Mary’s Call to Prayer and Penance
The following is taken from the Homily by Pope John Paul II at Fatima, May 13, 1982, one year to the day after the attempt on his life in St. Peter’s square in Rome.
… In the light of the mystery of Mary’s spiritual motherhood, let us seek to understand the extraordinary message, which began May 13, 1917, to resound throughout the world from Fatima, continuing for five months until October 13 of the same year.
– Pope John Paul II, May 13, 1982
Convert and Repent
The Church has always taught and continues to proclaim that God’s revelation was brought to completion in Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of that revelation, and that “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord.” (Dei Verbum, 4) The Church evaluates and judges private revelations by the criterion of conformity with that single public revelation.
If the Church has accepted the message of Fatima, it is, above all, because that message contains a truth and a call whose basic content is the truth and the call of the Gospel itself.
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk 1:15) These are the first words that the messiah addressed to humanity. The message of Fatima is, in its basic nucleus, a call to conversion and repentance, as in the Gospel. This call was uttered at the beginning of the 20th century and it was thus addressed particularly to this present century. The Lady of the message seems to have read with special insight the “signs of the times,” the signs of our time.
Recommends the Rosary
The call to repentance is a motherly one. At the same time it is strong and decisive. The love that “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13) is capable of being clear-cut and firm. The call to repentance is linked, as always, with a call to prayer. In harmony with the tradition of many centuries, the Lady of the message indicates the Rosary, which can rightly be defined as “Mary’s prayer,” the prayer in which she feels particularly united with us.
She herself prays with us. The Rosary prayer embraces the problems of the Church, of the See of Saint Peter, the problems of the whole world. In it we also remember sinners, that they may be converted and saved, and the souls in purgatory.
The words of the message were addressed to children, ages seven to ten. Children, like Bernadette of Lourdes, are particularly privileged in these apparitions of the Mother of God. Hence, the fact that also her language is simple, within the limits of their understanding. The children of Fatima became partners in dialogue with the Lady of the message and collaborators with her. One of them is still living.
When Jesus on the Cross said: “Woman, behold, your son,” (Jn 19:26) in a new way He opened His mother’s Heart, the Immaculate Heart, and revealed to it the new dimensions and extent of the love to which she was called in the Holy Spirit by the power of the sacrifice of the Cross …
In the light of a mother’s love, we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima. The greatest obstacle to man’s journey toward God is sin, perseverance in sin and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from Him of the whole of man’s earthly activity. The rejection of God by man.
In reality, the eternal salvation of man is only in God. Man’s rejection of God, if it becomes definitive, leads logically to God’s rejection of man, to damnation. (Mt. 7:23;10:33)
Can the Mother, who . . . desires everyone’s salvation, keep silence on what undermines the very basis of their salvation? No, she cannot.
So, while the message of Our Lady of Fatima is a motherly one, it is also strong and decisive. It sounds severe. It sounds like John the Baptist speaking on the banks of the Jordan. It invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer. It recommends the Rosary.
The message is addressed to every human being. The love of the Savior’s Mother reaches every place touched by the work of salvation. Her care extends to every individual of our time and to all the societies, nations and peoples. Societies menaced by apostasy, threatened by moral degradation. The collapse of morality involves the collapse of societies.
Meaning of Consecration
… The heart of the Blessed Mother … calls us. She not only calls us to be converted; she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of redemption.
Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to Him who is holy, infinitely holy …
God’s holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the Sacrifice of the Cross. “For their sake I consecrate myself,” Jesus had said. (Jn 17:19)
By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to Him who is infinitely Holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.
The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world. In this act … mankind as a whole, the nations and each individual person are presented to the Eternal Father with the power of the redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.
Rooted in the Gospel
The appeal of the Lady of the message of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the message imposes a commitment on it.
It has responded through the Servant of God, Pius XII (whose episcopal ordination took place precisely on May 13, 1917), who consecrated the human race and especially the peoples of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Was not that consecration his response to … the call of Fatima?
In its dogmatic Constitution on the Church and its pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the Second Vatican Council amply illustrated the reasons for the link between the Church and the world of today.
Furthermore, its teaching on Mary’s special place in the mystery of Christ and the Church bore mature fruit in Paul VI’s action in calling Mary “Mother of the Church,” thus indicating more profoundly the nature of her union with the Church and of her care for the world, for mankind, for each human being and for all the nations …
This brought a further deepening of understanding of the meaning of the act of consecrating that the Church is called upon to perform with the help of the heart of Christ’s mother and ours.
Many Going Astray
Today John Paul II, successor of Peter, continuer of the work of Pius, John, and Paul, and in particular heir of the Second Vatican Council, presents himself before the Mother of the Son of God in her shrine at Fatima. In what way does he come?
He presents himself, reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the Heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima in 1917. Yes, he reads it again with trepidation in his heart, because he sees how many people and societies — how many Christians — have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima.
Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.
For this very reason the evangelical call to repentance and conversion, uttered in the Mother’s message, remains ever relevant. It is still more relevant than it was in 1917. It is still more urgent.
The successor of Peter presents himself here also as a witness to the immensity of human suffering, a witness to the almost apocalyptic menaces looking over the nations and mankind as a whole. He is trying to embrace these sufferings with his own weak human heart, as he places himself before the mystery of the Heart of the Mother, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In the name of these sufferings and with awareness of the evil that is spreading throughout the world and menacing the individual human being, the nations, mankind as a whole, Peter’s successor presents himself here with greater faith in the redemption of the world, in the saving Love that is always stronger, always more powerful than any evil.
My heart is oppressed when I see the sin of the world and the whole range of menaces gathering like a dark cloud over mankind, but it also rejoices with hope as I once more do what has been done by my predecessors, when they consecrated the world to the Heart of the Mother, when they consecrated to that Heart those peoples which particularly need to be consecrated. Doing this means consecrating the world to Him who is infinite Holiness.
This Holiness means redemption. It means a love more powerful than evil. No ‘’sin of the world” can ever overcome this Love.
Once more this act is being done, Mary’s appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new “signs of the times.” It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew …
Yes, truly we can repeat: “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth … walking in the straight path before our God … you have avenged our ruin.” (Judith 13:18-20)
Truly, indeed, you are blessed.
Yes, here and throughout the Church, in the heart of every individual and in the world as a whole may you be blessed, O Mary, our sweet Mother.
Our Lady’s Promise
I promise to assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, recite the Rosary and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.
– Our Lady, Dec 10, 1925