In Part II of our interview with Sister Angela de Fatima Coelho, the postulator for the cause of canonization of Jacinta and Francisco, Sister shares some of the lessons we can learn from the life of Jacinta Marto, one of the three visionaries to whom Our Lady appeared.
Do I understand that hell is real? Our Lady showed Jacinta a vision of hell, which deeply affected her. Sister Angela said Jacinta wanted to go to heaven, but she could not stand the idea of going there alone. She wanted to know why Our Lady didn’t show hell to everyone because she was sure, then, that everyone would reform and no one would go to hell. Want to know more about this? Sister recommends two books by one of the other visionaries, Sister Lucia. They are “Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words” and “Calls from the Message of Fatima” by the more mature Sister Lucia, who died before she could finish it.
What am I willing to do for God? Is it a big deal to me to refrain from eating meat or between meals on days like Good Friday?
Of the three Fatima visionaries, Sister said Jacinta is the one who physically suffered the most. While both Francisco and Jacinta were victims of the influenza epidemic, Francisco died peacefully at home, having received Communion the prior day, and in the presence of his parents. But Our Lady asked Jacinta if she was willing to stay on earth a bit longer to offer even more for poor sinners. Jacinta said yes.
Says Sister Angela: “Do you see how much Our Lady respects this little girl? She asks, ‘Are you willing to stay?’ And do you see the great generosity and trust of this little girl toward Our Lady?” Jacinta told Lucia, “Our Lady told me I was going to go to two hospitals and that I will die alone. That’s what hurts me the most. Maybe it will be a big hospital, really dark, and I will die alone.”
However, Sister says that Lucia visited Jacinta twice in the hospital and always found her happy because she had the possibility of offering more for the conversion of sinners, for the Holy Father, and for the consolation of the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Here’s how Jacinta died. A rich family offered to take Jacinta to the best hospital in Portugal. Unfortunately, it was in Lisbon. Jacinta traveled to Lisbon with her mother who left her in a special orphanage. She was completely alone.
The child endured surgery with no anesthesia. She later told a visiting priest that she was going to die the next day and requested Holy Communion. The priest told her that that her condition was not that serious and that he would bring her Holy Communion tomorrow. She died without receiving her Lord in the Eucharist. She was only nine.
“She died with a wound in her chest like Jesus,” Sister Angela said. “She was very configured with the Passion of Christ. ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ But Our Lady was there. Our Lady promised she would pick her up. And I’m almost sure she offered this suffering for the conversion of sinners and for the Holy Father.”
Do I believe that this is the worst time in the history of the world?
Why does Our Lady show the shepherd children heaven, hell and the things to come? Sister says it’s because, first, He wants us to know that He is still here with us. “You are part of Me, so do not be afraid.” Second, she reminds us that Our Lady said, “If what I say is done, many souls will be saved – so no more going to hell – and there will be peace – so no more war. In the end, there is always the door for hope.”
Sister adds that: “Each time has its own problems. Our time might seem worse than other times, but it is our time. We should not be afraid. We should prepare as in any time: Prayer, personal conversion, penance, love God and love our neighbors. We do not need to do extraordinary things – just live as children of God!”
Am I afraid of the future?
Sister says she loves the last sentence in Pope Emeritus Benedict’s second book on Jesus of Nazareth. He recalls that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He raised his hands in the position of blessing over his Apostles. The Pope says: “Those hands are the permanent reason of Christian joy.” The last gesture of Jesus in the skies of Fatima was also a gesture of blessing, Sister said.
“The message of Fatima is mainly a message of hope,” she continues. “In the words of Our Lady’s July 1917 apparition: ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’” It’s the same reassurance that Jesus gives us in the Gospel: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
If we walk with God, says Sister, “Why be afraid – even if I am the last one!”