Saint Benedict Center’s twentieth annual conference is now history, and by all accounts it went well. There were many converts and reverts to the Faith present, and there were even some non-Catholics in attendance. (See this picture, worth more than a thousand words.)
Next year’s conference dates are October 12-13, 2018. Please mark it in your calendar.
We should all have at least heard of the seven Fatima prayers. Perhaps some of us have one or more of them memorized:
1. My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. I ask pardon for all those who do not believe in Thee, do not adore Thee, do not hope in Thee, do not love Thee!”(First apparition of the Angel of Peace in 1916)
Comment: Here, in the chronologically first of the Fatima prayers, we have acts of the three theological virtues, which have God Himself as their proper end. In addition, we have the act of adoration, an act of religion, which is the highest of all the moral virtues, since, it, too, had God (and not creatures) as its proper end. Therefore, we see that, from the start, the Fatima apparitions direct the children to God as their last end. In addition, in this prayer, we beg pardon for those who do not perform these obligatory acts toward God, presumably so that they might be converted and arrive at their end in God.
2. Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son Jesus Christ, present in the Tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the sacrileges, outrages and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart, and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners. (Third apparition of the Angel of Peace in 1916)
Comment: In this prayer, the mystery of the Trinity and the Holy Eucharist are vividly affirmed. But the burden of the prayer is to make reparation for the offenses against the Son of God by the offering of that same Son in His Eucharistic form to the Father. This is the closest a layman can come to offering Mass. It is something only the baptized can do, by virtue of the priesthood of all believers: offer Jesus the Eucharistic Victim to the Holy Trinity in reparation for sin. But beyond this offering, there is also the petition for the conversion of sinners, imploring the merits of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts for that purpose. This prayer seeks the removal of the chief obstacle standing between us and Heaven: sin. It implores that sinners will convert, which literally means to be turned in the right direction so that they can pursue God as their last end.
3. O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee; My God, My God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament. (Communicated to the seers by an interior impulse during apparition of May 13, 1917)
Comment: Here we have a much shorter form of offering adoration to God along with the highest of the theological virtues, charity. I take the opportunity to note here that, according to Saint Thomas, the virtue of religion (of which adoration is an act) is perfected by the Holy Ghost’s gift of piety. While religion disposes the creature to adore his Creator as his first cause and final end, the gift of piety inclines us to be loving children of our good Father who has supernaturally adopted us into His own Trinitarian life. For this reason, our worship becomes more perfect under the influence of the gift than when it is merely a grace-aided exercise of religion. I believe that the lives of the Fatima Children show us that their adoration was perfected by this gift of piety.
4. O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need. (Taught to the children by Our Lady on July 13, 1917)
Comment: In addition to removing the obstacle of sin, this prayer explicitly petitions that we achieve our end: Heaven and avoid its opposite, Hell, and it appeals in charity for those who are most spiritually impoverished.
5. O My Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer this sacrifice to Thee. (Also taught to the children by Our Lady on July 13, 1917)
Comment: Here, we have a new theme introduced: begging reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Why would we do that? That Heart is our Mediatrix. That Heart is supposed to lead us to God, our Last End, as the Blessed Virgin told Sister Lucy: “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the way that leads you to God.” All the sins against Mary’s maternal mediation are as many obstacles to men achieving their salvation, so they must be repaired for.
6. Sweet Heart of Mary, be the salvation of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe [Canada, the United States, and/or other nations may be inserted here], and the whole world. (Rianjo, Spain, 1931)
Comment: In this prayer, we implore Mary, the Mediatrix of all grace, to save not only men, but nations, bringing human societies to be sanctified in such a way that those living in them may more easily save their souls. It is the task of Catholic Statecraft to establish a temporal order which presents more of a help and less of a hindrance to man’s achieving his eternal happiness.
7. By Thy pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, obtain for me the conversion of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe [Canada, the United States, and/or other nations may be inserted here], and the whole world. (also Rianjo, Spain, 1931)
Comment: This prayer is the same as the other, but it adds the merits of Mary’s pure and Immaculate Conception.
The Five First Saturdays
The new devotion associated with Fatima is that of the Five First Saturdays. This devotion, which has multiple historical antecedents in first Saturday devotions indulgenced by the Popes, including certain devotions which specifically prayed for the conversion of Russia, carries with it promises that are more generous than any papal indulgence.
On December 10, 1925, while Sister Lucy was an eighteen-year-old postulant in the Dorothean convent in Pontevedra, Spain, the Blessed Virgin appeared to her. Our Lady was accompanied by Our Lord Himself, who appeared as a Child. The Holy Virgin spoke these words to Sister Lucy, fulfilling what she had promised on July 13 of 1917, when She said She would come later to ask for the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays:
Look My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making Reparation to Me.
The poor reception of this message, which Sister Lucy did her part to promote, shows how very indifferent the world and even nominal Catholics are to the Fatima message and to their own salvation. But that Virgin, whom we ask to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death,” promises to assist us at that moment with all the graces we need to be saved. This is a promise that not even the holiest person on earth can otherwise hope for, since the grace of final perseverance is a gratuitous grace that it is impossible for even the holiest of us to merit.
Those who are interested in saving souls ought not only to practice this devotion, but also to propagate it among others.