We have recently witnessed several acts of violence and hatred that have claimed many, many innocent lives. These acts have not only been greatly disturbing, but also tend to inspire a state of fear in the hearts of those who hear about them or experience them. Our good Lord does not want these hateful actions. Nor does he want us to live in a state of fear or terror. In Sacred Scripture our Lord invites us to live in continual trust in His goodness and sovereign power. Thus, even if we see or hear of evil actions, it does not change who God is as our Savior and the need we have for His Divine Mercy to help and save us.
In times past, when people and societies have had to face uncertainties and evils, Heaven has called upon men and women of good will to increase prayer and works of penance. I think of the year 1917. In that year World War I was raging and great numbers of soldiers and other people were being killed by the violence of war. The Virgin Mary was sent by our good Lord to three shepherd children (Blessed Jacinta, Blessed Francisco and Servant of God, Sister Lucia) who lived in Fatima, Portugal. She asked them pray the Rosary for peace in the world and asked them to spread this message around the world. I think we should renew this call for praying the Rosary for peace in our world in our time. Furthermore, the Virgin Mary asked that the children and many others offer acts of penance or self denial for the conversion of souls – especially those involved in actions of hatred and violence toward God and people.
I think we should try to follow these same requests given by our Lady at Fatima in 1917. I propose to ask all of our parishioners and households to appeal to Heaven in these ways:
1. Offer a communal Rosary asking for peace in the world before every Holy Mass each weekend and on weekdays. We need volunteers who will lead the Rosary before Holy Masses, beginning approximately 20-25 minutes before the beginning of Holy Mass. Can you volunteer?
2. Come to Holy Mass early and pray the Rosary for peace in the world. The violence we see and hear about affects all of us. WE ALL need to do something to foster peace. Prayer, especially with our Blessed Mother in the presence of our good Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, will be pleasing to God.
3. Pray the Rosary with your family in your homes each day for peace in the world. If you are not in the habit of doing this, do not worry. You can start with the whole Rosary if you can or simply start with one decade of a Rosary and work your way up to a 5-decade Rosary each day.
4. Let us offer sacrifices to our good Lord in petition for peace in the world. Let us start with some that we are already familiar: offering a penance on Fridays. Here is what Canon Law in the Church teaches:
“Canon 1249 - The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.
Canon 1250 - All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.
Canon 1251 - Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Canon 1252 - All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.
Canon 1253 - It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.” (Catholic Code of Canon Law)
On the Fridays outside of Lent, the United States conference of bishops obtained the permission of the Holy See (Vatican) for Catholics in the United States to substitute a penitential or a charitable practice of their own choosing. Catholics must do some penitential or charitable practice on Fridays outside of Lent. For most people the easiest practice to consistently abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States and throughout the world. (from www.ewtn.com)
The practice of doing penance or charitable works on Fridays is an important part of our Catholic Faith. God blesses our little efforts to atone for our sin and the sins of others. Not eating meat on Fridays is a practical sacrifice that involves discipline and often a real sacrifice. It is also possible to offer another sacrifice instead of not eating meat on a Friday. What is important for us is to practice, in a spirit loving devotion, the offering of penances and sacrifices to our good Lord, in union with His great and salvific sacrifice on the Cross!
Finally, let us continue to invoke the Holy Spirit in union with our Blessed Mother for an outpouring of the grace upon the human family:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created;
R. And Thou shall renew the face of the earth.
Let Us Pray: O God, Who has instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, St. Paul and St. Michael may our good Lord grant peace and mercy to us and the whole world!
In Christ through Mary,
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