Friday, May 13, 2011

How children will save the world. Sermon for Our Lady of Fatima, May 13th

This homily was delivered at the school Mass for our parish grade school (k-8). That morning, the first and second grade children crowned our Lady with flowers. Children, teachers, parents and also the regular daily-Mass-goers were in attendance.

The Fatima Children: Jacinta, Lucia, Francesco
ages 7, 10 and 9
May 13th, The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

The Beautiful Woman, that is the Blessed Virgin Mary, said to the child Lucia: “Recite the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world.” She also said to the three children: “When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.” – From the writings of St. Lucia, a child of Fatima

On May 13th, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary started a project that was very very big, and that would take many years to come to fulfillment. On that day, she began the process which would lead to the three things:
First, our Lady wanted to convert the whole word – and this is a very great goal and the biggest part of her plan. Second, on a slightly smaller scale, Mary desired to convert the nation of Russia – you see, the Russians were about to fall to the evil communist government which would make it illegal to believe in God; so Mary decided that it was time to act to combat this evil and to convert the whole nation. And finally, the Mother of God wanted to save the Pope – because she knew that someone was going to try to kill him in the future.

These were three big tasks, three extremely important projects: Save the world, save Russia, and save the Pope. And I suppose you are wondering, “To whom would Mary entrust this great work? To whom would Mary turn for the accomplishment of such an important project?”
Well, I put this question to you: Do you think she would give this great work to adults or to children? Of course, she would entrust it to children! We have already seen this many times at our school Masses throughout the year – especially, on the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux and also a couple of other times (like at the Annunciation, when Jesus himself became a child) – God loves to answer the prayers of children. And when a young person prays, his prayers are especially powerful because God is always ready to hear and answer a child. And, of course, if anyone knows how powerful the prayers of children are, it would be Mary – because she is a Mother to us all, and we are her children.
When it is time for real work to be done, when our Lady has a project that is too important to fail, something that simply must be successful – Mary knows that she has to turn to children! She leaves the unimportant things to adults; you know, things like politics and economics. These things don’t make hardly any difference in the big picture. But saving souls and saving the world? That is just too important to entrust it to adults immediately; first it is given to children and then, through the children, to adults.

So, when Mary decided to save the world, Russia, and the Pope; she didn’t appear to adults, but instead she appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal. She appeared to these three young children who were named: Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta. Now I know that Jacinta sounds like a funny name to you, but in Portuguese it is a beautiful name! J
And these three children were very young indeed: Lucia was ten years old, Francesco was nine, and Jacinta was only seven! They were very young children and most people probably wouldn’t have thought that they could do very much – but you and I know better, don’t we? We know that God loves to answer the prayers of children. We know that, if anything can save the world, it will be the prayers of children!

Mary appeared to these three children and told them that they needed to save the world, to save Russia, and to save the Pope – and she said that they would only be able to do this through prayer. Mary gave them three things that they had to do: First, they had to pray the Rosary every day. Second, they had to love the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Third, they had to pray to Mary in a special way on Saturdays. Through these simple prayers, the children would overcome every obstacle, indeed they would overcome the world!

And what do you think happened? Of course, what Mary had promised came true!
First, thirty years ago today (May 13th, 1981), when John Paul II had not even been pope for three years, an assassin went to St. Peter’s Square with a mission: He had been hired to shoot and kill Pope John Paul II! It was the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, but it was before the feast was spread throughout the world or even very well known – and John Paul was riding in the square outside the church in his “Pope Mobile” (you know, the Pope rides in a sort-of Jeep that has no roof on it, so he stands on the car as it drives through the square and he is able to wave to people and shake there hands).
Well, John Paul II was going through the square in the midst of a great crowd of people, when something caught his eye … he saw a picture of Our Lady of Fatima! The car was stopped and he bent down to look at the picture more closely. Now, as the Pope bent down, right at that very moment, this assassin shot him … and if the Pope had not just then bent over, the bullet would have killed him! Still, as it was the bullet caused terrible damage and nearly did kill him … and it was no minor miracle that he survived that day.
And, you won’t be surprised to learn why it was that the Holy Father had to bend down so low to look at that picture of Our Lady of Fatima – he had to bend low because it was a child who was holding the image! Once again, we see that Mary does her greatest works through children!

Here is what John Paul II said about that day: “Could I forget that the event [Ali Ağca's assassination attempt] in St. Peter’s Square took place on the day and at the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fátima, Portugal? For in everything that happened to me on that very day, I felt that extraordinary motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly bullet.”

Thus, through the prayers of those three children, Pope John Paul II was saved; and what a great pope he became! This happened sixty-four years after the first apparition in Fatima; and the only one still alive was Lucia (Francesco and Jacinta had already gone to heaven) – but the prayers of these children all those years ago, together with the special protection of Our Lady, saved Pope John Paul II on that day.

The second part of the project also was fulfilled – because, only a few months after Mary first appeared to the children, Russia became communist and many many people were killed. It became illegal to be Catholic or even to believe in God! But the children had prayed and, through the influence also of Pope John Paul II, many people throughout the world were following the example the children had given – so many Catholics were praying the Rosary for the conversion of Russia!
And what do you think happened? Did the prayers work? Well, is Russia communist today? See how powerful the prayers of children can be! The whole country of Russia, a super-power, one of the strongest and most terrible nations the world has ever seen – and it was destroyed not by guns or armies, but by prayers! And especially by the prayers of children.

Finally, we have the third part of the project – to save the world, to get everybody to heaven. This part hasn’t been finished yet, but we are all working for it. This is where you come in – you, the children of our parish school! Now it is your turn to pray, and it’s your turn to save the world – just like the three children of Fatima!
Think of it, those three children (Lucia, Francesco, and Jacinta), think of all they accomplished! And there was only three of them! There are many more of you – over seventy. Why, if the three children of Fatima could save a pope and convert Russia; think of what you can do!

Today, our first and second graders crowned our Lady with flowers … you can scarcely imagine just how powerful a simple act like that is! You cannot even imagine how much that means to Mary and to Jesus! Your prayers – though they seem little to the world – are very powerful indeed.
So, you younger ones, you need to keep up your daily prayers. They are very important – you kids in the lower grades have the most power of all! So, I suppose it would be enough (at least to start) if you said three “Hail Mary’s” every day – this could change the world, if you say them from your heart.
As you get older, though, you will have to learn to pray more. So, now I address you older kids, the seventh and eighth graders – your prayers are still very important and very powerful, but you are getting closer to becoming full adults; so you will need to pray a bit more, at least a decade of the Rosary every day.
Now, you adults, we all need to be praying even more – we have to say all five decades every day; because we aren’t children anymore, so our prayers aren’t quite so pure, or so heartfelt. But, I’m sure that if we pray at least five decades every day, Mary will answer our prayers too! J

This is my point, you children are called upon by Mary to save the world, to save souls – just like Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta. You have a special place before God, and your prayers mean so much. I promise you this: You cannot even begin to imagine just how great you really are! You cannot even begin to image just how powerful your prayers are before our heavenly Father!
Already, you have done so much. I tell you truly, you are bringing salvation to our town. You are making me a better priest. You are making your parents and your teachers better Christians. And look at the joy you bring to our daily-Mass-crowd! Every time you come, the whole church is filled with new life and with a great reverence and love for God!
So, Pray! Pray, pray, pray! And, through your prayers and sacrifices, God will one day bring us all to the great joy of life everlasting.

The news report of the assassination attempt on Blessed John Paul II