Speculating on a Fatima Question

One of the enjoyments that writers occasionally receive is the gift of coming across a text or a reference which helps to address some matter upon which the writer is working. Last week I had one of those moments.

Prior to my road trip, I had written about some contemporary news on Fátima and the third part of its secret. These more recent articles were preceded by some articles written last year over on Catholic Stand (here, here and here).

In one of these articles (entitled In Defense of the World Apostolate of Fatima), I made it a point to observe in the fourth endnote that it was unknown as of the time I wrote the article when the significance (significado) of the vision of the third part of the secret was given to Sr. Lúcia. Here is my text:

This phrase is largely being interpreted to mean that there was some understanding of the vision given to Sr. Lúcia at an unspecified point in time. “Two-texts” theorists are interpreting the meaning given to Sr. Lúcia as continuing the debated phrase, “In Portugal, the dogma of the faith shall always be preserved…” from July, 1917. Here, Sister broke off the narration with a simple “etc.” hence the debate over whether there were more words of Our Lady. That there were more words of Our Lady is not necessarily a foregone conclusion at this time and is still a matter of debate.

While acknowledging the fact that this matter is still open for debate, I have since learned of an important text from St. Thomas Aquinas which may shed some light on the matter.

In his Summa Theologiae (II-II Q. 173, a.2), Aquinas discusses prophecy. In his discussion, he makes a distinction between the “acceptation/representation” of the thing presented to the mind of the prophet from the “judgment” upon said thing. Aquinas writes:

But it is the first of these two that holds the chief place in prophecy, since judgment is the complement of knowledge. Wherefore if certain things are divinely represented to any man by means of imaginary likenesses […] or even by bodily likenesses […], such a man is not to be considered a prophet, unless his mind be enlightened for the purpose of judgment; and such an apparition is something imperfect in the genus of prophecy.

As the above pertains to Fátima, there is the “vision” shown to the three children that Sr. Lúcia wrote down in 1944. It would be quite another thing to understand the vision. Either the three children were given this understanding during the apparition of July 13, 1917 or it was communicated at some later point.

The jury is still out on this one, but if we take seriously the weight of Aquinas’ theological argument, we have much to consider as to when the understanding or “judgment” on the vision was given.

-Kevin J. Symonds