By John C. Preiss
The last part of Lucia’s writings could well be entitled “The Great Martyrdom of the Church in the Twentieth Century.” The document contains a prophetic description of an attempt against the life of Pope John Paul II which ultimately occurred on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. This third part of the secret would not be revealed until the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, on May 13, 2000. With its publication, the whole of Our Lady’s message has been made known. Thereis nothing further to be revealed, as Sister Lucia herself declared shortly before she died.
When Sister Lucia was asked how she viewed the message over time, she stated:
If the message was chosen by men, it would have been the first to be rejected. Think of it: for such a message, a rural hillside, a stony place, devoid of natural beauty, with no means of transport, without shelter of any kind to protect people from the hot sun in the summer or the torrential rain and storms in the winter. No one would go there! Often what men reject is what God chooses, because his is the power, the wisdom, the grace and energy that is at work in souls, moving them and carrying them as he wishes.
While she was still living, many people longed for a face-to-face interview with Sister Lucia. Such meetings were almost never granted. In order to visit her at the cloistered Carmel in Coimbra where she lived, one needed a permit issued by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The prohibition against receiving visitors had been imposed on her to protect her life of prayer as a contemplative Carmelite nun. While Sister Lucia made use of every possible means for making the Blessed Virgin “better known and loved,” she always abided by this order, despite the many people who wanted to see her. She did, however, receive thousands of letters over the eighty-eight years between the time of the apparitions and her death. When she discussed this with Pope Paul VI in his visit in 1967, he suggested she write a long letter in response, which became the book Calls from the Message of Fatima(Apelos da Mensagem de Fatima). Calls was published on December 13, 2000, on the authority of Pope John Paul II and endorsed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In Calls Sister Lucia tells us that the first call which God addresses to us through Fatima is a call to faith:
Faith is the basis of the entire spiritual life. It is by faith that we believe in the existence of God, in his power, his wisdom, his mercy, his work of redemption, his pardon and his fatherly love. It is by faith that we believe in God’s Church, founded by Jesus Christ, and in the doctrine the Church transmits to us and by which we shall be saved. It is by the light of faith that we see Christ in others, loving, serving and
helping them when they are in need of our assistance. And it is also our faith that assures us that God is present within us, that his eyes are always upon us. (Calls [pg. 60]).
While Catholics are not required to believe in the extraordinary events that occurred at Fatima, those who do have found their faith renewed.