November Reflections

Fr. Reginald Martin, 09/11/2017 

Last month, Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, invited the faithful to a Mass at which he dedicated the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  In his homily for the occasion, the Archbishop remarked the centennial of the Blessed Mother’s apparition at Fatima, and called us to reflect on the last century of our human history.

…in many ways there has been great progress…one thinks immediately of improvements in technology that have increased the ease and speed of communication…progress in the treatment and alleviation of physical and mental illness; progress in civil rights.  Yet, there have also been horrendous setbacks in other areas, and…if we think about the century we are now concluding, does it not show itself to be one that in so many ways has been a living reflection of hell, one that on so many fronts has roundly mocked God?

As his homily progressed, Archbishop Cordileone posed a question about Mary’s encounters with the children at Fatima: “What did she ask us to do?”

It should come as no surprise, because it is the central part of her message wherever and whenever she appears: prayer, penance, and adoration.  And she was very clear at Fatima about the twofold purpose of this request: To save souls from hell, and to establish peace in the world.

Throughout this year, these reflections have considered peace, which our theology teaches is a state of tranquility within a person, or among individuals.  We may take for granted the tranquility at the heart of peace, but as our year draws to its close, we might give it some deeper thought.

The dictionary defines tranquility as “calmness,” but this overlooks its cause, which is the absence of conflicting desires.  Personal peace is possible only when we surrender to God’s will, and embrace it in love.  God’s love is dynamic, enabling us to love creation as God loves it.  We first love ourselves, then turn to the world around us.  We celebrate the social dimension of peace when we extend to others the love we share with God.  Fundamental to our progress in this endeavor is our being in the state of grace.

How often do we think of the world’s peace as a result of our progress in holiness?  Similarly, how often do we judge the overwhelming hostility we witness every day as a result of our sinful choices?  In 1950, a Jesuit theologian, C.C. Martindale, wrote a book on the Fatima apparitions.  In his epilogue, Fr. Martindale observes

…the two great wars that we have witnessed are themselves little more than symbols, or at least symptoms, of what the world may expect if there is no clearer vision than there is now, nor a radical change of heart and will.

If, then, we are to see the two wars as parables in action…we have to realize that what lies behind them is not merely an affair of economics or borders, but sin.

Let us think of this when we offer the Prayer of the Order, asking Our Savior for the strength to learn the gospel’s lesson of selflessness, that – forgetful of ourselves – we may strive for greater devotion, God’s glory and the world’s peace.