The Gospel in the TLM today is about the end of the world.  Christ declares that “the abomination of desolation” will enter “the holy place.” (Mt 24:15.)  In those days “there shall arise false Christs and false prophets” (v. 24.) Our Lord adds this unusual line: “Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved.  But for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.” (v. 22.)

Earlier in Matthew 24, Christ describes dark signs that will precede His light-filled return: “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars.” (v. 6.) And “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes in places.” (v. 7.)  Keep in mind that we just lived through the bloodiest century; seismologists say have been more earthquakes the past 100 years than anytime previous to this century; we have had more martyrs the past one-hundred years than the past twenty centuries, combined.

But equally scary to all of these external troubles is what will happen interiorly to man at the end of the world.  Christ adds: “And then shall many be scandalized, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold.” (v. 10-12)  I think of how many people [rightfully!] say that the traditional world of Catholics is a circular firing-line.  We are always betraying one another on one small issue or another, probably because we have no leadership.  The Catholic world at large is equally uncharitable to each other, and especially to traditionalists.  Yes, “the charity of many” has “grown cold” against anyone standing with Apostolic Catholicism who are ironically called “schismatic” and “disobedient” for believing what Catholics have always believed.

Most traditional Catholics know that the scarier possibility of the mysterious third secret of Fatima is not nuclear war, but the attempted overturning of the Catholic Faith.  We take it for granted that the past century has seen so many changes within the world and the Church, but we must remember that there has never been an overhauling of the Catholic faith so great as what has happened in the past one hundred years within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church herself.  But more specifically, which decade?  The website TLDM answers this:

In 1946, Sister Lucy was asked when the Third Secret would be revealed to the world, and without hesitation she said, “In 1960.” In 1955 Cardinal Ottaviani asked her why it was not to be opened before 1960. She told him, “because then it will seem clearer (mais claro).” Sister Lucy had made the Bishop of Fatima-Leiria promise that the Secret would be read to the world at her death, but in no event later than 1960, “because the blessed Virgin wishes it so.” And from Canon Barthas: “Moreover, it [the Third Secret] will soon be known, since Sister Lucy affirms that Our Lady wills that it can be published beginning in 1960.”

Of course, Pope John XXIII disobeyed Our Lady and opened it in 1959, a year before Mary told him to open it. Has there been a 20th century Pope since Pope St. Pius X to obey Our Lady’s diret commands?  But that is not the topic of today’s blog post.  The point is that of all the decades of the faith and liturgy unravelling, the Mother of God herself said that by 1960, all of this would be “more clear” (in Portuguese to Sr. Lucy, “mais claro.”)  What in the world happened in the 1960s that would be “more clear” in the Church?  I think we all know the horrible answer to that controversial question.  Shortly after that decade of the 1960s in the Church, the USA and half of the world legalized abortion within the next decade of the 1970s.  As goes the Church, so goes the world.

Of course, many of us who think often of Fatima also hope that that promised “era of peace” might align with what many mystics and prophets have assured us—that we would one day have the Great Monarch and the Angelic Pope who would rule over the Great Council to hammer out more heresies than anything before and define more doctrines than any previous dogmatic Council.  I too hope this happens.

But the other possibility of that phrase “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph” is that this will literally happen in the end.  Again, “unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved, but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.”  What could be so bad that even “the elect” would be tempted to be deceived by false-prophets and a new faith?  Certainly not wars or famines, for these things normally make Christians stronger.  I suggest that the elect would only be tempted to deception via an overturning of the Catholic faith which (if we look at the exact decade given by Mary herself for things on a great apostasy becoming “more clear”) must be the 1960s.  Yes, the Catholic hierarchy’s confusion since 1960 is worse than the recent wars (which have greatly increased since the 19th century, by the way.)

The first line in today’s Gospel was about “the abomination of desolation” that would enter “the holy place.” (v. 15.)  What could this be?  Could it be the welcoming of a big red statue of the 16th century heretic Martin Luther into the Vatican in the year 2016?  Could it be enshrining of a demonic statue named “Pachamama” into the Vatican in the year 2019?  There are so many choices to choose from that it’s hard to know which is the real “abomination of desolation”!  To be sure, none of this stuff is normal in Church history.  Not even the Arian crisis saw statues of heretics and demons introduced into the Vatican.  Thus, no one can say “Meh, we’ve seen dark days in the Church like this before.”  No, that is an ignorant assertion for anyone who has studied Church history.  All of the past 50 years in the Church is unprecedented evil… but especially the past decade.

One more line to consider from today’s Gospel: “Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together.” (v. 28)  The word for “eagles” there in Greek is ἀετοί meaning either eagles or vultures in the original language.  Some people think this is a reference to Rome, as the ancient symbol for the Roman empire was the eagle, and how the empire would fall.  However, it is normally vultures (not eagles) that gather around “the body” or “the corpses” that it seems Christ was referring to.  Perhaps, besides the fall of the Roman Empire 1500 years ago, we should consider that eventually something would stink spiritually in Rome at the end of the world.

It must be something that happened in Rome in the 1960s if Our Lady said it would be “more clear” then.  But that is precisely the good news, not the bad news.  Here’s why:  For those who know the Third Secret of Fatima refers to a general apostasy from the top-down, it is a promise (not a threat) that all of this would become “more clear” (mais claro) in 1960.  For true believers, things have become “more clear” not “more dark” since the 1960s, despite the apparent apostasy all around us. We should thank God that heaven warned us so that we be not the elect tempted to be deception in that dangerous direction of thinking the Catholic faith or liturgy can change.  It can not change, and anyone who believes in Fatima knows that.

The other piece of good news is this:  Before Fatima, God gave us St. Therese of Lisieux.  Some traditionalists avoid St. Therese because they think she has been co-opted by the modernists.  We need to avoid that temptation.  I believe we were given St. Therese because only a tremendous trust (not just hard-core mortification) could power us through this darkest age of Church history.  We read earlier in today’s Gospel of those eagles around the corpse of Rome, perhaps 2,000 years ago a corpse of a fallen empire and now a corpse of a rotting “new religion” of Rome.  But St. Therese also speaks of an Eagle that will guide her spirituality, as seen in chapter 15 of her autobiography:

O eternal Word!  O my Savior!  Thou art the divine Eagle whom I love and who allurest me.  Thou who, descending to this land of exile, didst will to suffer and to die, in order to bear away each single soul and plunge it into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity—Love’s eternal home!  Thou who, returning to Thy realm of light, dost still remain hidden here in our vale of tears under the semblance of the white Host… O eternal Eagle, it is Thy wish to nourish me with Thy divine substance, a poor little being who would fall into nothingness if Thy divine glance did not give me life at every moment…

Forgive me, O Jesus, if I tell Thee that Thy love reacheth even unto folly, at at the sight of such folly, what wilt Thou but that my heart should leap up to Thee?  How could my trust know any bounds?  I know well that for Thy sake the saints have made themselves foolish—being “eagles” they have done great things.  Too little for such mighty deeds, my folly lies in the hope that Thy love will accept me as a victim…

O my divine Eagle!  As long as Thou willest, I shall remain with my gaze fixed upon Thee, for I long to be fascinated by Thy divine eyes, I long to come Love’s prey.  I am filled with the hope that one day Thou wilt swoop down upon me, and bearing me away to the source of Love, wilt plunge me at last into its glowing abyss, that I may become forever its happy victim.