By Father Mieczysław Piotrowski TChr,
In the first part of the Fatima secret, Our Lady allowed the children to experience a terrifying vision of hell in order to call humanity to conversion and remind it of the gospel truth that hell is the ultimate consequence of man’s rejection of God.
In his homily of May 13, 1982, John Paul II explained how the first part of the Fatima message is to be understood: Man’s most serious obstacle to God is sin, remaining in a state of sin, and the eventual repudiation of God. By this I mean a conscious rejection of God from the realm of human thought. Divorcing Him from all of man’s earthly activity. In reality, man’s eternal salvation resides in God alone. Man’s rejection of God – if it is decisive – leads logically to God’s rejection of man (Mt. 7:23; 10:33) – i.e. eternal damnation. Now can our Mother, who, with all the love inspired in her by the Holy Spirit, desires the salvation of all, remain silent when the very possibility of our salvation remains in question? No, she cannot. Therefore, since Our Lady of Fatima speaks like a mother, her message is strong and uncompromising. It has a grave tone. Like John the Baptist’s message on the banks of the Jordan. She calls us to penance. She warns us. She beseeches us to pray. Recommends the rosary. That message is aimed at every one of us.
Do not delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated: where a man sows (while alive on earth), there (in life after death) he reaps; if he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life (Ga. 6:8).
Eternal damnation is a reality we will inevitably embrace, if we reject God and live as though He did not exist. Every consciously and freely committed sin deepens man’s selfishness, destroying in him the capacity to love. If slavery to evil is so great as to destroy totally the capacity to receive and respond to Christ’s love, the individual so formed will at the moment of death reject God’s saving love out of hand. That is what Hell is. Such people will be definitively cut off from the kingdom of God. Saint Paul warns us: When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Ga. 19-21). At the Last Judgement Christ will pass His sentence upon such people: Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mat. 25:41). Jesus calls such a total closing off of oneself from the love of God the sin against the Holy Spirit. This sin cannot be forgiven because in a radical way man himself rejects the very possibility of conversion (Mat. 12:31-33). Thus, eternal damnation is the fruit and culmination of a man’s entire earthly existence. Such a man has freely given himself over to the slavery of evil. That is why a loving God warns us: Do not court death by the errors of your ways, nor invite destruction through your own actions (Ws. 1:12).
Our Lady of Fatima reminds us that man’s greatest tragedy and misfortune is sin and remaining in a state of sin, which leads to the total rejection of God, which is Hell. By granting us that horrific vision of Hell, Our Lady makes us aware that in giving in to the slavery of sin and renouncing belief in God, many souls actually choose eternal perdition. Writes St. Faustina: At times in a strange and mysterious way the mercy of God touches the sinner at the final moment. From the outside, it would seem all were lost. But it is not so. Enlightened by the rays of God’s last grace, a soul turns to God with such power of love that God instantly forgives its sins and penalties. O how unfathomable is the mercy of God. Yet alas! There are souls who freely and consciously reject this grace, and scorn it. Even in their death throes such souls are granted a clear, interior moment, enabling them – should they so wish – to return to God. Yet there are souls so hardened of heart that they freely choose Hell, rendering impotent not only the prayers that other souls offer up for them, but also the efforts of God Himself (Diary, 1698).
The above article was published with permission from Miłujcie się! in November 2010