Heeding the Message of Our Lady

Here I am writing this “Corner” message on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s final apparition at Fatima, back in 1917. In addition to our normal 8:30 a.m. Mass on this day, we also celebrated a special Fatima Centenary Mass honoring the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 6:30 PM. I am including some thoughts from an exhortative homily given last week by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

I cannot, here, go into all the elements of the Archbishop’s message, but will focus on what we can do, going forward, fully accepting the fact that for one hundred years now, Mary’s Fatima Message has been virtually ignored. That being said, her warnings and the history that resulted are fairly well known, but it is her fervent requests that we have ignored. We cannot afford to do so any longer. It is now time to heed her requests. We might not have the power to change world history, but we can change what happens in our own families and communities if we heed the message. This next century can be radically better than the last one, but only if we heed the message and respond to her requests.

So, what did she ask us to do? This should come as no surprise, because this is the central part of her message wherever and whenever she appears. She has requested prayer, penance and Adoration. And she was very clear at Fatima about the two-fold purpose of this request: to save souls from Hell, and to establish peace in the world. Let us take to heart her three-fold recipe for world peace and eternal salvation.

Prayer: I would ask, if you are not doing so already, to pray the rosary every day. And I would also ask
all families to pray the rosary together at least once a week (recalling the motto of Fr. Patrick Peyton, “The family that prays together, stays together.” I would also ask that the children of the parish be taught (as a matter of routine, by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) the many stories of miraculous victories and events that have taken place in world history, that were attributed to communal and nation-wide praying of the rosary for victory and peace. It is a most powerful spiritual weapon.

Penance: Penance is also a powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal, but it has been woefully ignored for far too long. The post Vatican II reform of the discipline of penitential practice was misinterpreted as being a downplaying of its importance, rather than being a move to instill a more mature spirit of making it a more integral part of the individual believer’s life. Most people are not aware that Fridays are still days of penance, as they have always been back to the birth of the Church. We can choose to not refrain from meat as our penance, if we decide to embrace some other form of penance, that would be for us a greater sacrifice. If this has not been understood, I would ask that we all rededicate our Fridays to being a day of penance, (as it is still meant to be) in honor of the day Our Lord died for us. And let us all commit to do this by selecting one concrete form of bodily fasting…whether that be abstaining from meat, or another type of food or from some type of drink we normally enjoy (or omitting a meal altogether). Our penitential practices, too, are meant to lead us to have more serious and frequent recourse to the merciful Sacrament of Penance. There can be no spiritual revival of
Eucharistic devotion without a renewal in our practice of the Sacrament of Confession.

Adoration: All of our devotion, just as all of our penitential practices, must lead to adoration of God. The
adoration our Lady asks for is meant to purify us of our inclinations to worship the false gods of contemporary society, and to give ourselves over to single-hearted worship of the one, true God. Our consecration must therefore also bring about a renewal of our love for, and devotion to, our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament. I again invite every parishioner (young and old) to dedicate some time each week to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. If it is not possible during the week, take some time before or after Sunday Mass to pray on your knees before our Lord present in the tabernacle. If you can just
spend “some time” every week praying before the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament… Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity…you will fulfill His desire that we ask Him for mercy.

And of course, our Lady also asked us to observe the Devotion of the First Five Saturdays which includes devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She did this directly after the children received the vision of hell. The devotion consists of attending Mass and receiving Communion (in Reparation for Sins) on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month…shortly after or before Mass…going to Confession, and praying five decades of the Rosary and then meditating for 5 minutes on one of the mysteries. With these devotions we see our Lady’s concern for assisting each of us in attaining eternal salvation, as the point of the devotion is to make reparation for sins, especially the sin of blasphemy. Let all of us, (going forward) make the First Five Saturdays a priority in our devotional lives by observing it once a year, and consider becoming a member of our Eucharistic Adorer’s Society.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!