Continuing with the theme of urgency from yesterday’s post, we do well to consider Mary’s fervent requests at Fatima for prayer, conversion, and consecration. This Saturday will mark the 100th anniversary of Mary’s first appearance at Fatima.
It was a critical time in human history. The First World War had claimed more than 17 million lives. Mary urged prayer to end this catastrophe:
- Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and an end of the war (June 13, 1917).
- Continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and an end to the war (July 13, 1917).
Thanks be to God, through the children’s prayers and surely those of others, the war did soon end. In October, Our Lady said,
- Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The War is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return home (October 13, 1917).
War is a terrible result of human sinfulness as well as a punishment for it. Sin is its own punishment; when we sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind. Part of the horror of the First World War was the use of chemical weapons. So appalling was the suffering and so great was the loss of life that in 1925 most nations willingly signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibited their use in international armed conflicts.
But Mother Mary urgently warned that if the people of this world did not repent, pray, and cease offending God, a war far worse would come:
- If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse war will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father (July 17, 1917).
Sadly, as we know, the Second World War formally ensued in 1939. Months earlier, in 1938, a remarkable display of the Aurora Borealis further south than ever observed made international headlines. It was a final warning. More than 60 million people died in World War II. Atrocities were multiplied, and the most fearsome weapon ever contrived—the atom bomb—would haunt the world long after the war. Russia, too, spread Marxist and atheist errors.
See what happens when we do heed the urgent request to pray? Wars can be ended, souls can be saved, and peace can be brought.
But also note the terrible consequences of failing to pray and be converted! Jesus once said to paralyzed man he had healed, See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you (John 5:14). So, too, for the people of that time who, though having received God’s mercies in the end of World War I, fell back into sin. The decadence, financial excess, and foolishness of the “roaring” 1920s, both in Europe and America, brought a harvest of corruption, both morally and politically. It ushered in both the Great Depression and then a war far worse than ever imagined.
Yes, prayer and conversion are both urgent and essential. This is true not only in terms of this world, but also of the world to come. This world’s travails are indeed awful, but they are temporary. Mother Mary sets far greater stakes before us: Heaven or Hell.
Where will you spend eternity? What about your children, siblings, and friends? Have you thought about this at all? Do you understand the urgency? Consider well some of what our Lady of Fatima said by way of an eternal warning:
- Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them (August, 1917).
- You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save sinners, God wishes to establish in all the world, devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace … When you pray the Rosary say after each mystery, O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven especially those who are in most need (July 13, 1917).
- People must amend their lives and ask forgiveness of their sins if they want healings … Do not offend the Lord our God anymore, because He is already so much offended (October 13, 1917).
Here is a mother urgently warning her children of the fires of hell, of the consequences of sin and the final refusal to repent. Here is a mother urgently calling for prayer, reparation, sacrifices, and conversion.
She is urgent; are we? To be urgent does not mean to be in a panic; it means to be sober and alert, to be persistent and consistent in attending to our final end and to that of others to the degree that we are able.
Caritas Christi urget nos: The Love of Christ urges us on! …. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:14, 20).