“I will cure some but not others” – the spiritual meaning of the September apparition

By Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR

Among the things Our Lady mentioned in her September apparition to the children was a reference to healings of the sick and infirm. When Lucia asked the Blessed Mother to heal certain persons, Our Lady answered, “I will cure some but not others.” As we reflect on Our Lady’s words, we spontaneously ask ourselves, “Why some or why not others?”

We should ask, first of all, where did suffering, sickness and infirmity come from? The Catholic Church’s answer is that they are, in general, the effects of original sin. Before their sin, our first parents enjoyed a freedom from all forms of physical suffering as well as from ignorance, disordered passion (called concupiscence) and even death itself. As a result of their fall, they lost these freedoms for themselves and for us too. Consequently, suffering entered into human history. Suffering may take the form of disastrous events in nature such as earthquakes, tornados or drought. Most times it is experienced in personal forms such as accidents, cancer or other illness.

When suffering comes our way, it is always related to God’s Will. Either He wants it to happen or He at least permits it to happen, but always for His own purpose. This purpose may be to convert someone back from a life of sin. How many people turn to God during times of disaster or personal difficulties who otherwise forget Him? Sometimes suffering is meant to purify a good person from the remnants of their sinful habits. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “It is good for a Christian to get into a lot of hot water; it keeps him clean!” Or God may even send suffering to certain people who bear these sufferings heroically in union with Jesus for the salvation of souls. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta did this with the sufferings God sent them.

Now many times when people are suffering, they ask God to take their sufferings away. Sometimes He does, sometimes He does not. We cannot understand all the workings of God’s mysterious Will, but we can gain some insights from Our Lady and Sacred Scripture. In the October apparition when Lucia asked her again for cures, Our Lady replied, “Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.” The Gospels show us that sometimes suffering is directly connected with sin. For example, after Jesus healed a man at the side of a pool who had been paralyzed for 38 years, He told him, “You have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you” (Jn 5:14). Maybe this was also the reason why Jesus first forgave the sins of another paralyzed man who was brought to Him by his companions before He healed him of his paralysis (Mt 9:2-8). We may conclude that the presence of unrepented mortal sins in the hearts of certain individuals could be one reason why God does not cure some people of their illnesses. After all, God listens to those who listen to Him! Perhaps some who sought cures at Fatima were refused because their hearts still clung to sin, thus remaining far from God.

Now, not all sufferings are directly resultant from sin. This is clear from Our Lord’s words about the man born blind (Jn 9:1 ff). When Jesus’ disciples had seen this man, they asked Our Lord, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (The Pharisees taught the preposterous idea that an unborn infant can sin in the womb of his or her mother. At the same time, it was commonly held that if parents sinned, God sometimes punished them by inflicting infirmity on their children.) Jesus responded, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” This blind man did, in fact, receive his sight from Jesus because he believed in Him!

Faith is probably the greatest factor in the case of cures. Faith, which places trust in God’s goodness, moves the Lord to exercise His power to help us. St. Therese put it this way, “We will get from the Lord what we expect!” The Canaanite woman, who persevered in her petitioning the Lord’s mercy, received the miraculous healing she requested: “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you have believed.” And her daughter was healed instantly (Mt. 15:28). St. Paul cured a crippled man at Lystra who was listening intently to him preach when the saint observed that the man “had the faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9).

Lack of faith is a major obstacle to the grace of healing. It is recorded in the Gospel that Jesus, when He had returned to His hometown of Nazareth, “did not do many deeds of power there because of their unbelief” (Mt 13:58). No doubt, there were many sick and suffering in Nazareth who needed to be cured, but their lack of faith in Jesus prevented His divine power from working freely!

At Fatima on October 13, 1917, there were many atheistic Masons and government officials as well as skeptics who simply did not believe Our Lady was truly appearing. The presence of their disbelief actually diminished the magnificence of the “Miracle of the Sun.” Their hearts were closed. Some of these persons were, no doubt, among those people who did not experience the miraculous cures Our Lady wanted to obtain for them, but they did not believe.


Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR is a foremost expert on the message of Fatima. His book, Fatima and the Triumph of Mary, is available in our Gift Shop.

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