When we speak of a triumph we are also referring to a battle. Triumph signifies the winning of a battle.
The Blessed Virgin in Fatima speaks about the battle we are facing in these times, which includes the general loss of faith, the loss of many souls, wars, and destruction. But the worst war is the loss of faith, as Our Lord says: “Do not fear those who can kill the body, but rather those who can kill the soul” (Matt 10:28). The worst death is that of a soul who loses faith – a soul far from God, far from His love and commandments, drowning in a life of sin, running the risk of eternal condemnation, or rather, eternal death.
This great battle we are waging today, which the Holy Father John Paul II calls the “culture of death,” not only includes the destruction of human life, but also the destruction of the soul. The Virgin Mary offers us Her Heart as a sure refuge, while showing us how in these particular times God has desired for the triumph to come through Her: “Tell all the world that great graces come through the Immaculate Heart of Mary” and “that God has entrusted to the Immaculate Heart the peace and conversion of the world!” (Words of the Virgin Mary in Fatima to Jacinta). When Lucia asked Jesus why the conversion of Russia would be the fruit of its Consecration to the Immaculate Heart, Our Lord responded, “Because I want it to be seen clearly that the triumph is of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in this way I will spread knowledge and devotion to the Immaculate Heart along with devotion to My Sacred Heart.”
Why the Blessed Virgin’s battle against evil?
From the beginning of the Sacred Scriptures (Genesis 3) until the end (Revelation 12) the Blessed Virgin is revealed as being in enmity and in battle against Satan, his seductions, and his works.
Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” Revelation 12: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…Then another sign appeared in the sky: a huge red dragon…ready to devour her child when she gave birth….and the woman fled into the desert…the dragon pursued the woman, but the woman was given two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert…Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus” (v. 1-17).
Since the rebellion of Lucifer, the Blessed Virgin plays a most important role in this spiritual battle. When God created Lucifer (the morning star – bearer of light) he created a magnificent creature who participated in his freedom and power. When Lucifer and his angels rebelled, claiming “we will not serve,” it was precisely in response to the announcement of the future event of the Incarnation: God would be made man, born of a woman, by the power of the Holy Spirit. God revealed His plan for the salvation of man from sin. The angels would have to serve God-made-man, His mother and all the redeemed. This he considered a humiliation, and along with his followers, he rebelled, and they were subsequently banished from heaven. Satan, from that moment on, made himself the bearer of darkness, rebellion, lies, pride and arrogance. He became (forever) the enemy of God, the enemy of the woman who brought to the world God-made-man, and the enemy of all Christ’s followers of whom She is spiritual Mother: Her offspring.
“In the salvific design of the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of the Incarnation constitutes the superabundant fulfillment of the promise made by God to man after original sin, after that first sin whose effects oppress the whole earthly history of man (Gen. 3:15). And so, there comes into the world a Son, ‘the seed of the woman’ who will crush the evil of sin in its very origins…the victory of the woman’s Son will not take place without a hard struggle, a struggle that is to extend through the whole of human history. The ‘enmity,’ foretold at the beginning, is confirmed in the Apocalypse (the book of the final events of the Church and the world)… Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very centre of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of salvation itself… In this history Mary remains a sign of sure hope” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 11).
The Blessed Virgin is the response of God to Lucifer. She is the new morning star who brings us the true light; the bearer of salvation; the bearer of the incarnate Word; the new Ark of the Covenant. She is the great sign that appeared in the sky clothed with the sun – shining with the light of Christ, with the moon under Her feet (the moon symbolizing time).
As a Mother and Queen She has authority over time. Although She lived in time, She is above the vicissitudes of time and is not limited by its condition, but rather has the God-given power to be victorious in the battles we are waging in these particular times and in each particular time. She is crowned as a participant in the true power of Her Son. She is queen of heaven and earth with twelve stars, which symbolize the triumph of the Church in Mary.
Mary’s response, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) is the perfect response to Lucifer’s cry of, “I will not serve.” Mary’s response to Elizabeth (Lk 1:46-55) – praise, humility, service and mercy – directly opposes that of Satan, who is proud, egotistical, filled with hatred and accusations, and seeks his own glory and autonomy.
In Mary’s perfect cooperation with the salvific plan of God, from the Annunciation unto the Cross, She with Her “fiat,” participates in the “crushing of Satan’s head.” Christ and the heel – which are Mary’s spiritual children, Her descendents – crush the head of the serpent, that is, the root of sin: pride.
The root of the battle is sin. Mary, by being created Immaculate and in virtue of Her Son’s future redemption, has power over the devil and triumphs over his destructive works. She, as Immaculate, was free from original sin and personal sin. Satan never had power over Her – neither over Her mind, Her heart, or of Her actions. Therefore, Our Lady calls us with urgency to an authentic conversion – to renounce sin, indifference, lack of faith, and the rebellion found in men of today. She, like a good mother in this decisive hour, always battles for humanity – this hour in which the eternal salvation of so many, many souls, including our own, is at stake.
Are not all the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin direct interventions of Our Mother, at any given moment, to prevent and protect the Church and humanity from the dangers and tragic consequences caused by lack of conversion? Are not the apparitions of the Virgin a shield against the works and deceptions of the devil, and are they not renewing our faith and prayer? Like a good Mother, She always places Herself in defense of Her children, between the devil and man, to counteract the dark and sinful effects of Satan’s diabolical actions.
Throughout the history of the Church, we have seen these obvious interventions and interferences of the Blessed Virgin Mary, battling and triumphing against the devil in defense of Her children; but never has Her coming to intervene been as in these last centuries. This is understood in light of what St. Louis de Montfort said: as time goes on the battle will intensify. Therefore, Her presence will also be more clearly manifested.
According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort, “God has made an irreconcilable enmity that will last and grow until the end of the world and it is between Mary, his Blessed Mother and the devil. It is between the children and servants of the Virgin and the children and subjects of Lucifer. In fact, the greatest enemy of Satan that God has raised up is Mary, his Blessed Mother, to whom he gave since the beginning of earthly paradise, even though at this point She existed only as a thought in his mind; to whom He gave so much abhorrence to this enemy of God, so much capacity to unmask the evil of this ancient serpent, so much strength to overcome, battle and crush this arrogant monster, who fears her more then all angels and all men, and in a way, even more than God himself” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, no.52).
The greatest enemy God has raised against Satan is Mary. Why?
First, because Satan, who is so proud, suffers infinitely more at seeing himself defeated and punished by a simple and humble servant of God, and the humility of Mary humbles him more than divine power (ibid.).
Second, because God has granted to Mary great power against demons (seen in exorcisms and in Marian works). This power is a fruit of Her Immaculate Conception – the enemy was never able to make Her participate in the kingdom of darkness and rebelliousness (ibid.).
Third, what Lucifer lost because of pride, Mary gains with Her humility. What Eve lost through Her disobedience, Mary gains with Her obedience. Eve’s obedience to the serpent led to Her perdition and that of all Her children; Mary, by remaining always faithful to God and His will, became the greatest channel of salvation – for Herself and for all Her children (ibid, no.53).
“Mary, until the end of time, will always uncover the evil of the infernal serpent and of his infernal plots; she will make his diabolical counsels vanish and will free his loyal servants from his cruel clutches. The power of Mary over all the demons will shine particularly in the end times, when Satan will strike at her heel, that is to say, on the humble slaves and poor children of Mary, who are called to battle against the gates of hell” ( ibid, no.54).
Is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart necessary?
Satan, who is a powerful angel and the prince of this world, has power over societies, nations and events. That power was broken by the death and resurrection of Our Lord and that salvation is made available to us the Church. We have the victory in Christ, but we ourselves must wage this battle and live out this victory continuously in each generation until the end of time. It is precisely in this battle against Satan and his followers by God’s children and the Church that the Virgin Mary comes to our aid today. She is the captain of God’s great army, in order to help us reach the victory that is truly fulfilled in Her heart.
In the apparition of Fatima on July 13, 1917, Mary said, “You saw hell where the souls of poor sinners go; to save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If you do what I say, many souls will be saved and you will have peace…There will be wars, hunger, persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To impede this I come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and Eucharistic reparation on First Saturdays. If my desires are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors through all the world, promoting persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated …Suddenly the horizon will darken… Later, a brilliant ray of light and hope will arise…In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
In this message from Fatima, Our Lady wants to awaken our awareness to the fact that we are engaged in a battle that involves nations, societies and kingdoms, and every individual residing in them. “We cannot deny the existence in society of forces capable of great influence which act with a certain hostile spirit towards the Church. All of these things manifest the work of the ‘prince of this world’ and of the ‘mystery of iniquity’ even in our day” (Synod of Bishops, 1985, Final Report, 4).
The key to Satan’s strategy, in our times, has been atheism, corruption of the faith, and the total secularization of humanity. As the Virgin in Fatima announced, Russia has gradually spread her errors, not only at the political level, but more importantly, she has spread her errors on a spiritual level through atheism, materialism and human secularism. These belief systems reduce man to believe only in the realities of the visible world and desire to put man in control of everything with no need for God. Also, the Church, the faith and the Scriptures have been under direct attack from a “religion conformed to the world” (referring not to its technology, but rather its doctrines); from false religious accusations; from false concepts of religion; and from false concepts of Church. Too frequently, “men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator” (Lumen Gentium,16).
We can deduce with clarity that the major battle of these times, which encompasses all that we experience today, is A CRISIS OF FAITH. We have a crisis of faith because we do not believe in God or in His Word. We lack obedience to God who has revealed Himself and has also revealed the Truth. Lack of faith leads to a life whose end is earthly, not celestial and a life that denies supernatural values and realities. In the Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Advenient, we read, “It can not be denied that the spiritual life in many Christians passes through a time of uncertainty which affects not only their moral life but also their life of prayer and the theological correctness of their faith. Faith, already put to the test by the challenges of our times, is sometimes distorted by erroneous theological views, the spread of which is abetted by the crisis of obedience to the Church’s Magisterium” (no.36).
The Holy Father is telling us that our faith is being tested in these times because error has entered all the areas of our lives: spiritual, moral and doctrinal. Due to the crisis of faith, our minds have become darkened and our consciences are confused and disoriented. Sin is no longer called by its name, and it is because of this that we see so much chaos, intellectual pride, rebellion, the seeking of truth outside of God, and the defining of truth in accordance to each one’s personal interpretation and circumstance, i.e. relativism. There also exists a fascination for the occult and New Age movement. All this confusion can even be, at times, observed within religious circles.
Because of this, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart is necessary, for when the Church wages a battle like the one of our times, we are in need of a Mother to come to our aid, to take us to the desert (Rev. 12), hiding us in Her heart, feeding us with Her firm faith, Her disposition to the Word, Her obedience to the revelation of God; forming us with Her maternal mediation, with Her teachings, Her direction and counsels; and protecting us from evil, defending us in the battle for our souls, keeping us closely guarded in Her heart, where the devil can not enter or rob us. “Be not afraid, my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and your safe path to God” (the Virgin Mary to Lucia).
It is urgently necessary in these times for the Blessed Virgin to have a powerful victory over evil: the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the triumph of grace over sin, of light over darkness, of truth over error, of holiness over corruption, of peace over war and violence. “The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is necessary for the salvation of humanity, to show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb” (John Paul II: Angelus, July 8, 1984).
John Paul II writes about a statement of Cardinal August Hlond when he [the cardinal] was dying: “‘The victory if it comes will come through Mary.’ After my election as Pope, as I became more involved in the problems of the universal Church, I came to a similar conviction: on this universal level, if victory comes it will be brought by Mary. Christ will conquer through her, because He wants the Church’s victories now and in the future to be linked to her” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p.220).
The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is also the triumph of the Church. The Holy Father has understood and taught that She will bring the new springtime to the Church; then the faith will reappear, the Church will shine, and the heart of Christ will triumph.
In what does this triumph consist of?
It consists of the spiritual re-conquest of the entire world – that is to say, it is the return of our hearts to Her Son so we once again belong to Him. And the sure and perfect way to reach the Heart of Christ is the Immaculate Heart. As our mother, She wants to do all that is possible to return us to the way of Her Son, to take us to Him, to reveal to us the only Lord and Saviour. She wants to show us the way we have lost: love, faith, conversion, the sacramental life, moral values, family values, obedience and fidelity to God and His commandments. She is coming to find us because we have lost the way. She is finding the hearts She loves and taking them to the Heart She loves… to the Heart of Her Son and to the Heart of the Church.
“The Immaculate must conquer the whole world and each individual, in order to return them to God. It is for them that we should recognize her for who she is and submit ourselves to her and to her reign, which is all love and tenderness” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).
We should always think of the triumph of the Blessed Virgin Mary in terms of the destruction of sin, its structures and its consequences. This belongs precisely to the triumph of the Immaculate Heart because the battle is fought in the hearts of men – men who have become hardened, who have distanced themselves from God and hold on to darkness and sin, the world, the flesh and the devil. She – in whose heart one lives in fullness the Redeemed triumph of Christ – wants to make us participants in this victory, manifesting to each one of us and to all nations, the triumph of Her Heart, the triumph of grace over sin, of love over egoism, of peace over violence, of renewed faith over atheism, of loving devotion over indifference and frailty, of revealed truth over lies, heresies and false religions.
How will this triumph come about? What will be the means?
“The words [of Fatima]…at the end of the century, seem to be close to their fulfillment” (John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p.221).
This triumph will open its way through [various significant] events, and it will be realized in history by our response to the work of Our Mother in these times, to our faithful obedience to Her petitions and directions. It will also come through the sacrifices of the modern day apostles (the sons of Mary, the lovers and adorers of the Eucharist, those faithful to the Pope), who will follow the footsteps of the twelve Apostles after Pentecost; they will have the same spirit of surrender that led to martyrdom for the faith; they will shed their blood if that be God’s merciful design; at the very least they will remain firm in their witness to prayer, sacrifice, love, peace, and truth in this present, difficult hour.
When and how?
We do not know exactly the how and when, but we know the means the Blessed Virgin is giving us to promote and accelerate this triumph. In the same July 13th message, She told us, “To impede the spiritual battle and crisis of faith I come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and for Eucharistic reparation on first Saturdays. If my desires are heeded, Russia will convert and there will be an era of peace.”
1 – Consecration and Reparation
Consecration entails surrendering and entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Mother. Allowing us to be formed, molded, guided and taught by Her. It is filling ourselves with Her interior dispositions and participating in Her graces. It is placing ourselves within Her in order to be protected in this arduous battle we wage against the forces of evil.
It is belonging to Our Blessed Mother; it is being claimed as an object and possession of Her, which weakens the power of Satan over us who wants to see us lost, removed from God, and condemned.
We know that the souls who surrender themselves to Her completely and without reserve are able to better comprehend who Our Lord is and the mysteries of God.The Mother of God cannot take us anywhere except to Our Lord, His Church and His Magisterium. The apostles of these times are formed in the Immaculate and Maternal Heart, just like the apostles who were with Blessed Mary in the Cenacle and received the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are to place ourselves at Her service: “We desire to be perfect instruments of the Immaculate and be guided totally by her, in perfect obedience” (St Maximilian Kolbe).
Now more than ever it is important to make Her known and loved and be consecrated to Her. “Jesus wanted to use you as a means to make me known and loved” (the Blessed Virgin to Lucia).
The consecration is not simply a prayer or an act of devotion; it is a commitment and a way of life of obedience, humility, unconditional service, openness to others, meekness, purity and abnegation.
Every act of consecration attracts and actualizes the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. John Paul II’s act of Consecration of the world set the course for the final triumph of the Immaculate Heart that was prophesized in Fatima. When we consecrate ourselves we accept Her as Mother, Teacher and Queen, and we invite Her to exercise the powers granted to Her to fulfill Her maternal mission in us. We can deduce that the triumph of the Immaculate Heart in this century has been woven, little by little, in a series of crucial events in the life of the Church: apparitions, Marian movements, consecrations, John Paul II’s papacy, new congregations, new marian charisms, the fall of Marxist political structures that impeded freedom of faith and religion, the Marian Year, the children of Fatima’s beatification, the renewal of the consecration of the world and the Church in October 2000… and the potent witness and opening of channels of Mercy through John Paul II’s death and the new pontificate of Benedict XVI.
We are witnessing, not only in extraordinary ways, but more often in subtle forms, clear and direct interventions of Our Mother who is renewing the faith that has grown cold and confused, who is calling us to a life of prayer, penance, love and adoration of the Eucharist, and Reparation; calling us to the sacraments; calling us to pray the Holy Rosary; and calling us to fidelity to the faith of the Church.
Together with the consecration comes reparation:
On December 10, 1925 Our Lady appeared with the Child Jesus to Sr. Lucia. The Child said, “Have compassion on the heart of your Blessed Mother which is covered with thorns and pierced continuously by the ingratitude of men and has no one to make acts of reparation to remove them.”
The Blessed Virgin immediately responded, “Look, my child, at my heart surrounded by thorns that ungrateful men have pierced without ceasing by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You [at least] try to comfort me.”
The requirements for Eucharistic Reparation on First Saturdays are as follows:
Pray and meditate the Holy Rosary (entering into the mysteries of our redemption).
Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and do an examination of conscience. Have a plan of life that fosters conversion, repentance and growth in virtue.
Receive Communion in reparation for our sins, those of the world, and for offenses against the Immaculate Heart.
Do Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; be before the presence of Christ in adoration, love, and faith for those who do not adore, love or believe. Reparation attracts mercy.
2 – The Holy Rosary
In every one of the Fatima apparitions Our Lady asked us to “pray the rosary.” Why? It is a powerful weapon against the crisis of faith. It is our faith contained in one hand. All the principal mysteries of our salvation and redemption are contained in the mysteries of the rosary; therefore, we deepen our faith in a spirit of prayer.
With the Rosary great battles have been won: St. Dominic, Lepanto (October 7, 1571); Brazil (1964).
Pope Pius IX is quoted to have said, “Give me an army of people who pray the rosary and I will conquer the world.” After every decade we have been asked to pray, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, free us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”
God’s people have won many great battles through the Virgin Mary’s coming to their aid and directing them in the midst of tribulation: John of the Cross, St. James and Our Lady of the Pillar in Spain, Guadalupe, Covadonga, Lepanto, Poland, Russia… In Genesis, we read that during the time the Israelites were in the desert, the pillar or column of cloud remained over them during the day, and the fire remained over them in the night, in order to show them the way; the cloud and fire never ceased to occupy its place before God’s people(13:21-22). In the same way, the Virgin Mary is the new pillar or column who, at the beginning of Christianity, revealed herself to St. James, leaving Her image on a pillar; in more recent times, She revealed Herself to St. John Bosco in a dream, in which She went before the Church – and each one of us – during our times of confusion and struggles, taking us securely to the heart of Jesus.
She will always intervene in the history of man. God has given Her power for that purpose.
We may also look at the story of Esther. In Fatima the Virgin wore a particular detail on Her dress: a star. This helps us understand the essential mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary in this apparition. “Esther” means star. To better understand we go to the book of Esther: Queen Esther intervened to save the people from the plots and exterminations of the enemy. Instead it was the enemy who was exterminated, and she found favor with the King, who reversed all the actions of the enemy against himself.
The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is gradual and comes about step by step
We have seen the fruits of the consecration of the world and Russia, the fall of the political structures that impeded the faith. But this does not signify that the world of today is a world of believers. The Holy Father said in his visit to Fatima in1991, “I am aware that the spirit behind communism is not dead, that we run the risk of Marxism returning in another form of atheism, and that exaggerated freedoms can tend to destroy the roots of human and Christian morality. The new condition of the people and of the Church is still dangerous and unstable. Therefore, Mother, we need you and ask that you reveal your love to each one of your children and to the nations” (May 13).
What did the Holy Father want to teach us? That the Blessed Virgin has already achieved the first stage of the battle: the crumbling of a structured system with political power; but there is still much more that needs to crumble: all the errors spread by materialism, insubordination, rebellion, violence, oppression, atheism, secularism, dissension from the truth, and a world without God, without openness to His mysteries. In other words, we have failed to reach an end to the crisis of faith and its consequences within the Church, within the world, within hearts, within families and within entire nations. In this same message of Fatima we hear, “Portugal will not lose the faith.” Then came the third part of the secret (which was openly revealed in the year 2000). What does this mean, that there will be nations that will lose it? The crisis of faith has yet to be overcome. With this victory the total fulfillment of the promise will come. “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” and a time of peace will come.
“The current world crisis and the crisis within the Church, deep down, will reveal a great hidden truth not visible to the eyes: humanity’s impotence to resolve it on their own, despite all its progress and technology. It is in the depths of her poverty that she will feel the necessity to unite herself to God in an urgent way. This will be the decisive moment for the triumph of the Immaculate Heart” (John Paul II).
The fruit of this triumph will be an era of peace. Why an era of peace? Because in the triumph of Her heart, She, the Queen of Peace will make us participants in the peace that resides in Her heart – the peace which is the fruit of Her total communion of love with Christ; the peace She receives from Him by the perfect union of their hearts; the peace She possesses that comes from Her perfect harmony to the will of God and His designs.
Work for the triumph:
“Those who surrender completely to the Immaculate will burn with a powerful love that will set fire to all those around them and will cause many souls to burn with this same love. This is how they will conquer the entire world and each particular soul for the Immaculate. This they will do as quickly as possible” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).
The personal consecration and an authentic life will knock down the structures of sin that exist in our hearts. First, we must make sure of Her triumph in our hearts; this triumph will lead the way to Her triumph in society.
“Until the end of time, we must win the universe and each individual soul, now and in the future, for the Blessed Virgin, and through Her, for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Those souls will reach a much better and more profound love for the Sacred Heart than ever before. Through their love the world will be set on fire and consumed” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).
I think we should recognize the seriousness of the moment and how much depends on our response to the hour in which we live. Her Immaculate Heart will triumph – how beautiful it would be to know that we were instruments, however small, of that triumph. During our last trip to Fatima with our pilgrims, when saying our farewell to the Blessed Mother in the little chapel of apparitions, we were exhorted to “go and be apostles of her Immaculate Heart.”
In other words, we should respond to the call of Our Mother through the means She gives us to reach the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart, and we should, more than ever, make Her known and loved and use the means She gives us for our conversion and the era of peace.
Anne Catherine Emmerich (19th century mystic) tells us, “I saw flying through the surface of the heavens a resplendent heart in a red light, from which came a trail of white rays leading to Jesus’ wounded side. Those rays attracted a great number of souls that were passing through the Heart and the luminous trail of light and entering into the side of Jesus. It was explained to me that the Heart was that of Mary’s.”