Offer it up! The most important message of Fatima

By William Sockey –

Our Lady came to Fatima in the midst of extreme political upheaval in Europe. For centuries the Christian faith and culture had been growing steadily weaker. Christians, including the Christian leaders of Europe, were more committed to worldly success than to living the Faith. Hence, when faced with serious political conflicts they resorted to war, a particularly vicious war in which Christians were killing Christians without regard for their shared brotherhood with Christ.

Pope Benedict XV attempted to reason with the leaders of formerly Christian Europe, but to no avail. He therefore turned to prayer. In 1916, the Holy Father called on all Catholic children in the warring countries to offer Holy Communion to God for peace. An angel appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal and gave them Holy Communion – First Holy Communion for the two youngest. The angel said he was the Angel of Peace. He taught the children to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. In particular, the angel told the children to offer up all their daily crosses, the trials and tribulations they faced each day, for the conversion of sinners, to repair the damage done by sin and to bring peace to their country. He gave them a simple prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you and I ask your pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” He told the children to repeat this prayer often.

Lucia said the words of the Angel made her understand the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to God and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion of sinners.

World War I British soldiers with Vickers machine gun and gas masks.

The next year, 1917, the Holy Father called on all Catholics to join with him on May 5 praying to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, for an end of the war and peace on earth. On the ninth day, May 13, Our Lady appeared to the three children at the “Cove of Peace” in Fatima. She asked them whether they were willing to offer their suffering to God, as the angel had taught them, “as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners.” In later years, Lucia said this was the most important request of Our Lady of Fatima: that we offer all our daily suffering that we cannot avoid as reparation for sins and the conversion of sinners. (see Dear Bishop, by John Haffert, p.6)

The price of a soul

Throughout Our Lady’s apparitions, she emphasized that peace can be achieved only by converting sinners, who by their sinful attitudes and actions are disturbing the peace. The First World War itself was caused by Christians ignoring both the Gospel imperative that we must love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves, and the fact that all the baptized are brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Lady’s solution for peace was for the faithful to convert sinners through prayer and sacrifices.

At Fatima, Our Lady’s chief concern, however, was the loss of so many souls because of sin. The world will come to an end someday and those who die in Christ will enjoy everlasting peace. Not so for those who die in mortal sin. The loss of a single soul is a disaster that can never be repaired, and it is worse than any temporal disaster. The Church teaches that Jesus would have undergone His passion and death if only one soul needed to be saved. That is the value of a single soul!

In July, Our Lady showed the children hell and the tormented souls. She told them that to save them, God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She said, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” She said, “If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” In August, Our Lady told the children “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.”

This, then, is the heart of Our Lady’s Message at Fatima: to offer up daily prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, and tell others about this request. It is why St. John Paul II said the message of Fatima is more important today than ever, and why Pope Benedict XVI said that Fatima is not just a private devotion; the  message is a call from Our Lady to all of her children to participate in the salvation of souls, promising the blessing of peace for our country and the world.

Make your whole day a prayer

Most Catholics have probably heard the expression “offer it up”. It used to be a common practice to pray the Morning Offering of all our prayers, works, joys and sufferings of the day. Is this enough to fulfill Our Lady’s request? The Angel of Peace instructed us to “accept and bear with submission” our daily trials and tribulations and offer them for the conversion of sinners. Our Lady spoke of offering our suffering whenever it occurs during the day. Isn’t this what Our Lord meant when He asked us to take up our cross every day and follow Him?

In spreading the message of Fatima, the World Apostolate of Fatima has been asking Catholics to start each day with the “pardon prayer” of the Angel of Peace: “O my God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee; and I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.” Then offer Our Lord all our suffering and trials we will encounter during the day for love of Him, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as Our Lady specifically requested. Finally, do our best, whenever anything happens that we don’t like and can’t avoid, to accept it as a daily cross and “offer it up!” for the conversion of sinners. Remember that we can do this for our own loved ones whose souls seem to be in danger. As St. John Paul II taught, if they won’t do penance for their sins, do it for them!

In this way, we will be joining with the angels in spiritual warfare for the salvation of souls, growing in holiness and bringing down the blessing of peace on our families, our country, our Church and the world.

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