NOT only can we hope for the fulfillment of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the Church has the power to hasten its coming by our prayers and actions. Instead of despairing, we need to be preparing.
What can we do? What can I do?
PRAYING FOR REIGN
We are not helpless bystanders. Our Mother is calling us in a continual maternal plea to “pray, pray, pray”— to pray, in effect, for the coming of the Kingdom as Our Lord taught us, first within ourselves, and then the world. Pope Benedict’s insight that ties the “middle coming” of Christ to a reign in His saints—in “new witnesses”—is the real key to understanding “what I must do” in these times. And that is to “empty” myself to make room for Jesus, to pray that He reigns in me.
Why not ask him to send us new witnesses of his presence today, in whom he himself will come to us? And this prayer, while it is not directly focused on the end of the world, is nevertheless a real prayer for his coming; it contains the full breadth of the prayer that he himself taught us: “Your kingdom come!” Come, Lord Jesus! —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, p. 292, Ignatius Press
Praying for the Triumph is “equivalent in meaning to our praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom,” POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, p. 166, A Conversation With Peter Seewald praying for His reign. That is the prayer Our Lord taught us when He said: “thy kingdom (basileia) come, thy will be done…”
In the New Testament, the word basileia can be translated by “kingship” (abstract noun), “kingdom” (concrete noun) or “reign” (action noun). The Kingdom of God lies ahead of us. It is brought near in the Word incarnate, it is proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it has come in Christ’s death and Resurrection. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2816
Our Mother’s apparitions are always about personal conversion in the first place. That is because when a soul can say with St. Paul…
I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 3:20)
…then the reign of Jesus has come! Then all around us the world begins to change in some way, even if that “world” is simply our spouse or fellow workers or classmates. This reign may not always produce peace—it might even produce “war”, since those who oppose the demands of the Gospel will resist it (hence the reason that, at the end of the “era of peace”, St. John writes that Satan turns the nations against the reign of the Church; cf. Rev 20:7-9). Nonetheless, we pray for the Kingdom to be “brought near,” not with self-serving intentions, but in order to bring justice and peace to a torn world, insofar as we can. In fact, this is our duty and mission: to pray that Christ’s reign in our hearts will have its exterior impact through the authentic witness of holy charity and transform the temporal realm, even before His final return when He comes in glory.
By a discernment according to the Spirit, Christians have to distinguish between the growth of the Reign of God and the progress of the culture and society in which they are involved. This distinction is not a separation. Man’s vocation to eternal life does not suppress, but actually reinforces, his duty to put into action in this world the energies and means received from the Creator to serve justice and peace. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2820
So, to pray for the Triumph, is to pray for the Kingdom, is to pray for Christ’s reign, is to pray for Heaven, is to pray for Jesus to come! For Heaven is a person:
Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven.’ —POPE BENEDICT XVI, quoted in Magnificat, p. 116, May 2013
…heaven is God. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, On the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, Homily, August 15th, 2008; Castel Gondolfo, Italy; Catholic News Service, www.catholicnews.com
But how does “heaven” come to us?
The Kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst… The kingdom of God [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2816, 2819
When we make space for God in our hearts, God begins to reign in the space around us.
“This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.” To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.” The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 764
Thus, to become “like a little child” and allow God to make you holy is the beginning and fulfillment of the Triumph already within you. I will explain practically how do to this at the end of this meditation.
The second means by which we can hasten the Triumph is to fulfill the demands that Heaven itself placed upon the Church. Our Lady requested extraordinary means that came with a warning: if we did not heed Heaven’s antidote, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.” Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va Even Protestants should be able to comprehend why Mary is at the center of the confrontation of our times: Genesis 3:15. If we need any further motivation to hasten toward these supernatural steps, then let the prophetic warnings of both the seer who received this message and the popes who followed, wake us up:
Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides.—Fatima seer, Sr. Lucia, Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va
John Paul II explained what these errors are at their core: Marxism.
Unfortunately, the resistance to the Holy Spirit which St. Paul emphasizes in the interior and subjective dimension as tension, struggle and rebellion taking place in the human heart, finds in every period of history and especially in the modern era its external dimension, which takes concrete form as the content of culture and civilization, as a philosophical system, an ideology, a program for action and for the shaping of human behavior. It reaches its clearest expression in materialism, both in its theoretical form: as a system of thought, and in its practical form: as a method of interpreting and evaluating facts, and likewise as a program of corresponding conduct. The system which has developed most and carried to its extreme practical consequences this form of thought, ideology and praxis is dialectical and historical materialism, which is still recognized as the essential core of Marxism. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 56
This form of Marxism is nearly completed in terms of being implemented on a global scale. cf. Global Revolution! The delay of the Triumph, which is the delay of the growth of the Kingdom of God, is likewise, creating a vacuum cf. The Great Vacuum being filled by the growth of the kingdom of Satan, as Our Lady warned it would.
…our age has seen the birth of totalitarian systems and forms of tyranny which would not have been possible in the time before the technological leap forward… Today control can penetrate into the innermost life of individuals, and even the forms of dependence created by the early-warning systems can represent potential threats of oppression. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, n. 14
Thus, what are the antidotes that Our Mother asked for?
I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace.
Pope John Paul II convoked all the bishops of the world in 1984 in a consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There, the pope anticipated that the Triumph would bring about, not the Second Coming per se, but “once more in the history of the world” a divine intervention that would see a “period of peace” come about through the Church.
How deeply we feel the need for the consecration of humanity and the world—our modern world—in union with Christ himself! For the redeeming work of Christ must be shared in by the world through the Church… Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope! —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Act of Entrustment of 7 May 1981, repeated on March 25th, 1984, St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy; www.vatican.va
However, because the Holy Father did not name “Russia” in the Consecration as was specifically asked for by the Blessed Mother, a firestorm of debate has ensued as to whether or not the Consecration was “good enough.” cf. I addressed the two sides of the debate in Possible… or Not? Fuel has been added to the fire by the testimony of the Chief Exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, in a recent interview:
Sr Lucy always said that Our Lady requested the Consecration of Russia, and only Russia… But time passed and the consecration was not done, so Our Lord was deeply offended… We can influence events. This is a fact!… Our Lord appeared to Sr. Lucy and told her: “They will do the consecration but it will be late!” I feel shivers running down my spine when I hear those words “it will be late.” Our Lord goes on to say: “The conversion of Russia will be a Triumph that will be recognized by the entire world”… Yes, in 1984 the Pope (John Paul II) quite timidly attempted to consecrate Russia in St Peter’s Square. I was there just a few feet away from him because I was the organizer of the event… he attempted the Consecration but all around him were some politicians who told him “you can’t name Russia, you can’t!” And he asked again: “Can I name it?” And they said: “No, no, no!” —Fr. Gabriel Amorth, interview with Fatima TV, November, 2012; watch interview here
Without wading further into the debate on my part, which has clergy deeply divided on both sides, what is certain, is that Fatima is not finished.
The prophecies of Fatima… let me tell you what I think about them, by quoting Pope Benedict XVI: “Whoever thinks the mission of Fatima is concluded deceives himself.” Look at the importance of these apparitions! Look at the damage and collapse we have experienced in the Church… Let me quote Pope Paul VI: It was thought that after the Second Vatican Council we would have a renaissance of the Church, but instead it was a disaster! Within the Church, “the smoke of Satan” has entered the Vatican! It was a disaster, among the clergy, within the liturgy and among the faithful as well, who have lost faith and abandoned their religion by the millions… So the apparitions of Fatima continue. But their end is glorious. And in the end, “Russia will be converted. [The] Immaculate Heart will triumph. It has not triumphed yet. It will though. And the world, it will receive a “period of peace.” So here’s the great ending of the apparitions of Fatima. Before this finale, it is probable that mankind will suffer—suffer some kind of chastisement by God due to their sin and their cold hearts. But we’re not facing the end of the world, not as some crazy men are saying. We’re going towards the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and also, we’re going towards a period of peace. —Ibid.
Indeed, as Fr. Gabriele stated, “it is late.” So late, that Paul VI said,
…there is no salvation for [this present age] except in a new outpouring of the gift of God. —POPE PAUL VI, Gaudete in Domino, May 9th, 1975, Sect. VII; www.vatican.va
Hence the reason Our Lady continues to appear in our times—to prepare a “little flock” for a “new Pentecost.”
PREPARING FOR TRIUMPH
There is also a divide in the Church over Medjguorje, whether or not this apparition site is an authentic manifestation of Our Lady’s presence. And so I write here in the spirit of St. Paul who commanded the Church not to “despise prophetic utterances” but to “test everything.” cf. 1 Thess 5:20 I bring Medjugorje into this topic of the Triumph because I find it untenable to ignore the Holy Father’s comments in this regard.
In a discussion with the late Bishop Pavel Hnilica that was recorded in the German Catholic monthly magazine, PUR, Pope John Paul II was quoted as saying to him in 1984:
Look, Medjugorje is a continuation, an extension of Fatima. Our Lady is appearing in communist countries primarily because of problems that originate in Russia. —in an interview with the German Catholic monthly magazine, PUR; see: wap.medjugorje.ws
Asking if Bishop Hnilica thought the Consecration was valid, the bishop responded by saying, “Certainly,” but then added: “the only question is how many bishops really did the same consecration in union with the Holy Father?” Addressing that question also in an earlier discussion, John Paul II replied:
Every bishop must prepare his diocese, every priest his community, every father his family, because Gospa said that also lay people must consecrate themselves to her Heart. —Ibid.
Indeed, at Fatima, Our Lady said, “My Immaculate Heart is your refuge.” By consecrating not only Russia, but ourselves to Our Lady, we enter into that “refuge” provided by God to safeguard a remnant for these times. By our consecration to Mary, we are saying, “Okay Mother, I trust you to form me, to help me become a copy of you so that Jesus may live and reign in me as He lived in you.” Consecration to Mary, then, is a central part of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. It is a preparation for the coming of the Spirit:
The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n.217, Montfort Publications
Personal consecration to Jesus through Mary is one of the most powerful gifts available to us today. I have written about this in The Great Gift.
How does Medjugorje relate to the coming “period of peace,” if at all?
On August 6th, 1981, on the same day that Our Lady allegedly revealed herself to the seers of Medjugorje saying, “I am the Queen of Peace,” dozens of witnesses saw the letters “MIR” appear in the sky. MIR means “peace.” If the Balkan apparition is indeed a continuation of Fatima as John Paul II claimed, it would indicate that Our Lady “Queen of Peace” is preparing the Church and world for the “period of peace.”
I remember when we saw the word MIR written in big, burning letters in the sky over the Cross on Mt. Krizevac. We were shocked. The moments passed, but we were unable to speak. No one dared say a word. Slowly, we came to our senses. We realized that we were still alive. —Fr. Jozo Zovko, www.medjugorje.com
Whether one believes in the apparitions there or not is, I think, somewhat beside the point. With the stunning number of vocations to the priesthood, ministries, and conversions that have come from this obscure mountain village, I have often said to people who ask me about the apparitions there, “Look, if it’s from the devil, I hope he starts it in my parish!” see Medjugorje: “Just the Facts, Ma’am” Some of the most anointed and faithful priests I know throughout North America have quietly confided to me that they received their calling in Medjugorje. And this is likely why the Vatican’s position has been to prevent any bishop or commission in the past from shutting down the river of graces flowing from there, whether they are fruits of an authentic apparition or not. The fruits are good, thus, the official position remains:
We repeat the absolute need to continue deepening the reflection, as well as prayer, in the face of whatever alleged supernatural phenomenon, until there is a definitive pronouncement.” —Joaquin Navarro-Valls, former head of Vatican press office, Catholic World News, June 19th, 1996
The five key messages coming out of Medjugorje, whether you accept the apparitions or not, are central to growing in holiness. And thus, they are key to preparing for the Triumph:
We are called to pray—not just with words—but prayer “with the heart.” Prayer draws the reign of God into our hearts, the Holy Trinity Itself:
Prayer attends to the grace we need… The life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him. —CCC, n.2565, .2010
One of the highest forms of prayer, the one Our Lady of Fatima recommended to be said daily, is the “Rosary.” It is truly the “school of Mary.” When one learns to pray it with the heart, and thus listen with the heart, it should lead one into deeper union with Christ.
This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. —CCC, n. 2708
2. Reading and Praying with Scripture
We are called to read and meditate on the Scriptures since they are the “living” Word of God, and Jesus is the “Word made flesh.”
…such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life… The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful… to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. —CCC, n. 131, 133
Through fasting, we detach ourselves more and more from this world and from our love of “things.” We also gain a spiritual grace that is effective in toppling demonic strongholds. cf. Mark 9:29; ancient manuscripts add “prayer and fasting” Above all, fasting empties the soul of self, bringing about true conversion, and making room for the reign of Jesus:
The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.—CCC, n. 1434
Confession is a powerful Sacrament that reconciles us again with the Father and restores our unity with the body of Christ. Moreover, the Sacrament of Reconciliation facilitates healing grace to transform, strengthen, and support the soul to turn away from sin and be set free from the power of evil that the soul struggles with in the course of daily life. Pope John Paul II strongly recommended “weekly confession,” which for me personally, has been one of the greatest graces in my life.
Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful… Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession.” There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: “My son, your sins are forgiven.” He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church. —CCC, n. 1458, 1484
5. The Eucharist
As mentioned above, the Church teaches that the Eucharist is already the reign of Jesus “in our midst.” Through our devotion to and reception of Jesus in this Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, we ourselves become the reign of Christ in the world, since we are made “one body” with Him. Furthermore, the Eucharist is the true anticipation of that unity and peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima, when her Son will reign sacramentally to the ends of the earth.
“For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”—CCC, n. 1324-1325
I want to add a sixth point here that is actually a combination of the above, and that is what Our Lady requested at Fatima: “Communions of reparation” on the first Saturday of every month. Our Lady explained what this is to Sr. Lucia:
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 say that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with 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. —http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/FIRSTSAT.htm
In these ways, then, taught by the Catholic Church and Our Lady, we will be made into holy and authentic witnesses that become vessels of peace and light—and part of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, which is here and coming…
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|POPE BENEDICT XVI, Light of the World, p. 166, A Conversation With Peter Seewald
|Message of Fatima, www.vatican.va
|cf. Global Revolution!
|cf. The Great Vacuum
|cf. I addressed the two sides of the debate in Possible… or Not?
|cf. 1 Thess 5:20
|see Medjugorje: “Just the Facts, Ma’am”
|cf. Mark 9:29; ancient manuscripts add “prayer and fasting”