- WHY FATIMA
- FATIMA CENTER
- PRAYER & DEVOTION
It is fitting to conclude this booklet with a discussion of the ways in which the five principles for the Fatima Movement of Priests outlined in the previous chapter can be put into practice. The Message of Fatima itself supplies the guidance we need, for our heavenly Mother would hardly leave us without the means to do what She requested.
With respect to the first principle—adherence to the dogmas of the Faith as infallibly defined by the Magisterium—it does not suffice merely to know the truth and preach it to others. We must also live it, and by our example teach others to live it. As Our Lord Himself declared: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” This is why Sister Lucy, speaking of how we are to practice the Message of Fatima, declared that rather than waiting for action by our superiors, “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 the souls that God has placed on our path.”
Therefore, our first task as priests in the Fatima Movement of Priests is to reform ourselves spiritually, following not only the commandments which apply to all people, but also those which pertain to our personal sanctification as priests. First, we must faithfully perform the daily spiritual duties of the priesthood: offering the Mass—the ultimate prayer to God; reciting the divine office; praying and meditating as recommended by the Church; and most especially praying the Rosary, which Our Lady of Fatima repeatedly requested of us.
A priest who does not pray is a warrior who has thrown down his spiritual weapons and is waiting to be decimated by the devil.The crisis in the priesthood today has arisen from lack of prayer, which led to a loss of grace and the fall of many priests from the exalted state to which God deigned to raise them through priestly ordination. It is precisely because priests have been raised to this exalted state that they are under intense attack from the devil. The protection of priests from satanic influence is the very reason the Church prescribes a regimen of prayer and discipline for priests that goes far beyond that which is expected of the laity. If we do not adhere to that regimen, we will become easy prey for the devil. Let us strive to keep our regimen of prayer. Let us do this especially out of love and devotion to God and His Blessed Mother.
The Gospel is full of admonitions to pray constantly, which apply all the more to priests:
“Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:36).
“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
“By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17).
Without a spiritually armed Catholic priesthood—which is to say, a praying priesthood—we cannot expect the fulfillment of the Message of Fatima. The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart begins with a spiritual mobilization of the priesthood, and that mobilization begins with each one of us priests leading a life of prayer in the manner the Church has prescribed for us.
In addition to prayer, we must also do penance. Here too, what is required of the laity applies with even greater force to us priests. Penance is necessary for our personal mortification and spiritual growth. An overly comfortable or even luxurious priestly life is a victory already won by the devil. No priest who flies from penance and seeks only comfort can do battle effectively with the evil one.
We can accomplish the second principle of the Movement—promoting the constant teaching of the Magisterium on Our Lady’s role as Mediatrix of All Graces—by preaching on the subject in our sermons and teaching the dogma in our parish catechism classes. We can draw on some of the classic sources for the explanation of this doctrine, which is so essential to the Fatima Message.
The faithful need to understand that the Message of Fatima is a most dramatic demonstration that Mary is Mediatrix of All Graces. Indeed, the whole Message revolves around Her mediation of divine grace to humanity, including the grace of Russia’s conversion and peace in the world. God wants His subjects to see, through fulfillment of the glorious promises of Fatima, that He deigns to bestow no grace except through Mary’s mediation.
As priests we are especially bound, in our imperfect human way, to give Mary the same importance and show Her the same honor as Her own divine Son does. Every priest should be a Marian priest in obedience to Our Lord Himself. Promoting the dogma of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces is essential to that aspect of our priesthood.
There are innumerable ways to accomplish the third principle—promoting a firm belief in and commitment to the Message of Fatima:
By these and other means, each parish and each home within a parish can become a veritable “Fatima Center” and help to spread the Fatima Message throughout the world. The embrace of the Message of Fatima by the whole Church and its incorporation into the life of the Church are long overdue. Here and there the Message is heeded and practiced in the way that it should be, but Heaven ordains that it be heeded and practiced throughout the Church. When this happens in enough homes and parishes, the promises of Fatima will be fulfilled.
We priests will be instrumental in bringing about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. We are the ones who have the most immediate duty to lead the faithful in the work of learning, heeding and practicing the Message of Fatima. If we do not do this, who will? The faithful are waiting for us, and they are ready to follow us—if only we will lead them as we should. Woe to us if we do not!
As to the fourth principle of the Movement, the unwavering pursuit of the true Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, surely we can see that when the way is prepared spiritually by the means we have only outlined in this chapter, countless graces will flow from Heaven through Mary Mediatrix. And as a result, the leaders of the Church will be far more disposed to do what Heaven requested regarding the Consecration. If we want to see the Consecration done, we must reform ourselves, and lead those in our charge to greater sanctification. The failure to consecrate Russia is partly our own failure, as well as a failure of the leadership of the Church. When we, and those whom God places on our path, follow the Fatima Message, the day when the Pope and the bishops consecrate Russia will be that much nearer.
In addition to the spiritual reform of the individual, we must petition Heaven for the graces that will bring about the Consecration. We must offer Masses, parish Novenas, vigils before the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours, parish Rosaries and block Rosaries—all for the intention of Russia’s consecration.
And, of course, on the natural level we must promote petitions to the Holy Father that he order his bishops, without delay, to join him in a proper Consecration of Russia, by name, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And let us not be intimidated by the objection that we are “pestering” the Pope. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, was pestered by the Canaanite woman, who continued to beg Him to exorcise her daughter even after He said, to test her Faith, that He had been sent for the lost children of Israel, not for the likes of her, and that “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs.” But the woman persevered, daring to say to God Incarnate: “Yes, Lord, for even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Because of her perseverance in petitioning for the divine favor, Christ finally said to her: “O woman, great is thy faith. Let it be done to thee as thou wilt.” And her daughter was at that moment exorcised.
Likewise Bartimeus, a blind beggar, literally shouted at Our Lord, demanding to be cured of his blindness—“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”—only to be rebuked by many in the crowd, who told him to be quiet. But Bartimeus only “cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” and Our Lord, hearing him, commanded Bartimeus to be brought to Him. Our Lord then asked him: “What wilt thou that I should do to thee?” and Bartimeus replied: “Rabboni, that I may see.” And Our Lord, rewarding him for his persistence in faith, cured him, saying, “Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 10:46-52).
If God Himself rewards our “pestering,” no one has the right to insist that we not “pester” the Pope. It is because of our faith in God and the promises of His Blessed Mother that we must persist in petitioning for the Consecration of Russia, until the day when, like the daughter of the Canaanite woman, Russia is exorcised and peace is granted to the whole world.
And if we do not persevere in this request, if out of timidity and human respect we refrain from “pestering the Pope,” then not only the Church but the whole world will suffer—and we priests will shoulder much of the blame, if not indeed the principal blame.
As for the fifth and final principle, teaching others to live and learn the Fatima Message by both word and example, this will involve, at a minimum, for every member of the Movement:
The aim of these measures is to make every Catholic priest an apostle of Fatima, just as Our Lord and Our Lady would wish us to be. And, if it is possible for the individual priest, he should develop a full-blown Fatima apostolate using the modern means of social communication commended by the Second Vatican Council. Imagine how much more quickly the Consecration could be achieved if, in addition to all the other measures we have discussed, there were a thousand priests in different countries promoting the integral Message of Fatima and calling for the Consecration of Russia in books, magazines, newspapers and on the Internet. Even if there were only a hundred such priests in the entire world—a hundred Fatima apostolates publishing the truth about Fatima—the path to the Consecration of Russia and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart would be shortened dramatically and the Church and the world would be spared the ultimate consequences of delaying too long the execution of Heaven’s command.
This, then, is a Fatima program for priesthood, a program for the Fatima Movement of Priests in the Church. If every priest were to make of himself an apostle of Fatima, and if both priests and laity were to know, live and promote the Message of Fatima both spiritually and practically, then the Consecration of Russia, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart and peace in the world would not be long in coming. So many souls would be saved! The annihilation of nations would be averted! How can we delay even one moment in beginning this undertaking together?
It remains for us now to end this little book by answering a common objection: That we must obtain “permission” from “ecclesiastical authority” to engage in a Fatima Movement of Priests or else we are “disobedient.” That is simply not so. In fact, this claim is contrary to divine law itself.
First of all, no “permission” is required, nor is it “disobedient” to petition the Pope for the Consecration of Russia, as we propose here. Neither John Paul II nor his successor, Benedict XVI, has forbidden such activity by members of the Church. There is no papal command whatever to cease petitioning the Pope for the Consecration of Russia, or for that matter, to refrain from promoting the integral Message of Fatima, including the Third Secret. Cardinal Ratzinger has even stated that the faithful are free to differ with his interpretation of the vision of the Third Secret published by the Vatican in June of 2000.
As the First Vatican Council and the Second Council of Lyons infallibly decreed, all baptized Catholics have the God-given right to make direct petition to the Supreme Pontiff in matters pertaining to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, without any intervening canonical procedures.
Furthermore, the Message of Fatima is a matter of utmost importance in the Church, and every member of the faithful has not only the right, but the duty, to express his concerns on such an important matter to the Supreme Pontiff and to every other pastor of the Church. As the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides, in recognition of the natural rights of the faithful: “The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires... According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful…” CIC 1983, §§ 2, 3.
What is more, the faithful, including diocesan priests, may freely establish and direct associations, hold meetings and use all means of social communications for “pious purposes which foster the Christian vocation in the world.” CIC 1983, § 215. There is no more pious purpose than promoting the Message of Fatima, which is Heaven’s own prescription for pious activity in our time.
But even supposing, however, that the Pope or some other authority in the Church were to attempt to “forbid” petitions concerning the Consecration of Russia or some other aspect of the legitimate Fatima apostolate—and we stress that this has never happened—we need only keep in mind that God Himself has commanded the Message of Fatima be made known and obeyed. His Mother did not speak at Fatima under any authority but His. And, as Our Lord said to Sister Lucy directly: “Make it known to My ministers…” He did not add: “upon receiving orders from the bishops and the Pope.”
As members of the Fatima Movement of Priests we must never lose sight of the fundamental principle of divine law that governs obedience in every society, and especially the Holy Catholic Church. Our first obedience is to God, and then to the rulers of the Church. Even the Pope is subject to God. As St. Peter and the apostles teach: “it is necessary to obey God rather than men” (Acts 6:29), and the Pope is no exception to this teaching.
“Anyone”, says St. Thomas, “should be subject of a lower power only in so far as it preserves the order established by a power higher than itself: but if it (the lower power) departs from the order of the higher power, then it is not right for anyone to be subjected to that lower power, for example—if a proconsul ordered something to be done, when the emperor ordered the contrary.”10 Hence, in answer to the objection that “It seems that subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things,” St. Thomas replies: “On the contrary, It is written (Acts 5:29): ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’ Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.”
Moreover, any command of ecclesiastical authority that would prevent promulgation of, and obedience to, the Message of Fatima would be an abuse of that authority according to the very nature of the Church as a perfect society founded for the common good of its members. Of course, the Church is a hierarchical institution whose members owe obedience to the sacred Pastors in their authentic teaching on faith and morals and their acts of governance—most especially the teaching and governance of the Supreme Pontiff. But the rulers of the Church are no more permitted to abuse their authority and harm the common good than the rulers of merely civil commonwealths.
Indeed, the sacred Pastors, including even the Pope himself, have an even higher duty than secular rulers to rule justly and accept correction where it is warranted. This truth, which is rooted in the natural and divine law, was expressed by the eminent 16th Century theologian Francisco Suarez, whom Pope Paul V praised as Doctor Eximius et Pius, (“Exceptional and Pious Doctor”):
“If [the Pope] gives an order contrary to right customs (morality), he should not be obeyed; if he attempts to do something manifestly opposed to justice and the common good, it will be lawful to resist him ...”11
The greatest Saints and Doctors of the Church have not hesitated to affirm the right and duty of the faithful—including members of the clergy—to offer resistance, even publicly if necessary, to a hierarchical superior whose actions give public scandal, endanger the faith or harm the common good of the Church. For example, in the Summa Theologicae, under the question “Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate,” St. Thomas teaches: “It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith. …”12
As explained in Sacred Scripture (Gal. 2:11-14), Peter had scandalized potential converts and threatened the mission of the Church by appearing to continue to follow some of the Mosaic dietary laws by refusing to eat with baptized Gentiles at Antioch. St. Thomas here observes that the just public rebuke of a prelate by his inferior is not presumptuous but actually an act of charity, for “there is no presumption in thinking oneself better in some respect, because, in this life, no man is without some fault. We must also remember that when a man reproves his prelate charitably, it does not follow that he thinks himself any better, but merely that he offers his help to one who, ‘being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger,’ as Augustine observes in his Rule quoted above.”
St. Robert Bellarmine, in answer to the spurious Protestant claim that Catholics view the Pope as an absolute monarch who is not bound by any law or restraint, wrote as follows:
“Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses souls or who disturbs civil order, or above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these acts are proper to a superior.”13
Examples of such teaching by Church Doctors and Saints could be multiplied, but the point is made: the Church’s loyal subjects have the right and the duty to voice loyal opposition to prelates whose commands would harm the Church, and to seek correction of any damage caused. Such would be the case if any prelate, even if it be the Pope himself, would seek to “ban” or “prohibit” efforts by priests or laity to promote the Church’s adherence to the Fatima Message and the fulfillment of Our Lady’s requests.
For all these reasons, even if we were to assume for argument’s sake that some superior would “forbid” petitions for the Consecration of Russia or the conduct of a Fatima apostolate such as the one we have proposed for this Movement, whoever would issue such a command would have no authority from God to do so, and would be acting contrary to God’s will and the common good of the Church. In giving such a command a superior need not, and must not, be obeyed, because that command would be contrary to the will of God that the Message of Fatima be promoted and obeyed in the Church. No one, least of all a Catholic priest, can raise before God the defense that “I was only following orders” if the order in question is plainly contrary to His will. Orders to disregard the imperatives of the Fatima Message, including orders to dispense with it as a mere “private revelation,” would clearly be orders contrary to the will of God, Who bestowed an unprecedented public miracle to authenticate the Message precisely so that no one would have any excuse for disregarding it.
Nothing, therefore, stands in the way of a Fatima Movement of Priests, and everything we have presented here commends it. Even the brief discussion we have presented here shows that there is no room for doubting that the Mother of God has warned us that failure to heed Her requests at Fatima will mean the loss of souls and the annihilation of nations. As priests of the Holy Catholic Church our duty is clear: We must do everything in our power to make the Message of Fatima known, and to secure the Church’s obedience to it at every level. For the good of souls and the welfare of all mankind, we must begin that work today. We have no choice but to do so if we are to be true to our divinely appointed vocation as priests, as doctors of souls, in this troubled and increasingly dangerous epoch of the Church’s history. Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us!