by Michaelyn Hein –
I turned the calendar to the next month and looked at the upcoming week. Piano lessons for my son on Tuesday, dance class for my daughter on Wednesday, and homeschool co-op for us all on Friday. And then I looked at Saturday.
“We need to make it to Mass,” I whispered to myself, shaking my head.
This month I recognized the need for greater effort to do this, despite our busy family life, because the world is rightly abuzz with Pope Francis’ Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With each opening of my web browser, I am hit with titles that question or acknowledge the validity of past consecrations and that do the same with this one.
Admittedly, I was tempted to get involved in the quarrel. But something I couldn’t quite name kept prompting me not to venture down that path.
The realization of what was needling me came when I turned my calendar to look at the week ahead. It was the reminder that world peace does not rest solely on the shoulders of our clergy. As Our Lady of Fatima repeatedly asserted, it requires, rather, the participation of all of us.
We can opine and criticize or celebrate and proclaim our Holy Father’s methods in this Consecration. We can do the same regarding past ones. But doing so begs the question: are we looking for a splinter in our Holy Father’s eye whilst ignoring the beam in our own? Or are we comforting ourselves with the thought that the pope has taken care of Our Lady’s requests and we can sit back and wait for world peace to wash over this world one country at a time?
If we are thinking either of these, we are moving forward from this consecration incorrectly. For Our Lady of Fatima explicitly declared that to obtain world peace would require not just the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart, not just the cooperation of all the bishops of the world, but also participation from every one of us.
It is easy to forget that we all have a part to play. Our Lady made quite clear in her messages at Fatima and later to Sister Lucia, the eldest of the three children to whom she appeared, that the salvation of our world requires the works of every soul.
As St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “All the parts of the body, though many, are one body” (12:12). This includes our Holy Father, our bishops, our priests and religious and the laypeople of the Catholic Church. There is no question, then, that for our body to function in its fullness, all parts must work together.
If world peace depends upon the works of all, then what must we do? What is our role? Our Blessed Mother gave us a clear instruction manual at Fatima and afterward.
First and foremost, Sister Lucia told John Haffert, one of the founders of the Blue Army, we must aim to sanctify our daily lives. It sounds lofty and trying, I know. Often, I awaken with a desire to make my day one that pleases God. I aim for perfection, but before breakfast is over, I’ve usually missed the mark.
Still, if we are ever to achieve holiness, we must at least begin each day with the intention and will to do so. Thus, when we wake, we can declare our intention through a morning offering, wherein we give to Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, all the sufferings we will endure and the sacrifices we will make that day.
In addition to these efforts, Our Lady repeatedly implored us to pray a daily Rosary for the conversion of sinners and for world peace. Do we do that? Do we even try?
My family, like most, maintains a packed calendar. It is tempting to wonder how we could fit into it the Rosary’s demand for 15 minutes (or, more realistically, 30, thanks to a host of interruptions from noisy children begging for snacks or needing to suddenly use the bathroom). But if we are honest, we know that we can do it. And if we really want to work for world peace, then we must.
And finally, though not the least of Mary’s requests, we must seek to keep the First Saturday devotions, meaning that on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, we should receive Holy Communion, go to confession, recite five decades of the Rosary, and meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary for 15 minutes.
It sounds like a lot, especially for a family like mine that finds itself struggling to get out the door at an hour too early for our liking. But as Our Lady confirmed, a little sacrifice is necessary.
Thus, at this momentous hour in history, when our Holy Father has made an effort to restore world peace, I can no longer look at my calendar and pre-determine that my family will once again fail to do our part. On the contrary, the darkness of our modern world necessitates that from now on we must intend to succeed.
Michaelyn Hein is a Catholic writer, wife and mother who resides in Hopewell, NJ.