While it’s easy to focus on the prophetic words of Our Lady of Fatima and the call for Russia to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the central message of the private revelations was a call to repentance and conversion.
According to Sr. Lucia, the three children at Fatima heard the words of angel cry out, “Penance, Penance, Penance!“
Cardinal Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI) reflected on this aspect of the message of Our Lady of Fatima and revealed a personal conversation he had with the visionary Sr. Lucia.
“To save souls” has emerged as the key word of the first and second parts of the “secret,” and the key word of this third part is the threefold cry: “Penance, Penance, Penance!” The beginning of the Gospel comes to mind: “Repent and believe the Good News” (Mk 1:15). To understand the signs of the times means to accept the urgency of penance — of conversion — of faith. This is the correct response to this moment of history, characterized by the grave perils outlined in the images that follow. Allow me to add here a personal recollection: in a conversation with me Sister Lucia said that it appeared ever more clearly to her that the purpose of all the apparitions was to help people to grow more and more in faith, hope and love — everything else was intended to lead to this.
St. John Paul II also pointed this out as a common theme among many private revelations of Our Lady in his message on the World Day of the Sick in 1997.
At Fatima she echoed a specific word pronounced by her Son at the outset of his public mission: “The time is fulfilled…; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). The insistent invitation of Mary Most Holy to penance is nothing but the manifestation of her maternal concern for the fate of the human family, in need of conversion and forgiveness.
This is one of the reasons why Our Lady of Fatima asked for the First Saturday Devotion, which includes monthly confession.
If we truly want the world to change, we must not only pray for a faraway country, but look inside our own hearts.
World wars will continue, as Our Lady of Fatima said, until each one of us repents of our wrongdoings, recognizes our own personal weaknesses and relies on God for all of our needs.