A group of Catholic clergy, theologians, and other scholars publicly issued a “filial correction” of Pope Francis on Saturday, accusing the Supreme Pontiff of “propagating heresy” in the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. The document, initially signed by forty scholars, was delivered to Pope Francis on August 11. Just as did the dubia of the four Cardinals which preceded it, the current effort focuses on the affronts to the Church’s moral magisterium resulting from Amoris. Unlike the dubia, though, this document considers certain “words, deeds, and omissions” of the Holy Father surrounding the apostolic exhortation’s promulgation and propagation.
Reading this document while making preparations for our upcoming Saint Benedict Center Conference, I was reminded of our theme, “A Worldview in the Light of Fatima.” Such a worldview must have a correct appreciation of the Church’s teaching on sin. While the “grace and mercy” coming from the side of the Cross and flowing onto the altar in Sister Lucia’s vision at Tuy is indeed integral to the Fatima message, a neglect of the true doctrine of sin and God’s outraged justice renders the concept of mercy utterly meaningless. Frighteningly, a rejection of the true moral magisterium of the Church also corrodes the hope of mercy in favor of a mortally sinful presumption.
The Fatima revelations have a great deal to say about sin, beginning with the apparitions of the “Angel of Peace” to the children, and going right through Our Lady’s six apparitions and subsequent private revelations to Saint Jacinta and Sister Lucia. The effects of sin, both on God and on man, left a deep impression on the innocent little shepherd children, especially after their vision of Hell.
Here, then, are some extracts from the Fatima messages and the lives of the seers on the subject of sin and of sin’s Great Remedy for our time.
In the summer of 1916, the “Angel of Peace” appeared for the second time to the children. Included in his message was this command: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.” (The bold emphasis is mine throughout.)
Sister Lucia later wrote about this, “Those words of the Angel engraved themselves in our spirit, as a light which made us understand Who God is, how much He loves us and wants to be loved by us, the value of sacrifice and how pleasing it is to Him, and that out of respect for it, God converts sinners.”
During the third and last apparition of the Angel of Peace, in autumn of 1916, he brought the Holy Eucharist to the children under both species. He adored the Blessed Sacrament, taught them the beautiful prayer of reparation to the Trinity, then gave them Holy Communion while saying these words: “Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.”
The Blessed Virgin’s first apparition to the children was on May 13 of 1917. Included in her message to them on that day are these words: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings He wants to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and for the conversion of sinners?”
When Lucia, speaking for all of them, declared that they were so willing, the Angel said, “You are then going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
Also during this first apparition, Lucia asked the holy Virgin about a young lady named Amelia, who had recently died. Was this friend, who was eighteen to twenty years old at the time of her death, in Heaven? The Virgin’s shocking reply was, “She will be in Purgatory till the end of the world.” A priest made some inquiries about Amelia and discovered that, though she had died a penitent death, Amelia had tainted herself in the matter of purity with her brother-in-law.
On June 13, Our Lady revealed Her Heart to the children in a particular fashion. Here is how Lucia described the vision: “In the palm of the right hand of Our Lady there was a Heart, surrounded by thorns which seemed to pierce it. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, which demanded reparation.”
On July 13, the month of the terrible vision of Hell, Our Lady taught the little ones a prayer to say when offering a sacrifice: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially whenever you make a sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’” Then they were shown the vision of Hell, which made a deep impression on them all, and which would have made them die of fright had they not been already assured of their salvation.
Concerning the vision of August 19, Lucia relates that, “looking more sad, Our Lady said: ‘Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and pray for them.’”
The subsequent lives of the visionaries, beginning only days after this message, will be marked with penance, mortification, and sacrifice that would be heroic in any adult, much more so in a child. The youngest, seven-year-old Saint Jacinta, was very generous in sacrificing herself for sinners by means of bodily mortifications and repeating the various prayers they were taught for the conversion of sinners. Soon after the August vision, she tied a rope around her waste, as did the others, and it caused her great pain, even to the point of tears. When Lucia told her to take it off, Saint Jacinta replied, “No! I want to offer this sacrifice to Our Lord in reparation and for the conversion of sinners.”
Jacinta was frightened at the prospect that the war that was soon to break out (WWII) would kill many people, most of whom, she said, would go to Hell. “What a pity I have for poor sinners! Ah! If only I could show them hell!” she told Lucia.
Saint Jacinta wanted to know what the sins were that caused people to go to Hell. She was favored with private visitations of Our Lady while staying at the orphanage of Our Lady of the Miracles at Lisbon. To the Superior there, Mother Maria da Purificação Godinho, the little one revealed something Our Lady told her: “The sins which lead most souls to Hell are sins of the flesh.”
And she was sensitive to the effects of sin on Our Lord. When Lucia narrated to her the history of the Passion, Jacinta wept openly and declared, “Our poor Lord! I should never commit any sin. I don’t want Our Lord to suffer any more.”
This sensitivity to Our Lord’s suffering, and a desire to “console” Him, as per the directives of the Angel in his third and final prelude to Our Lady’s coming, most impressed itself on little Francisco.
The mysterious light that penetrated the three visionaries during Our Lady’s apparitions filled them with grace and illuminated their minds with a deep understanding of the mysteries of the Faith. Francisco declared, “We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God? We could never put it into words! Yes, truly, no one will ever be able to express it! What a pity it is that He is so sad! If only I could console Him!”
At times, Saint Francisco would absent himself from all human society, even his fellow visionaries, to pray. When Lucia asked him about this, he replied, “I prefer to pray alone, in order to think, and to console Our Lord Who is so sad!”
The thought that he himself could contribute to Our Lord’s sufferings afflicted him greatly: “Perhaps it is because of those sins I have committed that Our Lord is so sad!”
Saint Jacinta gave herself most to prayer and mortification for the conversion of sinners. Saint Francisco devoted himself especially to consoling Our Lord and Our Lady, so hurt and “sad” because of sin. To Lucia fell the two-fold task of warning people about Hell and propagating, as a cloistered little missionary, the Great Remedy to sin and damnation.
During the last of the six visits of Our Lady, on October 13, the Virgin told the children, just before the miracle of the sun, “Do not offend the Lord Our God any more, for He is already too much offended!” Those words dramatically moved Lucia, as she herself testifies:
Of all the words spoken at this apparition the words most deeply engraved upon my heart are those of the request made by our Heavenly Mother : “ Do not offend Our Lord and God any more, for He is already so much offended. ”
How loving a complaint, how tender a request ! Who will grant me to make it echo through the whole world, so that all the children of Our Mother in Heaven may hear the sound of Her voice !
Just after the Miracle of the Sun, ten-year-old Lucia was carried on the shoulder of a man so she could make her way through the crowd. As she was being carried thus,
With great enthusiasm and great faith she shouted : “ Do penance ! Do penance ! Our Lady wants you to do penance ! If you do penance, the war will end… ” (In Portuguese, to do penance is equivalent to “ being converted, returning to God, fleeing sin,” and not “performing mortifications .”) She appeared inspired. It was really impressive to hear her. Her voice had intonations like the voice of a great prophet … (source)
Later in life, the mature Sister Lucia would testify to Father Augustine Fuentes, the postulator for the causes of Jacinta and Francisco, “My mission is not to point out to the world the material chastisements which will surely come if the world does not pray and do penance. No. My mission is to indicate the imminent danger we all are in of losing our souls forever if we remain obstinate in sin.”
Along with this mission, Sister Lucia of the Immaculate Heart was entrusted with another: to propagate the devotion to the Heart of Mary, which is precisely the remedy for sin and the refuge from Hell prescribed by God for these times. That the Heart of Mary is our remedy was testified by the holy Virgin Herself, significantly, just after the vision of Hell:
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. … To prevent this [“war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father”], I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. …
It was eight years later, on December 10, 1925, that the Blessed Virgin, with the Child Jesus, revealed to Sister Lucy the reparatory Communion of the First Saturdays of the month. This took place at the Dorothean convent in Pontevedra, Spain, where Sister Lucia was a postulant. Thanks to her tireless efforts, amid sorrows, afflictions, and dark nights, we know of the remedies: the traditional Rosary and the newly revealed devotion of the First Saturdays.
There is nothing in these sobering and bracing messages to lull the sinner into a state of spiritual somnolence. There is nothing in the words of the Angel of Peace, of sweet Mary, or of these three chosen prophets of our times of “accompanying” the sinner by allowing him to commit mortal sins while sacrilegiously receiving Communion. (On the contrary, we are told by Heaven of “sins of the flesh” leading many to Hell, of God’s being “horribly outraged” by “ungrateful men” — even in the very Sacrament of His Love! — for whose “crimes” reparation must be made and God must be “consoled.”) There is nothing of the “seven heresies” of Amoris and its accompanying “words, deeds, and omissions.”
The message is stark: Conversion or Hell. But the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so good and compassionate, will be our Refuge — if only we will stop ignoring Her messages in our sloth and obscuring them with the accommodating vagaries of a non-infallible paramagisterium.