God’s ‘peace plan’

In a time of global crisis, our consecration to Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph are needed more than ever

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” — John 14:27

Repentance, prayer, and sacrifice—these are the three conditions that the Blessed Virgin Mary stresses are necessary if peace is to truly reign in our hearts, in our country, and in the world.

In 1917, at the height of the madness of the First World War, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, during six monthly apparitions culminating with the great “miracle of the sun” on Oct. 13 that over 70,000 pilgrims witnessed.

In addition to urging the praying of the rosary and acts of penance and sacrifice as critical parts of God’s “peace plan” for the world, she asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. But that consecration also requires ours as well. In these worsening times, I urge you, I beg you, to make your consecration “to Jesus through the hearts of Mary and St. Joseph.”

A warning we must still heed. On March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, I and my brother bishops around the world, with all the faithful, joined Pope Francis in a solemn act of consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Given the horrible war in Ukraine and the growing scale of suffering and destruction since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, which threatens to pull all of the world into its flames, we are again urged to heed the warning of Our Lady of Fatima, and to honor her pleas to pray and to offer acts of penance and sacrifice for the conversion of sinners and for God’s peace to reign:

“If people attend to my requests, Russia will be converted and the world will have peace. If not, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, fomenting wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me; it will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world.”

A long-awaited consecration. According to Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three Fatima visionaries, who became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005, the consecration made by St. John Paul II on March 25, 1984, satisfied the request of Our Lady to consecrate Russia.

Still, many have questioned its validity as it was accomplished without explicitly mentioning Russia by name, being offered for “the world” and “those individuals and nations that particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.”

It is said that he chose to do so because by this time, 67 years after the Fatima apparitions, the “errors” of Russia had already deeply infected the whole world with its deadly poison. But in 1991, seven years after the consecration, the “Iron Curtain” officially fell, and the world, particularly Europe, breathed a sigh of relief.

What happened to peace? Here we are, 31 years after what was hoped to be the promised “period of peace,” but that arguably was not, with Russia still seemingly possessed by its demons.

Indeed, our country and the whole world seems so immersed in sin to the point of calling “evil good, and good evil” that the words of St. Paul express the global situation—”the way of peace they know not” (Isaiah 5:20, Romans 3:17).

For true peace comes from “the blood of the cross,” and is not of one’s making (Colossians 1:20). This is why we must continue to respond to the pleas of Our Lady of Fatima and consecrate ourselves, and to daily embrace a life of conversion, prayer, and sacrifice, not only for our ongoing conversion, but also for the conversion of poor sinners, and all the countries of the world.

The primary consecration. Consecration means to “set apart” and “to make holy” something for sacred use or purpose—it is a total entrustment or dedication to God. Properly understood, consecration is always an action of God. Only God can consecrate.

Our most important consecration, what the Church calls “the fundamental consecration of the Christian life,” is that of our baptism—our entrance into the very life of God.

When we are baptized, we become a temple of the Holy Spirit, consecrated to Jesus Christ and “set apart” to “be built into a spiritual house to be a priestly people and to offer sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Consecration then, be it a consecration to Mary and St. Joseph, or the consecrated life as a religious, or a bishop’s consecration in his episcopal ordination, only builds upon, enlarges, and strengthens one’s baptismal consecration.

Why a Marian consecration? The great Marian saint, Louis de Montfort, states that a correct devotion to Mary is in fact a perfect consecration to Jesus Christ because “it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.”

This is because, in making our consecration, we give our self entirely to the motherly love of Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. “Of all God’s creatures,” the saint reminds us, “Mary is the most conformed to Jesus.” It follows, then, that “the more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.”

Our consecration unites us more intimately to Mary’s “yes” to God, her “Fiat” to His plan of redeeming His fallen children—”Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38). This is how we cooperate in God’s peace plan and help to undo the “No” of Satan that sows so much destruction and death in the world.

A mother’s suffering. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen noted that, “One of the penalties of original sin was that a woman should bring forth her children in sorrow” (Genesis 3:16), and that because of this, “the curse of Eve hangs heavily on Mary.”

For in those most precious words that Jesus spoke to His mother and to St. John at the foot of the cross—“Woman, behold your son,” and to St. John, “Behold your mother” (John 19:26, 27). Mary became our mother and we her children.

Archbishop Sheen called this “the second Nativity.” But as our Mother, Mary, suffers the “sword” of our sins that “pierce” her Immaculate Heart (cf. Luke 2:35), having witnessed how much they caused Jesus to suffer upon the cross, and in the misery that sin brings upon the world.

The “woman” who crushes the serpent’s head. This is why Archbishop Sheen stressed that, “Our only hope for world peace is found in the message of Fatima.”

He asked, “How shall we overcome the spirit of Satan except by the power of that woman to whom almighty God has given the mandate to crush the head of the serpent?”

Indeed, we are all immersed in the cosmic battle between good and evil, “between [the serpent] and the woman” (Genesis 3:15), which is waged upon earth by the Herods of every age upon Mary’s children (cf. Matthew 2:16-18). And the greatest destroyer of peace in our day, as St. Teresa of Kolkata stated, is abortion:

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun… who was with child and wailed aloud in pains as she labored to give birth… Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth…” (Revelation 12:1-12).

A mother’s heart for her children. For these reasons, our consecration responds to the greatest desire of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who as our heavenly mother, has no greater desire than to protect and save her children from sin and Satan’s murderous rage.

She wants to place her protective mantle about us and to lead us and all sinners, and all nations, to the merciful love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. So, with Pope Francis, we acknowledge our helplessness and the great need we have for our mother’s help:

At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ…. Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we entrust ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine…. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family…. 

Pray the rosary! At Fatima, Mary identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary.” What makes the rosary so powerful are the sacred mysteries of Christ that we reflect upon, for it is truly a “Gospel prayer.”

And it is Mary who helps us to reflect upon these mysteries just as she did—“Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

These mysteries are not in the “past,” but are “living” mysteries. Just as Jesus came to the world through Mary, so she continues to bring Him to each of us through her Immaculate Heart, and most beautifully so in the rosary.

And she teaches us, as she did at Fatima, to pray for the salvation of all souls, with the prayer she asked be added after each decade of the rosary—“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

No wonder Satan hates the rosary so much!

Who does Satan fear most? Ponder this—the great saint of the rosary, Louis de Montfort, reminds us that the one person Satan fears most, in a certain sense more than even God Himself, is Mary.

How can this be? It is because Satan is so full of pride that “he suffers infinitely more by being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of the Lord.”  

Mary is the woman who crushes the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). This is why the rosary is so effective against defeating the scourge of the worst sins and why it is so efficacious in bringing about peace of heart and world peace.

Terror of demons. But there is another one who Satan also completely fears—St. Joseph!

For he is the most perfect reflection of the fatherhood of God, and the light of his most holy heart is so pure and intense that it puts Satan to flight in utter terror.

No other saint bears the title of “Terror of demons,” and by saving Jesus from the murderous rage of Herod, he alone merits to be called the “savior of the Savior,” and “zealous defender of Christ.”

As God entrusted His two most precious treasures—Jesus and Mary—to the care and protection of St. Joseph, so, too, we should entrust ourselves to him as our spiritual father, guardian, and defender. As those in grave need were directed to the Old Testament patriarch Joseph during time of crisis, so let us “Go to Joseph!” (Genesis 41:55).

Attack upon marriage and family. It is no coincidence, then, that as our country has increasingly rejected the Fatherhood of God, there has been a growing and alarming crisis of fatherhood among men.

Satan, who rejected God’s fatherhood with the words, “Non Serviam”—“I will not serve”—also seeks to destroy fatherhood among men, and to pervert their hearts so as to destroy marriage and the family.

Three years before her death, Sister Lucia wrote that “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”

With the attacks upon traditional marriage and family having dramatically worsened, this battle is clear for all to see. Parents are now expected to surrender their God-given rights as the primary educators of their children to the government and its programs of ideological and gender indoctrination.

More than ever, families need the help of our heavenly mother and our spiritual father, St. Joseph.

A strong father and mother. The words spoken by the angel of the Lord to St. Joseph in a dream were not just meant for him alone but are for each of us: “Do not be afraid to take Mary… into your home” and into your heart (Matthew 1:20).

St. Joseph wants nothing more than to bring Mary into our hearts so she can be our mother and make our heart Christ’s home.

When I think of the importance of St. Joseph, where so many families are broken and suffering, I am reminded of the beautiful Scripture passage that speaks of his special role: “To the fatherless be as a father, and help their mother as a husband would”—Sirach 4:10.

As our spiritual father, St. Joseph wants us to be part of the Holy Family. And there is no greater way to “honor thy father and mother” than by consecrating ourselves to the Blessed Mother and to St. Joseph—a holy family in Christ.

God’s co-workers. As St. Joseph is the special “patron of workers,” our consecration links us in a far more profound way to God’s peace plan as His “co-workers” in the world (1 Corinthians 3:9).

This means, above all, we must live our conversion by turning away from selfishness and sin, turning anew toward God every day.

But this conversion of heart, and the penances and sacrifices we offer, are not meant just for our blessing and growth in holiness, but that we might also be the bearers of Christ’s blessings to others and help sinners return to God.

Obstacles to true peace. Venerable Pope Pius XII declared in 1946, not even halfway through the bloodiest century of world history, that “the sin of the century is the loss of a sense of sin.”

St. Paul reminds us that “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12).

Sin and evil are very real, as are the consequences of sin, which destroys peace. For every “personal sin” is also a “social sin.”

And this is because, as the Church teaches, “a supernatural solidarity reigns among men, whereby the sin of one harms the others just as the holiness of one also benefits the others.”

That is why confession is not only the sacrament of personal healing, but also social healing. As the “Angel of Peace” explained to the Fatima children, our prayers, ongoing conversion, and sacrifices are desperately needed.

Prayer and sacrifice. The story of Fatima actually began a year earlier in the spring of 1916, when an angel appeared to the three shepherd children telling them:

“You must pray a great deal. The hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer up prayers and sacrifices to the Most High. Make everything you do a sacrifice and offer it to God in reparation for the countless sins by which He is offended and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, you will bring peace to your country.”

And he taught them a prayer of reparation that is truly pleasing to God as an extension of the holy sacrifice of the Mass that we must continue to live throughout each day:

Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I adore You profoundly. I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.

Prayer of sacrifice. Our Lady, in her messages at Fatima, encourages us to offer sacrifices, small and great, as often as we possibly can in our day with all its crosses and sufferings, praying as we do:

“O my Jesus, it is for the love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer this sacrifice to You.”

Conclusion. The message of Fatima is one of penance and conversion. And Mary’s parting words on Oct. 13, 1917, immediately before the great miracle of the sun began, are words we must urgently take to heart: “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more for He is already too much offended.”

For the peace we want in our hearts and in our world, let us consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the most pure heart of St. Joseph. And please honor Our Lady’s urgent request for peace by attending Mass on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months and going to confession.

Book recommendations. To assist you in making your consecration to Mary and St. Joseph, and to live your life as God’s co-worker for peace in the world, I cannot more highly recommend two books to you by two priests of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MIC)—Father Michael Gaitley and Father Donald Calloway.

The books are 33 Days to Morning Glory and Consecration to St. Joseph—The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father.

They each offer a 33-day program of short daily readings and prayer that are sure to excite your faith.

To learn more about the Fatima apparitions, I recommend the work of Father John de Marchi, IMC, The True Story of Fatima, which can be read online. And to assist you in praying and reflecting more attentively and beautifully upon the mysteries of the rosary, contact Paul Simoneau, psimoneau@dioknox.org, at the Diocese of Knoxville Chancery regarding his insightful booklet and instruction, Icons of the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.

It is sure to transform your rosary meditations in incredible ways.

Our Lady of Fatima, and St. Joseph, pray for us!

Comments 1

  1. “Every personal sin is also a social sin.”
    A worthy theme for us to meditate on, to pray about, to teach others
    so that our society can begin to heal and recover.

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