Monday, 15 May 2017

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart

Stephen Walford has published an excellent article on Vatican Insider, providing us with a detailed synopsis of his book Heralds of the Second Coming. In this article, titled The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart: The Light from the East is Dawning, he deftly tackles the problem of millenarianism in contemporary Catholicism, besides covering a host of other interesting topics on the subject of eschatology, with a particular emphasis on the prophetic charism of the papacy. You can read the full article here, or by clicking the link above.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Our Lady of Fatima and the Conversion of the Jews

Today, May 13th, 2017, marks the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children of Fatima, Servant of God Lucia Santos, and St. Jacinta and St. Francesco Marto. Pope Francis will celebrate the extraordinary level of heroic virtue displayed by these little children by canonising the two siblings who succumbed in childhood to the worldwide Spanish Flu pandemic. It is well known that the timing of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima was intimately related to the rise of the Soviet Union - the first time in history where the atheistic ideals of Marxism had achieved realisation within the theatre of global politics. This point in time, when the millenarian ideal of secular messianism had came to full fruition, anticipates the reign of the Antichrist, when humanity will be deceived into glorifying itself "in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh" (CCC 675), and embrace a form of totalitarianism that falsely promises to establish an earthly utopia. So it can rightly be said that Our Lady appeared at Fatima in order to oppose the introduction of this militantly atheistic regime in anticipation of what the Catechism calls the "deception of the Antichrist". In doing so, Our Lady was fulfilling her perpetual role encapsulated in the Protoevangelium, wherein she must be continuously invoked to crush the head of the Serpent.

I would like to use this post to highlight another lesser-known theme which pervades the imagery and timing of the various apparitions received by Sr. Lucia, which provides us with a better insight into the true meaning of the Third Secret of Fatima. This theme revolves around the destiny of the Jewish people, and the role the Jews have to play in the Parousia, which both Scripture and the Catechism informs is suspended until the future conversion of the race chosen by God to bring about the redemption of the world.

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all". (CCC 674)

We first find the most overt reference to the future conversion of the Jews in Sr. Lucia's 1929 Tuy apparition, where she was shown a vision of a cross of light. Sr. Lucia described this vision as follows:

(June 13, 1929). I had requested and obtained permission from my superiors and my confessor to make a holy hour from 11:00 p.m. to midnight, from Thursday to Friday of each week.

Finding myself alone one night, I knelt down near the Communion rail, in the middle of the chapel, to recite the prayers of the Angel, lying prostrate ... Feeling tired, I got up and continued to recite them with my arms in the form of a cross. The only light was that of the [sanctuary] lamp.

Suddenly, the whole chapel lit up with a supernatural light and on the altar appeared a cross of light which reached the ceiling. In a clearer light, on the upper part of the cross, could be seen the face of a man with His body to the waist, on His chest a dove, equally luminous; and nailed to the cross, the body of another man. A little below the waist [of Christ on the cross], suspended in the air, could be seen a Chalice and a large Host, onto which some drops of Blood were falling, which flowed from the face of the Crucified One and from the wound in His breast. Running down over the Host, these drops fell into the Chalice.

Under the right arm of the cross was Our Lady with Her Immaculate Heart in Her hand ... (She appeared as Our Lady of Fatima, with Her Immaculate Heart in Her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames) under the left arm [of the cross], in large letters, like crystalline water which flowed over the altar, forming these words: "Grace and Mercy". I understood that the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity was shown to me, and I received lights about this mystery which I am not permitted to reveal.

Then Our Lady said to me: ‘The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means. So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I come to ask for reparation. Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.’

I rendered an account of this to my confessor, who ordered me to write down what Our Lord willed to be done. (Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, pp198-199).

As I demonstrate at some length in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church, this vision which chiefly centred on the same mysterious cross of light discussed by the Early Church Fathers and several mystics, including St. Faustina Kowalska, which is expected to appear shortly before the last day to announce the imminent return of Christ. This is one and the same as the "Sign of the Son of Man" mentioned by Jesus during His Olivet discourse, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem looking upon the "one whom they have pierced" in Zech 12:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. (Zech 12:10-11)

The Church Doctor St. John Chrysostom relates how that it is the eschatological appearance of this great cross of light that will ultimately result in the conversion of the Jews immediately prior to the Second Coming of Christ:

Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven; Matthew 24:30 that is, the cross being brighter than the sun, since this last will be darkened, and hide himself, and that will appear when it would not appear, unless it were far brighter than the beams of the sun. But wherefore does the sign appear? In order that the shamelessness of the Jews may be more abundantly silenced. For having the cross as the greatest plea, Christ thus comes to that judgment-seat, showing not His wounds only, but also the death of reproach. Then shall the tribes mourn, for there shall be no need of an accusation, when they see the cross; and they shall mourn, that by His death they are nothing benefited; because they crucified Him whom they ought to have adored. Do you see how fearfully He has pictured His coming? How He has stirred up the spirits of His disciples? For this reason, let me add, He puts the mournful things first, and then the good things, that in this way also He may comfort and refresh them. And of His passion He suggests to them the remembrance, and of His resurrection, and with a display of glory, He mentions His cross, so that they may not be ashamed nor grieve, whereas indeed He comes then setting it forth for His sign. And another says, They shall look on Him whom they pierced. Therefore it is that they shall mourn, when they see that this is He.
And forasmuch as He had made mention of the cross, He added, They shall see the Son of Man coming, no longer on the cross, but in the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory.

(St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew LXXVI)

So in being shown this vision of a cross of light accompanied by the outpouring of the words "grace" and "mercy"(following the scene described in Zech 12), God was revealing to Sr. Lucia that the future conversion of the Jews was an essential component of the message of Fatima. Scripture tells us that the future conversion of the Jews will be brought about through the ministry of the Elijah to come - the one who must restore all things before the Second Coming of Christ.

"Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things" (Matt 17:11)

"Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse." (Mal 4:5)

There was a consensus among the Church Fathers that the above words of the Prophet Malachi referred to the future conversion of the Jews, which St. Paul told us would follow in the immediate wake of the "fullness of the Gentiles" being brought into the Church. For example, St. Augustine of Hippo informs us:

After admonishing them to give heed to the law of Moses, as he foresaw that for a long time to come they would not understand it spiritually and rightly, he went on to say, And, behold, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the great and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterly smite the earth. Malachi 4:5-6. It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them.
(St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX:29)

So, according to both Scripture and Tradition, the conversion of the Jews will be brought about by the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man foretold in Zech 12, which in turn is in some way inextricably linked to the culmination of the ministry of the Elijah to come. The reference to the wailing at Megiddo in Zech 12 concerns the death of the good King Josiah, who was killed during the battle of Megiddo in 606BC. We can find the next parallel between Our Lady of Fatima and the prophetic ministry of Elijah in her appearance as Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the Miracle of the Sun. 

After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and the Child appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. (Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, pp172-173)

The primary historical and religious importance of Mount Carmel is in connection to the prophet Elijah, given that this was the location of the legendary battle between the champion of Yahweh and the prophets of the Phoenician deity Baal Melqart. Indeed, this contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal appears to have been the symbolic archetype for the battle of Armageddon foretold in the Book of Revelation. The word Armageddon is derived from the Hebrew Har Megiddo - the "mountain of Megiddo". A curious aspect of this phrase is that there is no "mountain" in the immediate vicinity of Megiddo, which is in fact situated on a plain at the foot of Mount Carmel. The actual fortress town of Megiddo was situated on a small mound (or Tel) on the plain of Megiddo, strategically located at the head of the Carmel Ridge, overlooking the Valley of Jezreel. The section of hills behind Tel Megiddo (called the Menashe mountains) are actually a lower eastern extension of Mount Carmel. So the most likely point of reference for the "mountain" of Megiddo, is in fact Mount Carmel - the location of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40. It is here that Elijah emerged victorious over the prophets of Baal, and successfully managed to steer the wayward Israelites back to orthodox praxis.

So by appearing as Our Lady of Mount Carmel at the close of the vision experienced by the shepherd children during the Miracle of the Sun, the Blessed Mother was alluding to the prophetic ministry of Elijah and the conversion of the Jews - which would once again be brought into focus during the her vision of the cross of light at Tuy in 1929. It seems to be beyond coincidence that the Miracle of the Sun had taken place just before the publication of the Balfour Declaration calling for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine; or that the Battle of Megiddo in 1918 took place just under a year later, the consequences of which led to the land of Palestine falling under the British Mandate, eventually resulting in the restoration of the land of Israel in 1948. Could it be that Our Lady had chose to appear at Fatima at this moment in history not only to warn of the dangers of the spread of Communism, but also to indicate the opening of the path that would eventually lead to the conversion of the Jews, and consequently, to the Second Coming of Christ?

The secrets of Fatima were predominantly concerned with the impending onslaught of the Second World War, which ultimately resulted in the extermination of one third of the world's total Jewish population in the concentration camps of the Third Reich. It was through the perpetration of this most unspeakably heinous act that eventually led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, when paralleling the Resurrection of Christ, the Jewish people eventually emerged victorious on the other side of their collective crucifixion. For the modern Jewish people, the path to the Promised Land was truly the way of the cross. But it seems that the restoration of Israel was preordained, since it was only through once again establishing themselves in the Holy Land that will eventually allow for the Jews to witness the great sign of the cross appear over Jerusalem, when they will confess Jesus as the true Messiah as a result of the ministry of the Elijah to come.

Another factor which attests that the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima do indeed point forward to the future conversion of the Jews and the Second Coming of Christ, is the timing of the various visions given to Sr. Lucia at key moments leading up to the restoration of Israel. We have already noted that the Balfour Declaration almost immediately followed the Miracle of the Sun. It is quite remarkable then, that Sr. Lucia's vison of the cross of light on 13th June, 1929, immediately preceded the Great Wall Street Crash that took place just a few months later in October 1929. This event, which brought about the Great Depression, was the primary catalyst for the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, who like his historical precursor Antiochus IV Epiphanes, savagely persecuted the Jews before the Holy Land was eventually restored to them:

As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. (Dan 7:21)

The moment Hitler was elected as Chancellor of Germany on 30th January, 1933, was preceded just days earlier by another Church approved Marian apparition - that of Our Lady of Banneux, which occurred in Belgium on 15th January, 1933. The next known major apparition received by Sr. Lucia took place at the height of the Second World War itself, at Tuy in January 1944, when she was instructed to write down the contents of the Third Secret by the Blessed Virgin. Details of this apparition have only recently came to light, when the Portuguese version of Sr. Lucia's biography A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary was published by the Carmel of Coimbra in 2013. It is in this vision that we find yet another veiled reference to the prophecy of Zech 12, which appears to expand on the significance of the vision of 1929:

Towards 16:00 hours on January 3rd, 1944, in the convent’s chapel, before the Tabernacle, Lucia asked Jesus to let her know His will: ‘I then feel that a friendly hand, affectionate and maternal, touches my shoulder.’

It is ‘the Mother of Heaven’ who says to her: ‘be at peace and write what they command you to, but not that which you were given to understand about its meaning,’ intending to allude to the meaning of the vision that the Virgin herself had revealed to her.

Right after – says Sr. Lucia – ‘I felt my spirit flooded by a light-filled mystery which is God and in Him I saw and heard: the point of the flame-like lance which detaches, touches the axis of the earth and it [the earth] shakes: mountains, cities, towns and villages with their inhabitants are buried. The sea, rivers and clouds leave their bounds, they overflow, flood and drag with them into a whirlpool, houses and people in a number unable to be counted; it is the purification of the world from the sin it is immersed in. Hatred, ambition, cause destructive wars. Afterward I felt in the increased beating of my heart and in my spirit a quiet voice which said: ‘in time, one faith, one baptism, one Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. Heaven in eternity!’ This word, ‘Heaven,’ filled my heart with peace and happiness, so much so that, almost without realizing it, I continued to repeat for some time: Heaven, Heaven!’

That is how she was given the strength to write the Third Secret. 

The key event described in this vision is the eschatological earthquake mentioned in various places throughout the Bible, which is paired here with the occurrence of a devastating tsunami. This vision confirmed a theory that I had proposed in the first edition of my book, published in 2011 - that a purported "hidden text" related to the Third Secret of Fatima was directly concerned with the words of St. John Paul II at Fulda, Germany, in 1980:

"On the other hand, it should be sufficient for all Christians to know this: if there is a message in which it is written that the oceans will flood whole areas of the earth, and that from one moment to the next millions of people will perish, truly the publication of such a message is no longer something to be so much desired."
(As reported in the journal Stimme des Glaubens, on October 1981)

In the first edition of my book, I also forwarded the hypothesis that the occurrence of the eschatological earthquake could set in motion a chain of geophysical events that will eventually lead to the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands (the "great mountain, burning with fire" described in Rev 8:8); producing a mega-tsunami that will devastate the East Coast of the Americas. As I attempt to demonstrate in the second edition of my book, the exact location of this "burning mountain" is described in the Book of Enoch, which is known to have influenced several of the writers of the New Testament. When we study the relevant portion of the Book of Enoch in light of its roots in Greek mythology, we can determine that it does indeed refer to a volcano based in the Canary Islands. The section of the Book of Zechariah which was associated with the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man by the Early Church Fathers is also closely linked with the occurrence of the eschatological earthquake. A reference to this event can be found at the very start of Zech 12, and it is expanded upon in more detail later in chapter 14.

The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. (Zech 12:1-2)

After the scene depicting the inhabitants of Jerusalem looking on the "one whom they have pierced", the Prophet Zechariah then describes the opening of a fountain for the cleansing of the sins of Israel - the future conversion of the Jews. 

On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. (Zech 13:1)

Zechariah then moves on to his vision of the shepherd being struck - a Scriptural passage which has often been associated with the martyrdom of the pope described in the Third Secret of Fatima:

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," declares the Lord of hosts. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the Lord, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. (Zech 13:7-8)

Then in the following chapter, the Prophet Zechariah provides further detail on the occurrence of the eschatological earthquake and the opening of the fountain to cleanse the sins of Israel (which pours forth from the pierced side of Jesus):

Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. (Zech 14:3-9)

It is tempting to connect the above passage to the Second Coming itself, given the mention of God's feet touching the Mount of Olives - the place where Jesus ascended into Heaven. However, given the fact that we are told that this event has further consequences within history itself, we are forced to conclude that this verse should not be interpreted literally, and may be considered as one and the same as the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man mentioned earlier in Zech 12. The Church teaches that the Second Coming of Christ will only occur at the very end of human history, coinciding with the General Resurrection of the dead; while the event described in the Book of Zechariah is clearly concerned with the future conversion of the Jews. The light foretold to appear in the eventide therefore must be one and the same as the great cross of light spoke of by the Church Fathers and numerous mystics, including Sr. Lucia's 1929 Tuy apparition. So the vision of the earthquake and tsunami that Sr. Lucia saw while she was instructed to write down the contents of the Third Secret in 1944 was a prophetic extension of the vision of 1929, informing us that these apparitions, together with the Third Secret itself, form a visionary triptych based on chapters 12-14 of the Book of Zechariah. A section of the Bible which revolves around the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man and the Jews' recognition of Jesus as their promised Messiah.

Given the fact that the various apparitions received by Sr. Lucia occurred at key moments in Jewish history - the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent rise to power of Hitler in 1933, this strongly suggests that the Jewish Holocaust was a central feature of the message of Fatima, and will play a significant role in the future redemption of Israel. Indeed, in his book The Last Secret of Fatima, Cardinal Tarcisco Bertone relates how Sr. Lucia highlighted the importance of the Jewish Holocaust had in interpreting the Secret of Fatima itself:

Giuseppe De Carli:

What value can prophecy such as Fatima possibly have if it doesn't mention the Shoah, the extermination of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis? Why is the prophecy so lopsided? But now even the hypercritical are satisfied. A recently published booklet for the use of pilgrims to Fatima contains a sort of spiritual diary written by Sister Lucia at the request of the then general of the Carmelite Order, Anastasio Ballestrero, who went on to become cardinal archbishop of Turin. In this diary, Sister Lucia adds an interesting---sensational?---coda to the second part of the message, which predicts that World War I is about to end and warns that another war may break out during the ponificate of Pius XI.
"The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI." In what sense would it be worse? Sister Lucia asks. "In the sense that it would be an atheistic war that attempted to exterminate Judaism, which gave the world Jesus Christ, Our Lady, the Apostles, who transmitted the Word of God and the gift of faith, hope, and charity. The Jews are God's elect people, whom he chose from  the beginning: 'Salvation is from the Jews.'" This passage is surprising. Lucia wrote these words in 1955. The text was then sent to Rome by order of Paul VI, where it ended up forgotten in the Vatican Archives (where else?). I won't swear to this, but Sister Lucia's words do sound as if they could be a completion of the Secret as a whole...

Card. Bertone:

What you are saying is something of a surprise to me. They certainly do introduce a new aspect of our topic. They also give us a better insight into how interaction with the supernatural worked in Sister Lucia's life. The words referring to the extermination of the Jews are italicized and appear in quotation marks. This means that Sister Lucia considered them to have a prophetic meaning. So they may be part of the interpretation of the Secret, or perhaps they are a further development of it. In 1955, knowledge about the Shoah was still pretty shaky. It would have been even more confused in a place like Coimbra, where Lucia entered Carmel on March 25, 1948. The horrific discovery of what the Nazis had done, and the ensuing debate about the Holocaust that shook the world's conscience, happened only afterward...
(Card. Bertone, The Last Secret of Fatima, pp85-86)

We should note Sr. Lucia's quotation of Christ's words in John 4:22: "Salvation is from the Jews". This passage of Scripture has historically been associated with the future conversion of the Jews, which both St. Paul and St. Peter inform us must take place before the Second Coming of Christ.
As I have previously discussed at some length in the post Our Lady of Fatima and the Jewish Holocaust, the fact that the Blessed Virgin appeared to the shepherd children adorning a yellow star appears to have been in a symbolic act of solidarity with her fellow Jews. The presence of this star, accompanied by the fact that Our Lady always appeared to the shepherd children on the 13th of each month, strongly alludes to the Jewish feast of Purim and the biblical story of Esther (whose name means "star"). The feast of Purim celebrates the victory won on the 13th of the Jewish month of Adar, when Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia, rescued her people from destruction at the hands of the evil Haman, who wanted to kill all the Jews living in the Achaemenid Empire. Purim is celebrated each year on the 14th of Adar, the day after Esther achieved victory over Haman by exposing his plot to her husband, the King of Persia. It is worth noting that Sr. Lucia died on the 13th of February, 2005 - the month in the Gregorian calendar which corresponds to that of Adar. Taken together, this strongly suggests that the intercession of the Blessed Mother was involved in the rescue of the Jewish people from total extermination by Nazi Germany and the creation of the modern State of Israel - which was proclaimed on 14th May, 1948 - the day after the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

The future conversion of the Jews during the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man over Jerusalem was only made possible through the gathering of the Jews to the land of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust. It is this appearance of a great cross of light over Jerusalem, paired with the ministry of the Elijah to come, that effects the conversion of the Jews. As St. Paul tells us in Rom 11, the conversion of the Jews will come in the immediate wake of the fullness of the Gentiles during the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Christ informs us that the end of the world will follow immediately after this:

And this gospel of the kingdom swill be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)

The Antichrist will then put to death the very person who effects the conversion of the Jews - the Elijah to come. Once the testimony of the Elijah to come is complete, "turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers", the Antichrist will then bring about the martyrdom of the Two Witnesses:

And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. (Rev 11:7-8).

The Apocalypse informs us that the eschatological earthquake which splits apart the city of Jerusalem in Zech 14, will occur during the resurrection of the Two Witnesses:

And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
(Rev 11:13)

The reason the Blessed Virgin appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the Miracle of the Sun thus appears to be referencing the victory of the Prophet Elijah over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel by calling down fire from heaven, restoring Israel to the true worship of God. The calling down of fire from heaven is what was indicated by the movements of the Sun on October 13th, 1917, once again recalling the words of the Prophet Malachi:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. (Mal 4:5)

Although the shepherd children saw the hand of the angel with the flaming sword being stayed by Our Lady to allow for a period of penance and conversion, the 1944 Tuy vision shows that it will eventually be allowed to strike the earth, and bring about the eschatological earthquake and subsequent destruction of Babylon in the tsunami caused by the "great mountain, burning with fire" being thrown into the sea:

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
(Rev 16:17-19)

Following the words of St. Paul in Rom 11:15 "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?", the Prophet Daniel informs us that the words of his book concerns the future destiny of the Jewish people, and that the moment of their deliverance will ultimately lead to the General Resurrection of the dead at the end of time:

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12:1-2).

Immediately after the conversion of the Jews, which takes place once the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in, the Antichrist will then rise up from the abyss to bring about the final Passover of the Church foreseen in the Third Secret of Fatima. As the Church Doctor St. Robert Bellarmine affirms, the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the world must take place before the Antichrist will finally be revealed to the world at the end of time:

Many false suspicions and errors exist in regard to... the time of the coming of Antichrist both among Catholics and heretics. Yet with this distinction, Catholics know that Antichrist is not coming until the end of the world (which is true), but some err in that they think the end of the world
is nearer than it really may be. On the other hand, the heretics err in the fact
that they think Antichrist is coming long before the end of the world and that he really already has come. (Antichrist (de Controversiis) Chap 3)

Yet, because our adversaries do not admit this reasoning (nor is it now the time to deduce from their own principles), we will prove it from the testimonies of the Fathers. Thus Hilary, explains these words of Matthew: “The Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, and then the consummation will come.” Clearly he teaches that Antichrist, which he calls the abomination of desolation, is not going to come unless the preaching of the Gospel will precede him throughout the whole world. St. Cyril, Theodoret, and St. John Damascene teach the same thing with eloquent words, and besides, the same is gathered from the text because the Gospel says that before that greatest and last tribulation shall come, the Gospel must be preached such as it was not before nor will be afterward. The Fathers and above all, St. Augustine, teach that the persecution of Antichrist is meant by such a tribulation.."
(St. Robert Bellarmine, Antichrist (de Controversiis) Chap 4)

After a brief period of peace is given to the world to allow for a time of penance and conversion during the proclamation of the eternal Evangel to the ends of the earth, St. Paul warns us that sudden destruction will then soon follow, which will take the form of the final persecution of the Church by the Antichrist:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1Thes 5:1-3)

This follows the sequence of events described by Christ:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)
As the Catechism states, it is only through enduring this last persecution of the Church under the Antichrist that the Church will truly experience its ultimate triumph - a triumph which is rooted in the way of the Cross:

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. the supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh (CCC 675)

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
(CCC 677)

The scene of the final persecution of the Catholic Church described in the Third Secret of Fatima shows that we are set to follow in the path of the Shoah of the Jewish people, once they have accepted Christ as their true Messiah. Just as the Jews only regained entrance to the Promised Land through their collective crucifixion, the Church can only fully emerge victorious over its enemies by undergoing its own Passover. The victory over the Beast of Revelation can only be achieved through the endurance and perseverance of the saints, once our robes have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb:

And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God. (The Third Secret of Fatima)

Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation. (Rev 13:7)

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. (Rev 13:10)

These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:14)

As soon as the Bride has adorned itself with the pure white garments won through the blood of the martyrs, it will be ready to meet the Groom. It is then that the appearance of the Antichrist will be brought to nothing by the Parousia of Christ, in order to fully establish God's Kingdom on earth during the New Creation:

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. (2Thes 2:8)

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure...
(Rev 19:7-8)

It is this future reality that the Church must endure which Pope Francis alludes to today in his prayer to Our Lady of Fatima, whose words concerning the "column of light" refers to the shepherd children's mirror-like vision of the "immense light that is God" - a vision which is intimately connected to the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man:

In the joy of the Gospel, we will be the Church robed in white,
the whiteness washed in the blood of the Lamb,
blood that today too is shed in the wars tearing our world apart.
And so we will be, like you, an image of the column of light
that illumines the ways of the world,
making God known to all,
making known to all that God exists,
that God dwells in the midst of his people,
yesterday, today and for all eternity.