by Fr. John Nahrgang, Vicar for Education and Evangelization
As war continues to escalate in Ukraine, the faithful around the globe wonder what they can do to help bring about peace.
Quite a lot, actually. The Virgin Mary at Fatima gave specific instructions on how prayer can prevent and even stop wars.
Sometime during the summer of 1916, just prior to the outbreak of World War I,
the Angel of Portugal appeared to three shepherd children at Fatima and spoke the following words:
“Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High… Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace upon your country” (Fatima in Lucia’s own words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, p.171).
You will thus draw down peace upon your country. This one-hundred-year-old prescription for peace through reparation can be easily forgotten among the messages of Fatima, but it should give us pause as we continue to grapple with the violence that all too often engulfs our brothers and sisters across the world.
The Angel of Portugal was not finished. According to Lucia’s memoir, a crucially important prayer was revealed to the children later that same year when, upon leaving a consecrated host and chalice suspended in midair, the angel fell to the ground and solemnly prayed the following words three times:
“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.”
The angel then distributed the host to Lucia and the chalice to little Jacinta and Francisco, saying, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.” The angel repeated the prayer above three more times and then disappeared (Fatima in Lucia’s own words, p.172).
Nineteen years later, on September 13th, 1935, Sister Faustina Kowalska had the following vision in her cell:
I saw an Angel, the executor of divine wrath. He was clothed in a dazzling robe, his face gloriously bright, a cloud beneath his feet. From the cloud, bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning were springing into his hands; and from his hand they were going forth, and only then were they striking the earth. When I saw this sign of divine wrath which was about to strike the earth, and in particular a certain place, which for good reasons I cannot name, I began to implore the Angel to hold off for a few moments, and the world would do penance. But my plea was a mere nothing in the face of the divine anger. Just then I saw the Most Holy Trinity. The greatness of Its majesty pierced me deeply, and I did not dare to repeat my entreaties. At that very moment I felt in my soul the power of Jesus’ grace, which dwells in my soul. When I became conscious of this grace, I was instantly snatched up before the Throne of God… I found myself pleading with God for the world with words heard interiorly. As I was praying in this manner, I saw the Angel’s helplessness: he could not carry out the just punishment which was rightly due for sins. Never before had I prayed with such inner power as I did then. The words with which I entreated God are these: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us. The next morning, when I entered chapel, I heard these words interiorly: Every time you enter the chapel, immediately recite the prayer which I taught you yesterday. When I had said the prayer, in my soul I heard these words: This prayer will serve to appease My wrath. (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, entries 474-476).
Both the Fatima prayer and the prayer revealed to St. Faustina (which God subsequently instructed her to incorporate into the Divine Mercy Chaplet) are powerful prayers of reparation that are strikingly similar in structure. Both explicitly invoke the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in order to make reparation and obtain mercy and conversion for souls. Both are also mystically connected to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, angels and the Most Holy Trinity.
God has the greatest sense of timing, for these prayers were given to humanity during and on the eve of the two most destructive wars in human history. In 1916 World War I was in full swing and would extinguish sixteen million lives.
St. Faustina was given the prayers that make up the Divine Mercy Chaplet just six months after Adolf Hitler violated the Versailles Treaty by announcing the rearmament of Germany. Four years later, Hitler invaded Poland, triggering a Second World War that annihilated more than sixty million lives.
Yet these prayers demonstrate that God never abandoned us. He remained and still remains close to us, and deeply desires to convert and save us. He provides us these prayers along with the Most Holy Rosary, all of which beautifully supplement the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most powerful prayer the Church can offer.
The words of these prayers call to mind not only the prayers of the Mass but also those of 1 Peter 2:5 (“let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”) and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, who asserted that the faithful exercise their common priesthood through spiritual sacrifices and prayers (Lumen Gentium 10-11).
With the death toll mounting in Ukraine and the prospect of World War III looming — perhaps involving the use of nuclear weapons — let us take solace in the knowledge that God is not only with us but gives us prayers that can make a difference.
As war and violence fill our screens and weigh on our minds, let us not be afraid to use these God-given prayers to draw down graces of peace and mercy upon souls, communities, and nations.