Section 9: "I Will Never Leave You"
The Word Of God Vs. The Lady Of Fatima's Words
In the course of the June apparition, the Lady told the children that she would soon take Jacinta and Francisco to heaven. As for Lucia, she would have to remain for some time more. Upon hearing this, Lucia asked sadly,
"'Am I to stay here alone?' . . .
[The Lady replied:] 'No, my daughter. Are you suffering a great deal? Don't lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.'"(1).
"I will never forsake you," also translated "I will be with you always"(2), and "I will never leave you"(3), is an extraordinary statement made by the Lady. We know that God alone is eternal and God alone is omnipresent. Yet this Lady made a promise of her own eternal presence to Lucia, a promise extended to the followers of Fatima. But the only valid promises concerning eternal spiritual fellowship have already been made and fulfilled by God. The One Holy God has given His word concerning His presence:
"[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake not let [you] down, [relax my hold on you]. - Assuredly not!" (Hebrews 13:5, AMP).
Jesus the Messiah, the Suffering Servant who was raised up out of death to reign forever as the Lord of all, promised, "Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!" (Matthew 28:20, NAB).
The Holy Spirit, giver of life itself, the source of power, truth and beauty of life, actually joins His life to that of the believer: "Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16, NAB).
What an awesome thing! The Triune God will never leave us or forsake us. How can we add to that? How could "Mary" add to that? The One who made the original promise is God Himself, and the time span covers all eternity. Jesus, Emanuel, "God with us," is present in His people.
"[He] is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress" (Psalm 46:2, NAB).
In the New Testament Jesus is seen as the personal revelation of this promise. By His death, resurrection and ascension to the throne of God, Christ has brought man into God's heavenly presence; now, in Christ, God is our refuge. Jesus said, "nothing shall ever injure you. . . . [Rejoice] . . . that your names are inscribed in heaven" (Luke 10:19-20, NAB). And in his first epistle, John wrote, "Everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God. . . . God protects the one begotten by him" (1 John 5:1,18, NAB).
Because, as believers, our refuge is already in the Person of Christ, it's futile to look for refuge in some other person. Instead, our goal should be to "continue, therefore, to live in Christ Jesus the Lord, in the spirit in which [we] received him. Be rooted in him and built up in him, growing ever stronger in faith." St. Paul follows this exhortation with a warning: "See to it that no one deceives you through an empty, seductive philosophy that follows mere human traditions, a philosophy based on cosmic powers rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:6-8, NAB).
God's word is clear: He is our refuge. And as we continue to live in Jesus, "we may say with confidence: 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:6, NAB).
Because various translations of the Lady's words sometimes carry different connotations, we want to examine these also, so as to leave no stone unturned. Soul magazine quotes John de Marchi's translation as:
"I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God"(4).
Again, there is no reference to any such comfort in all of Scripture. But this is not to say that God has left us comfortless. On the contrary, read Jesus' words from the Amplified Bible on the subject:
"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him, nor know Him and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans - comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless - I will come [back] to you" (John 14:16-18, AMP>.
Those in the early Church knew the source of their comfort: "The believers learned how to walk in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:31, LNT). Notice that the believers had to learn to walk in His comfort. If they rejected the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they, like unbelievers, had to rely on any other comfort they could find.
The same is true today. Believers who aren't firmly rooted in Scripture are not fully equipped to deal with spiritual words, especially when the source is a supernatural one. An apparition's promises can be too easily accepted at face value, despite the fact that they may be contrary to God's promises. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit of comfort, and at Pentecost, He did. If believers choose to walk in the comfort of another, they are rejecting the comfort of the Holy Spirit, God's only provision for the Church.
The third part of the Lady's June promise is:
"My Immaculate Heart will be . . . the way that will lead you to God" (see note at end of this Section)"
According to Jesus, this cannot be true. He said,
"I am the Way - yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of Me" (John 14:6, LNT).
The Lady claimed that her Immaculate Heart is the way to God, yet Jesus has opened the path to all who will come by faith in Him.
"Brothers, since the blood of Jesus assures our entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living path he has opened up for us through the veil (the 'veil' meaning his flesh), and since we have a great [high] priest who is over the house of God, let us draw near in utter sincerity and absolute confidence" (Hebrews 10:19-22, NAB).
He has given us assurance that we may enter through His shed blood. Our Father has provided not just "A" way into His presence, as though there were others, but "THE" way. Jesus said, "Whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a marauder. . . I am the gate" (John 10:1,9, NAB).
In the Old Testament, God promised, "I will appoint one shepherd over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd" (Ezekiel 34:23, NAB).
Peter tells us that we've returned to the Shepherd of our souls, who keeps us safe. Our Shepherd calls each of His sheep by name, leading them out of this world, on through the doors of the Kingdom, and into the presence of the Father: "For the Lamb standing in front of the throne will feed them and be their Shepherd and lead them to springs of the Water of Life. And God will wipe their tears away" (Revelation 7:17, LNT).
God said in prophecy to Ezekiel, "I will save my sheep so that they may no longer be despoiled, and I will judge between one sheep and another" (Ezekiel 34:22, NAB). Jesus is working right now to save His sheep, but we have to listen to His voice; we must "heed the Spirit's word to the churches!" (Revelation 2:7, NAB). God said there would be one Shepherd, one voice, one Way, and one flock. There is only one. He's given us no choice of gospels, no choice of ways to the Father, no choice of shepherds.
NOTE: Many followers of the Lady of Fatima use and support the writings of St. Louis de Montfort. In his booklet, The Secret of Mary, an anonymous editor comments: "The Saint does not mean that one is obliged to follow his plan of Spiritual Life in order to be saved, for in his Treatise on the True Devotion to Mary, which is a development of The Secret of Mary, he explicitly says that we can attain divine union by other roads, but that his method, is an EASY, SHORT, PERFECT AND SECURE WAY that leads us to union with our Lord" (p.7).But Jesus' claim to be THE way was absolute; no one can come to the Father except by Him.
(1) Fr. Louis Kondor, SVD., ed., Fatima in Lucia's Own Words: Sister Lucia's Memoirs with an introduction by Dr. Joaquin M. Aonso, CMF., trans. by Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary (Fatima, Portugal: Postulation Centre; dist. by The Ravengate Press, 1976), pp. 163, 165).
(2) "Our Lady's Own Words-1917. . . .," Soul, Special Issue, p. 5 citing Memoirs of Sister Lucia as translated by Rev. John de Marchi in The Immaculate Heart.
(3) McGrath, p. 189.
(4) Soul, Special Issue, p. 5.