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The Leonine Prayers for 
the Conversion of Russia

by Rev. Father Philip Foster, C. Ss. R.

Our Heavenly Mother Mary at Fatima came to save us from the scourge of Militant Atheism. Cardinal Ratzinger has pointed this out, referring to Soviet Russia and its satellite countries as "the shame of our time." As Sister Lucy, in her authentic interview with Father Fuentes, said, "She (Our Lady) said that Russia will be the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven to punish the whole world if we do not beforehand obtain the conversion of that poor nation." Now more than ever our public prayer is needed for the conversion of Russia.

Let us recall that it was in 1962 that the Vatican-Moscow Agreement was concluded, whereby the Pope undertook to not publicly denounce the Communist Regime of Moscow. Apparently prayers for the conversion of Russia were also unacceptable to the Communist tyrants. So the prayers for the conversion of Russia after Mass were dropped around 1964. Now that Pope John Paul II, after over 20 years of papal silence regarding Russian Communism, is again denouncing the errors of Marxism, let us once more have public prayers for the conversion of Russia.

To this end we bring you an article by a parish priest from South Africa.

Saint Michael the Archangel who appeared at Fatima, Pray for us.

Shortly after the Second World War it was reported that a Soviet Red Army Captain had sought asylum in the West. It came to his notice that in the Catholic Church every day after every Mass all over the world prayers were being offered for the conversion of his poor country, and the thought of this literally brought tears to his eyes. Seldom had he been so moved and touched. If he should still be alive today what must he be thinking now?

One of the most inexplicable "developments" in the Liturgy changes after the Second Vatican Council was the sudden and total dropping of the Leonine prayers which since the Lateran Treaty of 1929 had been applied to the intention of the conversion of Russia by Pope Pius XI. This one-time vast volume of prayer for the most urgent need of human history had suddenly vanished without a trace, and at a time when surely the need was even ever-increasing. The threat of Russia was a principal theme of Our Lady's revealed secret of Fatima.

The reasons given - and only when asked for - for the expulsion of these beautiful prayers has never been more than that they are now liturgically inappropriate with the New Mass (Missa Normativa); but Goodness knows WHY. - "Oh, you CAN put in a petition for Russia's Conversion in the Bidding Prayers," they say. But in any case, how many do? And if some do, does this begin to make up for that once vast volume of prayer rising up from perhaps 300,000 Masses each day with or without congregation?

What is needed is a concerted effort by like-minded persons in the Church to have these prayers brought back or at least their equivalent. Every conceivable pressure should be used to impress their need upon all priests and especially upon the Hierarchy. I personally feel sure that our present Pope, John Paul II, with his experience of Polish life under the Soviet heel would be sympathetic towards such a restoration.

For my part as writer of this article I wish to say that since I came to my present parish of Rustenburg in 1975 I have restored the saying of these prayers after every Mass in weekdays and on Sundays except where the Mass has singing. No one is bound to stay to recite them, as I amply make clear, but they nearly all seem to do so and to appreciate them. My own parish council was first asked what they thought and gave their unanimous approval. But the responsibility is mine, and I harbor no qualms of conscience about acting incorrectly.

How about at grass roots starting a campaign for the restoration of those vitally necessary prayers?

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The Leonine Prayers to be said after Mass are: Three 'Hail Marys,' one 'Hail Holy Queen' and

"O God, our refuge and our strength, look down in mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the Glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph Her Spouse, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the Saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church, we ask this through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen."

"Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: And do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God thrust down to hell satan and all wicked spirits, who wander throughout the world for the ruin of souls. Amen."

"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us."
"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us."
"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us."
"Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us."