Spring 1916 : “Pray in this way. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”
After having taught a first prayer to the little seers, the Angel again recommended that they pray. Then he added: “The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.” There are two precious teachings here: the Angel specifies to whom we should address our prayers, and the fruits that they will bear.
To whom should we address our prayers?
The Angel asks us to address our prayers to the two hearts of Jesus and Mary. By so doing, he reminds us of a profound truth: the hearts of Jesus and Mary are inseparable. Saint Jean Eudes had already underlined this point, as well as other preachers after him. Here, it is the Angel of Peace himself telling us. Later on, Pope Pius XII, in his message of the 8th of December 1942, confirms his teaching:
The faithful should take care to closely associate the worship of the Sacred Heart with that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as our salvation comes from the love and the suffering of Jesus Christ indissolubly united with the love and suffering of his Mother. This is why it is appropriate that Christians pay similar homages of piety, love, gratitude and reparation to the most loving Heart of His Heavenly Mother. To sinful souls, to those who suffer from their own faults, to those who wish to atone for the sins of others, the devotion to the Heart of their Mother appears a haven of both perfection and pardon.
Consequently, we should never forget to address our prayers to the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The fruits of this prayer
The Angel also stipulates that if we pray in this way, Jesus and Mary “will be attentive to the voice of our supplications”. What a marvellous promise! From now on, shouldn’t we follow the Angel in everything he said and did, as Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta immediately did ? If we pray as the Angel taught them, then Jesus and Mary will be attentive to all our preoccupations, our worries about the future of the world in general and of our country in particular, our fears for the threats posed to our families, our children, etc. The Angel thus prepares the message that Our Lady will give a few months later.
Indeed, the following year, Our Lady will remind the little seers that it is necessary to say the Rosary every day; and, like the Angel, she will teach them two prayers. She had already made such a reminder during previous apparitions: Lourdes, Pontmain … Each time the Holy Virgin’s message goes straight to the point: above all, pray. She asks, recommends, insists always on this point, be it at Lourdes or at Fatima. And the Angel, as the precursor of his Queen, can only do as She does and recommend prayer first and foremost.
For everything will be all right if we pray; everything will go wrong if we don’t pray. Prayer will decide our destiny. “Whoever prays is sure to save himself; he who does not pray is sure to damn himself” said Saint Alphonse de Liguori. And Saint Ambrose affirmed that if “the life of a man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1), then prayer is the invincible shield without which we should be relentlessly beaten.
The Holy Virgin’s example
In this domaine, the best example we could have is that of Our Lady. In his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, Pope Paul VI, taking as his point of departure three pages from the Gospel, presents Mary as “the Virgin in prayer”.
During the course of the Visitation, the Virgin praises God with a perfect love such as no other human creature had ever expressed: the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).
At Cana, Mary, tenderly maternal and with a firm faith, addressed her request to her Son, and she immediately received the temporal grace she requested for the newly-weds, and for Jesus’ disciples, spiritual grace, for they “believed in him”. (John 2:1-11)
In the Cenacle, Mary already nourishes the nascent Church with her maternal prayer (Acts 1:14), as she continued to do after her Assumption in body and soul. She will never abandon her mission of intercession and salvation.
Mary is the “Virgin in prayer” who came to Fatima to recommend and ask us to pray. She did this, first of all, by the intermediary of the Angel of Peace, before doing so herself the following year. If we listen to Her, if we obey Her, we will be fulfilled and we will have blessings heaped upon blessings. We should, like Her, pray constantly.
Pray morning and evening
Unfortunately, many Christians make do with only a short morning and evening prayer. Some of them, worried about tiring themselves out, only make the Sign of the Cross. Many more don’t even do this: they wake up and go to sleep like animals, nothing more, nothing less.
Does a Christian behave like this? Is it possible to save one’s soul by neglecting prayer but in finding time to watch television, read newspapers or novels, or go to the café or the stadium?
The Holy Virgin, our Mother, as well as her messenger the Angel of Peace, came to warn us: “Pray, pray very much.” In a motherly way She reminds us of the essential duty of the Christian: “Watch and pray” (Mark 14:38).
We should pray fervently morning and evening. For all Christians, these moments of reverence, every morning and every evening, should be pleasing and precious.
The Blessed Contardo Ferrini, a professor at the University of Milan, wrote: “I cannot imagine a life without prayer: waking up without God’s smile, sleeping without first laying my head on Christ’s breast.” We should follow his example.
The Angelus and Grace
However, praying only in the morning and the evening is not enough. Christian tradition invites us, three times a day, to recite the Angelus. It is a reminder of the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation. The Angel Gabriel asks us to unite with him in the prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary. And all the Saints are very fond of this brief moment of Marian prayer with the Angel !
Saint Pius X even interrupted his most important audiences. Saint Moscati interrupted his courses or his medical visits for a few moments. Saint Padre Pio recited it with whoever happened to be with him and wherever he found himself, under the veranda, in his room or in the corridor. Pope Pius XII recited it, every time, on his knees. Why not preserve and recite this marvellous Marian prayer?
Another moment of prayer should be at mealtimes, before sitting down at the table. The Sign of the Cross and a Hail Mary become the blessing of Jesus and Mary on our meals.
When invited to a meal with a family, before sitting down, Saint John Bosco would turn to one of the children and ask him: “Now let’s make the Sign of the Cross before eating. Do you know why we make this sign?”. “I don’t know”, the child would reply. “Well, I’ll tell you in a few words. We do this to distinguish ourselves from animals, who don’t do it because they can’t understand that what they eat is a gift from God …”. From then on, in that family, they never failed to make the Sign of the Cross before meals.
And what do we do? If we neglect it, we should resolve to make the Sign of the Cross and to say grace or a Hail Mary every time we sit down for meals. And without human respect !
A spark, lots of sparks …
Jesus’ wish is clear: a Christian should make the effort to pray continuously, so that he offers God everything that he is and everything that he does. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1); “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (Mark 14:38) And what temptation in particular? That of acting out of sheer selfishness and for intentions which are exclusively natural. It is so easy to be calculating and to act only in our own interest and not for love of God or our neighbour !
To avoid this, prayer is indispensable so that we can stay turned towards God. When it is not possible to pray for very long, then at least it should be done briefly, like little seeds sown throughout our activities, all day long. This is the prayer of little invocations, rapid acts of love. Pope Paul VI called these prayers “sparks”.
Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Alphonse, Saint Bernadette, Saint Gemma Galgani … what an ardent and constant use they made of these “sparks”! Were their souls not, ultimately, a permanent spark? Saint Maximilien Kolbe strongly recommended the use of “sparks” to grow in love towards the Immaculata. This now applies to us, too !
Now, the first prayer taught by the Angel is very short and so only requires a minimal effort. We should adopt it as our “spark” prayer. So that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary be “attentive to the voice of our supplications”, so as to be delivered from our torments, so that peace returns to the world and to our country, we should love addressing, often, this prayer to them. We should take the habit of reciting it at different times of the day. A friend who is a priest recites it after every Grace. This is an excellent way of learning to say it from time to time during the day.
And whenever we can, recite it as the Angel taught it to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta: on our knees, foreheads to the ground, and repeating it three times.