This article is a continuation of two previous articles (Is God Punishing Us with Hurricanes and Earthquakes? and Is God Punishing Us with Fires and Shootings?). The church approved private revelations of Fatima and Akita seem to disagree with the conclusions of those articles,
“The Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity.” (Akita, Oct. 13, 1973)
“We saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire.” (Fatima, July 13, 1917)
So, how can this be reconciled?
In the year 2000 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI) released the third secret of Fatima and attempted to officially interpret (see link and explain the entire message by stating,
“Now a veil is drawn back on a series of events which make history and INTERPRET IT IN DEPTH, in a spiritual perspective alien to present-day attitudes, often tainted with rationalism.”
Keeping in mind the latest teaching on evil approved by Pope Benedict XVI with a Motu Proprio for the 2010 Compendium of the Catechism the Catholic Church where it states clearly and definitively, “God is not in any way – directly or indirectly – the cause of evil.” (57), all church approved apparitions should fall in line with this magisterial teaching as Cardinal Ratzinger explains,
“Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. THESE MANIFESTATIONS CAN NEVER CONTRADICT THE CONTENT OF THE FAITH, and must therefore have their focus in the core of Christ’s proclamation: the FATHER’S LOVE which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to Him with filial devotion”
First, Cardinal Ratzinger goes on to explain “why” seers like Lucia receive this type of message,
“A 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. In this sense there is a link between the charism of prophecy and the category of “the signs of the times”, which Vatican II brought to light anew: “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; why then do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Lk 12:56).
Second, Cardinal Ratzinger proceeds to explain the different “types” of visions seers and mystics can experience,
“Before undertaking an interpretation of the message of Fatima, we must still attempt briefly to offer some clarification of their anthropological (psychological) character. In this field, theological anthropology distinguishes three forms of perception or “vision”: vision with the senses, and hence exterior bodily perception, interior perception, and spiritual vision (visio sensibilis – imaginativa – intellectualis). It is clear that in the visions 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. This is perfectly obvious, for instance, as regards the vision of hell (described in the first part of the Fatima “secret”) or even the vision described in the third part of the “secret”. But the same can be very easily shown with regard to other visions, especially since not everybody present saw them, but only the “visionaries”. It is also clear that it is not a matter of a “vision” in the mind, without images, as occurs at the higher levels of mysticism. Therefore 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.”
Third, Cardinal Ratzinger explains the limitations of the “interior visions.” For example, I grew up thinking that if I sinned God was going to punish me immediately so if I saw an “interior vision” of punishment it would be natural for me to think the punishment was coming from God. You also see this limitation with St. Faustina when the devil convinces her to burn the first diary thinking it was not from God since only she could see the “interior vision.”
“Interior vision” is not fantasy but, as we have said, a true and valid means of verification. But it also has its limitations. EVEN IN THE EXTERIOR VISION THE SUBJECTIVE ELEMENT IS ALWAYS PRESENT. We do not see the pure object, but it comes to us through the filter of our senses, which carry out a work of translation. This is still more evident in the case of interior vision, especially when it involves realities which in themselves transcend our horizon. The subject, the visionary, is still more powerfully involved. He sees insofar as he is able, in the modes of representation and consciousness available to him. In the case of interior vision, the process of translation is even more extensive than in exterior vision, for the subject shares in an essential way in the formation of the image of what appears. He can arrive at the image only within the bounds of his capacities and possibilities. Such visions, therefore, are never simple “photographs” of the other world but are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject. This can be demonstrated in all the great visions of the saints; and naturally it is also true of the visions of the children at Fatima… For this reason, the figurative language of the visions is symbolic.”
Fourth, Cardinal Ratzinger explains that the visions are NOT set in stone that must occur, but the very opposite as he explains,
“In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image which the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction…Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them…We must always keep in mind THE LIMITS IN THE VISION itself, which here are indicated visually. The future appears only “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor 13:12).”
‘Fifth, Cardinal Ratzinger, goes on to interpret the angel with the flaming sword, not as God punishing us, but as a possible nuclear war as he quotes Pope John Paul II’s prayer intention in the interpretation, “From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us,” and then proceeds to provide an interpretation,
“Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man, himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword.”
Similarly, in the Akita vision, “Fire will fall from the sky,” could mean a nuclear missile, or it may refer to, “A great star burning like a torch fell from heaven and landed on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.” (Rev. 8:10) Again this does not mean a punishment from God but it could, for example, be from the side of effects of weather control or exploding nuclear bombs in the atmosphere repeatedly since 1958.
Sixth, Cardinal Ratzinger reminds us in this document that on May 12, 1982, St. Lucia wrote to Pope John Paul II trying to correctly interpret the third secret in light of the church’s teaching,
“And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary, it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path while respecting the freedom he has given us; HENCE THE PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE.” [Lucia’s words]
Seventh, scripture reminds us, “But woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury.” (Rev. 12:12) The devil can do this because we give him legal power due to our unrestrained sinning. Similarly, Cardinal Ratzinger draws the same conclusion as Sister Lucia when he states at the end of the document,
“The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God.”
Finally, let’s heed Our Lady’s warnings throughout the world and trust in God’s merciful love for us as Jesus tells St. Faustina, “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world.”