by Barb Ernster –
There are some significant ties between the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort and the Fatima message to the point that I imagine St. Louis was rejoicing in heaven when the Virgin Mother began to appear at Fatima. The time had arrived when all that he foresaw was beginning to unfold on earth.
Many know of St. Louis’ writings on the Rosary, True Devotion to Mary and instructions for total consecration to Jesus through Mary. Despite opposition from church authorities, he preached all over France in the early 1700s, about this great Marian devotion and his labors were almost miraculously fruitful, which he attributed to the Holy Rosary.
Just as he predicted before his death, his precious manuscript on True Devotion was lost and hidden for more than 100 years, and throughout the 18th century, his spiritual sons were persecuted by the Jansenists, especially during the French Revolution. In 1842, the manuscript was once again brought to light, when it was found in a chest of old books by a Montfort father. Soon after, his writings began to spread again, especially through the popes as far back as Pope Pius IX in 1846.
The Angel of Fatima comes
St. Louis died peacefully on April 28, 1716, after a lifelong struggle against the devil. Exactly 200 years after his death, in the spring of 1916, the Angel of Peace appeared to the three children at Fatima to prepare them for the apparitions of Our Lady. The Blessed Mary was coming to ask, on behalf of her Son, that a special devotion to her Immaculate Heart “be established in the world.” It seemed the Mother of God was here to help prepare her children for a fierce spiritual battle on earth, and all the teachings of St. Louis would correspond fittingly with her requests.
Fatima and the war against Satan
St. Louis wrote of a coming time when “the Most High with His holy Mother would form for Himself great saints – her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against Satan.”
He stated, “God wishes to reveal and make known Mary, the masterpiece of His hands, in these latter times.”
The whole mission of Lucia of Fatima was to be God’s instrument in making known the devotion to the Immaculate Heart for the sanctification and salvation of souls.
St. Louis was canonized in 1947, the same year the Blue Army formed and began to spread this devotion worldwide. It was during the 20th century that St. Louis’ 33-day preparation of consecration began to grow in popularity to the point that a great pope – St. John Paul II – made the consecration to Mary and took as his papal motto Totus Tuus – “totally yours.” This same pope did so much to direct people’s attention back to Fatima, calling it “more relevant, more urgent” than in 1917, and the “specific response” to our times.
Like St. Louis’ teachings on Marian devotion, the Fatima message asks us to abandon ourselves to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to sanctify our daily lives and grow in holiness, to pray the Rosary daily, to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart and to take up the First Saturday devotion for the sake of saving souls, including our own.
St. Louis knew that Mary is the pathway to her Son, leading souls quickly and securely to heaven. Mary confirmed this at Fatima, stating, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” The Fatima children grew quickly in holiness and received from her extraordinary graces to help them achieve so much in their young lives.
Don’t give up the fight
It may feel as if our rosaries, penances and devotions are not doing much, but they are, and now is not the time to give up the fight.
St. Louis predicted that in these “latter times,” by the power of Mary over all the devils, her humble slaves and poor children would rise up and make war against Satan. They would be “little and poor in the world’s esteem…trodden underfoot and persecuted.” But in return, they would be rich in the grace of God, which Mary would distribute to them abundantly. Little Jacinta implored Lucia to “tell everyone that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart, that we are to ask her for them.” She, at age 9, understood that Mary was the Mediatrix of all Graces, without ever having studied St. Louis’ writings, and rose to a great level of sanctity in a very short time by her devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
In our modern era, Mary is calling all us to be the sanctified souls who will join with her in the battle against evil. St. Louis wrote about what these souls would accomplish:
- They would be “true disciples of Jesus Christ, having been formed in the Heart of Mary, and would be like sharp arrows in the hand of the powerful Mary to pierce her enemies.”
John Paul II called the message of Fatima the “school of Our Lady,” where she wants to form us in her Immaculate Heart, and “like the little shepherds, become saints quickly.” (May 13, 2000 homily at Fatima)
2. They would be “full of grace and zeal” and would be “chosen to match themselves against the enemies of God, who shall rage on all sides.”
Doesn’t it feel like we are facing raging enemies from all sides? But we can rejoice in the peace we feel within to counter their ferociousness
3. They would “fight with one hand and build with another.”
How many of you feel like you are fighting back the cultural forces that threaten your families, while trying to rebuild the home, the community, the Church and the nation, with the other hand? The heat is turning up in the spiritual battle, but Mary will give us abundant grace to persevere in the fight.
4. They would be “singularly devout to Our Blessed Lady, led by her spirit and sheltered under her protection.”
At Fatima, Our Lady told us her Immaculate Heart would be our refuge; she would never forsake us and we are not to be afraid. Consecrating your family to her Immaculate Heart is a strong armor of protection.
5. They shall “carry on their shoulders the bloody standard of the Cross, the Crucifix, in their right hand and the Rosary in their left, the sacred Names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts, and the modesty and mortification of Jesus Christ in their own behavior.”
Jesus called for devotion to the Immaculate Heart to be placed alongside devotion to His Sacred Heart. The powerful weapons of our times are the Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the daily Rosary and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which make us worthy before the Lamb to fight in Mary’s battle.
6. They shall “overthrow and crush the heretics, the schismatics, the idolaters and the impious, and with the Holy Virgin would crush the head of the serpent.”
Mary promised us the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, and we are being asked to do our part in bringing it about.
Too often we feel like we don’t have any power against the tremendous political and cultural forces fighting against us, but Mary is calling you – “little and poor in world’s esteem” – to be part of this great battle. The Fatima message of devotion to the Immaculate Heart is how live our consecration to Mary daily and become holy, just as the three little children at Fatima were able to achieve in a short time.
God is asking us to abandon ourselves to Him and trust in His Divine Providence, and He has sent His Mother to help us keep our eyes on the triumph, even though evil appears to be winning on all fronts.
Don’t give up now!
Barb Ernster is the communications manager and editor of Soul Magazine for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA.