Please note: This post edited and new material added at 9:20 a.m. Friday, July 19, 2019.
This is our follow-up post to “The Vision of Hell”, which we posted on July 13, 2019.
Previously, we discussed that the Message of Our Lady at Fatima on her third visit, July 13, 1917 was a watershed moment. The previous apparitions, including the Angel’s visits, prepared for this one and this apparition is essential for understanding the subsequent ones. For it was on this day, as Lúcia relates, that ‘Our Lady deigned to reveal to us the Secret’. (“The Whole Secret of Fatima, Vol. 1, available free from www.archive.org.) The following are excerpts with commentary from that volume.
“…The message of July 13 appears to us very clearly divided into two parts:
First, there are the words which were divulged immediately,
Second, the long text of the secret which the seers carefully kept hidden.
However, what is important is that the two parts of the message are very closely connected.”
In today’s post we will look at the text, or meaning, behind the bare words themselves.
From Frère Michel de la Trinité:
The obsessive fear for the salvation of souls, which is the other key of the secret, with its terrible first part, the gripping vision of hell, was clearly manifested at the very moment of the apparition, inscribed on the faces of the seers. All the witnesses in fact noticed the great sorrow which suddenly overwhelmed them. Those who were very near were very much moved by the sudden cry which fell from the lips of Lúcia. ‘At this moment’, says Ti Marto, ‘Lúcia took a deep breath, went as pale as death, and we heard her cry out in terror to Our Lady, calling Her by name.’
Is it not this same fright, distorting their faces, which is still visible on the photograph of the three seers taken by Mario Godinho, a few minutes after the apparition?
It was also on July 13 that Our Lady revealed the only two prayers She taught the children, the one just before the secret, to invite them to sacrifice, and the other right after, to complete each decade of the Rosary, popularly called the “Fatima Decade Prayer.” These are two very brief formulas, which show once again the humility and also the great pedagogy of the Virgin Mary. They are almost ejaculatory prayers which can easily come unceasingly to our lips. They are two precious pearls which, in a few words, synthesize the essence of Her message…
AN URGENT SUPPLICATION FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS.
Right after the end of the secret, Our Lady continued:
‘When you say the Rosary, say after each mystery:
‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need.’
O MY JESUS
The two prayers taught by Our Lady are addressed to Her Son, to Jesus Christ our Savior. This alone suffices to destroy the calumnies of the reformists opposed to Fatima under the fallacious pretext that Her message is not Christocentric enough! What an error! At Fatima, Our Lady willed to add to the Rosary, the great prayer in Her honour this short invocation addressed to Jesus the Savior. Inserted between the Gloria Patri to the Holy Trinity, the Our Fathers and the Aves, which supplicate God our Father and our Blessed Mother in Heaven, this little prayer enlarges the divine horizon of our Rosary.
The thought of our sin, this sin so profoundly rooted in us and which threatens to cause our ruin, is present everywhere in the message of Fatima. There is not one of the nine apparitions of the Angel and the most Blessed Virgin which does not make some allusion to sin. Each of the four prayers taught to us, brief as they are, all make some mention of it. This prayer, which is no exception, echoes the litany of Paters and Aves: Forgive us our trespasses (from the Our Father), and pray for us sinners (from the Hail Mary).
DELIVER US FROM THE FIRE OF HELL!
This supplication, the most urgent, refers of course to the vision of hell. The concrete evocation of its terrifying fire was willed expressly to call to mind the description of hell sketched by Lúcia. Yes, it is willed by Our Lady, who is the sovereign teacher, that this word hell always remind us of this devouring fire, which most exactly expresses its terrible reality. [Editor’s note: this was also a warning against the heretical notion that Hell is empty that is so prevalent today.]
‘Livrai nos do fogo do inferno!’ The expression is strong and vigorous, and deliberately so. Not only ‘preserve us’, but more exactly, ‘deliver us’! It makes explicit the last request of the Our Father, with the same verb, but ‘deliver us from evil’. This is to say that hell is not for us an imaginary and far off danger, from which we can escape by ourselves.
No, it is the just and certain culmination of rebellions against God and hardening of the heart, where we would go without the pardon of Jesus, our Savior, and without the help of His grace full of mercy. Without Him, without His Passion and His redeeming Blood we are already lost. We owe our salvation to Him alone, and He desires that we ask Him: ‘O my Jesus, deliver us from the fire of hell!’
The prayer of Fatima is very close to what the liturgy says: ‘From eternal death, deliver us, O Jesus!’ implore the litanies. And the prayer of the Roman Canon, stating clearly the intention of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, says: ‘Deliver us from eternal damnation (ab aeterna damnatione nos eripi), and number us in the flock of Thine elect.’ The same vigorous expression is found in the Litany of the Saints, and this time it makes quite clear who is meant by the ‘us’: it is we ourselves and all our dear ones who have the faith, and we implore pardon for ourselves: ‘That You would deliver our souls and the souls of our brethren, relations and benefactors, from eternal damnation, we beseech You, hear us! Ut animas nostras . . . ab aeterna damnatione eripias, te rogamus audi nos!’
It is an urgent supplication, but it is also full of an immense trust. For in hope we are already sure of obtaining the forgiveness of Our Savior, and eventually reaching the happiness of Heaven… Thus, our horizons are enlarged, leading us to the second part of the prayer:
LEAD ALL SOULS TO HEAVEN
Our ardent desire to be saved, ourselves and our dear ones, is necessarily extended to all souls. Christ offered His life for all men, without exception, and God His Father wishes to save all men; so why shouldn’t all souls go to Heaven? The little prayer becomes… a universal prayer. It is mystical, and it expresses a true and ardent charity. ‘Lord’, Father de Foucauld loved to repeat, ‘if it could be possible, make all men go to Heaven!’ [Ed: Indeed, that is true, Christ our Savior made salvation possible for all, but few there are who choose it. However, we are called by charity to pray for all poor sinners, for we may not judge; that is for Christ alone to do. For those of you who rebel at this, please read on.]
‘All souls’, ‘as almas todas’, or in the version most often quoted by Sister Lúcia, ‘as alminhas todas’, with this diminutive of commiseration, ‘all these poor souls’, just as we would say, ‘poor sinners’. ‘Levai para o Ceu!’ ‘Lead them to Heaven!’ The word can hardly be translated: take them, carry them, lift them right up to Heaven! And perhaps even better, as Father Simonin and Dom Jean-Nesmy translate: ‘Draw all souls to Heaven.’ It reminds us of the words of Jesus on the evening of Palm Sunday, just before entering into the work of His redemptive Sacrifice: ‘Now is the prince of this world cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ He said this to show by what death He was going to die. ‘Omnia traham ad me ipsum.’
ESPECIALLY THOSE MOST IN NEED
These last words bewildered Canon Formigao. Indeed they are surprising: How can we ask Jesus to lead all souls to Heaven, and thus all without exception, and then immediately add a formula which on the contrary is partial and restrictive? The words, ‘all… especially’ seem to defy simple logic.
And yet the formula is surely authentic, and the difficulty disappears when we consider that it concerns the salvation of souls, which is always a pure and infinite mercy of God. The logic here is one of love, full of implications which cause the too narrow framework of the exact relation of the concepts to explode. The suppliant soul, in the zeal of its love, would like to obtain from the Divine Mercy the salvation of all souls… but it knows that its request cannot be heard in all its extension… it does not merit it. In this case, it immediately clarifies its request, and says to God: ‘I ask You to have mercy at least on some souls, and most especially, as a priority, on the souls of the greatest sinners, who most surely risk being lost!’ Such is the logic of the saints…
Ed. Note: A different perspective suggests itself to me: The “souls most in need” are not necessarily the greatest sinners! Instead, consider if they may be those who are most in danger of falling from the faith by the severe trials of these times. The risk is so great today for all who labor to awaken their brethren to the danger, to strengthen others in the faith, for Satan ignores the sinners in order to pursue with the greatest vigor those who are most effective in saving souls.
Who might these be? Why consecrated souls, of course! Satan hates priests! Satan hates all consecrated virgins! Satan hates all who consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary! These are his primary targets, but another huge focus of his is those at the hour of death. The Church, in her wisdom has always known this and that is the reason for the last verse of the Hail Mary:
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
Readers, I do not believe that my interpretation, above, contradicts the remainder of Frère Michel’s writing on this, or St. Jacinta’s words quoted below.
This is how the three seers understood this prayer, in the light of its immediate context, the vision of hell. A striking passage from the Memoirs shows us how the little prayer of Our Lady often returned to the lips of Blessed Jacinta, and not only between decades of the Rosary, but to implore often the salvation of souls:
“Jacinta often sat thoughtfully on the ground or on a rock, and exclaimed: ‘Oh, Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!’ Then, shuddering, she knelt down with her hands joined, and recited the prayer Our Lady had taught us: ‘O my Jesus! Pardon us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need.’ “
‘Now’, Sister Lucia continues, ‘Your Excellency will understand how my own impression was that the final words of this prayer refer to souls in greatest danger of damnation, or those who are nearest to it.’
These last words turn our attention towards those in their last agony. In all the myriads of Ave Marias we shall have prayed all during our life, we ask the Mother of Mercy to pray for us ‘at the hour of our death’. But all these hardened souls who outraged Her unceasingly and never invoked Her? It is for them, in their place that Our Lady has us pray during our Rosary. [* Please see note below on this point.]
This priority accorded the greatest sinners, was not understood, and was the principal reason why the original version of the prayer was abandoned for so long in favor of another, more classical one. Yet this prayer brings us to the full reality of the Gospel. It is the priority given to the erring sheep for the twofold reason that it is lost, and that its salvation will show more strikingly the untiring Love of its Good Shepherd! It was St. Therese of the Child Jesus who, ‘devoured by a thirst for souls, burned with the desire to snatch from the eternal flames the souls of the greatest sinners’. Hence her decision ‘to prevent at any price from going to hell’ the horrible criminal whose three murders had monopolized the news. On him also, ‘this poor unfortunate Pranzini’, did she wish to pour out the salvific and ‘divine dew’ of the Blood of Jesus.
We will see that this concern for the salvation of the greatest sinners is a frequent theme in later revelations granted to Sister Lúcia. It was equally the constant thought of Jacinta:
“Jacinta remained on her knees like this for long periods of time, saying the same prayers over and over again. From time to time, like someone awaking from sleep, she called out to her brother or myself: ‘Francisco! Francisco! Are you praying with me? We must pray very much, to save souls from hell! So many go there! So many!’ “
THE LITTLE PRAYER OF REPARATORY OFFERING
Sister Lúcia humbly confesses in her second Memoir: ‘During this month (June 13 – July 13), I lost all enthusiasm for making sacrifices and acts of mortification… To reawaken my fervor which had grown cold, Our Lady told us: ‘Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often to Jesus, especially each time you make a sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’
Here is a very simple prayer, whose significance is immediately grasped. Again it is to Jesus our Savior that our offering is addressed, but in addition to the desire to please Him through love, in accomplishing the action we offer Him, two other intentions are added. And the whole richness of this prayer consists precisely in their indissoluble bond of reciprocal implication, which causes each of these intentions to remind us of the other two. Note how the thought of the salvation of sinners is found inserted there like a wedge between the two acts of love for Jesus and Mary. This shows to what extent the missionary intention is at the very heart of the message of Fatima, as necessarily flowing from the true love of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
- Editor Note: The Fatima Decade Prayer prays for especially those most in need (of Thy mercy). Please consider the relevance toward praying for this tragic Pope and his wayward prelates. We must pray for them and expect miracles from the infinite mercy of God, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary! Prayers are never wasted – and even prayers that may seem futile often bring rgeat blessings for those who have hoped in God.
The two Fatima Prayers recommended by Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima urge us to reparation for sins and pray for the conversion of sinners, and I cannot stress enough the importance of this at this particular time. Our Lady of Fatima has promised that there is nothing, nothing at all, which we cannot accomplish by means of her Rosary.
Thank you so much for reading. Please, pray the Rosary, and the Fatima Decade Prayer!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
† St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!