Fatima Devotion Leads to Gospel Witness

Bishop Lee PicheBy Bishop Lee Piche –

The force that can change the world is the Gospel. Every one of us has been called by God to live as disciples of Jesus, and to be a disciple of Jesus is also to be a witness.

Gospel is a word that means “good news.” It is good news that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death. At the Last Supper Jesus told His disciples, “You will grieve and mourn while the world rejoices, but do not be afraid, do not lose heart, I have overcome the world.” This gets to the heart of what the Good News is; it’s not the good news of prosperity or health, but the salvation of our souls and ultimately the defeat of death. The forgiveness of our sins, the healing of our souls and the raising up of our bodies—this is Good News.

The Fatima devotion truly engages us in this Good News. One of the central parts of the devotion is prayer for conversions, for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters. The powerful prayer of the Rosary, which has been the cause of so many conversions, is at the heart of the Fatima devotions.

What is the Rosary? The Rosary is a meditation on the Gospel, the mysteries of Christ, the story of His life, death and resurrection. In his beautiful letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Evangelium, John Paul II says the Rosary is Christo-centric, because Christ is at the heart of the mysteries that we reflect on. He also points out the word which is at the center of the Hail Mary—Jesus. Jesus is at the center even of that prayer. Everything about Mary points us to Christ. When we pray this prayer, we strive to pray it well with a serene mind to allow the mysteries to go deeper into us, and with those scenes in mind, to meditate prayerfully saying the Hail Mary.

Preaching with our actions

Mother Teresa’s sisters and priests say a prayer after Communion from Blessed John Cardinal Newman, called Radiating Christ. One line of that prayer jumps out when I think about gospel witness: Let me preach to You without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, by the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

It’s a beautiful thought, and one which if we were to enact would have the power to change people’s lives—that I would preach the Lord by my actions, my words my presence. And what is the nature of that presence?  It’s sympathetic. I’m thinking about the other. I’m not just thinking about myself. That has a beauty which attracts hearts.

One of the signs of authentic devotion to Mary and the Fatima devotion is that there is increasingly in those who practice it more and more evident love. That love becomes the central characteristic of those engaged in this devotion—love for God which is expressed primarily in our love for our neighbor, a genuine concern and care. It is the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what we do…the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. When people are in love, they don’t go around moping and sad; they go around with a sense of joy. Joy is the net with which we catch souls.

Fatima devotion should transform us

In the Fatima devotion we pray the Rosary, we do penance, and we go to Mass on First Saturdays. That may seem like an austere routine, but the essence of it must be our desire to help others through our prayer and our outstretched hands.

At the end of the Rosary we pray, Grant we beseech Thee that by meditating on these mysteries, we may imitate what they contain and contain what they promise… Regular devout recitation of the Rosary should have a transforming effect on our minds, hearts, and actions. We become more like Christ, more like His mother, more patient, more eager to please the Father, more concerned about others, about their true wellbeing, which is expressed in our prayer for them. We’re more hopeful, not so much anxious and worried, more detached from things, especially from our own will, more completely surrendered to the Lord. All of these beautiful life lessons cause our hearts to be joyful in the end. Because when we live to please God, it pleases God to let us live—really live, and to fill our hearts with even greater life and joy. When that is the center of our lives, then even when the storm is raging we can be at peace and experience joy.

If our hearts are in the right place, then our faithful devotion to Blessed Mary through the Fatima devotion leads surely and relatively quickly to our becoming true Gospel witnesses. Let us imitate the mysteries of the Rosary so that more and more people will be drawn into her maternal embrace and into the full embrace of her divine Son, Jesus.

(Excerpt from a talk given at the 2014 Marian Congress in St. Paul, MN)

“Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace in the world…”

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