Priest spreads Fatima’s message of peace, prayer
by Jean M. Schildz, St. Louis Review Staff Writer
The Fatima message is a message for our time, and one that should be heeded if we want peace, says a priest who is a strong proponent of devotion to Mary.
"If you want to get close to Mary, listen. Do what she says. If you want to get closer to the divine Jesus, do what the mother tells you," urged former Benedictine abbot Father Edmund McCaffrey, who spoke to the Review last week on the Blessed Mother and why Catholics should pray to her. Meditate on the Rosary, he said, and listen to the Fatima message.
"That’s very important. The Fatima message is the message of our time. Our Lady said to pray, especially pray the Rosary," do penance for the offenses against her heart, which was her Son’s wish, and do the First Saturday devotions. Do these, "and Mary said there would be peace."
|PEACE, THROUGH MARY — Former Benedictine abbot Father Edmund McCaffrey relaxes by a grotto dedicated to the Blessed Mother on the grounds of Cure of Ars in Shrewsbury last week. The priest promotes devotion to Mary and the message of Fatima, noting that peace has been entrusted to the Mother of God.|
A retired professor with a doctorate in political science, Father McCaffrey now goes around the country giving parish missions, days of recollection and retreats. He co-founded with Jesuit Father John Hardon the Institute on Religious Life, which fosters the growth and development of consecrated religious life.
Father McCaffrey is president of the organization Eternal Life, based in Bardstown, Ky., and created in 1989 to educate Catholics in the full teaching of their faith. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke is the group’s spiritual director. He and Father McCaffrey have known each other for many years and are friends.
The former abbot has traveled 22 times to Fatima, Portugal, where Mary appeared to three children between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917. Twenty-one of his visits were pilgrimages that he led.
Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of three children who saw the apparitions, received a seventh apparition in 1921 while she was in the convent as a Dorothean nun. Later as a Carmelite she lived for many years at the Carmel of Coimbra, Portugal, dying in 2005. The cloistered nun said "that peace has been entrusted to the Blessed Mother," Father McCaffrey said.
"The Blessed Mother said if you want peace, this is how you get it — Rosary, penance, sacrifice and, especially, do the First Saturday devotions. That’s a very critical part of the Fatima message, which usually is not mentioned. That’s the core of the Fatima message."
The devotion involves attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion on the first Saturday of the month in reparation for the sins of the world, particularly those against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Mary said if people will say on the first Saturday of five consecutive months the Rosary, receive Holy Communion, go to confession, and spend 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, (then) they would have a happy death and there would be peace."
Penance, he said, could be as simple as offering up the little annoyances of daily life — "headaches, backaches and people aches."
The Rosary is worth learning about and praying "because that’s Mary’s prayer," Father McCaffrey said. Catholics should meditate on the Rosary because "there you have all the great mysteries of our Christianity."
The priest noted that Pope Benedict XVI has a special devotion to Mary, as had the late Pope John Paul II. Fatima played a prominent role for him. In 2001 the pope was shot on May 13, the date of the first apparition. He attributed his survival to Mary’s intervention and brought the bullet that struck him to Fatima. It since has been placed in a crown adorning a statue of Mary there.
In 2000 Pope John Paul II revealed the final secret or prophesy given to the children at Fatima by Mary. It spoke of an assassination attempt on the pope and the collapse of the Soviet Union. At Fatima Mary had requested prayers for the conversion of Russia.
Pope John Paul II, in concert with all the world’s bishops, consecrated to Mary not only Russia but also the whole world. Some people dispute this, but Sister Lucia said he did it, and the pope himself said he did so, Father McCaffrey said.
For more information about Mary and Fatima, the First Saturday devotion and praying of the Rosary, call the St. Louis Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima at (314) 353-7776.