One hundred years ago on July 13, Our Lady entrusted three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, with a great secret. Father Robert Fox, a renowned expert on Fatima, explains:
The Fatima apparition of July 13, 1917, has much significance for today. Many are weakening or have lost faith in the existence of the infinite and just God. Among many, there is little or no faith in the reality of hell. Yet, in the July apparitions, the three little shepherd children were shown a vision of hell so terrible, Sr. Lucia wrote that if they had not been promised they would all go to Heaven, she thought they would have died on the spot. God's mercy is infinite. So is His justice. But for God's mercy through the precious blood of Jesus to benefit souls, He requires our faith, repentance, and openness to His merciful love. Otherwise, His justice must prevail.
The children beheld countless souls of sinners in hell. Our Lady, who is our Mother of Mercy, kindly but sadly said, "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, there will be peace." The July apparition with its call to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary requires living a life of Christian virtue as Mary did. It is most needed today. Obeying the Ten Commandments, receiving the Sacraments worthily and in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and daily prayer — especially by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary — all these are required in living our personal consecration to Mary's Immaculate Heart.
To aid us in this call, our Mother of Mercy gave us two prayers to recite. She said, "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice: 'Oh Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.' When you recite the Rosary, after each mystery say: 'O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.'" Our Lady said: "If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, there will be peace." Our Lady also said that if we do not heed Heaven's call, much punishment will befall the world: "War, hunger, and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father." She emphasized the importance of First Saturdays along with consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in preventing these things. The late Fr. Joaquin Maria Alonso, a Claretian and the official historian of Fatima, told me that the loss of faith was predicted in the Fatima message. "In Portugal, the Dogma of Faith will always be preserved." This implies it will be lost in other places. We now know that the third part of the Fatima secret, told to Sr. Lucia at this apparition, concerned the many martyrs to the faith, including the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.
We are now witnesses to what Heaven prophesied. To turn the tide back to Jesus today, the July apparition tells us the way for ourselves and for the conversion of others.
Father Robert J. Fox was founder and director of the International Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of The Immaculate Heart Messenger. He authored more than 50 books and tapes, including Fatima Today — Third Millennium.