My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and and I love You! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.
After repeating this prayer three times the angel rose and said to us: Pray in this way. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you. (First Apparition of The Angel of Peace, Spring 1916)
At the first apparition of the Angel of Peace of Fatima, the children Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia described a “strong wind that began to shake the trees;” then, the Angel of Peace appeared. The visual splendor left them in holy awe.
Liturgical Life and Prayer
The Church’s liturgical season provides glimpses of spiritual splendors, of transformation in souls; hidden treasures for those who enter into the sacred mysteries of Christ’s life, through the Rosary.
The memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7, 2017. This year is also the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima. Accordingly, the Catholic Church recognizes October as Respect Life Month. The intentions of the Church, the mission activity and homiletic direction that it promotes during this month reflect the theme “Be Not Afraid.” It is no accident that the theme engages the words that the Angel of Peace first spoke to the children: “Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me.”
In nature, autumn is a time of splendid color and changes in natural cycles; a reminder of God’s creative power. The leaves, masked by green color most of the year, reveal other colors which are present but become visible to the eye as the green fades. Eventually, falling leaves give way to new growth in due time.
The metaphor for the spiritual life is worth pondering. Praying the Rosary is one way to ponder the deeper meaning of the mystery of God’s saving love and regeneration in spiritual life. Just as nature’s seasons give us clues about the natural world, the Church reveals liturgically that the natural is bound with the supernatural. The Church reveals the truth of the physical and spiritual nature of human beings. What we might call “clues” in the liturgy give the faithful a place in temporal time and eternal perspective. Human life is bound in the generation and regeneration of the creative wonder of God’s saving love.
Natural and Liturgical Seasons
October is a month of cooler weather, slow-cooked meals, and delicious fall desserts which help us to truly experience the changes in the natural world, and the excesses of pumpkin spice. (A pumpkin spice latte casserole is a real thing, by the way).
But it is the liturgical season that draws the heart and mind to spiritual realities. Liturgical time has its own way of inviting us into the family life of the Church. “The mystery of Christ, unfolded through the cycle of the year, calls us to live his mystery in our own lives.” As daylight decreases and the leaves fall from the trees, the faithful are reminded that before too long, the Church will mark Advent. Human beings are participants in a great mystery that unfolds in daily life.
Time with Mary is a Treasure
We encounter both light and darkness, and good and evil. The mystery of iniquity troubles us, at times. We are not alone, though. We have Mary’s maternal care and protection when we pray the Rosary. Time with Mary is a treasure. The Rosary, when prayed thoughtfully and with attention to the sacred mysteries, illumines the soul, increases receptivity to grace, fosters peace, and strengthens faith. The Rosary is not just vocal repetition but also a meditation upon the mysteries.
Praying the Rosary properly, however, requires one to surrender to interior silence—and a return to the simplicity of a child-like spirituality which seeks the consolation and maternal wisdom of a Mother. In other words, we ask Mary for her help, as Mary is the “help of Christians”.
John Preiss, president of Fatima Family Apostolate International, wrote:
The soul of the Rosary consists of meditation on the mysteries. The body of the Rosary consists of the vocal prayers: the Our Father, Hail Marys, Glory Be, etc. Pope Paul VI, in Marialis Cultus, said that to pray the prayers of the Rosary without meditation on the mysteries was “like a body without a soul.” We can understand, then, why Our Lady insisted the Fatima children pray the Rosary properly. (italics mine)
The Litany of Loreto also reminds the faithful that our Blessed Mother is near and she responds to our needs, and asks of Jesus great favors on our behalf.
The School of Mary
Mary always leads people to Christ. The Rosary and Marian devotion is Christ-centered. St. Irenaeus of Lyons called Mary the causa salutis (“cause of salvation”). His theological explanation of Marian devotion expounded on Mary’s role as the mother of mankind who “regenerates men unto God”. John Paul II also affirmed the abundance of grace received when one “sits at the school of Mary”.
The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. (2) It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer. — (Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II, October 16, 2002).
Similarly, “the school of Mary” offers some tough love—maternal love that is demanding but humble and gentle at once. The love of the Mother of God, is expressed time and time again throughout history. Her universal appeal is acknowledged throughout the world. Her motherhood extends to the entire human family and her motherly heart calls to all people to turn to her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hail to you, who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!
Mother of the Church! Enlighten the People of God along the paths of faith, hope, and love! Enlighten especially the peoples whose consecration and entrustment by us you are awaiting. Help us to live in the truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.
In entrusting to you, O Mother, the world, all individuals and peoples, we also entrust to you this very consecration of the world, placing it in your motherly Heart. — (Pope John Paul II, Holy Year of the Redemption the Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, in part).
The Message of Fatima
Traveling the paths of faith, hope and love require courage and God’s grace. The Rosary is not a meditation on the historical past—it is the past, present and future—the eternal design of God in the here and now. Each mystery is full of dimension and meaning in an individual’s life and in the life of the Church. The message of Fatima provokes some curiosity and questions—but it ought to move us to prayer, first. As one theologian wrote,
In the Gospels, Jesus rebukes those requesting “a sign from heaven” (Mark 8:11) with the observation that “only an evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39) would require such. As we celebrate the Fatima centenary, then, we might reflect – somewhat uncomfortably – on the question: what does it say about the modern world that his Mother felt we might benefit from, not just one such sign, but several? And what might we do, for ourselves and others, to turn things around?
Moreover, Sr. Lucia’s words to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra are both hopeful and troubling:
Father, a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head. (italics mine)
But the words of Pope John Paul II are still a call to conversion, fifteen years after he first wrote them in his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. His words remind us that we must take up the Rosary once again (daily!), with confidence that God will hear our prayers.
I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you, Christian families, to you, the sick and elderly, and to you, young people: confidently take up the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives.
The Blessed Mother gave the Fatima visionaries this prayer to be recited at the end of each Rosary decade:
Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.
If there is to be peace in families and in the world, then the faithful must be particularly devoted to “take up” the Rosary daily, in every season of life. By encouraging others to do the same, the reparation and fidelity offered to our Lord, will bring numerous blessings, made visible to the world and to all people. We must pray as our Heavenly Mother tells us.