January 3, 2004
volume 15, no. 3

The Third Secret of Fatima
Part Three

Saint Augustine of Hippo and the Psalms

by Ron and Kirstie Finster

  In year 2000, the Vatican posted on their website what they said was the Third Secret of Fatima. According to those who follow Fatima details, Lucy is thought to have written a description accompanying the Third Secret about sixty lines long on several sheets of notebook paper as well as about twenty lines of the words of Our Lady on a single sheet of paper in a letter form. See www.sspxafrica.com/documents/2000_December/a-secret-half-revealed.htm There are varying views as to whether the released vision is true, false or a mixture of both and to whether or not there are words that exist also. It seems likely to the authors that words of Our Lady that comprise the true Third Secret of Fatima do exist and have not been released, but it is not the purpose of this paper to get into those details. What the authors do wish to share is that the vision posted by the Vatican does appear to have an interpretation that seems to make sense in the light of all that has happened in the Church these past forty years.

    "Who have persecuted Thee? Who have slain Thee?…Hear who they were, "Sons of men"…But how did they slay, that steel bare not? They that sword drew not, that made no assault upon Him to slay; whence slew they? "Their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." Do not consider the unarmed hands, but the mouth armed: from thence the sword proceeded, wherewith Christ was to be slain…When therefore did they smite, save when they clamoured, "Crucify, crucify"?
    St. Augustine of Hippo

   In the vision posted by the Vatican as the Third Secret of Fatima, we see that the soldiers that attacked the "Bishop in white" had weapons and arrows. This phrase points directly Psalm 56 (57) which states, "The Sons of men, whose teeth are weapons and arrows and the tongue a sharp sword." If Our Lady was directing us to Psalm 56, we might well ask what the psalm is all about. In fact Psalms 55, 56 and 57 are all of interest since they belong together. For this we need to look to the Church, to St. Augustine of Hippo who wrote extensively on the psalms over 1,500 years ago. Bear in mind that the lessons of the psalms apply at all times, but perhaps they apply in a particularly urgent way today because it appears we were pointed to them by the vision. The quote above is taken from an older translation of the writings of St. Augustine, but for the rest of this paper we will quote from The Works of St. Augustine, A Translation for the 21st Century. The Bible verses we quote are from the Douay-Rheims Bible. (For the interpretation of the Third Secret of Fatima vision, see The Third Secret of Fatima Part One - A Prophecy for the "New Springtime" of the Church?)

       "…the whole Christ consists of head and body…The head is Our Savior himself…His body is the Church…we must be alert to the accents of the head in all the psalms in such a way that we catch the voices of the body too."

    St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine on Psalm 55 (56)

"For the end, for a people that is removed at a distance from the sanctuary: for David, for an inscription of a title, when the Philistines held him in Gath."

       "…when you hear the words to the end direct your mind to Christ…Christ is called "David" in a figurative sense…" "Who is this people that moved far away from the saints…At the time of the Lord's passion, when he was about to be crucified, a certain title was penned…the Jews were indignant… and so they moved far away from the saints by taking offense at the title…rejected is a subjection to God's lordship that would have enabled his subjects themselves to exercise dominion over their wayward desires…They [the Jews] stood as a kind of primordial example, so that their conduct might show up plainly what we must all avoid…they sinned by rejecting the kingship of Christ…" "Gath was a city of …foreigners, that is , a people far removed from the saints… All who reject Christ as their king make themselves foreigners" "Gath was a city…it's name…means winepress….But in what sense is he [Christ] held prisoner in Gath? His body, his Church, is held in the winepress…The cluster of grapes feels no pressure on the vine…Then it is put into the winepress, trampled, crushed…but that injury is not sterile."

"Have mercy on me, O God, for man hath trodden me under foot; all the day long he hath afflicted me fighting against me. My enemies have trodden on me all the day long: for they are many that make war against me."

       "…our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and wicked spirits - against the devil and his angels…Do not be afraid because you are trampled on; just be full of wine…The first grape to be put under pressure was Christ…there flowed forth the wine that filled the most excellent, intoxicating chalice…Let the Body contemplate its Head…"

   The vision uses similar imagery- the martyrs' blood was collected in a crystal aspersorium.

"From the height of the day I shall fear: but I will trust in thee. In God will I praise my words, in God I have put my trust: I will not fear what flesh can do against me."

       "But from the height of the day means "out of ephemeral pride." While they are trampling they are in a high position, for those being trampled on are the lowly, and those who do the trampling are on top. But do not worry about their superior position; it is nothing but the height of day, a superiority that is fleeting, not eternal."

"All the day long they detested my words: all their thoughts were against me unto evil."

       "Speak the truth, preach the truth, proclaim Christ to pagans, proclaim Christ to heretics...they treat my words with loathing….If they treated the Lord like this, the body must not shrink from following the head's example…Your Lord was despised, and is it your ambition to be honored by those folk who have departed so far from the saints?"

"They will dwell and hide themselves:"

       "The notion of hiddenness suggests an alternative interpretation, which you may find more persuasive. From the ranks of those who have moved far away from the saints certain imposters worm their way into the Church, and the trouble they make for Christ's body is all the worse in that they are not shunned as complete strangers would be… These last are especially dangerous."

"they will watch my heel."

       "They keep their eyes glued to our heels to watch for any lapse, all ready to grip our feet and bring us down, or to stick out their own foot and trip us, or in one way or another to find some charge to bring against us."

"As they have waited for my soul, for nothing shalt thou save them: in Thy anger Thou shalt break the people in pieces."

       "Tribulation shakes us violently, but for the very purpose that a vessel filled with wickedness may be emptied out completely, and so filled with grace."

"O God, I have declared to Thee my life; Thou hast set my tears in thy sight, As also in Thy promise. Then shall my enemies be turned back."

       "The Lord was one day speaking to his disciples about his impending passion. Peter was appalled, and protested, Far be it from you , Lord…And the Lord, who had just now said to Peter, Blessed are you, and upon this rock I will build my Church, now said to him, Get behind me, Satan…As long as Peter was seeking praise for words in God, he was no Satan but Peter, the rock-like Peter; but when he spoke from himself out of human weakness and merely natural love for a human being, he was addressed as "Satan," because his attitude would have been an obstacle to his own salvation and that of everyone else…he was trying to run ahead of the Lord, and to give earthly counsel to this heavenly leader…trying to lead the leader, teach the teacher, give orders to the Lord and make choices for God…getting much too far in front, so get behind…Let my enemies be turned back…so that they may follow…"

"In what day soever I shall call upon Thee, behold I know thou art my God. In God will I praise the word, in the Lord will I praise His speech. In God have I hoped, I will not fear what man can do to me. In me, O God, are vows to Thee, which I will pay, praise to Thee…Because Thou hast delivered my soul from death, my feet from falling:"

       "Calling upon God means calling upon him without seeking reward…What you must vow…is within you. From the coffer of your heart bring forth the incense of praise…Of myself I was dead…what am I now? Alive!"

"that I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living. Glory be to the Father."

       "The light of the living is…the light of the saints…We may observe someone from the outside…but no one knows what that person is really like; only God knows…Job's heart was pleasing in the Lord's sight, in the light of the living; but from the devil it was hidden, because the Devil was in darkness…"

   Note the similarity with the Fatima vision in which we see in the "immense light that is God" a "bishop dressed in white" which could be a Bishop whose soul appeared white before God's eyes like others in scripture who refused corrupted ways (Apocalypse 3:4)]

St. Augustine on Psalm 56 (57)

"Unto the end, destroy not, for David, for an inscription of a title, when he fled from Saul into the cave."

       "This psalm sings of Our Lord's passion… David was persecuted by [King] Saul…Saul represented the Jewish people, as David stood for Christ…"

   In the vision there is also reference to a cross at which the martyrs were killed.

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in Thee. And in the shadow of thy wings will I hope, until iniquity pass away."

       "Christ is praying in his passion…here is our voice too…'You Lord, will protect me, so that I do not get scorched under the sun of iniquity. You will provide shade for me.' "

"I will cry to God the most high: to God Who hath done good to me. He hath sent from Heaven and delivered me, He hath made them a reproach that trod upon me"

       "The Father did…save him…But…the Lord also raised himself. Both truths are stated in scripture…"

       "The Jews raged against Christ…but where? In the city of Jerusalem…But after the Lord's passion they were uprooted, and they lost the kingdom where they had refused to acknowledge Christ as king…"

"God hath sent His mercy and His truth. And He hath delivered my soul from the midst of the young lions."

       "who are these lion-cubs? They are the little people who were cruelly deceived and wickedly seduced by the Jewish leaders; the leaders were lions, and the common people lion-cubs. But they all roared, and all killed."

"I slept troubled. The sons of men, whose teeth are weapons and arrows: and their tongue a sharp sword."

       "…who persecuted you? Who put you to death?…Listen…" The Sons of men* "But how did they put him to death, if they carried no weapon? Their teeth are weapons and arrows, their tongue a sharp sword. Ignore the weaponless hands and watch the armed mouth for that is where the sword is wielded that slew Christ… When did they strike him? When they shouted, Crucify! Crucify!"

   *In the older translation St. Augustine quotes the psalm directly. Note the similarity in the interpretation of the death of the "Bishop in white."

"Be Thou exalted, O God, above the Heavens: and Thy glory above all the earth. They prepared a snare for my feet: and they bowed down my soul. They dug a pit before my face: and they are fallen into it. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready: I will sing, and rehearse a psalm. Arise, O my glory, Arise psaltery and harp: I will arise early. I will give praise to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples. I will sing a psalm to Thee among the nations. For Thy mercy is magnified even to the Heavens, and they truth unto the clouds. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the Heavens: and Thy glory above all the earth. Glory be to the Father."

       "Their persecution of Christ did him no ultimate harm, but ultimately harmed them…With hearts prepared, good people embrace the will of God with patience, and in patience they even glory in their sufferings…"

St. Augustine on Psalm 57 (58)

"Unto the end. Destroy not. For David, for an inscription of a title."

       "[This psalm] is the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ, and..the Church as it struggles along its pilgrim way on earth…"

"If in very deed you speak justice: judge right things, ye sons of men. For in your heart you work iniquity: your hands forge injustice in the earth."

       "profession of justice is no falsehood, if what blares from..lips is not at variance with what is concealed in..hearts..."

"The wicked are alienated from the womb: they have gone astray from the womb: they have spoken false things."

       "…they have spoken falsehoods because they have gone astray from the belly, for truth abides in the belly of the Church. It is inevitable that anyone who breaks out of the Church's womb should speak falsehoods. I repeat…should speak falsehoods…"

"Their madness is according to the likeness of a serpent: like the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears: which will not hear the voice of the charmers; nor of the wizard that charmeth wisely."

       "Their fury was like the fury of a snake" "…the asp prefers to coil itself up in its own darkness…since it does not want to emerge…It presses one ear to the ground, and plugs the other with its tail"

       St. Augustine then makes this interesting comment in another discussion of the asp: "…the tail represents the hinder part, and hence the things that are behind us, the past on which we must turn our backs in order to press forward to what is promised us…"

"God shall break in pieces their teeth in their mouth: the Lord shall break the grinders of the lions. They shall come to nothing, like water running down: he hath bent his bow till they be weakened."

       "You should not be intimidated by rivers that are reputed to be powerful torrents…they are full of winter rain, but don't worry; after a short time their force abates…All the unbelievers, all the proud folk…they are only swollen winter rivers…they will inevitably dwindle toward their proper place, which means the end of them."

"Like wax that melteth they shall be taken away: fire hath fallen on them, and they shall not see the sun. Before your thorns could know the brier; he swalloweth them up, as alive, in his wrath."

       "…they will perish in the fire kindled by their own lusts…This is the fire before which they melt like wax…God delivered them to the lusts of their own hearts, to do things that should not be done. They became full of every iniquity. Romans 1:24, 28-29 …What "sun" is meant? Not this visible sun…No, there is another sun, that of which the wicked will one day admit, The sun never rose for us…No doubt of it, we strayed from the path of truth. On us the light of righteousness did not shine, nor did the sun rise for us. Wisdom 5:6,9

"The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge: he shall wash his hands in the blood of the sinner. And man shall say: If indeed there by fruit to the just: there is indeed a God that judgeth them on the earth. Glory be to the Father."

       "…when a just person sees a sinner punished, he or she profits thereby; the death of one is powerfully life-giving for the other. If people are dying within themselves, blood is flowing out of them in a spiritual sense; and when you see them suffering such vengeance…you are the one to learn a lesson from the dying unbeliever, and purge yourself of sins. In this way you will, in a sense, wash your hands in a sinner's blood."

   Note the graphic symbolism here for the spiritually dying, "blood is flowing out of them." The vision may also be using graphic symbolism for the spiritually dead when it refers to the corpses in the city half in ruins.

    NEXT: Coming MONDAY, January 5: Part Four: The Crucifixion of the Body of Christ?

For more on St. Augustine of Hippo, see 33 Doctors of the Church

For installments to date in this series, see www.DailyCatholic.org/2004fat.htm Archives.

January 3, 2004
volume 15, no. 3
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