How to Prayerfully Participate in the International Week of Prayer & Fasting
Call to lift up petitions to God for nations, society and families.
“Today’s society does not pray. That is why it is falling apart.”
So observed the beloved Italian saint and mystic Padre Pio.
The organizers of a grassroots prayer movement agree — and they are committed to changing the cultural course.
“Many have seen the great difficulties in the problems of the world and family,” Maureen Flynn said.
“Everyone is good at articulating the problem, but few provide the solution,” Ted Flynn added. “We're being asked to be not a part of the problem, but of the solution — and the solution heaven has given us.”
Maureen agreed: “We have an opportunity to be involved in these solutions, which heaven has told us will destroy evil.”
That opportunity comes nationwide on Oct. 1 as the International World Day of Prayer and Fasting Conference, a grassroots movement founded by the Flynns, will follow those directions from heaven as people gather at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The conference will continue online through Oct. 9 with the theme, “The Eucharist, Our Lady, and Heaven’s Weapons to Defeat Evil.” to focus on praying and fasting for our nation, our leaders, our families and the Church.
This year also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the International Week of Prayer & Fasting (IWOPF.org), which has received apostolic blessings from Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis. St. Teresa of Calcutta also gave her support.
The nine-day event will be even bigger this year because a coalition of other apostolates is joining this effort to mobilize people. For the first time, Rosary Coast to Coast (Rosary Coast to Coast) will join the effort. Its own 54-day Rosary novena for families and the nation also concludes on Oct. 9, with a “National Rosary Rally” in Washington, D.C., as well as across the nation.
“The grave crisis currently in the Church and the world can only be fully remediated by heaven’s spiritual weapons of the Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the holy Rosary, prayer and fasting,” Maureen said. “Our Lord, his Blessed Mother and the saints have told us that these spiritual weapons will destroy evil.” In reference to this very intense good vs. evil battle, Maureen quoted the words of St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae: “Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (Matthew 4:1-11).”
“When we think of weapons, we think of warriors in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Our Lady has her army of prayer warriors all over the world,” Maureen said. “We have been doing this for 30 years, and the past five to 10 years are amazing, seeing all these groups all over the country and adoration chapels all over the country. People are consecrating themselves to the Blessed Mother all over the world. Our Lady is the general against Masonic forces and demonic forces.” It was Masonic forces that attacked the seers at Fatima and tried to stop people from going to the apparition site.
“Our Lady said prayer and fasting is the solution,” explained Ted.
Ted emphasized the answer IWOPF is concentrating on: “If we did specifically what heaven is asking us, we can be healed and converted. We have to use the tools heaven has given us if we are to break down this stronghold of fear, anxiety, distress, despondency, despair, people feeling overwhelmed. More and more people are sincerely looking for answers. If we stick to the fundamentals of the faith — prayer, adoration, Holy Rosary and Holy Mass being the center of our lives, we will heal the land. But we need to use heaven’s tools.”
Father Francis Peffley, from St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and longtime spiritual director of the Legion of Mary for the Virginia and Maryland region, agreed. “We need God’s grace and mercy more than ever in our country and our society.” As one of the featured speakers at the shrine event, he will focus on “The Twin Pillars of Victory: The Eucharist and Our Blessed Mother.”
He said, “We need to refocus on the two pillars of victory, which are Jesus in the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother. The Eucharist and Our Lady are key to bring peace into the world and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.”
Father Peffley has seen this effort grow and envisions that it will help turn our nation back to God and the moral teachings of the Bible and of the Church, “so that the country and the world will respect the sanctity of life, marriage and the family and “will bring the conversion of hearts and bring down God’s mercy on us.” The effort will be an instrument of grace for the “salvation of souls.”
Another IWOPF speaker will be Susan Brinkmann, a secular order Discalced Carmelite and director of communications and New Age research at Women of Grace. She told the Register that “Catholics are living through a time of great turmoil, both inside the Church and in the surrounding culture. As discouraging as it might seem at times, we must never forget the words of St. Paul: ‘Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more’ (Romans 5:20). Seize the grace! Pick up the weapons God gave us. They're perfectly suited to this day and time.”
“By remaining in a state of grace, strengthening ourselves with the sacraments, praying daily for God’s intervention, and mortifying the passions that weaken us, we can and will rise above the morass of this world,” she added. The IWOPF provides “the perfect opportunity to reflect, regroup and refresh our faith in the God who promised never to abandon us. We have him, and we have each other. What more do we need?”
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, an exorcist and associate professor at The Catholic University of America, will also be speaking during the IWOPF week. He told the Register, “The Blessed Virgin Mary’s call for prayer and penance, which we hear in so many of her apparitions, is as relevant today as it was in Fatima and other sites. We are gathering to pray her Rosary, to pray for healing, to encourage each other in the faith. It is so important in our world which is struggling with bitter conflict, declining faith and war.”
Father Chris Alar of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and EWTN host of Living Divine Mercy, will also give a talk during the week.
“Our two spiritual weapons of our time are Jesus the Divine Mercy and Mary,” he emphasized. “In the Eucharist we fully experience Jesus as Divine Mercy, and in the Rosary we unite closest with Mary.”
Also to speak at the shrine in Washington on Oct. 1 are Dave and Joan Maroney of the Mother of Mercy Messengers and Divine Mercy for America. The same day begins their apostolate’s monthly novena for our nation.
“Throughout history the Church has prayed and fasted to fight heresies, problems in the Church, wars, plagues, pandemics, and we’re keeping that tradition alive with this [conference] and bringing focus to … what has gotten lost,” Joan said.
Dave added, “The International Week of Prayer and Fasting is positioned to be the spark people might need as they are waking up to see ‘this is wrong; that is wrong,’ and their hearts are starting to be converted and woken up by the Holy Spirit.”
“As a society and a culture, we need to take that to heart and have that attitude in our heart that we need God in our country and in our daily life.”
He sees the IWOPF as “a focal point giving people guidance how to pray and fast and an event that can help them to put this into practice and continue in their whole life.”
Joan recommended, “If people could start with a small daily prayer, we know what that would lead to,” including
“more people would start praying the Rosary.” She finds that the Rosary Coast to Coast witnesses to people “to have the courage to be a public witness to pray the Rosary and gather together in faith all over the country.”
The witness of the saints is a particularly poignant primer to why faith is key. The conference organizers hope many who attend the conference in person will be inspired by Blessed Carlo Acutis.
As Maureen explained, “The relic of Blessed Carlo, who was beatified in 2020, will be available all day for veneration in the Miraculous Medal Side Chapel in the upper church. One of his famous quotes is: ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.’”
On Oct. 1, people around the world can join the IWOPF at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington in person or via livestream. There will be a procession of the nations, Mass, all-day Eucharistic adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, confessions, a global living Rosary, and inspirational talks from Catholic speakers.