As if to enable us to reflect on the richness of Fatima throughout the entire centenary year of the apparitions, Fr. Karl Stehlin has provided us with a series of books, appearing with perfect timing to sustain our reflections. The first volume of Fatima, A Spiritual Light For Our Timesarrived in the second half of 2016, the second volume in the first half of 2017, and now the third volume has been released in this second half of 2017.
This last volume considers the Third Secret of Fatima, but it does not consider that Secret in the way of so many Fatima books, which focus almost exclusively on the controversy as to whether the real secret was actually released by the Vatican in 2000. Rather, Fr. Stehlin maintains the same focus that he pursued in the first two volumes: he wants the reader to draw spiritual fruit from Fatima, and specifically to practice a greater devotion to the Immaculate Heart. That was, after all, the purpose that moved Our Lady to reveal herself at Fatima. In order to be an instrument for the fulfillment of Our Lady’s mission, then, Fr. Stehlin wants, above all, to communicate a spiritual message when treating of the Third Secret of Fatima:
The essential message of this book wants to [show that] Fatima is, with its whole message and all the apparitions of Our Lady, a great Secret of God’s mercy, his mysterious plan reserved for the last times of the world, when He will reveal to the world the great majesty and grandeur of Our Lady as the last great gesture of his mercy and our ultimate hope. (p. 7)
To accomplish this task, Fr. Stehlin begins by recounting the incredible marvels that were worked by Our Lady of Fatima around the world in the decades after the apparitions of 1917. Particularly striking is the tale of the journeys of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue. Huge crowds would come to greet the statue, in such far-flung places as Mozambique, Pakistan, and Australia. In Catholic countries, the statue would often be miraculously accompanied by a group of white doves, who would rest near the statue and not leave it for days on end. These travels of Our Lady of Fatima’s statue were a concrete sign of Our Lady’s universal role in the salvation of mankind and the special graces that God has willed to reserve for those who seek to heed the apparitions of Our Lady.
How were these resounding supernatural fruits, pouring forth on the human race, slowed down to a trickle in the 1960s? By means of a plot against the Fatima message, which Fr. Stehlin details in chapter 2. It started with the machinations of Fr. Edouard Dhanis, a Belgian Jesuit who strove, with tendentious arguments, to prove that Sr. Lucy’s Fatima memoirs could not be trusted. He reduced Fatima to a mere request for prayer and penance, instead of a call for the whole of the militant Church, starting with the Pope, to wage public battle, under the banner of Our Lady, against the forces of Satan. The real message of Fatima is wholly incompatible with the Modernist vision of the Catholic religion, and so Dhanis worked to censor Our Lady on behalf of a spirit that would ultimately triumph at the Second Vatican Council.
Tragically, Dhanis was all too successful. Fr. Stehlin details how he was even able to influence the “Fatima Pope”, Pius XII, to terminate all of his Fatima-promoting activities. Then, with the advent of Vatican II, at which Dhanis was the official consultor on Fatima, the Belgian Jesuit’s shrunken and misshapen Fatima message became just as much a party line of the Conciliar Church as ecumenism and religious liberty.
The triumph of the Modernist view of Fatima has produced the bitter fruits of which we are all aware and which Fr. Stehlin covers in successive chapters of the book: the refusal to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart (chapter 3) and the refusal to reveal the Third Secret and the releasing instead of a bogus secret in 2000 (chapter 4). These terrible facts are mysterious, but Fr. Stehlin indicates in detail that they have a spiritual significance for those who pay attention to them.
For those who wish to listen to Our Lady, even when Modernist prelates are trying to silence her, there are ready means available. There are many clues by which we are able to know the essential contents of the Third Secret. With wonderful clarity and brevity, in chapter 5, Fr. Stehlin exposes the message that Our Lady most certainly wanted to communicate to us in the Third Secret and the means by which we follow her directions.
Having explained the Third Secret, as far as he is able, Fr. Stehlin then guides the reader through an exercise that is necessary in all of our meditations on spiritual realities: once we have considered individual mysteries in detail, we must then zoom out and reflect on the overall mystery as a whole. Thus, in chapter 6, Father considers the totality of the Great Secret of Fatima—the message of Our Lady in all three of its parts. In doing so, he is able to help us understand deeply the reality and beauty of God’s plan to save the world by means of Our Lady.
The seventh and final chapter emphasizes the apostolic aspect of Our Lady’s Fatima requests. We are to be instruments for the triumph of her Immaculate Heart—certainly by our Communions, prayers, and sacrifices—but also by our apostolic labors. It is wonderful that Our Lady seemed to raise up St. Maximilian Kolbe, practically at the same time that she was working her wonders in Fatima, in order to provide us an easy means to perform Fatima missionary work. The Militia Immaculatae (MI) of St. Maximilian is in close harmony with the Fatima spirit and fulfills Our Lady’s requests to the letter. Fr. Stehlin explains the structure of the MI and the means by which it forms Apostles of Fatima in the army of Our Lady.
As an added bonus, the book includes an appendix written by Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer which provides a analysis, in admirable detail, of the extraordinary Marian apostolate that has been taking place this past year in the Philippines through Mary’s Mission Tour. This Tour revived the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin Statue that were so fruitful from the 1920s to the 1960s; it proved that SHE is just as powerful today to produce amazing spiritual blessings in a short time as she was then. Fr. Pfeiffer, using his valuable experience from this tour, provides a template for statue tours, which can be adapted according to the concrete circumstances of countries around the world.
Fatima, A Spiritual Light For Our Times, volume III, is must-reading for everyone who has a desire to understand the Fatima message and put it into practice, as THE means provided by God for the salvation of souls in our times. Fr. Stehlin has made sure that no one can have an excuse for not having access to this work—it is available for free online; it is available from Kolbe Publications; it is available at MI Corners in SSPX chapels around the world. Find a copy, take it up, and read, for Our Lady’s honor!