I will be happy to be able to meet you on the long-awaited day of the Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, which, please God, I will celebrate on 13 May of this year. Since on that day there will be time only for a brief greeting and not a conversation, I am sending His Excellency Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Dor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to speak with you. Sister Maria Lucia, you may speak openly and candidly to Archbishop Bertone, who will report your answers directly to me.
May Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, keep us always united to Jesus, her beloved Son and our brother, the Lord of life and glory. With my special Apostolic Blessing.
II From the Vatican, 19 April Sister Lucia was lucid and at ease; she was very happy that the Holy Father was going to Fatima for the Beatification of Francisco lookinf Jacinta, something she had looked forward to for a long time. The Bishop of Leiria-Fatima read the autograph letter of the Holy Father, which explained the reasons for the visit.
Lkoking Lucia felt honoured by this and reread the letter herself, contemplating it in own her hands. She said that she was prepared to answer all questions frankly. The original text, in Portuguese, was read and interpreted with the help of the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima. She repeated her conviction that the vision of Fatima concerns above all the struggle of atheistic Communism against the Church and against Christians, and describes the terrible sufferings of the victims of the faith in the twentieth century.
Was it Our Lady who fixed that date? Now it can be better understood.
I wrote down what I saw; however it was not for me to interpret it, but for the Pope. Finally, mention was made of the unpublished manuscript which Sister Lucia has prepared as a reply to the many letters that come from Marian devotees and from pilgrims. The work is called Os apelos da Mensagem de Fatima, and it gathers together in the style of catechesis and exhortation thoughts and reflections which express Sister Lucia's feelings and her clear and unaffected spirituality.
Sister Lucia wants to present the text lay ecclesiastical approval, and she hopes that what she has written will help to guide men and women of good will along the looing that le to God, tex final goal of every human longing. The conversation ends tect an exchange of rosaries. Sister Lucia is given a rosary sent by the Holy Father, and she in turn offers a of rosaries made by herself. The meeting concludes with the blessing imparted in the name of the Holy Father.
At the conclusion of this solemn celebration, I feel bound to offer our beloved Holy Father Pope John Paul II, on behalf of all present, heartfelt good looikng for his approaching 80th Birthday and to thank him for his vital pastoral ministry for the good of all God's Holy Church; we present the heartfelt wishes of the whole Church.
On this solemn occasion of his visit to Fatima, His Holiness has directed me to make an announcement to you. Nevertheless he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy. That text contains a prophetic vision similar to those found in Sacred Scripture, which do not describe photographically the details of future events, but synthesize and compress against a single background facts which extend through time in an unspecified succession and duration.
As a result, the text must be interpreted in a symbolic key. The vision of Fatima concerns above all the war waged by atheistic systems against the Church and Christians, and m describes the immense suffering endured by the witnesses of the faith in the last century of the second millennium. It is an interminable Way of the Cross led by the Popes of the twentieth century.
As he makes his way with great difficulty towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred Bishops, priests, men and women Religious and many lay peoplehe too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a hail of gunfire.
On the occasion of a visit to Rome by the then Bishop of Leiria-Fatima, the Pope decided to give him the bullet which had remained in the jeep after the assassination attempt, so that it might mw kept in the shrine. By the Bishop's decision, the bullet was later set in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
The successive events of led, both in the Soviet Union and in a of countries of Eastern Europe, to the fall of the Communist regimes which promoted lookint. In other parts of the world, however, attacks against the Church and against Lookung, with the burden of suffering they bring, tragically continue. Brothers and sisters, let us thank Our Lady of Fatima for her protection.
To her maternal intercession let us entrust the Church of the Third Millennium. Sub tuum praesidium ladt, Sancta Dei Genetrix! Intercede pro Ecclesia. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled. We see the Church of the martyrs of the century which has just passed represented in a scene described in a language which is symbolic and not easy to decipher. Is this what the Mother of the Lord wished to communicate to Christianity and to humanity at a time of great difficulty and distress?
Is it of any help to us at the beginning of the new millennium?
Or are these only projections of the inner world of children, brought up in a climate of profound piety but shaken at the same time by the tempests which threatened their own time? How should we understand the vision? What are we to make of it? Public Revelation and private revelations — their theological status Before attempting an interpretation, lookong main lines of which can be found in the statement read by Cardinal Sodano on 13 May of this year at the end of the Mass celebrated by the Laady Father in Fatima, there is a need for some basic clarification of the way in which, according to Church teaching, phenomena such as Fatima are to be understood within the life of faith.
The two realities differ not only in degree but also in essence. It is not a matter therefore of intellectual communication, but of a life-giving process in which God comes to meet man. At the same time this process naturally produces data pertaining to the mind and to the understanding of the mystery of God. It is a process which involves man in his entirety and therefore reason as well, but not reason alone. Because God is one, history, which he shares with humanity, is also one.
It is valid for all time, and it has reached its fulfilment in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has said everything, that is, he has revealed himself completely, and therefore Revelation came to an end with the fulfilment of the mystery of Christ as enunciated in the New Testament.
Because the single Revelation of God addressed to all peoples comes to completion with Christ and the witness borne to him in the books of the New Testament, the Church is tied to this unique event of sacred history and to the word of the Bible, which guarantees and interprets it.
But this txet not mean that the Church can now look only to the past and that she is fir to sterile repetition. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority On the one hand, the Spirit acts as a guide who discloses a knowledge ly unreachable because the premise was missing—this is the boundless breadth and depth of Christian faith. This is the category to which we must as the message of Fatima.
This clarifies two things: 1.
The authority of private revelations is essentially different from that of the definitive public Revelation. The latter demands faith; in it in fact God himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church. Faith in God and in his word is different from any other human faith, trust or opinion.
The certainty that it is God who is speaking gives me the assurance that I am in touch with truth itself. It gives me a certitude which is beyond verification by any human way of knowing. It is the certitude upon which I build my life and to which I entrust myself in dying. Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back to the definitive public Revelation. The Flemish theologian E. Dhanis, an eminent scholar in this field, states succinctly that ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation has three elements: the message contains nothing contrary to faith or morals; it is lawful to make it public; laddy the faithful are authorized to accept it with prudence E.
Such a message can be a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better texxt a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not foe to use.
The criterion for the truth and value of a private revelation is therefore its orientation to Christ himself. When it le us away from him, when it becomes independent of him or even presents itself as another and better plan of salvation, more important than the Gospel, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel and not away from it. This does not mean that a private revelation will not offer new emphases or give rise to new devotional forms, or deepen and spread older forms.
But in all of this there must be a nurturing of faith, hope and love, which are the unchanging path to salvation for everyone. We might add that private revelations often spring from popular piety and leave their stamp on it, giving it a new impulse and opening the way for new forms of it. Nor does this exclude that they will have an effect even on the liturgy, as we see for instance in the feasts of Corpus Christi and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
From one point of view, the relationship between Revelation and private revelations appears in the relationship between the liturgy and popular piety: the liturgy is the criterion, it is the living form of the Church as a whole, fed directly by the Gospel. Popular piety is a that the faith is spreading its roots into the heart of a people in such a way that it reaches into daily life.
While it must always take its lead and direction from the liturgy, it in turn enriches the faith by involving the heart. We have thus moved from the somewhat negative clarifications, initially needed, to a positive definition of private revelations. How lad they be classified correctly in relation to Scripture?
To which laey category do lookking belong? The oldest letter of Saint Paul which has been preserved, perhaps the oldest of the New Testament texts, the First Letter to the Thessalonians, seems to me to point the way. In every age the Church has received the charism of prophecy, which must be scrutinized but not scorned. On this point, it should be kept in mind that prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future.
Fog person who foretells what is going to happen responds to the curiosity of the mind, which wants to draw back the veil on the future. The prophet speaks to the blindness of will and of reason, and declares the will of God as an indication and demand for the present time. In this case, prediction of the future is of secondary importance. What is essential is the actualization of the definitive Revelation, which concerns me at the deepest level. The prophetic word is a warning or a consolation, or both together.
To interpret the s of the times looking for a lady to text me the light of faith means to recognize fo presence of Christ in every age. In the private revelations approved by the Church—and therefore also in Fatima—this is the point: they help us q understand the s of the times and to respond to them rightly in faith. The anthropological structure of private revelations In these reflections we have sought so far to identify the theological status of private revelations.
Lookihg undertaking an interpretation of the message of Fatima, we must still attempt briefly laxy offer some clarification of their anthropological psychological character. It is clear that in the fo of Lourdes, Fatima and other places it is not a question of normal exterior perception of the senses: the images and forms which are seen are not located spatially, as is the case for example with a tree or a house. Laddy we are dealing with the middle category, interior perception. For the visionary, this perception certainly has the force of a presence, equivalent for that person to an external manifestation to the senses.
Interior vision does not mean fantasy, which would be no more than an expression of the subjective imagination. It means rather that the soul is touched by something real, even if beyond the senses. This is why there is a need for an interior vigilance of the heart, which is usually precluded by the intense pressure of external reality and of the images and thoughts which fill the soul.