Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
We know the mess the world is in. We know the usual suspects. We know who’s behind it. We’ve been told the decisive way to stop.
“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29),” Jesus taught the apostles.
We’ve got a big collective chance to do that prior to the official 100th Anniversary Celebration of Fatima on Oct. 13. How?
A Global Coalition comprised of Catholic organizations from around the world is marshalling the 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF) from Oct. 1-9. Some of the major organizations joining under this banner are the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Legion of Mary and Priests for Life.
To add more moral frosting to this coalition — which we are asked and encouraged to join as individuals, families and groups — the International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF.org) has received more than one apostolic blessing in the past.
In 2014, Pope Francis gave it an apostolic blessing. Before that St. Pope John Paul II gave it not one but two apostolic blessings.
St. Teresa of Calcutta was a great supporter, encouraging this coalition-movement, “You must do this week — God wants this. Prayer is the answer to the world’s problems.”
Perfect 2017 Theme
The theme is perfect for this 100th Anniversary year of Fatima: The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
People everywhere will be uniting to pray and fast for these intentions:
1 - For the conversion of peoples and nations
2 - To defend the sanctity of marriage and family life
3 - To build a culture of life
4 - For peace and to implore God’s mercy
Strong Fatima Connection
Let’s look at some of what Our Lady said during her July 13 apparition in Fatima — during which she mentioned her Immaculate Heart four times — and spoke of prayer and sacrifice, and notice how this IWOPF initiative ties in:
Make sacrifices for sinners, and say often, especially while making a sacrifice: “O Jesus, this is for love of thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
Surely a fast fits the meaning of sacrifice.
After Our Lady showed Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco a vision of hell, she said: You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
In that same apparition she spoke about Russia, the problems the world would face if they did not listen, and then said: But in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
Prayer hastens the triumph. Prayer and sacrifice hasten the triumph.
And what did Our Lady say of prayer during that July apparition — which is she said about prayer in each apparition?
Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”
Momentarily we’ll see how the IWOPF implements this.
Joining the Global Coalition’s 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF) from Oct. 1-9 will not only fulfill the goals of this year’s efforts, but will be responding to Our Lady of Fatima and hastening the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
Most Urgent Reasons
“Prayer and fasting is critical at this time in history,” reminds Bishop Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago and also chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on African American Catholics, in a statement the IWOPF released. Bishop Perry will be the celebrant at the Mass on day nine in Washington, D.C.
Very critical indeed.
Servant of God Sister Lucia of Fatima wrote to Cardinal Carlo Caffara this dire fact we see rapidly unfolding in the world “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family. Don't be afraid…because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. (Then she ended, “nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
A message in Sr. Lucia’s later book "CALLS" The Message of Fatima, she gives advice that ties right into this IWOPF nine-days of prayer and fasting.
Lucia write: “’This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting’ (Mark 9, 29). This kind of persistent demon makes me think of temptation to pride, which are the most serious and difficult to overcome, both in ourselves and in others, because they blind us and prevent us from seeing the precipice down which we are slipping.”
Is it not society’s pride that has replaced God with its secular self in just about every place?
Lucia added, “As the Lord said, in such circumstances both prayer and penance are needed, because only through them can we rediscover the virtue of humility which prompts us to ask God for strength and grace.”
And once they heard Our Lady after the July apparition, the three Fatima children made a sacrifice for sinners. It happened to be a fast.
Here’s how Lucia described it in her memoirs, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, as the children were discussion the requests:
“’And the sacrifices, how are we going to make them?’”
Right away, Francisco thought of a good sacrifice: ‘Let’s give our lunch to the sheep, and make the sacrifice of doing without it.’
In a couple of minutes, the contents of our lunchbag had been divided among the sheep. So that day, we fasted as strictly as the most austere Carthusian!”
If three children, the oldest being 10, could do a little fast, can’t we do some sort of fast for these nine days to get the world back on the track God and Our Lady want it?
Bountiful Big Finish
This International Week of Prayer and Fasting concludes on Oct. 9 with a Eucharistic Prayer Vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., from 9m to 4:30 pm., as it has done since 1997.
“We expect more people to participate in the International Week of Prayer and Fasting this year because of all the crises in the world: hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism and the escalating situation with North Korea, among others, Coalition chairperson Maureen Flynn told the Register.
“People are looking for answers,” she continued. “Many are seeking spiritual solutions, such as Holy Mass, the Holy Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and adoration. Also, since the blood relic of St. John Paul II will be on display on the final day of the 25th International Week of Prayer and Fasting, many will want to venerate this beautiful relic.”
She foresees “greater participation this year and people pledging to pray and fast — prayer groups, churches and families. They realize that our situation in the world could literally change overnight if Americans and people throughout the world got on their knees and asked for God’s intervention and mercy.”
Speakers at the Basilica that day will include Immaculée Ilibagiza, Teresa Tomeo, and of the Pro-Life Action League executive director Eric Scheidler.
Among speakers at past IWOPF weeks were Mother Angelica, Scott Hahn, Johnnette Benkovic, and Jim Caviezel.
During this international day Asian, African and Hispanic communities will pray the Global Living Rosary, and so will members of the Children’s Rosary. The day includes praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and confessions.
The relic of the liquefied blood of St. John Paul II will be at the Basilica for veneration. Of five such reliquaries that are alike, four are enshrined. This is the only one that travels around the world.
Call to Everyone
Is case the message isn’t clear, the IWOPF is asking people “to participate in an all-day Eucharistic Prayer Vigil for our nation and the world.” Register online at IWOPF.org and there you can list your prayer pledges.
Not to worry if you are nowhere near Washington or not a member of any of the larger groups such as Legion of Mary, Priests for Life, etc. These 9 days are a time when every single individual is needed.
As the IWOPF says emphatically, “People around the globe are also urged to participate as individuals, families and parishes by attending daily Masses and holy hours, going to Confession, praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and fasting.”
“Peace will not come to the world from the meetings and agreements of world leaders,” Flynn has previously stated. “Peace can only come to us from the return of humanity to God through means of conversion, to which we are being called by means of prayer, fasting and penance.”
It’s certainly a fitting way to lead up to the 100th Anniversary of Fatima only days away on Oct. 13 because it fits perfectly into what Our Lady told us through the children during the July 13 apparition that:
God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.
Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.
If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.