Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
When our Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima on June 13, 1917, the first direction she gave was to continue to pray the Rosary daily. They she gave two essential new directions.
The second was a prayer she added to the Rosary. In 1208, Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the Rosary — the weapon to achieve victory over a raging heresy. Here she was at Fatima a little over seven centuries later to enhance another part to the Rosary.
“I want you to continue saying the Rosary every day,” she told the children on June 13. Then she gave them this new addition. “And after each one of the mysteries, my children, I want you to pray in this way: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.’”
If our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary tells us to include that, she must consider it something essential. When she appeared later she would stress to the children to pray for poor sinners.
Over the years many have people have remembered her guidance and direction because they’ve included this short prayer after each mystery. But numbers still fall far short because many people still need to follow step one — pray the Rosary.
I ran across a very popular Catholic site last month that was teaching people how to pray the Rosary. Then they suggested you can pray it once a month, or maybe one specific day a week. Huh? It’s like telling children, pick out one day a week to listen to your mother, or one day a month, to start.
Next Essential One
The June 13 apparition marked the first time Our Lady spoke about her Immaculate Heart. Let’s look at her words to Lucia who she said had to stay on earth longer “since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.”
Because Lucia asked if she was to remain in the world alone, Our Blessed Mother told her she must not be sad. “I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.”
So far we see it is Jesus, her Son, who wants to make her known and loved with devotion established in the world to her Immaculate Heart. And the Immaculate Heart will not only be our comfort, but the way that will lead us to God. Wow! You can’t have it clearer than that — reason enough why we should be devoted to the Immaculate Heart.
Recounting that June 1 apparition, Lucia gave this description of that scene. “The moment she said the last words, opening her hands, She transmitted to us, for the second time, the reflection of that intense light. In it we felt we were submerged in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which was rising to Heaven, and I in the part spreading over the earth. In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled with thorns which appeared to pierce it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary offended by the sins of mankind, craving reparation.”
Right there Lucia hinted at why Our Blessed Mother would later ask for the reparation to her Immaculate Heart by making the Five First Saturdays.
If we look ahead to July 13, Our Lady gave the children this short prayer — notice the specific reference to her heart. “Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Let’s remind ourselves who it was who asked for this devotion: her Son Jesus.
Then Our Lady tells the children after she’s shown them hell where poor sinners go (more on this vision next month) — “It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
During the same apparition, Our Lady refers twice more to her Immaculate Heart. First, she says the war (WWI) will end, but if people don’t stop offending God, a more terrible one will break out (WWII).
“To prevent this, I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.”
Our Blessed Mother didn’t give the details of the Five First Saturdays yet. That was to come later. But she makes it unmistakable what will happen concerning the devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
“If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; certain nations will be annihilated. But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
The triumph will come through her Immaculate Heart. No way or no one will prevent this.
For Sister Lucia, apparitions continued on this same theme. On December 10, 1925 Our Lady appeared in the convent in Pontevedra, Spain to Lucia who described the visit: she was holding Her Immaculate Heart in her hand, and by her side stood the Child Jesus on a luminous cloud. Jesus said: “Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them.”
Then the Blessed Virgin Mary said to 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.”
The request stalled when Lucia told her confessor since he wanted more proof. Then on February 15, 1926, the Child Jesus appeared to Lucia and asked, “And have you spread through the world what our heavenly Mother requested of you?”
Three years later, on June 6, 1929 at the convent in Tuy, Spain, Lucia saw a vision of the Holy Trinity. Jesus appeared crucified, and from the wound in His side drops ran down upon the host and fell into the chalice below. Lucia described, “Beneath the right arm of the cross was Our Lady and in Her hand was Her Immaculate Heart. (It was Our Lady of Fatima, with her Immaculate Heart in her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames).”
What our Blessed Mother requested during this apparition will be part the next installment because it ties into the July 13, 1917 apparition.
“By our consecration we promise to become dependent on Mary in all things: to offer all our prayers and oblations to God through Mary, and to seek every gift from God through Mary,” teach the Dominicans at The Rosary Center. “And we do this with the greatest confidence. Since she is our mother, she knows our needs better than we; and since she is Queen of Heaven, she has immediate access to the infinite treasury of graces in the Kingdom of her Divine Son.”
No wonder we’re advised to consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Venerable Pope Pius XII explained that this consecration "tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary."
Jesus chose that we go to him through Mary — “both the mystery of God coming to us through Mary, and our being led to God through Mary, is a work of the Holy Spirit.”
If we make the consecration and honestly try to live it, what the Blessed Mother promised Lucia applies to us too: "I will never leave you; my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the way that will lead you to God."
Sister Lucia constantly promoted consecration to the Blessed Mother as she was asked to do. On December 2, 1940, she wrote a letter to Venerable Pope Pius XII detailing the need to consecrate “the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” with “special mention for Russia” (more on this next time).
Then Lucia added this appeal: “Now, Most Holy Father, allow me to make one more request, which is but an ardent wish of my humble heart; that the feast in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary be extended throughout the whole world as one of the main feasts of the Holy Church.”
In 1942 during the 25th anniversary year of Fatima, Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart and extended the memorial to the entire Church. It’s celebrated the Saturday after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Friday before, that Friday being the one after the second Sunday of Pentecost. They’re next to each other and move to different dates yearly.
Honoring the Immaculate Heart
Isn’t it time in this 100th anniversary year to begin, or increase, our honor and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Here’s how we can start.
First. “In our devotion to Mary’s Heart there is no more effective prayer than the Rosary which is about the mysteries of her Son’s life and hers. There is no better way to obtain through Mary’s intercession the help we desperately need to learn how to be loving and selfless,” reminded Servant of God Father John Hardon.
See how perfectly this fits into the June 13, 1917 apparition and Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary’s first request, to pray the Rosary daily. Let’s try to follow what she asks if we’re not there already. At least start. Try to tell someone else about praying the Rosary. Maybe give someone a Rosary.
Second. Celebrate the adjoining memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This particular year they fall this week on June 23-24 — but since on the liturgical calendar the date of June 24 calls for another solemnity, the Birth of John the Baptist, that’s being celebrated. Still we can honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 24.
Third. Make or renew our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Use Louis de Montfort’s method, Father Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory (more than one in here), or other consecration prayers (different ones here also).
This consecration, Pope Pius XII explained, "tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary."
On this 100th anniversary year, isn’t it really time we listen to Our Mother and love, honor, and consecrate or re-consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart?
Fourth. Begin the Five First Saturdays. Or continue to do First Saturdays if you’ve already completed the five.
Fifth. Remember something most of us don’t know or forgot — August is the month traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Do something extra, something special, something extra special for Our Lady during August. Get enrolled in the brown scapular, wear a Miraculous Medal, begin praying the Angelus daily, or the Memorare, or why not both? Why not all? To Jesus through Mary.