Are you armed for the battle? If you belong to the Mystical Body of Christ, you better be. This then, is a call to arms!
“Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” (Canticles, 6, 9)
R. Thanks be to God.
V. Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin.
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
The prayer above is from the hour of Prime in the traditional Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Those who say it often are familiar with the frequent references to battle and enemies that run through the Little Office. They imply the ancient battle between good and evil, damnation and salvation; to the “enmity between thy seed and her seed”; that is between satan and the Savior born of the Immaculate Virgin. For centuries, this has been the earnest prayer of those who are called to embrace Mary, the Immaculate Mother of our Savior as their own Mother. We are not called to simply enjoy the comforts of her love in pious prayer, but to serve our Queen actively in this ongoing battle.
Members of the Church on earth are referred to as the Church Militant for good reason. We maintain our spiritual mettle by frequent acts of sacrifice and penance. Indeed, a penitential heart is as essential as prayer for our salvation and for our success in converting sinners. Truly Mary the Immaculata heads an army “in vast array” as the scriptures reveal; and now here we are in the midst of the most powerful and aggressively materialistic society that ever waged war on Christ’s Kingdom. If our prayers are simply smug and comfortable in this time of severe trial, aren’t we failing our “Generals” who show their willingness to suffer for us in their Sorrowful and Sacred Hearts?
It has been 40 years since our country legalized the murder of innocents and now, millions of babies later, our nation has the most aggressively anti-life, anti-Catholic president in American history. This administration was elected and re-elected by “Catholics”. It is staffed by “Catholics” in influential positions. Yes, this monster was elected and re-elected with the complicity of Catholic leaders and Bishops and even supported by those Catholics among our friends and family. But pointing fingers is a fruitless exercise.Despite having a pope who urges us not to “obsess” over abortion, we do have an obligation to oppose evil.
Today, we have a Pope who is the epitome of a modernist. He has been very clear in stating his objectives, which in no way are congruent with defending and promoting the Catholic faith as it has been taught, believed and practiced for 2,000 years. If we fail to recognise and defend our faith at this crucial time, we shall surely lose it. I repeat, we have an obligation to oppose evil, not by half-measures but by using every means at our disposal, starting with the spiritual means provided to us by Our Blessed Mother at Fatima.
Let’s do as our Lady’s Little Office teaches us. Each day, we pray, “Give me strength against thine enemies”. As Catholics, we must be always in combat against all the enemies of our salvation. For when we are lulled into complacency, or mired in self pity and bitterness and the injustices of others, we are losing ground and in danger of losing this battle for our soul and all the souls entrusted to us. Throughout the history of the Church, Catholics have always found their strength and wisdom in the Cross of Christ. We can never forget that our King wears a Crown of Thorns.
At Fatima, Our Lady of the Rosary gave us an armory for this battle. It consists of her Rosary, the Holy Eucharist, her brown scapular and reparation by the Five First Saturdays of Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The devotion of the Five First Saturdays contains within itself all the beauties of Catholic devotion, uniting the Eucharistic Sacrifice with our sacrifices and with both the Rosary and meditative prayer. It has the potential to strengthen us powerfully in our Faith, so that we can truly be the warriors Our Blessed Mother intends us to be in the anti-Catholic storm that is now breaking upon us.
In her Five First Saturdays, Our Lady of Fatima asks that we:
* Receive Holy Communion
* Pray 5 decades of her Rosary
* Spend 15 minutes with her in meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this must be done with the intention of making reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
Reparation is the key to it all. When Jesus first began to preach His message was, “Do penance, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. (Matthew 4, 17) Throughout our history the Church has strengthened itself with programs of penance and prayer during challenging times. Yet today for some reason, prayer is emphasized while penance is neglected. When was the last time you heard a priest give a sermon on making reparation for sin? So let us in these Five First Saturdays pick up the neglected pennant of reparation and hold it high once more.
If you attend an Indult or Moto Proprio Mass in a Novus Ordo parish, ask your Pastor for Latin Mass on First Saturdays. We did that in our parish and although our priest was unable to comply, we asked around the diocese and located another priest who agreed to offer the Traditional Latin Mass on First Saturdays. It can be done! And now we have the opportunity to make our reparation in the Latin Mass that was the Mass of Sister Lúcia of Fatima and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina!
How ingenious the simple program of the First Saturdays is! By obligating ourselves to offer Our Blessed Mother these Five First Saturdays, we soon notice that it is a real sacrifice. For most of us, Saturdays are the busiest days of the week and the first Saturday of the month is even busier yet. Add to this the commitment for an entire sequence of them, without missing one!
So the element of sacrifice, of penance is nicely supported. This penitential attitude is the most overlooked element of Catholic spirituality today. Devout Catholics have been praying their rosaries in increasing numbers as they watch with dismay the dismantling of the bastions of our Faith and our culture. But perhaps we have grown a bit lax in the penance department. In these last few years of my life, it is clear that I have failed to offer God enough penance for my loved ones who have suffered the loss of their Faith. Prayers, yes, many; but penances, not so much, sadly. At Fatima, Our Lady did not just ask for prayer, she asked for prayer and reparation.
Please spread this devotion! Consider that pastors may be more amenable to the devotion of the Five First Saturdays if presented now as a response to the threats we face against our religion and the imperative of the new evangelization. So try to extend this devotion and you may be delightfully surprised at how much Our Lady will bless your efforts!
Since the above was posted, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has called for a Rosary Crusade. This Crusade emphasizes the importance of our compliance with our Lady’s requests for penance to accompany our prayers. The intentions of the Crusade are three:
- To implore from the Immaculate Heart of Mary a special protection for the traditional apostolate
- For the return of tradition within the Church
- For the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the consecration of Russia (according to her request).
This Crusade, began Jan. 1 and ends at Pentecost, June 8, 2014, and you can join at any time. Bishop Fellay stressed the importance of embracing the Cross of Our Lord and having confidence in the grace of the Mass. In this, he was echoing the words of the holy founder of the Society, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Sister Lucia of Fatima also insisted that the Blessed Virgin did not just ask us to pray for sinners, she asked us to pray and sacrifice for sinners. It is not too late to join in this Crusade for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
If we want a better Church, we must make reparation as well as pray for the purging and restoration of the Church. The restoration begins with us.
Above all, trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Viva Cristo Rey!
(Originally posted by evensong in April, 2013.)