In his book, Fatima 1917-2017, Father Labouche gives an account of the apparition from the perspective of one who is in a unique position to do so: he has not only lived in Fatima for 10 years, but also studied the Faith that paints its landscape in vivid colors. He presents first-hand insight into the children’s characters alongside details such as “the why” behind the First Saturday devotions, which correspond to the five offenses against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Father also addresses a hot-button topic in today’s Vatican: the Third Secret. We learn the key to it in all its simplicity: keeping the Faith, come what may!
Echoing her message at Lourdes, Our Lady explains to the little seers: “Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and do penance for them.” Not only this, but she also shows them hell, the place where poor sinners go. The children, consoled with the promise that they would go to heaven, nonetheless courageously took on the means to ensure that they would not be going there alone! Jacinta would add many sacrifices to her prayers and—when the time came—consent to die in a hospital alone. As for Francisco, his main concern was to console Our Lord, to spend time with Jesus Escondido, the “hidden Jesus.”
What, then, is the cost of a life without penance? The loss of souls. What is the gain for the Christian? Everything. It is Father’s unique perspective that will make the reader rethink and remodel his own life according to this very spirit. From the Rosary Crusade called for by Bishop Fellay in 2016 to the threats to society posed by ISIS, extremist groups, and an ever-growing interest in Satanism, Father presents these very different pieces as of a puzzle, fitting together to give us a clear picture of our battle lines. As Sister Lucy said, we are either fighting with Christ or for the enemy. There is no middle ground.
Yes, Our Lord is much offended, but Our Lady has come to save sinners, whose conversion is “the theme which comes back most often in Fatima, after that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Let us take for our models, then, the three shepherds who hearkened to her message and lived the timeless one: “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”