Why do most people ignore the first and second of the three secrets given by Our Lady at Fatima on July 103 years ago? The first one is about hell. Do we really want to pay attention to that one? The answer seems to be ‘No.” The answer comes in the way the world has been heading, especially in the last few years.

 

The First Secret

In July 1941, Sister Lucia revealed the first two secrets in her Memoirs written at the direction of her bishop. She wrote, “The secret is made up of three distinct parts, two of which I am now going to reveal. The first part is the vision of hell.”

Lucia went on with the description. “Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant.”

A horrifying sight for any one!

Looking back, Lucia explained, “How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.

“We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

Right there Our Lady gave the remedy, the means of safety, the sure way to avoid the eternal conflagration.

Although we want to focus on this part of the first secret, let’s look at what Our Lady continued to say at the time.

Our Lady went on, If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius Xl. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

While today many don’t want to “frighten” adults with the idea or word “hell,” our Lord wasn’t shy about using it (check out the Gospels), and neither was his Mother, all for our good and ultimate triumph in reaching heaven.

Remember, these seers were children at the time. Lucia was 10, St. Francisco 9, and  St. Jacinta 6.

Later in the convent Lucia wrote her bishop that people, “even devout ones…sometimes are afraid to speak about hell to the children lest they frighten them, but God did not hesitate to show it to three children…knowing well that they would be horrified to the point of, I would almost dare to say, withering away with fear.” Yet how many adults never hear about it?

 

St. Jacinta Responds

So shaken and moved was child Jacinta that she responded immediately.

“I’m so sorry for sinners! If only I could show them hell!” she exclaimed. She would seize hold of Lucia and say: “I’m going to Heaven, but you are staying here. If Our Lady lets you, tell everybody what hell is like, so that they won’t commit any more sins and not go to hell.”

At other times, after thinking for a while, she said: “So many people falling into hell! So many people in hell!”

To quiet her, Lucia said: “Don’t be afraid! You’re going to Heaven.”

“Yes, I am,” Jacinta calmly answered, “but I want all those people to go there too!”

She would follow what Our Lady asked to help convert sinners and save them from hell. For instance, although very ill, she still went to Mass on a week day. When Lucia told urged: “Jacinta, don’t come! You can’t, you’re not able.” Her cousin answered, “That doesn’t matter! I’m going for sinners who don’t go on a Sunday.”

Lucia believed God gave her young cousin a special grace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in this regard. Jacinta “looked upon hell, and had seen the ruin of souls who fall therein.” It led her to often sit thoughtfully and exclaim: “Oh, Hell! Hell! How sorry I am for the souls who go to hell! And the people down there, burning alive, like wood in the fire!”

When Lucia saw her many times deep in thought and asked what she was thinking, Jacinta often answered, “About the war which is coming, and all the people who are going to die and go to hell! How dreadful! If they would only stop offending God, then there wouldn’t be any war and they wouldn’t go to hell!”

Sins of the flesh offended God most, Jacinta said.

Yet Jacinta always did something about the fears for sinners to save them. She would kneel and pray the prayer Our Lady taught the children: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins; save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls into heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

Lucia described how Jacinta would remain on her knees for long periods of time, saying the same prayer over and over again.

Praying the Rosary, the children never forgot to include after each decade the prayer Our Lady also wants us to add after every decade of the Rosary.

Much later, in a letter written in 1941, Lucia affirmed to her bishop, “Now Your Excellency will understand how my own impression was that the final words of this prayer refer to souls in greatest danger of damnation, or those who are nearest to it.”

Jacinta showed the greatest compassion, especially concerning some sinner, saying: “We must pray and offer sacrifices to Our Lord, so that he will be converted and not go to hell, poor man!”

She would prompt her cousin and her brother Francisco to pray for sinners with her. “We must pray very much, to save souls from hell!” she would repeat. “So many go there! So many!”

She was following Our Lady of Fatima’s directive and recommendation to use the practice of mortification, saying: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

At the times Jacinta was particularly troubled, her brother Francisco would tell her, “Don’t think so much about hell! Think about Our Lord and Our Lady instead. I don’t think about hell, so as not to be afraid.”

She wasn’t afraid for herself, of course, but for sinners. Her constant attitude was, “My Jesus, forgive them and convert them. They certainly don’t know that they are offending God by all this! What a pity, my Jesus! I’ll pray for them.” Right away she repeated the prayer that Our Lady had taught: “Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins…”

We know another saint took all this to heart. Bishop Paola Carta recalling the requests of Our Lady at Fatima and said, “The maternal anxiety of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the souls going to hell had profoundly and completely invaded the heart of Padre Pio who made of his whole life a great sacrifice to our Lord to snatch souls away from eternal damnation.”

The bishop notes that at Fatima Our Lady asked especially for the prayer of the Rosary. “And who could count the hours Padre Pio spent in prayer for the conversion and salvation of sinners?”

Then there were First Saturday devotions and “practice it all of our lives for the sake of the souls of our neighbors as well as our own. Our Lady told us that souls are being lost to hell because there is no one to make reparation for their sins. She implores us on their behalf. How can we deny her?”

International President of the World Apostolate of Fatima, Américo Pablo Lopez-Ortiz revealed, the Fatima seers discovered “the infinite ocean of love and mercy that God is,” and through Mary’s heart, they discovered “the infinite mercy of God with poor sinners and the terrible threat they are facing, the existence of hell, created for those who proudly do not accept God’s mercy.”

Author and sculptor Father Thomas McGlynn who was in Fatima believed, “The enormity of mankind’s rebellion against God and God’s infinite aversion for sin form the foundation of the Fatima message. Then He gives the sinner hope in the revelation that He will accept repentance made through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Fatima manifests the most misunderstood of the divine attributes — justice and mercy.” Our Lady “came to tell us how to keep out of hell!”

How many listen to Our Lady?

 

Hope to Avoid Hell

After revealing this first secret, Lucia revealed the second to the bishop, which is for all of us. The second secret offers great hope because it shows us the route to heaven.

Lucia wrote, “The second part refers to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Recalling that “The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God,” Jacinta said to Lucia. “Don’t you love that? Her Heart is so good! How I love it!”

When Jacinta would pick wild flowers, she would sing, “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation! Immaculate Heart of Mary, convert sinners, save souls from hell!”

Lucia told the bishop, “Our Lady told us, in the July secret, that God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart — I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God. And Our Lady guaranteed, In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.

That will turn us around and make sure we’re facing on the route to heaven.