"MANY ANTICHRISTS HAVE COME"
(I John 2, 18)
Part II: The Third Secret of Fatima
and Heresy in the Church
We are entering one of the most painful aspects of the Secret of Fatima. For if the Secret truly predicts the betrayal by some of the clergy, if it predicts that a number of consecrated souls, (i.e. priests and bishops) will fall into temptation, renounce their obedience to the Pope and other legitimate superiors, and serve the enemy through their theological dissent, weakening the unity of the Church and undermining her faith - and in Father Alonso's opinion, an opinion shared by an impressive number of Fatima scholars, the Secret predicts just that - it is understandable why the Popes have been so reluctant to divulge such a message.
However, were we to keep silence on this aspect of the Message on the pretext of avoiding controversy, we would be doing a grave disservice to our legitimate pastors, the priests and bishops in full communion with the Holy Father, the Pope of Rome. In his own day, St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the principal obstacle to the world-wide dominion of Antichrist was the strong spiritual authority of the Pope, and the Roman Primacy.* Should this spiritual authority be weakened - either by rebellion against the long established disciplines of the Church, such as priestly celibacy or religious obedience and poverty - or by dissent against truths of the dogmatic order, by an anti-Trinitarian theology, and Arian christology taught in so many seminaries and universities - or by poisoning the sources of grace, through unauthorized liturgical innovations - an enormous obstacle to the extension of satan's kingdom shall have been removed.
The False Lamb and Harlot of the Apocalypse
In his brilliant study of the Third Secret, Frere Michel de la Sainte Trinite raises a shocking question: are the false prophets of Modernism and "Christian Marxism" denounced in the Apocalypse? For throughout the Apocalypse, Our Divine Lord is referred to as "the Lamb", because He is our true Redeemer and High Priest, and the invisible minister of every sacrament. As the Preface for Easter says: "He is the true Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world, who by dying destroyed our death and by rising restored our life."
Now just as Antichrist is the antithesis of Christ, so also the Apocalypse describes a "false prophet", (Apoc. 19,20), an infernal caricature of Christ the true Lamb. As St. John says, it had two horns like the horns of the Lamb but it spoke "like the dragon". (Apoc. 13,11.) In other words, it passes itself off as the Lamb, the Redeemer, but in reality it does the work of satan.
Now when we see Catholic clergymen in some places preaching that fornication is not wrong, masturbation is not wrong, contraception is not serious either, do they not resemble this "false lamb", outwardly appearing as Apostles of Christ, but in reality serving the enemy? Frere Michel thinks that the "false prophet" is a collective term to designate the "Christian Marxists" and other false prophets within the Church.
Another shocking figure of the Apocalypse is the woman, the great harlot of Babylon, who, says the sacred author, was "drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus." (Apoc. 17,6) When we see priests who allow profane songs during the Mass, even right after Communion, as we have seen with our own eyes - when we see dancing girls and priests in clown suits during the sacred liturgy - as many others have seen in church, with their own eyes, to their horror - are they not "inebriated", out of their senses, "drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus"? For the abomination is committed right in the sanctuary, over the desecrated relics of the saints and martyrs of Jesus Christ.
The crisis of dissent and rebellion in the Church is growing more and more acute. Apostasy is drawing near even to the Rock of Peter. Even the Pope's own Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, dared in the Holy Father's absence to praise the modernist and false prophet, Teilhard de Chardin. Other false prophets, such as Fathers Curran and Boff, have their defenders in the episcopate. Still others report with their own eyes how the Archbishop of Milwaukee has allowed fornication and immorality to be openly taught in his diocese. The proof has been sent to the Holy See and some of the evidence has been seen on public television in Milwaukee.
The time has come to say it openly and plainly: for too long the pastors have regarded the sin against faith as not important. The dissenters and heretics wanted to construct a new church, in opposition to the Pope and the bishops in communion with him, a church without dogmas, or morality, or grace.
This new church is the living Antichrist, the harlot of Babylon, the church of unceasing scandal. But in the end, fire will fall from Heaven and destroy the harlot, as it says in the Apocalypse.
Sister Lucy's View of the Crisis
Sister Lucy is not allowed to reveal the final Secret of Our Lady until the Holy Father himself deems the moment opportune. On the other had nothing prevents her, in principle, from giving her opinion on the crisis as an individual person within the limits of religious obedience. This Sister Lucy did in a series of letters written between 1969 and 1971, letters which were published about two years later with the imprimatur of the Bishop of Fatima.
Frere Michel gives the context of these letters in his book on the Secret. Certain theologians had led a campaign against the Rosary, repeating the familiar objections: 'the Rosary is not liturgical enough. The Rosary is outdated, after Vatican II The Rosary is too monotonous.'
In her letters, Sister Lucy reacted vigorously against all these false theses. It was the strongest language she has ever used: she did not hesitate to call the campaign against the Rosary "diabolical". Sister Lucy has three nephews who are priests. She wrote to one of them, on December 29, 1969:
". . . what certain disoriented people say against the Rosary is false. The light of the sun is older than the recitation of the Rosary, but they still want to benefit from its light . . . The Psalms too are older, (but they are still) part of the sacred liturgy.
"The repetition of Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be, is a chain which lifts us up to God and unites us to Him, giving us a participation in the Divine life, just as eating bite after bite of bread sustains the natural life in us; nobody calls that outdated!
"This disorientation is diabolical! Do not let yourself be deceived."
To another one of her nephews, speaking about the Rosary, she wrote:
"Why is the prayer which God taught us and so warmly recommended to us outdated? It is easy to see here the ruse of the devil and his disciples who wish to lead souls away from God by having them neglect prayer . . . do not let yourself be deceived. Be a light to the souls entrusted to you and recite the Rosary with them every day. Say it in the church, in the street . . . if you can, walk down the streets praying and chanting the Rosary with the people, and finish in the church by giving benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. This ought to be done in the spirit of prayer and penance to ask for peace for the church . . ."
She wrote to another one of her nephews:
"It is sad that so many people let themselves be dominated by the diabolical wave sweeping over the world! And they are blinded to the point where they are incapable of seeing error! Their principal fault is that they have abandoned prayer . . ." On April 4, 1970, Sister Lucy wrote:
"It is necessary not to be led astray by the doctrines of the disoriented . . . the campaign (against the Rosary) is diabolical. We must stand up to it . . . we must say to souls that now, more than ever, we must pray for those who are for us and those who are against us! We must recite the Rosary every day. This is the prayer Our Lady recommended the most, as though to warn us, foreseeing these days when the diabolical campaign is going on! . . . Do not fear to expose the Blessed Sacrament and say the Rosary in its presence.
"It is false to say that this is not liturgical, because the prayers of the Rosary are all part of the sacred liturgy, and if they are not displeasing to God when we recite them as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, in like manner they do not displease Him when we recite them in His presence, when He is exposed for our adoration. On the contrary, this is the prayer most pleasing to Him, for it is the prayer by which we praise Him best."
Sister Lucy, ordinarily, has never been given to such vehement language. She speaks almost as though the Blessed Virgin, in the Secret, had revealed in 1917 this "diabolical wave" now sweeping over the world. The saddest part, according to Sister Lucy, is that so many consecrated souls, priests, religious, and bishops, are swept away in the confusion:
"It is sad to see such great disorientation, and in so many persons who occupy places of responsibility!
". . . the devil has succeeded in bringing in evil under the guise of good, and the blind are beginning to lead others, as the Lord tells us in His Gospel . . ."
When we consider that, according to Sister Lucy, the Secret is contained "in the Gospel", the way that she quotes the Gospel in this context is significant . . . and begins to take on a distinctly ominous ring.
Frere Michel, author of the 600-page book on the Third Secret, shares with us the findings of his research:
For the confidant of the Virgin Mary, evil is not only in our world "in decadence", "plunged into the darkness of error of immorality and pride". Evil is also in the Church itself, where the devil has his "followers" and his "partisans" who are always "forging ahead with intrepid audacity". Facing them, there are so many "timid persons" who do not have the courage to take a stand. And Sister Lucy is not afraid to state that many bishops are among their number. Moreover, it is not only a question of lukewarmness or of pastoral neglect, Sister Lucy lets it be clearly understood that it is the faith itself that is being attacked. She speaks of "false doctrines" and of "diabolical confusion", of "blindness" and this, among the very ones "who have great responsibility" in the Church. She deplores the fact that so many pastors "let themselves be dominated by the diabolical wave that is invading the world". Could one better describe the crisis of the Church that has opened itself to a world . . . of which satan is the prince?
But Sister Lucy insists, "The Virgin knew that these times of diabolical disorientation had to come." All these words of the seer and so many others that we can cite, are explained perfectly, and take on great prominence, if on July 13, 1917, in Her Third Secret, the Virgin specifically foretold this "diabolical disorientation" which would suddenly invade the Church, if Her requests were not obeyed.
The Final Struggle: the Woman Clothed with the Sun . . . Versus the Dragon of the Apocalypse
Sister Lucy clearly knew much more than she was able to reveal in her letters. However, on the essentials, we know enough. Clearly, the strategy of the devil is to mislead the Church, to destroy it were such a thing possible - of course, it is not - by misleading and disorienting consecrated souls - priests, religious, brothers, and indeed the pastors of the Church themselves. Once again, we should not be unduly shocked. There is nothing new here. This has always been the strategy of the enemy. In 1517, a full third of Christendom was torn from the Church by the Reformers, who were mostly fallen priests. The same is true for the Arian heresy, which afflicted the Church for several long centuries, like a contagious germ, corrupting everywhere it went.
So there is nothing new in this stratagem of the devil. It is as old as the Gospel . . . and the Apocalypse.
The Great Sign
In the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse, St. John the Evangelist tells us that a great sign appeared in heaven:
"A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. " (Apoc. XII,1)
The woman, of course, is the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Frere Michel tells us, the best exegetes have always recognized this fact. Venerable Mary of Agreda confirms it in her visions of the life of the Blessed Virgin, and the Church herself recognizes this woman as Our Lady, in the Mass and Office of the Assumption.
The woman is locked in a deadly struggle with the dragon, satan, the devil, the old serpent. With his tail, the great red dragon knocks a third of the stars of heaven to the ground. But what are they fighting over? Lifeless asteroids out in the sky? No, it is the souls of men, and especially the souls of the consecrated leaders of the people of God: priests, bishops, and religious. For on this first battle depends, to a great extent, the battle for the souls of the rest of men. For as Sister Lucy says, "when the pastor knows how to lead them on the right path, the sheep generally follow."
This, then, is the great battle we are witnessing in the very heart of the Church: it is for the souls of all those who have dedicated themselves to God in religious life. Now we begin to understand little Jacinta's preoccupation with praying for priests and for the Holy Father; now also we understand why Sister Lucy wrote: "Gladly I sacrifice myself and offer my life to God for peace in His Church, for priests and for all consecrated souls . . ."
Our Lady of Akita says, in Her final message which was given, significantly, on October 13th:
"Pray the Rosary every day for the Pope, the bishops, the priests. The action of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church . . . There will be many in the Church who will accept compromises. The demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. He will rage especially against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of human souls makes me sad . . ."
A "Controversial" Secret
There is one last question about the Secret which never fails to cause interminable controversies: should it be revealed publicly or not? To put it another way: if Sister Lucy, following the wishes of the Blessed Virgin, indicated that the Secret should have been revealed in 1960, why have the Popes not done so?
We must make no mistake about it: revealing the Secret of Fatima will be a bitter medicine for the Church. Yet, it will be a necessary medicine, as salutary as it is bitter. It will not be pleasant. But it will be the first step towards cauterizing the wounds, healing the terrible fever afflicting the Mystical Body for twenty-eight years. Would that all the children of the Church hearken to it, as to the voice of the prophet, in the Old Testament: "Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He has taken us, and He will heal us; He will strike, and He will cure us. He will revive us after two days: on the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight." (Osee 6, 1-2.)
NEXT ISSUE: The Third Secret: Part III
The Third Secret The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
A Plea to Our Shepherds
*See Huchede, History of Antichrist, Tan Books