Sister Lucy of Fatima said,
… we should not wait for an appeal to the world to come from Rome on the part of the Holy Father, to do penance. Nor should we wait for the call to penance to come from our bishops in our dioceses, nor from the religious congregations. No! Our Lord has already very often used these means, and the world has not paid attention. That is why now, it is necessary for each one of us to begin to reform himself spiritually. Each person must not only save his own soul but also the souls that God has placed on our path.
St. Augustine reminds us that “we must pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on us.” Provided here are some of the most effective ways we can gather together to pray, do penance and reform ourselves spiritually, for the purpose of saving our souls and helping others to save their souls.
The Family Rosary
“Give me one million families praying the Rosary and the world is saved.”
… Blessed Pope Pius IX
We have all heard that the family that prays together stays together. It seems that in our difficult times, in which the family is continuously assaulted from almost every direction, the family needs the weapon of prayer more than ever. But how should the family pray? St. Francis de Sales said that the greatest method of praying is the Rosary.
Sister Lucy explained the power of the Rosary when she told Father Fuentes:
Look, Father, the Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
When the family comes together to pray the Rosary, they are complying with a request made by Our Lady of Fatima in each of Her apparitions. Blessed Jacinta of Fatima, the youngest member of her family, was the one who convinced her family to say the family Rosary together. We also should try to establish this most efficacious custom in our families.
Regarding the family Rosary, here is what some of the Roman Pontiffs have said:
If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, in your country, assemble every evening to recite the Rosary.
… Blessed Pope Pius IX
It will not then seem too much to say that … in families … in which the Rosary of Mary retains its ancient honor, the loss of faith through error and vicious ignorance need not be feared.
… Pope Leo XIII
The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers, it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God … and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.
… Pope Saint Pius X
There is no surer means of calling down God’s blessings upon the family … than the daily recitation of the Rosary.
… Pope Pius XII
It is important not to lose this precious practice. We must return to family prayer, using the Rosary.
… Pope John Paul II
Sister Lucy of Fatima said, “There is no problem, no matter how difficult it is … that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” We are living in a time of crisis; and sin and apostasy escalate daily. We, as members of the Church militant, are therefore obligated to take action and to fight against the forces that seek to destroy Christ’s reign in souls.
And what action is more effective than prayer, and especially the Rosary? Our Lady of Fatima requested again and again that we pray five decades of the Rosary each day. Speaking of the tremendous power of this prayer, Pope St. Pius X said, “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”
It is truly efficacious to form prayer groups, and to meet regularly to pray together. Our Lord said: “Where there are two or three gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). When we gather together to pray, we can be sure that Christ is in our midst and that our prayer will be even more powerful. Saints Teresa and Padre Pio especially encouraged the formation of prayer groups. Prayer groups can take on many forms, but they are essentially simple, and do not require large numbers.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort particularly recommended group recitation of the Rosary. “When people say the Rosary together,” he said, “it is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking. It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle, it cannot be broken. In union, there is strength.”
In his book The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort lists the following benefits to the practice of public group prayer, especially the Rosary:
- Normally, our minds are far more alert during public prayer than when we pray alone.
- When we pray in common, the prayer of each one belongs to all. We make one great prayer together, so that if one person is not praying well, someone else in the same gathering who prays better may make up for his deficiency. In this way, those who are strong uphold the weak. Those who are fervent inspire the lukewarm.
- One who says his Rosary alone only gains the merit of that one Rosary. But if he says it together with others, he gains the merit of each Rosary. This is the law of public prayer.
- Public prayer is far more powerful than private prayer, to appease the anger of God, and to call down His mercy. Holy Mother Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, has always advocated public prayer in times of public tragedy and suffering.
- If the faithful pray five decades of the Rosary in company with others, whether in public or private, they may gain an indulgence of ten years, once a day. A plenary indulgence can be gained on the last Sunday of the month – with the addition of detachment from venial sin, confession, Communion, a visit to the church and prayers for the intentions of the Pope – if they perform such recitation at least three times in any of the preceding weeks.
The Block Rosary
The Block Rosary consists of groups of people living within close proximity of each other praying the Rosary for the Church, their families, their communities and their country, once a week. It is suggested that they especially pray for the bishops and Pope, so that they do their part to bring peace to the world by consecrating Russia in the form requested by Our Lady at Fatima. The group meets at a different participant’s home each week at the same day and time. They should not serve refreshments or have discussions or long conversations on these occasions, as it is not a social event. The group should not let the Block Rosary in its area lose its spiritual purpose little by little by letting it turn into a social event.
Therefore prayer groups, and especially the Block Rosary, are ways in which we can truly come together to draw down grace and mercy from God through the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When we pray in groups, we – as members of the Church Militant – strike a powerful blow against God’s enemies. Let us therefore gather together to pray, and commit to reciting the Rosary together once a week, and thus doing our part to convert sinners and bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The 54-day Rosary Novena
The 54-day Rosary Novena is an uninterrupted series of daily Rosaries, prayed in honor of Our Lady. The devotion was revealed, in 1884, to the grievously ill Fortuna Agrelli by Our Lady of Pompeii at Naples, Italy. Fortuna had been suffering terribly for thirteen months, and her illness had been declared incurable.
On February 16, 1884, Fortuna and her relatives commenced a novena of Rosaries. On March 3, the Queen of the Holy Rosary appeared to the sick girl. In the apparition Our Lady, sitting upon a high throne profusely decorated with flowers and surrounded by luminous figures, held the Divine Child. In Her hand She held a rosary. Both Our Lady and the Child were clad in gold-embroidered garments. They were accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. The beauty of Our Lady was marvelous.
Our Lady spoke to Fortuna:
Child, thou hast invoked Me by various titles and hast always obtained favors from me. Now, since thou hast called Me by that title so pleasing to Me, ‘Queen of the Holy Rosary,’ I can no longer refuse the favor for which thou dost petition; for this name is most precious and dear to Me. Make three novenas, and thou shalt obtain all.
Our Lady appeared to Fortuna again and said, “Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.”
The Novena consists of praying five decades of the Rosary each day for twenty-seven days in petition, then immediately five decades each day for twenty-seven days in thanksgiving, whether or not the request has been granted. On the first day meditate on the Joyful Mysteries, on the second day the Sorrowful Mysteries, on the third day the Glorious Mysteries, on the fourth day meditate again on the Joyful Mysteries and continue thus throughout the fifty-four days.
The 54-day Rosary Novena may be a laborious novena, but it is also a novena of love. Those who are sincere will not find it too difficult, if they truly wish to obtain their requests. This novena will be especially powerful when groups form to pray it together.
The Universal Living Rosary
The Living Rosary is a special way to join your prayers with those of others, through the powerful prayer of Our Lady’s Rosary. The Living Rosary Association was founded in 1826 by Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot.
Being a member of the Living Rosary consists in enrolling with the Association, and upon being assigned one decade of the Rosary, reciting it faithfully every day for the rest of one’s life. One is not bound to fulfill this condition under pain of sin, but one must intend to remain faithful. One’s decade may be prayed any time during the day. The indulgences granted to this devotion include all those of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary.
Fourteen other members’ decades will constitute the remainder of the fifteen-decade Rosary, so that each member will receive the graces of the entire Rosary. Thus the individual unites his prayers with those of fourteen others, who together pray an entire fifteen-decade Rosary every day. Pauline Jaricot’s idea was to form a prayer group consisting of “the good, the mediocre and those individuals who had only good will – 15 coals: one being well lighted, three or four partially so and the others not at all. Bring them together and you have a furnace!”
Five First Saturdays
On November 1, 1927, Sister Lucy wrote to her godmother, Dona Maria de Miranda:
I don’t know if you already know about the reparatory devotion of the five Saturdays to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As it is still recent, I would like to inspire you to practice it, because it is requested by Our dear Heavenly Mother and Jesus has manifested a desire that it be practiced. Also, it seems to me that you would be fortunate, dear godmother, not only to know it and to give Jesus the consolation of practicing it, but also to make it known and embraced by many other persons.
It consists in this: During five months on the first Saturday, to receive Jesus in Communion, recite a Rosary, keep Our Lady company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and make a confession. The confession can be made a few days earlier, and if in this previous confession you have forgotten the (required) intention the following [confession’s] intention can be offered, provided that on the first Saturday one receives Holy Communion in the state of grace, with the intention of repairing for offenses against the Most Holy Virgin and which afflict Her Immaculate Heart.
It seems to me, my dear godmother, that we are fortunate to be able to give Our dear Heavenly Mother this proof of love, for we know that She desires it to be offered to Her. As for myself, I avow that I am never so happy as when first Saturday arrives. Isn’t it true that our greatest happiness is to belong entirely to Jesus and Mary and to love Them and Them alone, without reserve? We see this so clearly in the lives of the saints … They were happy because they loved, and we, my dear godmother, we must seek to love as they did, not only to enjoy Jesus,which is the least important – because if we do not enjoy Him here below,we will enjoy Him up above – but to give Jesus and Mary the consolation of being loved … and that in exchange for this love they might be able to save many souls.1
Sister Lucy has written numerous letters encouraging her friends and family to foster devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, especially through the practice of the Five First Saturdays. Her writings have likewise encouraged and inspired people around the world to practice the Five First Saturdays devotion. Not only does this devotion console Our Lady’s wounded Heart, but it also appeases the anger of God, which many people continually incite by their many sins. Sister Lucy wrote on March 19, 1939, “Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration [of Russia] to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.”2
She also wrote, on June 20 of the same year, “Our Lady promised to delay the scourge of war, if this devotion was propagated and practiced. We see that She will obtain remission of this chastisement to the extent that efforts are made to propagate this devotion…”3 Thus we come to understand that we can avoid the punishments that we will justly deserve for our sins if we work to propagate the devotion of the Five First Saturdays (in addition to praying and petitioning for the Consecration of Russia).
We can easily follow Sister Lucy’s example, and encourage our friends, family members and relatives to join us in making the Five First Saturdays devotion. As Sister Lucy wrote in the letter to her godmother quoted above, we would be doing the will of God and would be “fortunate … not only to know [the devotion of the Five First Saturdays] and to give Jesus the consolation of practicing it, but also to make it known and embraced by many other persons.” Let us therefore strive to console both Jesus and Mary and help our friends, family members, relatives and the world by practicing, and encouraging others to practice, the devotion of the Five First Saturdays.
- Quoted by Father Alonso, (Eph. Mar., 1973) pp. 41-42. Found in Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima – Volume II: The Secret and the Church, pp. 818-19.
- Letter to Father Aparicio, Documentos de Fátima, Trans. António Maria Martins, S.J., Porto, 1976, p. 483. Found in Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima — Volume II: The Secret and the Church, p. 273.
- Letter to Father Aparicio of June 20, 1939, Documentos de Fátima, Trans. António Maria Martins, S.J., Porto, 1976, p. 485. Found in Frère de la Sainte Trinité, The Whole Truth About Fatima — Volume II: The Secret and the Church, p. 273.