The Fatima message retains its relevance and Our Lady's plan of action still needs our response.
"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph." Our Lady of Fatima offered hope in the Second Secret she revealed in 1917 that despite the horrific onslaught hitting the world, including "war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father," her heart would still conquer all. While Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, she called on Catholics to counter its socialist ideology with intensified prayer and sacrifice. Now firmly in the 21st century, we unfortunately cannot affirm that humanity is in any better place, as we face ever increasing attacks on human life and the continued influence of godless ideologies, including a stubborn Marxist socialism, which has not disappeared following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Fatima message retains its relevance and Our Lady's plan of action still needs our response. Although Pope Francis repeated the Church's consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we still need to do our part. The second secret laid the basics of the plan: "I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays." Looking at the Fatima apparitions as a whole, however, we can lay out a more complete plan of action.
1. Five First Saturdays. Mary herself linked the consecration of Russia with the First Saturday devotion. She later explained to Sister Lucia in 1925: "I promise to assist at the hour of death with the grace necessary for salvation all those who, with the intention of making reparation to me, will, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, say five decades of the beads, and keep me company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the rosary." This part of the plan entails only giving Mary an hour for five months.
2. Recite the rosary every day. Mary has emphatically asked us to say the rosary and we need to get more serious about saying it every day. She told the three children at Fatima to pray "the rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war." We can continue the intention of peace and add to it the end of abortion and other threats against human life. Mary promised us on many occasions that praying the rosary will overcome evil and sin. The next step of the plan moves us from a monthly to a daily action, although the rosary should not take more than 20 minutes -- not too much to do our part in the spiritual battle!
3. Do daily penance and make sacrifices. Penance was at the heart of the Fatima message, calling us to break our attachment to material things. In the third secret, an angel says over the earth, "Penance, Penance, Penance!" In the very first apparition to the children, from the guardian angel of Portugal, they were told, "Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country." A sacrifice makes something holy by offering it to God, turning our minds and hearts to him. This next step is more encompassing, drawing moments throughout the day close to Mary's heart. Every little thing, especially our suffering, can become a means of becoming closer to God and making reparation for sin. Our Lady of Fatima said, "When you make some sacrifice, say 'O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"
4. Make a Marian consecration. Mary asked for a consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, but, as the culmination of this spiritual plan, we can also offer whole lives and earthly possessions to her care. A consecration recognizes Mary as our Mother and Lady, who will care for our true spiritual needs, protect us, and guide us toward holiness. Essentially, we are expressing our need for Mary's help and that we trust her to guide us into the heart of her Son. St. Louis de Montfort has provided the classic formula for making the total consecration to Jesus through Mary. Father Chad Ripperger has also written a formula for consecrating exterior goods to Mary to protect against demonic oppression.
Mary clearly has a mission to guide us out of the crisis of the modern world. The plan she laid out of Fatima can help us in the battle against the ongoing challenge of Communism, the threat of war, and the regular sacrilege against the hearts of Jesus and Mary within our secular culture. Fatima offers us a message of hope that Mary's Immaculate will triumph. We can do our part in the spiritual battle, taking up Our Lady's simple spiritual plan for prayer and reparation.
Recent articles in the Faith & Family section
In the company of the angelsJaymie Stuart Wolfe
A Great Day is Coming!Maureen Crowley Heil
Life by faithScott Hahn
Casting a wider net: The Diaconate Formation Program and distance learningDeacon Christopher Connelly
Taking seriously attacks on churches and pro-life institutionsFather Roger J. Landry