I do not believe The Third Secret of Fatima came to pass with the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981
A full 100 years ago this year Our Lady cautioned that if humankind did not turn from sin, repent and offer prayers and penance in reparation all the while honouring her specific requests then the contents of the Third Secret would be our fate.
That faithful day on the hillside Our Lady revealed a vision to the 3 children which was later relayed (fully or edited; many of us are not quite sure) by the last surviving seer, Sr Lucia. Relying on Lucia's words, our mental cinema can create a surreal sequence of events where the Holy Father in a trembling and down-trodden way threads his path through a city destroyed and littered with dead bodies. Offering prayers for the souls of the dead the Holy Father trudges his way up a steep mountain whereupon reaching the top he falls to his knees before a big rudely hewn Cross and is set upon by soldiers who puncture his body with arrows and bullets. Surrounding the Holy Father are the cadavers of bishops, priests, men and women religious who have been slain in the same way.
This precise chain of events has not yet happened - but I take it literally - for two reasons. Firstly, Our Lady intended her words at Fatima to be taken as portending potentially to a real reality if her requests were not honoured which is my second reason for believing the Third Secret is unfolding and will reach a bloody climax depicted by Lucia's words. The Third Secret may well happen to the letter; otherwise it is the anomaly among the Secrets and inconsistent with the justice of God who visited the Second World War on humanity which was prophesised by Our Lady in the Second Secret.
I was at school in Ireland in the year 2000 when I was first heard the thought campaign that there were a lot of metaphors and symbols sprinkled throughout the Third Secret, which risks reducing it to a poetic theory. They say the Third Secret came to pass with the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981. Truly a bullet did pierce the body of the Polish Pope, but to collapse all the arrows and bullets that ring through the air in the vision given the little children is an exercise in coddling the masses to the point where they relax and refrain from amending their lives in accordance with Our Lady's wishes. For one thing the Third Secret is carried out in microcosm each day in the Middle East where Christians know a red martyrdom while in our part of the globe thus far we are more likely to know a white martyrdom.
I've often felt tempted to allow myself to be lulled into thinking the Third Secret began and ended with the attempt on John Paul II's life. But it is self-deception when we self-deceive ourselves into thinking humanity has appeased the Heavenly court by having satisfactorily honoured Our Lady's requests.
Transposing the attempted murder of John Paul II onto the whole of the Third Secret is actually destructive and undermines Our Lady's warnings and has the deleterious effect of calling into question the First Secret - the vision of Hell - as being more made of metaphor than realism. If Our Lady relied on imagery that would not correspond to real life, what's to say she didn't use such imagery when the ground opened up and she gave the children a vision or a look into Hell? Put bluntly, if you pass off so easily the Third Secret as a careless mishmash of scary symbols what's not to the say the vision of Hell given the children where flames licked the souls of 'poor sinners' and the stench of putrefied flesh filled the air is not in the realm of the fantastic?
The Holy Mother of God has never appeared under the title, “Our Lady the Fantasist.” But after all my years attending youth groups and meeting every variety of devout Catholic as a journalist, I've known too many people for too long who are in the grips of an actual fantasy that Hell isn't all that bad, that they can carry on with lives of great sin because if they are sent down it will not be worse than sitting too close to a popping log fire at Christmas. They take Our Lady of Fatima seriously to a point, but do not take her at her word in so far as it will impact them to change their lives. The burning irony is that Hell may be all the more certain for those who in this life think it is made merely of macabre metaphor.
I wrote this column for the Autumn 2017 edition of The Mass of Ages, the quarterly magazine of The Latin Mass Society. You may read the whole magazine here.
If you would like another piece on the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima; you might like this one where I consider Our Lady's dire pronouncement, "many marriages are not of God" and reflect on how a marriage may be, "of God".
As a personal note to my readers; I have not done as much blogging and journalism this year as in previous years, I have been rather consumed with long-form projects including researching and writing a work on Padre Pio. I would like to take this opportunity to ask your prayers for my book on Padre Pio; the research is finally turning into actual chapters and while it may be a while yet, I am hoping this project will come together in one cohesive whole. Yours in Christ, Mary O'Regan