November is the month the Church dedicates especially to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. By being a member of Our Lady's A-Team and living the message of Fatima, we can make our entire day into a sacrificial offering for them, united to Christ's perfect sacrifice.
Our Lady came to Fatima to begin the formation of her “A Team” – a team of new “missionary disciples” who would be bright lights in a time of darkness, and by living an authentically Catholic life, would mission to people who had received a watered down or distorted version of the Catholic Faith or had never received the true Catholic Faith at all.
Although the Angel of Peace and Our Lady’s messages at Fatima were for everyone, believers and nonbelievers, it seems that their message were primarily intended to reach more deeply into the hearts of those who already believed and were living somewhat virtuous lives. It was a call to advance in sacrificial love through reparation, expiation, prayer and penance. She came to faithful Catholics to increase their capacity to be filled with God’s love in order to cooperate with her to save so many lost souls.
We know this because, Our Lady and the Angel of Peace appeared to three simple children from faithful Catholic families, to invite them to be instruments of God’s mercy for souls blinded by sin. These children were chosen because she knew they had been raised to be generous and had hearts full of compassion, the very foundation needed to grow into mature instruments (reservoirs) of God’s saving grace. Our Lady and the Angel of Fatima met these children in the ordinary circumstances of their everyday lives and helped them to gradually progress in the love of God until they reached the point of heroic virtue and sacrificial love.
This is God’s will for us too.
Urgent Call to Prayer and Penance
She knew it wouldn’t be easy for us, especially in our day and age, because Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure & the avoidance of pain at all costs) has infected all of us. The antidote is to respond to her urgent call to prayer, penance and reparation which is at the heart of the message of Fatima and reminds us of three very important truths: 1. God is both just and merciful. 2. Both His action and our action are necessary in the salvation of souls and 3. Suffering can be both, an experience of evil, and a gift.
In Our Lady’s pleas we see this. She is warning us that we will experience God’s Justice if we do not take advantage of this time of Mercy and that, united to Christ, our prayers and acts of penance and reparation, especially our suffering patiently endured can truly bring about the salvation of souls. For example:
“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them” (Our Lady of Fatima to the three children, August 1917).
In her last public interview, Sr. Lucia told Fr. Augustin Fuentes, vice-postulator of the cause of beatification for Francisco and Jacinta. “Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid any attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner… It will be very sad for everyone, and far from a happy thing if the world does not pray and do penance before then.”
"Daily offer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the sacrifices demanded by the duties required of your state in life, as well as whatever hardships and difficulties God permits in your life, in reparation for sin and for the conversion of sinners." In other words, “offer it up.” Sister Lucia considered the living out of this disposition the most fundamental and important everyday response to Fatima."
This is the way we share in the priesthood of Christ and how we live the Mass in our everyday lives. The early Church knew this and they centered their lives around this understanding. Thus, they were able to make their whole lives into a sacrificial offering in, with and through Christ to the glory of the Father for their own sanctification and the salvation of souls.
Before Our Lady appeared to the children, the Angel of Peace asked them to do this as well. On his second visit the Angel told the children:
“Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”
Lucia, trying to understand how to obey the angel, asks:
“How are we to make sacrifices?”
The Angel responds:
“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country.”
What does it mean to “make of everything a sacrifice”?
Our days our filled with potential sacrifices. To start with, you can offer your daily duties according to your state in life (e.g. married, single, student, job, family, etc.), especially the ones you do not enjoy. Do them with all the love, devotion, professionalism and diligence that you are capable and offer them to God as a prayer of reparation for sinners.
After that you can add self-imposed penances like getting up early to pray, not eating sweets, or going without cream in your coffee.
All these things can be transformed through love and elevated to the supernatural level as a gift to God for the redemption of souls.
To increase the merit of the children’s offering the Angel added:
“Above all, accept and bear with submission, the suffering which the Lord will send you.”
These are the penances that can be the most difficult to offer as a gift, but, for that very reason, have the most value and merit. In offering back to God the sufferings that He sends, those things which are so contrary to our desires, things we could or would never choose for ourselves, we give Him something so precious - our hopes, dreams and desires - and, at the same time, avoid the temptations of self-complacency, self-will or pride in doing self-imposed penance only.
Think of how many things that happen each day that are not as we would like them to be. All of these things are a gift from God, an opportunity for us to make reparation for the sins that offend God and as supplication for sinners. We can also offer them as indulgences for our loved ones who have died in reparation for the sins that they did not have time to make amends for. Concretely, we can offer what we:
• Do not like (sickness, disappointment, loneliness, difficult relationships, etc.)
• Did not choose (busted pipes, traffic, heavy workload, rejection, etc.)
• Cannot change (bad weather, fatigue, lack of appreciation, grief, etc.)
As things happen throughout the day, that fall into any of these categories, we can accept them with trust in God (Divine Providence) and offer them with love. We can “offer them up.”
Sr. Lucia writes:
"These words [of the angel] made a deep impression on our minds, like a light making us understand Who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, as well as the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him, and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners. For this reason, from that moment we began to offer up all that mortified us…”
It’s a Win/Win
This is not only good for others. Like a good mother, Our Lady is helping us to be made ready for heaven. By making our lives an offering for others, we are growing in our capacity to love while simultaneously being purified from the temporal effects of our own sins. To top it all off, our potential for glory in heaven is also increasing. This is the teaching of the saints. They were so joyful in the midst of much suffering because they figured out the answer to the riddle of why God allows his children, especially his holy ones, to suffer so much? They learned that every cross that Christ sends us is a kiss from His cross. It doesn’t look like it when it comes; it looks horrible and ugly, like His did; but the mystery behind the visible reality, behind all the suffering, is that He is teaching us to love like He loves. Through our crosses, he is cutting out all of the garbage that blocks his love from filling us to overflowing and He is perfecting us.
Where do we get the strength to live this way?
The strength to live this way will come from the grace we receive in our personal prayer time (especially the rosary) and from our union with Jesus in the Mass & Holy Communion. This is because the Mass is a sacrifice, the place where we offer ourselves, in, with and through Christ to the Father and It is also a sacred sacrificial meal where we receive the help and strength we need to go on carrying our daily crosses and selflessly giving of ourselves in the forthcoming week (to benefit from this we must be in the State of Grace).
We will also be fortified from living the message of Fatima by implementing the remaining parts of Our Lady's Peace Plan from Heaven:
Pray a Rosary daily while meditating on the mysteries, especially for world peace.
Consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and wear the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel as a sign of your consecration. (Read more about Marian Consecration)
Practice the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturday of the month, popularly known as the First Saturday devotion.
Contribute to the establishment of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world by spreading the message of Fatima to others.
Learn more here.
If we continually struggle to live this way, it will open for us the true message of Fatima and in our ordinary lives full of difficulties and opportunities for sacrifice, we will see Our Lord's call to us, through Our Lady and the Angel, to a very important mission for the sake of others; thus, we will reach our fulfillment in Christ as fully mature sons and daughters of God!