In his great work, The World’s First Love, Archbishop Fulton Sheen tells us how the Church’s doctrine of Mary, the Mother of God, is always correcting the errors of the time. With the decree of the Immaculate Conception, the Church condemned the modern notion that all men are created equal. When Pius XII defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption, the Church was preaching hope in the midst of the world’s despair after two world wars.
Another great error has grown up as of late after a brief period of decline: Islam. Today, Islam has penetrated into the heart of the West as it has never done before. Any advance of the Muslim into Christian territory was fought against fiercely by previous generations, but ours has instead embraced Islam. Because of our failed missionary attempts into the land of the Muslim, Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world, and radical Islamists have begun to carry out attacks in the West and on Christians in the Middle East. Their fervor to carry out more and worse atrocities appears only to be growing stronger.
What are we to do? “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1). If we are to be good and faithful Christians, we must fight. And while we often must take up physical arms to defend ourselves, our lands, and our Faith, the most important weapon we have is prayer.
This truth is laid out clearly during Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jesus is about to be arrested, Peter takes out his sword, striking off the ear of Malchus. Yet Christ rebukes Peter, saying, “Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” At first glance, this exhortation seems to be taken from a pacifist’s manifesto; however, in context, we read that Peter was ready to fight a physical battle – but not a spiritual one. He rose up in arms to fight for Christ, but just before doing so, he had fallen asleep when he should have been praying.
For this, Jesus rebuked him.
Peter did not realize that the fight, while carried out in the temporal sphere, is at its core a spiritual fight. Our first and most important weapon is prayer. During the Battle of Lepanto, though great battalions met the Muslim enemy, it was the faithful all across Europe praying their Rosaries that allowed the outmanned Holy League to defeat the Ottoman invaders.
It is time again to use our most powerful weapon against heresy and attack: The Blessed Virgin Mary.
As the extremist forces of ISIS, Boko Haram, and other groups spread their reign of terror, and push for the destruction of Rome and the demise of Christians and Christian civilization, we must pray. We pray for the grace to overcome the violent Islamic heresy, and we pray for our enemies, as Christ has taught us to do. Loving our enemies is a commandment.
Returning again to The World’s First Love, we read that Muslims will not be converted by the preaching of Christ.
It is Mary who will convert them.
The Quran has verse after verse concerning Mary, each of them honoring her. In fact, the Quran has a quote from Fatima, Mohammed’s own daughter: “I surpass all women, except Mary.”
It is no coincidence, says Archbishop Sheen, that Our Lady chose to appear to three shepherd children at Fatima: “I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too.” He goes on to write,
Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her Divine Son.
It is for this reason that I would like to promote a novena to Our Lady of Fatima, whose Feast Day is May 13, asking for the conversion of Muslims to the Catholic Faith. Out of charity, we must pray for our enemies, and show them great love. What greater love can we show them but to pray to our Blessed Mother for their conversion?
Below is the novena prayer to Our Lady of Fatima. For those who wish to participate, it should be said each day from May 4 to May 12.
Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it, we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of Muslims to the Catholic Faith, which I ask of you in this novena, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of all people. Amen.
Then say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be three times each.
Beginning on May 13, and ending on May 21, those participating in this novena intend to offer an additional nine days of thanksgiving, saying each day three Hail Marys, in gratitude for Our Lady of Fatima hearing our prayers.
Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!
Trent Augustine received a B.S. in Physiology from Marquette University in 2010 and a M.A. from Loyola University Chicago in 2013. He is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago. Despite the difficulties of living the faith in an environment hostile to the Church, it is his hope to bring another authentic Catholic voice to the medical profession.