ProLifeCorner- “And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed.”
Our Lady of Fátima is a famous title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she appeared in five apparitions reported by three shepherd children at Fátima in Portugal. These occurred on the 13th day of each month in 1917, starting on May 13th and ending on October 13th , but excluding August, when the three children were incarcerated. The three children were Lúcia dos Santo, who died recently at age 95, and her two cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who both died shortly after the apparitions, but who have since been beatified by the Holy Catholic Church.
The events at Fátima gained particular fame due to their elements of prophecy and eschatology – the end times, particularly with regard to possible world war and the conversion of Soviet Russia. The reported apparitions at Fátima were subsequently officially approved and declared “worthy of belief” by the Catholic Church.
However, during the course of the five apparitions of The Blessed Mother to the three Fatima children, the Virgin Mary revealed some prophecies, which are also referred to as the “three secrets” of Fatima. The first secret was a vision of Hell, which Lúcia describes in detail in her Third Memoir. The third secret, which was publically revealed in the year 2000, involved a vision of the death of the Pope and other religious figures.
The second secret included the Blessed Virgin Mary’s instructions on how to save souls from Hell and convert the world to the Christian faith, also revealed by Lúcia in her Third Memoir. It reads: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
On 8 December 1942, twenty five years after the apparition, the Pontiff Pope Pius XII officially and solemnly declared this consecration in a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At the end of the Second Vatican Council, in the early 1960’s, Pope Paul VI renewed the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On May 13th, 1987, Pope John Paul II renewed this consecration once again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union collapsed!
However, in an intimate and interior communication by Jesus to Lucia, the oldest and surviving child of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, Our Lord complained to Lucia stating, “They did not wish to heed my request. Like the King of France, they will repent and do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread her errors throughout the world, provoking wars, and persecutions of the Church; the Holy Father will have much to suffer.”
In today’s gospel from St. Mark, we hear a reference to Jesus praying. Many passages of the New Testament make reference to Jesus praying. The gospel writers point to Jesus praying only on specially important occasions during his public ministry: for instance, His Baptism, the choosing of the Twelve Apostles, the first miraculous multiplication of the loaves, the Transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane prior to his Passion, just to mention a few. St. Mark, for his part, refers to Jesus’ prayer at three solemn moments: at the beginning of his public ministry, which we heard today, in the middle of it, and at the end, in Gethsemane, just prior to His sacred passion.
Jesus’ prayer is a prayer of perfect praise to the Father; it’s the prayer of petition for Himself and for us; and it’s also a model for His disciples. It’s a prayer of perfect praise and thanksgiving because He is God’s beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased. It’s a prayer of petition because the first spontaneous movement of a soul who recognizes God as Father is to ask Him for things. Jesus’ prayer, as we see in very many gospel passages, was a continuous petition to the Father for the work of redemption which He, Jesus, had to achieve through prayer and sacrifice.
Our Lord wants to give us an example of the kind of attitude a Christian should have: we should make a habit of addressing God as a child to its Father in the midst of and through our everyday activities — work, family life, personal relationships, ministry — so as to give our life a genuinely Christian meaning, for, as Jesus pointed out later on, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary also appeared at Fatima in 1917 under the title of “Our Lady of the Rosary,” and asked that the faithful pray the Rosary for peace in the world! This is not the first time the Holy Rosary has been used to defeat evil in the world. In the 13th century, the Virgin Mary introduced the Rosary to St. Dominic to defeat the infamous death cult known as the Albigensians. In the 16th century, the Rosary was utilized by Pope Pius V, against all odds, to defeat the Muslim Turks in a pivotal naval battle at Lepanto. Then there was post World War II Austria, when a Franciscan priest, named Fr. Peter Pavlicek, organized a Rosary crusade in 1948. He asked that the Austrians pledge to say the Rosary daily until the Soviets left the country. The people of Austria responded generously. They prayed for seven years, and then on May 13, 1955, the Soviets mysteriously just packed up and peacefully left. And we can’t forget how Dona Amelia Basto organized a Rosary campaign in Brazil to save the country from a communist takeover. She managed to recruit 600,000 women in 1962 to say the Rosary for peace. And through this demonstration of faith and prayer, the country was spared a communist dictatorship. Something similar happened in Portugal in 1975, too. The communist government in that country was peacefully overthrown after a national Rosary crusade for peace was launched.
In this country, at the present time, after several decades of eroding religious freedom, we Christians are now beginning to experience the outward manifestation of the errors spread by the former atheistic/marxist/demonic Soviet Union mentioned by Our Lord and Our Lady with regards to the Fatima apparitions.
In this country, at the present time, after several decades of eroding religious freedom, we Catholics are now being forced to “figure out” how to violate our moral consciences, as Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan so aptly puts it!
Both last week and this week, St. Mark writes about demonic possession or oppression. It’s in the very nature of Satan and his demonic cohorts to force people to violate their moral consciences to gain access to their souls in order to lead them to eternal damnation! This was precisely the tactics employed by the ancient Roman emperors Nero, Decius, and Diocletian, (and Adolph Hitler by the way) when, during their persecutions of the Church, they tried to force early Christians to worship them instead of Christ!
But, we have a very simple and very straightforward solution to this dilemma! A solution which has been historically proven, on a number of occasions, to be quite effective in peacefully driving out all atheistic/marxist/demonic elements from our country – the Holy Rosary! Many popes throughout modern history, from Pope Pius IX to our present pontiff, have stressed the immense power and importance of praying the Rosary regularly! In a past homily, I gave three simple suggestions on how to increase the effectiveness and power of your prayers: first, multiply your prayers by praying in a group, secondly, purify your prayers by praying with those who are innocent like children, and thirdly, amplify your prayers by fasting! And if we apply these three basic principles to the Holy Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the solution becomes even more clear and even more simple!
Here at Holy Angels we encourage Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. We offer extended Eucharistic Adoration every Wednesday, and each First Friday. We offer the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy at various times during the week. But if circumstances prevent you from attending our scheduled devotions, we also encourage starting up Rosary prayer groups in the privacy of your homes with family and friends.
We have a very simple choice to make, people! Either we can deny this erosion of our religious freedom is happening and sit back and do nothing, or we can participate and encourage others to participate in a simple solution Our Lord and Our Lady offer us! Just remember, the only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Because if we choose not to pray and fast, as Our Lord, Our Lady, many popes and our bishop have asked, then in this country, in the not-so-distant future, we might not have a Catholic Church to come to!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
5TH Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Sunday, February 8th, 2015