REMINDER: This Friday and Saturday are the First Friday and First Saturday of February.
This talk was given by Matthew McCusker of Voice of the Family at public meetings throughout Northern Ireland. If you live in Britain or Ireland and would like to help us organise a public meeting in your area please email: publicmeetings[AT]voiceofthefamily[DOT]com.
It is not unusual for those fighting for any length of time in the pro-life, pro-family movement to be subject at certain times to the temptations of hopelessness and despair. It can often seem as though we are constantly fighting a losing battle, as country after country falls away from the Catholic faith and the natural law and embraces the mass-killing of unborn children, the killing of the elderly and disabled, and the destruction of the structure of family designed and willed by God. In the face of this unparalleled collapse of western civilisation, the members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church have chosen, for the most part, the path of collaboration with evil.
It is common to reassure ourselves, and others, with the following assertions “the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church” or “Our Lady has already crushed Satan’s head”. These assertions are absolutely true, and are the foundations of our confidence, yet unless they lead us to clarity about the actions we are to perform in the present moment they may not be sufficient to deliver us from the temptation of despair. It is important therefore to form some clear resolutions on which to ground our combat for Christ.
In this context it is interesting to note that in recent years, and especially during the centenary year of 2017, a growing number of men and women in the pro-life, pro-family movement are becoming convinced that we must return to the message of Our Lady of Fatima and take seriously her warnings, her requests and her promises.
Indeed, at a conference held by Voice of the Family in Rome last May, both Carlo Cardinal Caffarra and Raymond Cardinal Burke, called us back to the message of Our Lady of Fatima.
Cardinal Caffarra took as his theme us the battle raging with the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan, as Satan tries to build an “anti-creation” in place of the natural and supernatural order willed by God. An “anti-creation” in which the killing of innocents is exalted, and marriage and the family degraded.
His theme was inspired, he said, by a remarkable letter that he received during the mid-1980s. At that time he was trying to establish the work of the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family and was experiencing intense opposition from inside and outside the Church. At what he describes as “a very difficult moment” for himself personally he wrote a letter to Sister Lucy, the last surviving seer of Fatima, to request her prayers.
To his astonishment he received a reply from the seer, which included this remarkable statement:
“The decisive battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be over marriage and the family. Those who are going to work for marriage and the family will undergo trials and tribulations, but do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
This was not the first time that Sister Lucy had spoken about this decisive battle. In 1957 she met with Fr Augustin Fuentes, a Mexican priest who had been appointed postulator of the cause of beatification of her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the two other seers of Fatima.
She told him:
“the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also, from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.”
“God is giving two last remedies to the world. These are the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These are the last two remedies, which signifies that there will be no others.”
In his letter to the Ephesians St Paul wrote:
“draw your strength from the Lord, from that mastery which his power supplies. You must wear all the weapons in God’s armoury, if you would find strength to resist the cunning of the devil. It is not against flesh and blood that we enter the lists; we have to do with princedoms and powers, with those who have mastery of the world in these dark days, with malign influences in an order higher than ours. Take up all God’s armour, then; so you will be able to stand your ground when the evil time comes, and be found still on your feet, when all the task is over.” (Eph 6:10-13)
In this spiritual combat with diabolical forces, God has given us two particular last remedies from his “armoury” – the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucy explained:
“in the plans of Divine Providence, God always, before He is about to chastise the world, exhausts all other remedies. Now, when He sees that the world pays no attention whatsoever, then as we say in our imperfect manner of speaking, He offers us with ‘certain fear’ the last means of salvation, His Most Holy Mother.”
The message of Fatima is about God sending His Most Holy Mother to warn of the consequences, both for individuals and societies, of our rebellion against Him. By returning to Fatima that we can more fully understand the significance of the two means of victory that God has given to us in our age.
Our Lady appeared at Fatima six times to the three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. The apparitions culminated in the great miracle of the sun on 13 October 1917 in which more than 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing in the sky before plummeting to earth and then returning to its place in the heavens. This great public miracle was a guarantee of authenticity of the visions and message that Sister Lucy was chosen to transmit to the world.
This message concerned the need for mankind to turn back to God in prayer and penance. On 13 June 1917 Our Lady revealed to the children the terrible personal consequences of sin when she showed them a terrifying vision of Hell. She then continued by warning of the devastating consequences that sin has for society as a whole. She said:
“You have seen Hell — where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart.
“If people will do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end.
“But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse war will break out in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you, that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.
“To forestall 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 they heed My requests, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, she shall spread her errors throughout the world, promoting 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 shall triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be given to the world.”
Mankind has not responded fully to Our Lady’s message. “Another and worse war” did break out during the reign of Pius XI. And shortly after the apparitions at Fatima ceased the Communists seized power in Moscow and, from the beginning, waged war against the family and against the Church. In Soviet Russia divorce was legalised in 1918, abortion in 1920, and homosexual acts in 1922. The first sex education programmes, explicitly designed in order to destroy the family and uproot the Catholic faith, were introduced in Hungary in 1919 by the Bolshevik regime of Bela Kun. This “sexual revolution”, first implemented in Russia in the 1920s, has become dominant in the west since the 1960s. It is one of the primary manifestations of the errors of Russia which Our Lady came to warn us about.
When we look back from our vantage point in 2018 we can see that Our Lady’s warnings regarding Russia could not have been more accurate. Russia “shall spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church”. That one sentence is quite an accurate summary of the history of the twentieth century. In the decades following the Russian Revolution Communist governments were established across the world, and invariably worked for the destruction of the family and of the Church. Countries that escaped Communist regimes have fallen victim instead to insidious subversion, to “cultural Marxism”, the attempt to advance Communism by what one its proponents called “the long march through the institutions”, that is, through the subversion of institutions – schools, universities, charities, governments departments, international organisations, using every means at their disposal to advance atheistic materialism and to expel God from the life of individuals and of society. There is hardly an institution in the west today that has not been subverted to at least some degree in the cause of this revolution, including, tragically, many of the structures of the Catholic Church.
In response to these evils Our Lady called for prayer and penance. And the form of prayer that she urged continuously was the Holy Rosary. At every single apparition at Fatima she requested that the Rosary be said every day. And, after the great miracle of the sun, she revealed herself under of the title Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
In 1970 Sister Lucy wrote:
“Our Lady requested and recommended that the Rosary be prayed every day, having repeated this in all the Apparitions as if forewarning us that in these times of diabolical disorientation, we must not let ourselves be deceived by false doctrines that diminish the elevation of our soul to God by means of prayer.”
And in 1957 she said to Fr Fuentes:
“The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary. She has given this efficacy to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”
If we consider how many saints have urged us to pray the rosary, and how much they extolled its great power, how much more encouraged should we be by Sister Lucy’s words that “the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary.”
The second of the great means of deliverance that we have been given is devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
Sister Lucy described the essence of this devotion very simply:
“… devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Most Holy Mother, consists in considering Her as the seat of mercy, of goodness and of pardon, and as the sure door by which we are to enter Heaven.”
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart can be practised in a wide variety of different ways and can be introduced into every area of our lives. However, there are two particular acts that have been specified by Our Lady, one that can be practised by all the Catholics, the other which is reserved to the pope.
Our Lady called on us all to make reparation for offences against her Immaculate Heart through the practice of the five First Saturdays.
This practice consists of carrying out the following acts on the five consecutive First Saturdays with the intention of making reparation for offences against her Immaculate Heart:
- Going to Confession
- Receiving Holy Communion
- Praying at least five decades of the Rosary
- Meditating on one or mysteries of the Rosary for at least fifteen minutes.
Through this devotion Our Lady has given us a simple means of making reparation for sin and of participating in her victory over Satan. This devotion leads to deeper participation the fullness of the Church’s liturgical and sacramental life, leading souls as it does to the practice of regular confession, frequent reception of Holy Communion and the practice of mental prayer.
Our Lord, in a later apparition, told Sister Lucy that it was to be practiced on five First Saturdays because there are five principal offences against his mother’s Immaculate Heart
- Offences against her Immaculate Conception
- Offences against her virginity
- Offences against her motherhood
- Offences against her sacred images
- And the offence caused by those who turn her children away from devotion to her.
The second practice requested by Our Lady at Fatima is the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the pope in union with all the bishops. Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II both consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart, and no doubt many extraordinary graces have been poured out on the world as a result of those consecrations. Our Lord told Sister Lucy that the consecration of Pius XII in 1942 had obtained the shortening of the Second World War. Yet the consecration requested by Our Lady has not yet been done according to her specific requirements. When it is Russia will be converted as Our Lady promised.
In 1936 Sister Lucy, already troubled by the lack of response to Our Lady’s message, asked Our Lord why he didn’t just convert Russia anyway, even without the consecration. Our Lord’s answered her in a vision and said:
“Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that it may extend its cult later and put the devotion of the Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.”
Our Lord desires that the salvation of the world will come through His Mother’s Immaculate Heart and that we should acknowledge and glorify her for it.
The great sin of the human race in recent centuries has been that man has exalted himself into the place of God. We have placed our trust not in God but in science and technology, political ideologies, economic theories, or, now, even in “New Age” mysticism. All of our attempts at building an earthly utopia, a world without God, have failed and will fail and, in the end, we will be saved from ourselves not by any great or impressive human achievement, but by a simple prayer offered by Christ’s vicar on earth:
“in the end, My Immaculate Heart shall triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be given to the world.”
But by God’s power, not man’s.
Sister Lucy warned us already in 1957:
“… the most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid any attention to Her Message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way, but without giving any importance to Her Message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the Message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner. The punishment from Heaven is imminent.”
And she urges us:
“…we should not wait for an appeal to the world to come from Rome on the part of the Holy Father, to do penance. Nor should we wait for the call to penance to come from our bishops in our diocese, nor from the religious congregations. No! Our Lord has already very often used these means, and the world has not paid attention. That is why now, it is necessary for each one of us to begin to reform himself spiritually. Each person must not only save his own soul but also help to save all the souls that God has placed on our path.”
“The devil does all in his power to distract us and to take away from us the love for prayer; we shall be saved together or we shall be damned together.”
So let us now turn with renewed hope and confidence to Our Lady, trusting that by making use of the means that she has given us, we will soon participate in the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.