The Church knew that there was a third secret given to the children at Fatima. By the end of the 1950s the contents of the first two had long been known, but still the third secret was a great mystery. It is clear from the events surrounding the putting to paper of this third and final secret that it had been made known to Sister Lucia that it was time to do so, and that it was accomplished in two separate documents: the first part was put down in her notebook, and the second on an independent sheet of paper.
We also know that Sister Lucia was so terrified by the third secret that she was paralyzed with fear and could not write it down until our Lady herself came to visit and console her, and only then was she able to write it down. What could be so terrible as to cause this reaction in her? This nun at the age of 10 had been shown Hell and had been told of the coming of the horrors of World War II. Could this prophesy be even worse? It seems so.
The parts of the secret were written down on January 3rd and 9th of 1944, but she was told it was not to be revealed until 1960. The secret was sent to Rome and placed in the care of the Holy Office (now the CDF) in 1957. Immediately after being elected, before he did anything else, even before his coronation took place Pope John XXIII wanted to see the text of the third secret. But after having read the contents he reacted violently against it. He ordered that one part was to buried in the secret Vatican archives, and the second part he wouldn’t even allow another soul to handle it and put it in a safe next to his own bed. He then began to bad mouth the visionaries and to cast doubt on the veracity of the apparitions and the messages, but this was only ever in private, because the Church had already very firmly, officially, and publicly declared the authenticity of them. This would seem to indicate that the Pope simply held a different opinion of things than what our Lady had told him. Thus the secret was not revealed as had been commanded in 1960. The Holy Father also even went so far as to take measures to silence Lucia from speaking out publicly, and in her great humility she remained obediently silent for the rest of her life, but never stopped sending letter after letter to the various Popes.
Much speculation has been made about what exactly was in the secret that caused such a reaction. Some have suggested, and with a great deal of support for their claims, that it dealt with a terrible apostasy in the church even to the highest levels. It may also have warned against opening up the Church to attack, possibly even from within, by calling a new Ecumenical Council. Pope Pius XII had refused to do this because he saw the signs of the times and realized it would be disastrous to do so. This point is explicated by one of the great experts on the whole history and contents of Fatima, Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, author of: The Whole Truth About Fatima and The Third Secret, the following appears in the latter:
Having reached the end of our inquiry, we are able to discern, with near certainty, the essential elements of Our Lady’s final secret: While ‘in Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved,’ in many nations, perhaps in almost the entire world, the Faith will be lost. The pastors of the Church will fail gravely in the duties of their office. Through their fault, consecrated souls and the Faithful in great number will let themselves be seduced by pernicious errors spread everywhere. This will be the time of the decisive battle between the Blessed Virgin and the devil. A wave of diabolical disorientation will be hurled over the world. Satan will introduce himself even to the highest summit of the Church. He will blind the minds and harden the hearts of pastors. And God will deliver them to themselves as a chastisement for their refusal to obey the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This will be the great apostasy predicted for the ‘last times’; ‘the False Lamb’ and ‘False Prophet’ will betray the Church to the profit of ‘the Beast,’ according to the prophecy of the Apocalypse.
Just three months after being elected and burying the third secret, Pope John XXIII officially called the Second Vatican Council on January 25th, 1959. An ill omen appeared on the same day as once again the aurora borealis appeared in the sky just as it had almost exactly 21 years earlier signaling the outbreak of the most terrible war the world had ever seen.
From 1962 until 1965 the Second Vatican Council was held. To discuss in detail all that went on from the preparations through it’s conclusions can (and has) filled many volumes. But I will attempt a brief overview highlighting those points that most specifically pertain to the topic of this series.
Many discussions were had before the council about what should be dealt with during the council. Every other council in the history of the Church had been called to deal with one particular issue of doctrine and/or the reformation of discipline when it had become lax. And many desired an official condemnation of atheistic Communism, which was the greatest threat to mankind both politically and spiritually. Millions had already been slaughtered because of this evil philosophy and many of them were martyrs for the Catholic faith. But alas this subject was to be set aside. Other matters such as a definition of the actual composition of Hell fire and other doctrinal issues also were raised. But after much time spent by a number of bishops and priests on the preparatory documents for the Council they were all trashed shortly after the opening of the council.
This council would see the largest assemblage of ecclesiastics ever in history. But it seems that most of the Cardinals and Bishops desired for the American Bishops to take a leading role in the proceedings. They, however, seemed to content to sit back and not really get involved in the melee that would follow. Ultimately, the liberal German Bishops (the vast majority of the faithful Bishops and Priests having been killed by Hitler several decades earlier) would take the lead in the council and would be at the forefront throughout.
One of the biggest mistakes made during the council was the introduction of a number of priests and religious who up to that time had been publicly censured by the the Church or at best were on the “Heresy Watch List” of Venerable Pope Pius XII. They were elevated to the status of “experts” who were there to advise the Bishops, but this had in turn the effect of legitimizing these men in the public eye. Suddenly, their writings and books became accepted among the general Catholic public. Thus heretics like Karl Rahner and Hans Urs Von Balthasar began showing up on the bookshelves of Catholic homes, but much more disturbingly on the shelves of parish Priests and even became required reading in Seminaries. Even though the official condemnations of their works were never overturned.
And when during the council these problematic ideas were being thrown around the faithful and zealous defenders of the faith were taken aback. Cardinal Ottaviani was probably the most outspoken opponent of the “new ideas” being bantered about, but the liberals who had hijacked the council simply turned off his microphone so that no one could here his objections any more. Something we have seen repeated even to this day in meetings of the USCCB when the more liberal Bishops want to silence the orthodox members of the body, who were also all driven out of their positions of authority. The now retired Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (a personal hero of mine) was one of these so ill treated by his brother Bishops.
Pope John would die on the 3rd of June 1963 and on the 21st Pope Paul VI was elected the next vicar of Christ. It was wondered by some whether or not he would continue the council. It should be no surprise, however, that he who had been denied the honor of Cardinal under Pope Pius XII (even though he was Archbishop of Milan, which was unheard of) and had been created Cardinal by Pope John XXIII would continue this legacy of his patron.
But while the Church was suffering internal turmoil the world had gone mad. The 1960s is possibly one of the most terrible times for the Church and the world in it’s history. The errors of Russia continued to spread and the Church began to struggle more and more with the ever increasingly secular and amoral world. Recall what our Lady said at Fatima to little Jacinta:
Wars are a punishment from God for sin…Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much…More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.
And as we know the “Roaring 20s” are what immediately followed upon this warning and the introduction of new immodest fashions for women and the rise of the Feminist movement, which was simply the spreading of the errors of Russia. True to our Lady’s word because we not only continued, but even increased, our offending God the world was scourged with the most terrible war the world has ever known. And still we did not repent. Just a little over a decade after the end of the war came this most destructive of decades to western civilizations, and possibly in its entire history.
The sexual revolution accompanied by an unbelievable increase in the distribution of dangerous mind altering drugs and the introduction of Rock and Roll have shaped the world we live in today. Unfortunately, it was just at this time that the Catholic Church itself began to fall into a most dire crisis that prompted Pope Paul VI to say the following disturbing words in an Address to the Lombard Seminary in Rome on the 7th of December 1968:
The Church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called self-destruction. It is an interior upheaval, acute and complicated, which nobody expected after the Council. It is almost as if the Church were attacking itself. We looked forward to a flowering, a serene expansion of conceptions which matured in the great sessions of the Council. But one must notice above all the sorrowful aspect. It is as if the Church were destroying herself.
One wonders if this comment was not in direct reference to the complete rejection, in some cases of entire Bishop’s conferences, around the world to his infallible teaching on morality contained in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was published earlier that year.
It was just then at the critical moment when the unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church was so very needed that it ceased being preached by her Bishops and Priests. And can we say that this sudden crumbling of the active preaching of the one true faith did not have, at least in part, something to do with the Second Vatican Council? I will simply say that after returning home from the final session of the Council the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was so disturbed by all he had witnessed that he sat down and recorded a nearly 22 hour long Audio Catechism so that the faith would not go un-preached in the future.
A darkness had enveloped the Church. The very smoke of Satan had entered therein. The enemies of the Church had become strong and the Church had become weak. And with the conclusion of the 1960s and the introduction of the New Rite of Mass there came a massive exodus from the Church. There were those who left because the Church had become to liberal and those who left because she had not become liberal enough. Those who left because the Liturgy had been destroyed and those who left because it had not been all together done away with.
Vast numbers of faithful abandoned the only ark of salvation, and many led by Priests and religious who were part of their own exodus from the Church in large numbers as well. The statistics are disturbing and realities of what was ushered in in the 1970s and beyond are difficult think about in their details without great sorrow.
For a little more information on this subject and a look at the statistics of the sudden impact before and after that this time period had on just the Catholic Church in the United States I would highly recommend these two articles on the subject:
And just as everything was coming crashing down our Lady came down from Heaven once more. In 1973 our Lady appeared in Akita Japan to a deaf stigmatic nun with a message, which considered in light of the Sacred Heart and La Salette and Fatima apparitions, that ought to strike fear into our hearts.
In the first apparition on August 3rd our Lady said to Sister Agnes:
Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ingrates.
In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With my Son I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him forming a cohort of victim souls. Prayer, penance and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community…that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men.
Our Lady then appeared a second time on October 13th on the 56th anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima with the following message:
As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them
Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved.
Yet another bone chilling warning from Heaven, but have we yet listened?
And most disturbing because it was just at this time that devotion to our Lady had reached an all time low, and the devotion to the Holy Rosary was not only not practiced but was fought against even by many priests. One priest I know who was in Seminary at the time at the Catholic University of America (a Pontifical University established by Pope Leo XIII originally) a number of seminarians stood in a room watching Pope Paul VI in TV visiting Fatima and hurling all kinds of insults at him and mocking any devotion to such a “superstition”.
It was in these days that Pope Paul VI suffered immensely. During that last decade of his pontificate, as is attested to by the Ven. Archbishop Sheen, he suffered constantly. He had been abandoned by huge numbers of the faithful, his priests, and even bishops. How much of this was his own doing, which could have been avoided, and how much can be attributed to those evil days I cannot say.
It is said, however, that on the Monday after Pentecost in 1971 (the first year the New Rite was in force) the Pope came to vest for Mass and was startled to see Green Vestments instead of the customary Red for the Octave of Pentecost. Asking the Sacristan what the meaning of this was he was told that he himself had abolished that beautiful and ancient octave. And it is said that the Pope hung his head and wept. He concluded his miserable last days wandering through the halls of the Vatican repeating the Creed to himself…over and over again.
It was the darkest hour.