accept to do God’s Will, but perdition for those who freely choose to reject God. The history of mankind is not a place where conflicting human interests and powers of all kinds meet and fight each other, but the place of human events guided by God’s love. If He is cast out of society – as it is nowadays – the history can be but a very dark scenario: either the occult strength of a fate will determine the will of men or a pessimistic vision of a collective non-sense will take over and be truly overwhelming. Historical events are not pre-fabricated and unavoidable situations. They can change if man changes in them: if he converts and returns to God with all his heart. This opening of one’s heart to God is the beginning of a change that affects more people and finally the whole society. Penance, conversion and prayer are the means of a true revolution in history and properly what Our Lady asked for.

In fact, when she appeared on 13th July 1917, she revealed the so called ‘Secret of Fatima’ in three parts perfectly linked with one other. The first is the vision of hell, “where the souls of poor sinner go”. In the apparition of August, Our Lady also said why many souls go to hell: “because there is no one to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them”. Hence, She gave the little children an important mission, the very heart of the Fatima message: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners”. In order to counter an easy fall of souls into eternal perdition, Our Lady revealed the divine remedy: “To save them, God wishes to establish 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 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”.

The theological vision of history here is very clear. A different way of approaching human events is laid down. Yet there is a remedy to implore a change to these tragic events. The ‘White Lady’ continued: “To prevent this, I shall 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”. Once again the prophetical role of Fatima among all Marian revelations is here outlined. The outbreak of a new World War and the spread of ideological errors, such as materialism and atheism, would have been halted by two Marian devotions: consecration of Russia, of all Nations and of every single person to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the First Five Saturdays of the month in reparation for sins and outrages committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Two humble practises would have changed the course of events! Of course they still will do if we only accept this message and put it into practise.

However, as a new World War broke out so also the materialism of the Russian Communism – a condition to be truly human living without God - spread. Our Lady was pointing not only to the collapse of the Soviet Empire of terror and atheism, but specifically to the end of the diffusion of that ideology in the world. Materialism in its many faces – not least the gender theory teaching that man is creator of himself – is like a ‘dogma’ in public as well as private affairs of Nations and of our Europe in particular. Where is God? Where is faith in Him? This tragic loss of faith was foreseen at Fatima. Faith is like a hinge between the second and the third part of the secret with these very emblematic words: “In Portugal the dogma of faith will be preserved”, as to say that in many other lands and hearts that dogma would have not been preserved. What about inside the Church? Is this not our present situation? That “Portugal” might be, beside the Portuguese nation, also every heart that welcomes the message of Fatima and consecrates itself to the Immaculate Heart. God is present where the Immaculate Heart of Mary is at the centre of faith and devotion, because He can only abide where purity and grace are kept. God is in this Immaculate Heart, and through it He wishes to reign among as. This is the meaning of the words spoken during the apparition of June, when Our Lady said: “He (God) wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart”. This devotion together with Marian consecration is a bulwark where true faith is genuinely held.

All this (and much more to discover) is one of the motives to carefully study the Fatima Message in order to show its reality 100 years later, and to promote it. Fatima is indeed at the heart of the faith and the Church.

“In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. This is the great promise of Our Lady and the hope that individual and national consecration to Her will hasten this moment so as to shower the Church with heavenly graces. She will triumph over errors and enkindle the gift of faith into all hearts. After a necessary purification and chastisement – “The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated” – the great hope of this triumph was so described by Sister Lucia: “In time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy Catholic and Apostolic. In eternity, Heaven!”.


Invitation: A two days Conference to be held at Buckfast Abbey - Devon on 12th and 13th October 2017 will investigate all these aspects. The key-note speech will be given by Cardinal Raymond Burke on the relationship between Fatima, the Faith and the Church. Other important theologians, such as Fr Manfred Hauke (Switzerland), Fr Thomas Crean, OP (England), Dr Andrew Beards (England) and well known clergy from across the UK will outline in a theological as well as spiritual way the grandeur and actuality of Fatima.

The Conference aims at giving a new theological contribution to the study of Fatima and at promoting on a devotional-spiritual level the knowledge and practise of this grace-filled message. Conferences will be followed by presentations focussing on several spiritual topics, such as the First Five Saturdays Devotion, the importance of the Holy Rosary and the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.