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Analisis_ Secreto de Fatima_ fr. GonzaloRuiz, IVE

The message of Fatima and the martyrs of the 20th century: a call to complete in us what is lacking in
Christ's passion (Col 1:24-25)
R. Fr. Gonzalo Ruiz Freites, IVE
We are in the year of the first centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, which took place in
the months from May to October 1917 and which, in turn, had been prepared for the previous year by three
apparitions of an angel to the same little shepherds, Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto.
The events of Fatima are without doubt the “most important religious events "of the first half of the 20th
century, an overflowing explosion of the supernatural in a world dominated by the material". This reality is
so multifaceted and profound that it is impossible to summarize it in a few pages. Fatima, in fact, is "a great
sign of the times" a "charisma for our time".
Everything in these apparitions speaks to us of supernatural realities, in a special way of eschatological
realities, but also of human history, of the concrete history of the 20th century and its two world wars, of
the innumerable other conflicts caused by the expansion of Marxism since the Bolshevik Revolution in
Russia in the same year 1917, of the innumerable persecutions suffered by Christians that caused more
martyrs in that single century than in the whole of the rest of the two thousand year history of the Church.
Fatima is an exchange, a crossing, between Heaven and earth, between the life of men here, with the
inexorable eternal destiny that awaits us after death (eternal salvation or condemnation) and the claims of
Heaven, in this case of the Queen of Heaven, to draw men to salvation through penance, reparation for
sins, personal conversion, assiduous sacramental practice, fervent prayer and the fulfilment of the
commandments, especially the first and greatest: "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind" (cf. Mt 22:37).
Lucia, the visionary who died in 2005 at the age of almost 98, and who had previously written her
Memoirs, published in 1997 a final book entitled "The Calls of the Message of Fatima". "Calls" in the sense
of "claims", of "exhortations" from Our Lady to her children. In the various chapters of the second part of
this work, she deals with a whole symphony of themes for which the message of Fatima is a strong call, a
strong appeal from Heaven. We mention them only to show the immeasurable richness of these revelations
for our spiritual life. For Sister Lucia, Fatima is a call to the life of faith (chapter 3), to adoration (chapter 4),
to hope (chapter 5), to the love of God (chapter 6), to forgiveness (chapter 7), to prayer (chapter 8), to
sacrifice (chapter 9), to participation in the Eucharist (chapter 10), to intimacy with the Most Holy Trinity
(chapter 11), to the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary (chapter 12), to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of
Mary (chapter 13), and to the love of God (chapter 14). 13), to the consideration of eternal life (Chapter 14),
to the apostolate (Chapter 15), to perseverance in doing good (Chapter 16), to stop offending God (Chapter
17), to the sanctification of the family (Chapter 18), to the perfection of Christian life (Chapter 19), to the life
of full consecration to God (Chapter 20), to holiness (Chapter 21), to follow the path that leads to Heaven
(Chapter 22).
In addition to all these spiritual aspects, Fatima constitutes the theological key to reading the main events
that marked the history of the 20th century, both secular history and the history of the Church, inseparable
from the ups and downs of human history. Fatima is an amalgam of prophecy and eschatology. And it is in
this prophetic aspect that our time, this 21st century, enters fully, because we consider that this time too has
been prophesied in Fatima as the time of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And this fully
touches the life of Christians, members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and in a special way the ministry of
priests, which must be markedly Marian.
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In this writing we shall limit ourselves to developing some aspects of the message of Fatima which, in our
opinion, constitute the theological foundation of all the claims that the Queen of Heaven came to ask in
Fatima, and which are still valid for us today, at the beginning of the 21st century. It is primarily a
question of the mystery of the unity of the members of the Mystical Body of Christ - the Church - with
the Lord himself, and therefore of the cooperation of the members of Christ in the work of the world's
redemption, accomplished by Jesus once and for all in the Paschal Mystery (cf. Heb 7:27; 9:12,26-28;
10:10). We believe that this is the theological foundation not only of the petitions of Mary Most Holy in
Fatima, but also, in a particular way, of the so-called "Secret" of Fatima, revealed by Our Lady on 13th of
July 1917. We will therefore consider the Secret from this point of view, in the hope of contributing to
nourishing hope in the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which will be that of Christ, and of
moving readers to follow the claims of Mary Most Holy of Fatima with a renewed commitment to
Christian life.
We will develop five points:
I. The maternal solicitude of Mary Most Holy manifested in recent times
II. An approach to the secret of Fatima
III. The Secret of Fatima and the Participation of Christ's Members in the Work of Redemption
IV. The Logic of the Life-giving Cross in the Illumination of the Three Parts of the Secret
V. The Martyrs of the 20th Century and the Hopeful Perspective of the Message of Fatima
The maternal solicitude of Mary Most Holy manifested in recent times
St John Paul II said at the Mass of Beatification of the little shepherds Jacinta and Francisco on 13 May 2000:
"By divine design a woman clothed with the sun (Rev 12:1) came down from heaven to this earth in search
of the Father's privileged little ones. She speaks to them with the voice and heart of a mother: she invites
them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, showing themselves ready to lead them, in safety, to
Fatima is thus a manifestation of the loving motherly concern of Mary for the men and women of our
time. Everything in her is maternal and merciful, and even when she announces great catastrophes, such as
the outbreak of a war worse than the one already under way (the First World War) or the spread of Marxist
errors throughout the world, or the great persecutions of the Church during the 20th century, {1} she does
so out of her motherly love, to induce us to repentance and conversion, and thus avoid these evils and the
worst of all evils, which is eternal damnation. {2} She does it also out of love for her Divine Son, who, she
says, is already very offended, and who has shed his blood for sinners. In the third apparition She will say:
"You saw hell where the souls of poor sinners go. {3}To save them God wants to establish in the world the
devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and they will have
This call of Mary Most Holy should not leave us, priests and Christian faithful, indifferent, for it is one of
the central statements of all the revelations made at Fatima. Mary, in fact, indicates to us that she herself
is the way that leads to Christ, that she is the Refuge of sinners and their advocate, and that devotion to
her (to her Immaculate Heart) is a way of salvation for sinners, and this by the will of God himself, who
wants it to be so in this last age of history. The teachings of St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort come to
mind when he mentions that the last times will be Mary's times, both because of her reign in hearts and
because of her implacable struggle against the evil one, and, speaking of the saints of the last times, he says:
"She will also perform the greatest wonders of the last times: the formation and education of the great
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saints, who will live towards the end of time, are reserved for her, because only this singular and
miraculous Virgin can perform, in union with the Holy Spirit, the excellent and extraordinary things.
In our view, these prophecies - that of Mary's triumph in Fatima and that of the great saints of recent times
by St Louis Marie - become more evident and prelude an era of great saints for the Church in the light of
the third part of the "Secret" of Fatima.
An approach to the "Secret of Fatima
In the third apparition, which took place on 13 July 1917, the Blessed Virgin revealed in the so-called
"Secret of Fatima" wonderful things to the children, from which we can draw immense benefit in our
The "Secret" consists of three distinct parts: the first is a vision; the second consists of the words of the
Blessed Virgin; the third is another vision. As we know, this secret was gradually revealed by Sister Lucia
to the corresponding ecclesiastical authorities, reserving the third part only to the Supreme Pontiffs. This
last part was made public after the Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, during the Great Jubilee of the
year 2000, at the express wish of St John Paul II, accompanied by a theological commentary by Cardinal
Giuseppe Pio. Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The first part of the secret is the vision of hell. The second prophesies the Second World War, the
disappearance of several nations, the persecutions of the Church by communism. It also speaks of the
martyrdom of the good, the sufferings of the Holy Father, the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate
Heart of Mary by the Pope, through which this Immaculate Heart will ultimately triumph. The third part,
in the form of a vision like the first, refers to the persecution suffered by the Church at the hands of
atheistic totalitarian governments, and speaks of the attack on the Pope, the future of the world and the
meaning of the suffering of the martyrs for the salvation of many souls. We think that this part of the
message includes the sufferings of all Christians, and therefore also our own. Let us go by parts.
The vision of hell
More than the vision of hell itself, we are interested in highlighting the effect it produced on the little
shepherds and the explanation and promises Our Lady makes in the second part of the secret, in which
she explicitly says that with their free cooperation men can avoid the evils announced, and, above all,
cooperate in the salvation of souls so that they do not go to hell.
Sister Lucia relates: "Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire that seemed to be under the earth. Immersed in
that fire, demons and souls, as if they were transparent and black or tan embers, in human form, fluctuated
in the fire, carried by the flames that came out of them, together with clouds of smoke that fell to all sides,
similar to falling from the embers, in the great fires, without balance or weight, amid shrieks of pain and
groans of despair that horrified and made one tremble with fear. The demons were distinguished by their
horrible and disgusting forms of frightful and unknown animals, but transparent and black.
This vision and its explanation by Our Lady, as well as the third part of the secret and other revelations
made in the six apparitions of 1917, show us Mary Most Holy as a great teacher of the ultimate truths, the
"newest": death, judgment, heaven, purgatory, hell. Priests should take note of this for their pastoral
work, for if in reality the most important thing is love of God, in which the perfection of Christian life
consists, the perennial teaching of Holy Scripture will always be true: "Remember your last days and you
shall never sin" (Sir 7:40). It is a false mercy that excludes from Christian preaching the ultimate truths,
because it ceases to place man before eternity and therefore distances him from confronting the most
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radical and fundamental human problem, which is that of eternal salvation. Mary's pastoral method, full of
mercy and motherly love, does not fail to present this problem, quite the contrary.
In fact, this vision awakened in the little shepherds a heroism uncommon in children of their age,
manifested in prayers and even in truly extraordinary penances, for the sake of saving the souls of poor
sinners from hell and to console Jesus, so offended. The condemnation of sinners, and hence the desire to
atone for their sins in order to help save them, and the sufferings of the Holy Father, announced here and
in the third part of the secret, had penetrated the soul of little Jacinta very deeply. In little Francis, on the
other hand, the desire to console Jesus, who is so offended and whom they saw in one of the very sad
visions, had penetrated more deeply. And so everything seemed little enough to console him.
Lucia tries to explain in her Memoirs how it was that such small children came to such heroic acts of
penance. She refers particularly to Jacinta on this page, and attributes this heroism to the salutary effect that
the vision of hell had on her: "How is it that Jacinta, being so small, allowed herself to be possessed and
came to understand such a great spirit of mortification and penance? It seems to me that it was due, first, to
a very special grace which God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, granted her; second, to seeing hell
and the misfortunes of the souls who suffer there. Some people, even pious ones, do not want to talk to
little children about hell, so as not to frighten them; yet God did not hesitate to show it to three of them,
and one of them when she was only six years old; and He well knew that she was to be horrified to the
point of, I would almost dare say, dying of fright.
Often, she would sit down on the ground or on a stone and, in thought, would begin to say, 'Hell! Hell!
What a pity for the souls that go to Hell! And the people who, while they are there, burn like wood in the
fire! And, frightened, she knelt down, and with her hands joined, she prayed the prayers that Our Lady
had taught us: 'O my Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of hell, take all souls to Heaven, especially
those who need it most.
The announcement of Our Lady's punishments and promises
Before the frightening vision of hell, the little shepherds were terrified, and Our Lady continued with the
second part of the Secret, saying: "You saw hell where the souls of poor sinners go; to save them, God
wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I am going to tell you is done,
many souls will be saved and will have peace. The war will soon be over. But if they do not stop
offending God, a worse one will begin in the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated
by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign God gives you that He is going to punish the world
for its crimes, through war, hunger and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father. To prevent this,
I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of
Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my wishes are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be
peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the
Church . The good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; several nations will
be annihilated. Finally, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate to Me
Russia, which will be converted, and the world will be granted sometime of peace. In Portugal, the
dogma of faith will always be preserved, etc. ...] When you say the Rosary, say afterwards in each
mystery: My Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of hell, take to heaven all souls, and especially
those who need it most.
These words of Mary Most Holy are a link between the two visions. On the one hand, the White Lady
mentions the vision of hell "where the souls of poor sinners go": it is the absolute, irremediable evil, with no
return, to avoid which God wants to establish in the world devotion to Mary Most Holy. But at the same
time Our Lady's discourse introduces the vision that constitutes the third part of the secret, since this vision
is like a visual and prophetic explanation of what she announces in her discourse. Later on, we will see the
logical explanation of the three parts of the Secret.
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The third part of the Secret
Sister Lucia wrote the third part of the Secret only on January 3, 1944, in the city of Tuy. Before this, the
little shepherds, and especially Lucia herself, who had survived her two little cousins, kept the secret in a
heroic way, because that is what Our Lady had asked them to do.
The text and its prophetic and symbolic character
It is a symbolic prophecy that explains what Our Lady had just told them about the evils that would befall
humanity if penance were not done.
The text reads as follows: "After the two parts which I have already explained, we have seen on the left side
of Our Lady a little higher an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, he emitted flames
which seemed to set the world on fire; but they went out when he came into contact with the splendour
which Our Lady radiated with her right hand directed towards him; the Angel pointed to the earth with
his right hand and said with a loud voice: Penance, Penance, Penance! And we saw in an immense light
which is God: 'something similar to how people see themselves in a mirror when they pass before it' a
Bishop dressed in White 'we had the feeling that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, priests, men and
women religious also climbed a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a large Cross made of rough
wood as if it were made of cork oak with the bark; the Holy Father, before reaching it, crossed a large city
half in ruins and half shaky with a hesitant step, grieving and praying for the souls of the corpses he found
along the way; When he reached the top of the mountain, prostrate on his knees at the foot of the great
Cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired several shots of firearms and arrows at him; and in
the same way, bishops, priests, men and women religious and various lay people, men and women of
different classes and positions, died one after the other. Under the two arms of the Cross there were two
Angels each with a glass jar in his hand, in which they collected the blood of the Martyrs and watered with
it the souls that came to God" .
Interpretation of the vision
This third part of the secret was already interpreted by Sister Lucia herself, who in a letter written to Pope
John Paul II on May 12, 1982, one year after the attempt on the Pope's life in St. Peter's Square at the
Vatican, says: "The third part of the secret refers to the words of Our Lady: "Otherwise [Russia] will spread
its errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be
martyred, the Holy Father will suffer much, various nations will be destroyed" (July 13, 1917). The third
part is a symbolic revelation, which refers to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether or not we
accept what the Message itself asks: 'if you accept my requests, Russia will convert and you will have
peace; if not, it will spread its errors throughout the world, etc'. From the moment that we have not taken
into account this call of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with its
errors. And, although we do not yet see the complete consummation of the end of this prophecy, we see
that we are gradually moving towards it by great strides. If we do not renounce the path of sin, hatred,
revenge, injustice, violating the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc. ”.
The same authority of the Church then proceeded to give an interpretation, as far as possible, more
complete and in some way official, since Pope John Paul II himself entrusted this task to the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, which on June 26, 2000, published a theological commentary and other
documents in a volume called "The Message of Fatima".
Before this, at the end of the Mass of Beatification of Jacinta and Francisco in Fatima (13 May 2000), the then
Secretary of State, Card. Angelo Sodano, gave an interpretation that followed and made explicit that of
Sister Lucia : "The vision of Fatima has to do above all with the struggle of the atheistic systems against
the Church and Christians, and describes the immense suffering of the witnesses to the faith in the last
century of the second millennium. It is an endless Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the 20th century.
According to the interpretation of the pastorinhos, an interpretation recently confirmed by Sister Lucia,
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the 'Bishop dressed in white' who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. Also he, walking with fatigue
towards the Cross among the corpses of the martyred (bishops, priests, religious and numerous lay
people), falls to the ground as if dead, under the gunfire".
Then the Cardinal continued: "After the attack of 13 May 1981, it seemed clear to His Holiness that it was 'a
mother's hand that guided the trajectory of the bullet', allowing the 'dying Pope' to stop 'on the threshold of
death'". And later on Card. Sodano applied the prophecy to the communist regime, whose greatest
exponent was the Soviet Union, and which had fallen precipitously from 1989: "The successive events of
1989 have led, both in the Soviet Union and in many Eastern countries, to the fall of the communist regime
which advocated atheism. For this too the Supreme Pontiff is grateful to Our Lady from the depths of his
heart. In other parts of the world, however, the attacks against the Church and Christians, with the burden
of suffering they entail, have unfortunately not ceased. Even if the events referred to in the third part of the
secret of Fatima seem to belong to the past, Our Lady's call to conversion and penance, pronounced at the
beginning of the 20th century, is still very timely today". And quoting John Paul II, he added: "The Lady of
the message seemed to read with special insight the signs of the times, the signs of our times ... Mary's
insistent invitation to penance is the manifestation of her motherly concern for the destiny of the human
family, in need of conversion and forgiveness.
So we have many elements whose historical realization seems to have already been fulfilled. And this
involves both the second and the third part of the secret. Such events are the outbreak of the Second World
War and, above all, the long Calvary of the Church persecuted by totalitarian regimes throughout the
twentieth century, with its impressive number of Christian martyrs. There is also the attack on Pope John
Paul II, which took place in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, of which
the Holy Father knew himself to have been miraculously saved by the motherly hand of the Virgin.
But there are also other elements that remain very mysterious, such as the "conversion" of Russia, since
clearly this prophecy was not only fulfilled with the fall of the Soviet regime that promoted atheism and
persecutions of the Church in Eastern Europe, much of Asia, and in various places around the world.
Moreover, we cannot forget that even today countless Christians suffer violent persecution, for example, in
the countries of the Middle East. In this sense, although the prophecy of Fatima refers mainly to Marxist
persecutions, it also includes our brothers who today suffer atrocious persecutions and who, in a
mysterious way, benefit the whole Church with their sacrifices, as we will develop in the following point .
It is necessary to point out that, in addition, as Sister Lucia says in her book "Calls of the Message of
Fatima", in the message-prophecy of Fatima there are many other elements that have a more permanent
aspect and touch us closely, personally. They are all those elements that call to personal conversion and
to the conversion of peoples. This is why St. John Paul II said that "Mary's insistent invitation to penance
is the manifestation of her motherly concern for the destiny of the human family, which is in need of
conversion and forgiveness.
The Secret of Fatima and the Participation of Christ's Members in the Work of Redemption
What is the relationship between our Christian life and, above all, between our being members of Christ
and the messages revealed in the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima? We have already said that there is a
great relationship, since Fatima is a great call from Heaven to a serious Christian life, where love of God
and neighbour comes first, and therefore, where prayer, penance, the worship of God and works of
charity towards our neighbour, especially towards the most needy who are sinners, are the privileged
means for the development of our charity.
There is, however, one aspect of the Fatima message which, in our view, is one of the most profound, and
without which all the other claims to Heaven contained in it cannot be understood, and above all, the
"Secret of Fatima" cannot be understood in its most ecclesiological, most dramatic and at the same time
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most transcendent dimension. It is the aspect of communion in Christ's sufferings for the good of souls,
an aspect that stands out in the martyrs, but which also forms an essential part of our Christian vocation,
and in a very special way, of the priestly ministry. This is what Pius XII teaches: "Christ Jesus, hanging on
the cross, not only repaid the violated justice of the Eternal Father, but he also merited for us, as for his
blood relatives, an ineffable abundance of graces. And he could have distributed it directly to the human
race, but he wanted to do it through a visible Church in which men would be gathered, so that all would
cooperate with him and through him to communicate to each other the divine fruits of Redemption. For
just as the Word of God, in order to redeem men by his suffering and torment, wished to make use of our
nature, so in the course of the centuries he has made use of his Church to perpetuate the work he had
We will develop this point by taking as our starting point a phrase from St. Paul which refers to every
member of the mystical Body of Christ, although it touches particularly the sacred ministers, and which
Card. Ratzinger quotes explicitly at the end of his theological commentary on the third part of the "Secret of
Fatima" : "I complete in my flesh what is lacking in Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his Body, the
Church, of which I have been constituted a minister" (Col 1:24-25).
What is lacking in Christ's passion
The Apostle's phrase at first sight is enigmatic and surprising, because it clearly states that the Lord's
passion lacks something. On the other hand, we know that in reality the work of Christ is most perfect,
and is, moreover, an overabundant redemption for the human race (cf. Rom 5:20; Eph 2:4-10; Heb 7:11-28;
passim). In what sense, then, is something missing? We must explain what the Apostle means.
The phrase constitutes a whole program of spiritual life for all Christians and for priests, since it is
explained by the unity or solidarity that exists between Christ and the members of his one Mystical
Body in the life of grace. In this light, "what is lacking in Christ's passion" can be understood in two
different ways, closely related to each other:
- As regards the application of the Passion of Christ so that its infinite efficacy, obtained in the priestly
offering that He made "once and for all" (Heb 9:28), may reach or be applied to all men throughout
- As for the necessary conformity that must exist between the body and its head, that is, between Christ
and his members, conformity that must be even greater in sacred ministers.
The effective application of the Passion of Christ throughout history
The first mode is indicated by the literal meaning of the Pauline text, in which the apostle is speaking as a
minister of the Gospel (cf. Col 1:23, 25, 28-29). The expression clearly says that there is something missing
from the passion of Christ, something that can be completed by the ministers of the Gospel, something
for which he strives untiringly (cf. 1:29). The expression is not to be understood in the sense that the
passion of Our Lord was incomplete or insufficient satisfaction for the sins of the human race, since it
was superabundantly infinite as the price of our ransom. It is to be understood, then, in relation to the
effective application of the merits of the Passion to all men of all times, an application made effective
by means of the apostolic ministry to which the Apostle refers, but not only, since the same baptism
impels all Christians to it by force of charity.
In other words, the "objective redemption" worked by Jesus Christ on Calvary lacks its "subjective
application" in people throughout history.
Beautifully the classic Spanish author Father Luis La Palma glosses the words of St. Paul saying "For the
merit of the Passion of Jesus Christ to be applied with effect to unbelievers and sinners, it is necessary
to preach, to go on pilgrimage, and to suffer many contradictions and persecutions, which Christ did not
suffer in order to sanctify his whole body. In other words, it is God's will that, through our tribulations,
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sacrifices, prayers, works, etc., we cooperate so that the unique and superabundant redemption worked
by Jesus on Calvary be applied to all men, particularly to those of our time, to our contemporaries.
The conformity of the members of Christ to His Head
The expression can also be understood in another sense, that is, in terms of the necessary conformity that
must exist between Christ and his members. And in this second case it applies directly to all Christians,
to all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ. The starting point of this explanation is that the Body
of Jesus Christ, the Church, must in all things be conformed to its Head, because God wants those
whom He predestined... "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). Hence, "although the
passion of Christ in regard to the person of Christ lacks nothing, but in regard to His Mystical Body, it
lacks everything its members must suffer, so that through the communion of these passions the Church
may be beautiful, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and may be holy and without blemish" (cf.
Eph 5:27).
St. Paul himself says it a few verses later, indicating the end for which he suffers: "to make them all
perfect in Christ" (1:28), that is, conformed to Christ. This explanation is also given in a very beautiful
way by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Commentary on this passage from Colossians saying: "Christ and the
Church are a mystical person, whose head is Christ and the saints are his members. Therefore this is
what was lacking, that as Jesus Christ suffered in his body, so let him suffer in Paul as in one of his
members. In other words, the whole mystical person, the total Christ, must be of the same kind and
condition: the Head has already suffered what he should, now he lacks what the members must suffer
to be conformed to the head. This is the meaning of the well-known phrase of Blaise Pascal that St. John
Paul II loved to repeat: "Christ will be in agony until the end of time."
On this similarity between Christ and the Church we conclude with a teaching of the Pontifical
Magisterium: "And just as Jesus Christ wants all the members to be like him, so he wants the whole
body of the Church to be like him [...] It is not surprising, therefore, that while on this earth the Church
should suffer persecution, trouble and work, after the example of Christ.
Putting the two aspects together, we have then that the sufferings of the members of the Mystical Body are,
in fact, the sufferings of Christ himself, which he suffers in his members, the Christians of all times, for the
same purposes for which he suffered in the members of his physical body on Calvary (that is, to redeem
souls, so that the fruits of his Paschal Mystery may be applied throughout history). This, in turn, brings
about a similarity or conformity between Christ and his members, a conformity which the Christian
vocation consists in by reason of baptism.
The solidarity or communion of the members in the Mystical Body of Christ
What we have just said is, in fact, an application of the revealed truth of the unity of the Mystical Body of
Christ, that is, of the mystery of the communion of saints, a truth of faith that we profess every time we
pray the Creed.
In Christ there is an intimate communion between those who are incorporated into him, whether they are
still living in this world as pilgrims, whether they have arrived in paradise, or whether after death they are
waiting, purified, for admission to the vision and joy of God. St. Paul teaches several times and with
different expressions the reality of this union or communion, for example, Among the members of the one
mystical body of Christ there circulates the same divine life, the same charity, which derives from Christ
the head to his body.when he says "you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).
In the New Testament this reality is perhaps one of the most taught truths, in many different ways. We
mention three, which are as many ways of expressing the mysterious reality of the unity between Christ
and the Church, between Christ and his mystical Body. Jesus uses the image of the union between the
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vine and its branches: "I am the vine... Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, if it does not remain in
the vine, neither can you if you do not remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in
me and I in him shall bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:1.4-5). For his part, St.
Paul repeatedly uses the allegory of the head and the body to express the same reality of the unity of
Christ with his mystical Body (cf. Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12-31; Eph 1:22-23; 5:23-33). Jesus himself uses a
third image, that of the bridegroom, later developed by St. Paul: Christ is the bridegroom of the Church,
as well as the Head of her Body. He has given his life for her, to sanctify her and present her to himself as
a bride, all holy and immaculate, and to become one flesh with her, which for the Apostle is a "great
mystery" (cf. Eph 5:21-23).
In this unity of the mystical person of Christ, the members help one another. We can help each other
because through our common incorporation into Christ "we are members of one another" (Rom 12:4-5) as
St. Paul teaches, including our brothers who have already left this world and are purifying themselves in
Purgatory or are already enjoying Paradise.
There exists, then, among all the members of the mystical Body of Christ a mysterious communion or
solidarity which implies the sharing of the same spiritual goods. Blessed Paul VI describes it as follows:
"By the arcane and merciful designs of God, men are bound together by supernatural bonds, so that the
sin of one harms others, just as the holiness of one benefits others. In this way, the faithful help each
other to achieve the supernatural end. A witness to this communion is already evident in Adam, whose
sin is spread to all men. But the greatest and most perfect principle, foundation and example of this
supernatural bond is Christ himself, to whose union with him God has called us. This mysterious
solidarity allows him, being most innocent, to take upon himself our sins as if they were his own to
atone for them in his death on the cross. And, on the other hand, it allows Christ's merits to benefit the
members of his mystical Body, who form with him one and the same reality. And so, among the
members, he allows the merits of some to benefit others, enriching them mutually by sharing in the
infinite spiritual treasure of the Church.
Pius XII sums up this doctrine with particular force: "But this does not mean that the Head, Christ, being
placed in such a high place, does not need the help of the Body of Christ. Because what St. Paul says
about the human organism can also be said of this mystical Body: 'He cannot say... head to foot: I have no
need of you' (1 Cor 12:21). It is evident that the faithful need the help of the Divine Redeemer, since He
Himself said: 'Without me you can do nothing' (Jn 15:5); and, according to the Apostle's saying, all the
growth of this Body in order to develop it comes from the Head, who is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:6-7; Eph 4:16; Col
2:19). But at the same time it must be said, even if it seems completely strange, that Christ also needs his
members [...] Our Savior, since he does not govern the Church in a visible way, wants to be helped by
the members of his mystical Body in the development of his redemptive mission. This does not stem
from need or insufficiency on his part, but rather because he himself arranged it for the greater honor of
his immaculate Bride. For, while dying on the Cross, He bestowed upon His Church the immense
treasure of redemption, without her putting anything into it; when it comes to the distribution of this
treasure, on the other hand, He not only communicates to His Bride without blemish the work of
sanctification, but wants it to come from her in some way. It is a truly tremendous mystery, and one that
will never be meditated upon enough, that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary
mortifications of the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, directed to this object, and on the
cooperation that Pastors and faithful - in particular, fathers and mothers - must offer to our Divine
3. In Fatima, Our Lady asks for our cooperation in the work of redemption
We must find in this great mystery of the communion of saints in Christ the foundation of the petitions that
Our Lady came to make at Fatima, especially concerning the expiation of men's sins and to give all our love
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and comfort to the Lord for those who do not love him, as the angel who appeared to them the year before
had taught them to pray to the three little shepherds: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you. I
ask your forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.
Particular obligation of the priests
What we have been saying, and which applies to every Christian - let us not forget that the children of
Fatima were lay people - applies especially to ordained ministers. Indeed, if by this solidarity or
communion of saints we can merit one another, how much more does this concern the priestly ministry,
since we priests have been constituted by Christ as ministers of the Redemption, that is, as stewards of
the mysteries of God! (cf. Eph 3:7; Col 1:23-25; Tit 1:7), or as St. Catherine of Siena beautifully put it, we
are "ministers of the blood.
Strictly speaking, the Catholic priesthood is not different from that of Christ, but is a participation in his
only priesthood, the only true and eternal priesthood of the High Priest. Therefore, the priest's
configuration to Christ necessarily passes through his configuration to him as a victim, because he is a
perfect priest and at the same time a perfect and most pleasant victim before God. He unites in himself the
offering as a priest and the offering as a victim. And Christ has made the ordained ministers participants in
this new priesthood, being himself, as St. Thomas says, "the source of all priesthood. Thus "no one can
call himself a good shepherd unless he is united with Christ in charity and thus becomes a member of
the true Shepherd.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the priesthood is the sacrament by which the mission
entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time; it is
therefore the sacrament of the apostolic ministry . This is why the sacrament of Holy Orders is listed
among the sacraments at the service of the communion of the Church. Indeed, while the other sacraments
are ordered to personal salvation, Holy Orders and Matrimony are ordered to the salvation of others, and
if they contribute to personal salvation, it is in relation to the service of others .
That is why Saint Paul explicitly mentions, when speaking of the need to complete in us what is lacking in
Christ's passion, the fact that this is in favor of the Body of Christ which is the Church, and he also
mentions the fact that he has been constituted a minister of that Church. Hence the particular requirement
and obligation of Christ's ministers in cooperating in the mystery of redemption through their own
victimisation in union with Christ crucified.
The generous response of the three little shepherds
The three children of Fatima responded so generously to this call from Heaven that their example is truly
eloquent and moving. That is why we priests, religious and lay people, all members of Christ, cannot look
the other way. We cannot remain deaf to this call from Heaven, which is so pressing.
Little Jacinta, who was only seven years old, had been very impressed by the sufferings of those
condemned in hell and by the announcement of the sufferings that the Holy Father was to undergo.
That is why she took every opportunity to do penance (by eating and drinking, and even by causing her
flesh to ache with a rope and with blows of nettles). In his homily for her beatification, St John Paul II
said of her: "Little Jacinta shared and lived Our Lady's affliction (for the sins and eternal condemnation of her
children) by offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already
contracted the illness that forced them to stay in bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as Jacinta herself
relates: 'The Virgin came to see us and told us that very soon she would come to fetch Francisco and take him to
Heaven. She asked me if I wanted to convert even more sinners. I said yes. And as the time of Francisco's departure
drew near, the little girl recommended to him: "Give Our Lord and Our Lady my best wishes, and tell them that I am
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ready to endure anything they may want to convert sinners. Jacinta had been so impressed by the vision of hell which
occurred in the July apparition that all the mortifications and penances seemed to her little enough to save sinners.
Little Francisco, who was only eight years old, was instead more moved by the pain that the sins of men
cause Jesus. That is why in his heart, truly contemplative despite his young age, he had only one desire:
to console Jesus by making reparation for the offences against His Sacred Heart. In his homily at the
Beatification, St. John Paul II said of him: "A transformation is taking place in his life that one could say is
radical; a transformation certainly not common to children of his age. He gave himself to an intense spiritual life, with
a prayer so assiduous and fervent, that he reached a true form of mystical union with the Lord. This leads him to a
progressive purification of the spirit through the renunciation of what pleases him and even of the innocent games of
children... Everything seemed little to him to console Jesus; he died with a smile on his lips. Great was the desire in the
little one to make reparation for the offenses of sinners, offering with this intention the effort to be good; the sacrifices,
the prayer.
Lucia had to stay here and live a life of almost a hundred years to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart
of Mary. And she had to suffer a lot. Our Lady had prophesied it to her, but at the same time she had
made her this wonderful promise: "Do you suffer much? Do not be discouraged. I will never abandon
you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.
Evidently they had understood very clearly, through the action of the Holy Spirit, that they could
contribute greatly to the mystery of the redemption of souls through their own sufferings, as members of
the one Mystical Body of Christ, "thus completing in their flesh what is lacking in Christ's passion for his
Body, the Church" (Col 1:24). Their example is very eloquent for us, especially for priests and religious,
whose vocation and divine choice it is to victimize ourselves with the perfect Victim.
The logic of the life-giving cross in the analysis of the three parts of the secret
Having established this truth, let us see from the perspective of the mystery of the communion of saints
what the logical explanation of the secret of Fatima looks like.
The first part of the secret is the vision of the souls who are condemned in hell. This real possibility,
clearly revealed in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, belongs to the deposit of revealed faith. Our
Lady then comes to invite the little shepherds to help her save souls from hell: "Do you want 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 of
supplication for the conversion of sinners?
The second part of the secret is a warning of what are the remedies to prevent so many souls from going
to hell, and at the same time, the announcement of tremendous punishments to mankind: "You have seen
hell, where the souls of poor sinners go; to save them, God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate
Heart. If they do what I am going to tell you, many souls will be saved and will have peace, etc."
Our Lady wants, on the one hand, to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart, which is God's will.
She also wants the practice of the communion of reparation of the First Five Saturdays to be realized, and
that Russia, which represents the destructive power of the militant Marxist atheism that would take power
in this country in the following October, be consecrated to her. Our Lady mentions these requests as remedies
for various evils that She Herself announces: that souls be saved and not go to hell, that there be peace in the world,
that many nations not be annihilated, that hunger be avoided, and that the Church and the Holy Father not be
persecuted. These requests of the Blessed Virgin are in line with those she will make in almost all the apparitions: that
the Holy Rosary be prayed and that penance be made for poor sinners, and to console Jesus, who is so offended, and to
bring peace upon the world.
In this second part Our Lady makes it clear that the world will not hear her call in time, and therefore great
evils will come upon mankind and the Church, which are announced as punishments.
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The third part of the secret explains even more what these terrible punishments will consist of, not without
first announcing that in the end the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to his Immaculate Heart, and that
the triumph of his most pure Heart will take place: "in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
Let us note the logic behind Our Lady's revelation to the three children, which will be eagerly completed
in the third part of the Secret. The terrible evil is eternal damnation. And to remedy this, the Lord wants
the Immaculate Heart of his Mother to reign in the world. Mary Most Holy comes to ask for certain things
to avoid the damnation of souls and these many other evils that She is announcing. Some of them touch
only the supreme authority of the Church, such as the consecration of Russia to the Heart of Mary, which
will be done by the Holy Father. But there are other things that all the faithful, the members of Christ,
must do: penance and prayer to make reparation for the outrages against Christ and his Mother and to
prevent souls from going to hell. If these petitions are ignored, much greater punishments will come:
those that Mary announces in the third part of the Secret.
It is interesting to note that these tremendous punishments of a temporal order are less serious than the
punishment of eternal damnation, and this is a fundamental element in the logic of the secret. That is
why the then Card. Ratzinger says that the key word for the first two parts of the secret is "saving souls.
We would now like to highlight some aspects of the third part of the secret, which develops the
announcement of the previously mentioned punishments, as Sister Lucia herself explains:
a. Our Lady's protection by stopping or rather attenuating the punishments that the angel wants to
inflict on humanity: "We have seen on Our Lady's left side a little higher an angel with a flaming sword in his left
hand; flashing, he emitted flames that seemed to set the world on fire; but they went out when he came into contact
with the splendour that Our Lady radiated with her right hand directed towards him.
b. The angel's pressing invitation to penance, which, according to the then Card. Ratzinger, is the key
word for this part of the secret: "the Angel, pointing to the earth with his right hand, said with a loud voice:
Penance, Penance, Penance!
c. The vision of the martyrdom of Christians of every kind and condition, and of the Holy Father
himself, who is killed at the foot of the cross, as well as the vision of the ruined city full of corpses, and
the Pope praying for them. It is about "the struggle of the atheistic systems against the Church and Christians,
and it describes the immense suffering of the witnesses to the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It is a
never-ending Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the 20th century".
d. The way the vision indicates the value of the blood of the martyrs. We would like to emphasize this in
particular: "Under the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels, each with a glass jar in his hand, in which they
collected the blood of the Martyrs and watered with it the souls that came to God.
We have reached the point where the whole vision takes on its deepest meaning, in union with the two
previous parts of the secret. The blood of the martyrs is collected by the angels and mixed with that
which falls from both arms of the cross, that is, with the blood of Christ. And with these chalices the
angels sprinkle the souls that come to God. That is, they vivify them, they make them participants in the
redemption worked by Jesus Christ on the Cross, through Jesus Christ of whom the martyrs themselves
are members in the unity of the Mystical Body. In other words, it is they, the martyrs, who "complete in
their flesh what is lacking in Christ's passion," and contribute like no other to the fact that souls "wash
their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14).
This is why Card. Ratzinger comments: "The blood of Christ and the blood of the martyrs are here considered
together: the blood of the martyrs flows from the arms of the cross. Their martyrdom is carried out in solidarity with
the passion of Christ and becomes one with it. They complete for the Body of Christ what is still lacking in his
sufferings (cf. Col 1:24). Their life has become the Eucharist, inserted into the mystery of the grain of wheat that dies
and becomes fruitful. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians, Tertullian said. Just as from the death of
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Christ, from his open side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the
e. The divine "punishments" thus enter fully into the plan of God's Providence. In the vision there is a
kind of paradox. For what has been prophesied as divine punishment ends up being a source of blessing and
redemption for souls, so that many of them are vivified by virtue of the blood of Christ and by virtue of the blood of the
martyrs, because it is not a question of two different bloods, but of the same blood of the Lamb: the same blood shed
both for the head and for the members of his mystical body. Even those members participate in this, who, without
reaching bloody martyrdom, nevertheless offer all their sufferings to the Lord.
It is the paradox of the glorious and life-giving cross. The cross, which from an instrument of torture
came to mean, with Christ crucified, life and the most radical victory over the forces of evil. In this way
the vision, which began in a terrifying way, ends up being a vision full of hope, as Card. Ratzinger said:
"The vision of the third part of the 'secret', so distressing in its beginning, is therefore concluded with an image of
hope: no suffering is in vain and precisely a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, becomes a guiding sign for man's
search for God... From the suffering of the witnesses derives a force of purification and renewal, because it is the
actualization of Christ's own suffering and transmits its saving efficacy in the present.
Thus the message of Fatima reminds us of the Lord's exhortation: "In the world you will have tribulation, but
have no fear: I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). The logic of the secret thus underlies the logic and the
paradox of the victory through the glorious Cross. In this way, the prophesied punishments become a source of
redemption and blessing, and the martyrs who accept them for the love of Christ and their brothers and sisters
"complete in their flesh what is lacking in Christ's passion for his Body, which is the Church" (Jn 16:33). In the logic
of the secret thus lies the logic and the paradox of the victory by means of the glorious cross. In this way
the prophesied punishments become a source of redemption and blessing, and the martyrs who accept
them for love of Christ and their brothers and sisters "complete in their flesh what is lacking in Christ's
passion for his Body which is the Church.
The martyrs of the 20th century and the hopeful perspective of the message of Fatima
In this way, Fatima, with its wonderful promise of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and of the
fruits of the blood of the martyrs, especially of the martyrs of the twentieth century, opens up to us a
perspective of great demands and at the same time of great hopes .
We will briefly refer to three points: 1) the martyrs of the 20th century and the new evangelization; 2) the
continuous conversion to personal holiness which the message of Fatima demands of us; 3) the
preaching and use of the means of sanctification which Our Lady came to ask in Fatima.
The Martyrs of the 20th Century and the New Evangelization
It was St. John Paul II, the Pope prophesied in Fatima, who many times during his Pontificate referred to
the martyrs of the 20th century as a sign of hope and as a pledge of the new evangelization. No doubt the
holy Pope had the prophecies of Fatima in mind, because the martyrs of the last century, which had the
most martyrs, even more than the other 19 preceding centuries of the Church's history put together, those
martyrs, as we have seen, were prophesied by the Virgin Mary at Fatima. And because the Virgin herself
prophesied, through the vision of the third secret which we have just explained, that the blood of those
martyrs would vivify many souls, she would vivify the Church, which would culminate in the triumph of
her Immaculate Heart: "at last, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
In his book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," speaking of the return to Christianity of the countries of the
former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the holy Pope said: "But what is the true strength of the Church?
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Naturally, the strength of the Church, in the East and in the West, down through the centuries, lies in the witness of
the saints, of those who have made the truth of Christ their own, of those who have followed the path that is He
himself, who have lived the life that flows from Him in the Holy Spirit. And these saints have never been lacking in
the Church, in the East and in the West. The saints of our century have largely been martyrs. The totalitarian
regimes, which have dominated Europe in the middle of the 20th century, have contributed to increasing their
number. The concentration camps, the death camps, which have produced, among other things, the monstrous Jewish
holocaust, have made real saints appear among Catholics and Orthodox, and also among Protestants. They have been
true martyrs. It is enough to remember the figures of Father Maximiliano Kolbe and Edith Stein and, even before that,
those of the martyrs of the civil war in Spain. In Eastern Europe, the army of the holy martyrs is enormous, especially
the Orthodox - Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians - and of vast territories beyond the Urals. There have also been
Catholic martyrs in Russia itself, in Belarus, in Lithuania, in the Baltic countries, in the Balkans, in Galicia (now
Ukraine), in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. This is the great multitude of
those who, as it is said in Revelation, follow the Lamb (cf. 14:4). With their martyrdom they completed the redemptive
witness of Christ (cf. Col 1:24: what is lacking in Christ's passion) and at the same time they are at the foundation of a
new world, of the new Europe and of civilization" .
It is interesting to note how the Pope's citation ends: these martyrs "are at the foundation of a new world,
of the new Europe and of civilization". This must be for us a source of great hope, especially for the
ministry of priests.
In fact, in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente of 1994, the Pope compared the flowering of
the Church in the time of Constantine the Great, prepared by the martyrs of the first three centuries, with
our time, prepared by the martyrs of the 20th century: "The Church of the first millennium was born of the
blood of the martyrs: 'Sanguis martyrum, semen christianorum' . The historical facts linked to the figure of
Constantine the Great could never have guaranteed a development of the Church as verified in the first millennium, if
it had not been for that sowing of martyrs and for that patrimony of sanctity that characterized the first Christian
generations. At the end of the second millennium, the Church has once again become a Church of martyrs. The
persecutions of believers -priests, religious and laity- have led to a great sowing of martyrs in various parts of the
world. The witness offered to Christ until the shedding of blood has become the common heritage of Catholics,
Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants". And later on the Pope calls these brothers of ours, often unknown, the
"unknown militias of God's great cause.
A turning point in John Paul II's teaching on this fundamental aspect of the Church's life in our time was
the "Commemoration of the Witnesses to the Faith of the 20th Century" which took place in Rome
during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, precisely in preparation for his trip to Fatima a week later.
There the Holy Pope said: "The experience of the Second World War and of the following years has moved me to
consider with gratitude the shining example of all those who, from the beginning of the twentieth century to its end,
experienced persecution, violence and death, because of their faith and their conduct inspired by the truth of Christ.
And there are so many of them! ... Persecution has affected almost all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the
20th century, uniting Christians in the places of sorrow and making their common sacrifice a sign of hope for the
times to come. These brothers and sisters of ours in the faith, to whom we refer today with gratitude and veneration,
are like a great picture of the Christian humanity of the 20th century. A mural of the Gospel of the Beatitudes, lived to
the point of bloodshed" .
For example, in Spain - explicitly mentioned by the Pope in the first text quoted - the martyrs of the religious
persecution of the 1930s are counted in their thousands. They are martyrs of a persecution tinged with atheism and
Marxism and were, without doubt, prophesied by Mary in Fatima. In addition to countless lay people, more than
7,000 priests and religious were killed there in odium fidei, several hundred nuns, and as a crowning glory, 12
bishops. I say this as a crowning achievement because the martyred bishops of the 20th century remember those of the
first centuries, in which it was practically inevitable to associate the episcopate with martyrdom, beginning with the
Bishops of Rome of the first three centuries, all or almost all of whom were martyred. Of this enormous multitude of
Spanish martyrs of the last century, almost 2000 have already been beatified or canonized, which makes Spain,
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perhaps not at all, the country with the most declared martyrs in the whole of the last century. It is a great glory of the
Church in that country, and at the same time, a pledge of many fruits, of a new era of evangelization!
And this is also valid for our Argentine Nation. Because here too there were martyrs who fell under the
bullets and the Marxist bombs, such as Carlos Sacheri, Jordan Bruno Genta and so many others, who
number in the hundreds. And there were also many others who, without shedding their blood, suffered
persecution, misunderstandings, threats of all kinds - even death -, exile, and so many other evils for giving
courageous witness to the truth of Christ before Marxist ideology. Many of them were even our relatives
and friends. They are all prophesied in Fatima, in that vision of the third part of the Secret that transforms
terrible punishment into a source of hope because through their sufferings many souls are enlivened. They
have suffered and/or died for Christ, and their blood and sufferings are not in vain: on the contrary, they
are the most beautiful and precious pledge of a Christian future for our Argentina. And the same can be
said in relation to other countries in the world where Marxism has expanded its errors and persecution.
The martyrs who shed their blood to complete in their flesh what is lacking in Christ's passion for his
body which is the Church are the eloquent example we have to make use of for our spiritual life and for
the great task of the new evangelization. They are not only an example of Christian coherence in the
faith to the point of giving one's life, but their blood is also the life-giving blood of the Church of these
times. That is why the martyrs prophesied at Fatima, and therefore the apparitions of Fatima themselves
as a whole, must have a privileged place in our pastoral work and in our Christian life today.
Personal holiness, whether as lay people, religious or ordained ministers: we too must complete
what is lacking in Christ's passion
The centenary of the apparitions at Fatima must also be for all of us a source of spiritual renewal, of a
relaunching of the search for holiness with the physiognomy of our own vocation, whether as lay people,
religious or priests, seeking with all our strength to unite ourselves to God through our life of faith, hope
and charity.
Fatima, as we said at the beginning quoting Sister Lucia, is an urgent call from Heaven to many aspects of the
spiritual and ecclesial life that are valid for all the members of Christ, and in a special way for religious and priests.
We will not be good apostles without being closely united to Jesus Christ, in whose unique and eternal priesthood we
lay people participate both through baptism and priests, although in an essentially different way, through the
sacrament of Holy Orders. Our personal holiness comes first in our zeal for the glory of God and the sanctification of
souls. And we will not be good and holy without imitating Christ in his filial relationship with Mary Most Holy, who
was totally associated with the redemptive work of her Son, from the Incarnation to Calvary, and is so throughout the
history of the Church.
Let us take the example of the little shepherds, who, being lay people and so small, understood so well our
Lady's urgent call to complete in them what is lacking in Christ's passion, to the point of becoming heroic
in the practice of the virtues, especially in the love of Jesus, Mary, the Church and the Pope, and of souls.
And, for that very reason, heroic in the denial of themselves.
May this centenary then renew in us our zeal for our personal holiness and for the salvation of souls and
our unconditional love for the Church and the "Sweet Christ on earth. the Pope.
Preach and put into practice what Our Lady came to ask at Fatima
Finally, in this centenary we must remember that Our Lady came to Fatima to ask us also to honour her
Immaculate Heart and the Heart of her Son, and that, to help save the souls of poor sinners, we should
do certain very concrete things, proper to the Christian realism that springs from the mystery of the
Incarnation, when the Word took on all that is human in order to redeem it.
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Therefore, this centenary must be an occasion for a renewal of Christian life in the light of the revelations of Fatima,
especially the requests of our Mother in Heaven. She came to ask that the Holy Rosary be prayed, that Holy
Communion be received devoutly, placing the Holy Mass at the centre of our lives. She also came to ask
for much prayer and much reparation for the offences committed against the Heart of Christ and His
Immaculate Heart. For the latter, she asked that the practice of the Five First Saturdays be established in
reparation for the offenses committed against the five fundamental truths of Marian theology and
devotion. Finally, she came to ask us for conversion and to help her establish the reign of her
Immaculate Heart in the world, because in this way God will be honoured and many souls will be
All these aspects, then, must be present in our life and apostolate, and also in preaching and in the pastoral
work of priests, if we do not want to be deaf to Mary's insistent call. She herself has indicated and outlined
for us the pastoral plan for these times!
Let us trust in her and in the value of the blood of the innumerable constellation of witnesses to the faith of
the 20th century that has preceded us.
We would like to conclude by quoting once again the Pope prophesied at Fatima, the Pope so loved by
Mary, St. John Paul II: "May the splendid example of so many witnesses to the faith which the Jubilee has reminded
us of be our help and guide in this confident, enterprising and creative missionary activity. The Church has always
found, in her martyrs, a seed of life. Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum. This famous 'law' enunciated by
Tertullian has always proved to be true in the face of the test of history. Will it not also be so for the century and the
millennium which we are beginning? Perhaps we were too used to thinking of the martyrs in somewhat distant terms,
as if they were a group from the past, linked above all to the first centuries of the Christian era. The Jubilee memory
has opened up a surprising panorama for us, showing us our time which is particularly rich in witnesses who, in one
way or another, have been able to live the Gospel in situations of hostility and persecution, often to the point of giving
their own blood as the supreme proof. In them the word of God, sown in fertile soil, has borne a hundredfold fruit (cf.
Mt 13:8, 23). By their example they have pointed out to us and almost 'paved' the way for the future. It is up to us,
with God's grace, to follow in their footsteps" .
The martyrs of the 20th century and Mary of Fatima show us the way. And in the face of the difficulties we
may encounter in these difficult times, let us not forget their beautiful promise: "Do not be discouraged. I will
never abandon you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Let us
therefore dare to be generous and to complete in our flesh what is lacking in Christ's passion for his Body
which is the Church.
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