What Do We Do Now?? Penance! Penance! Penance!

by Fr Richard Heilman | October 12, 2016 5:11 PM

Tomorrow marks the 99th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima (October 13, 1917). We are about to enter the 100th year since Our Lady appeared in Fatima, Portugal, and many people are wondering if God may do (or allow) something soon to “shake us up” (I wrote about it HERE[1] – this is the most “shared” article I have ever written).

As we watch terrorism rising up everywhere around the world, relations between nations in steep decline, a false economy ready to collapse, morality at an all-time low, pre-born babies murdered by the millions, marriage redefined for the first time in all of civilization, religious freedom under assault, corruption and collusion rampant within our government, and a Presidential election that reflects a society in decline … people are asking, especially as we enter the centennial year of Fatima, “WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!?!”

What we need to do is to heed the warning found in the Third Secret of Fatima.

What is the third part of the secret or “Third Secret”?

Here is what Sr. Lucia wrote:

third-secret[2]After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’

 

And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the holy father’.

 

Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.

 

Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God (Vatican – The Message of Fatima[3], “Third Part of the ‘Secret'”).

When the Apostles asked the Savior why they had been unable to drive the evil spirit from a demoniac, Our Lord answered: “This kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). So, too, the evil which today torments humanity can be conquered only by a world-wide crusade of prayer *and* penance. As 2017 approaches, and we see evil moving unabated in our world, the call of the angel at Fatima in 1917 is ours today: “Penance, Penance, Penance!”

This is particularly challenging for most people in our modern times, which is all the more reason why it is so necessary. Most of us living in America have been swimming in an a veritable ocean of comforts and forms of pleasure. While many forms of pleasure are not sinful, in and of themselves, some are, or can be. Some forms of pleasure are objectively evil … e.g., viewing pornography. An over-indulgence of something can be sinful … e.g., excessive alcohol consumption. The things that give them pleasure, which leads to over-consumption or even addiction, can control many. In other words, they find themselves in a place where they are not happy unless they continue their pursuit of the “things” that make them happy.

Spiritually speaking, this over-indulgence or the use of objectively evil things causes a spiritual death (mortal sin). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him” (CCC 1855). Furthermore, being in a state of mortal sin further inclines us to do evil. It leaves us with very little defenses against the Devil and our own weaknesses.

When we are diminished to this sloth, we lose our “drive to strive.” We take the easiest route. We are, quite literally, imprisoned or “stuck” in this lower, animalistic way of living. Having moved away from the Divine Life, we are now choosing the world over God’s love and protection. We are now “devil fodder” for every whim sparky sends our way.

 

JUST STOP IT!

The famous Nike slogan – JUST DO IT! – was, essentially, a call to physical fitness. Yet, it became the motto of our modern culture. Basically, it seemed to morph into, “If it feels good, do it” … don’t deny yourself any comfort or form of pleasure, even if it rises to the level of sin.

Penance, strictly speaking, is a choice for some superior good at the expense of denying oneself an inferior good. The choice to pray, for example, means that it might take away from someone’s TV time. This is what it means to “Carry your cross.” Jesus could have chosen to flea and go vacation on the shores of the sea of Galilee, but instead He chose something more challenging … Christ made that “sacrifice.” We do that when we choose things of God over things of the world.

lisamowing1[4]So, in essence, we are saying, “Just Stop It!” Just stop serving our carnal passions and free ourselves to serve the “higher goals” God wants us to focus upon in our lives. When we think of penance, some think of those contemplatives who may choose to whip themselves or sleep on concrete as a form of penance, and some may be called to that. But, the best kind of penance is what I call “Positive Penance.” So, we do something difficult that “challenges us to become better.” One great penance, for example, is to finally challenge yourself to say no to junk food and idle time and strive to become physically fit. The picture here is a friend who has several children and many other duties, but when it came to mowing the lawn (usually the man’s job), she asked her husband if she could do it, because it is good exercise. In his defense, he is an extremely hard worker who also works on his physical fitness. 😉 She is an inspiration for me to work harder at my physical fitness, which I plan to pour myself into tomorrow.

What about you? As the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima approaches, and evil seems to be ramping up on all sides, and this important (and crazy) election approaches, and we are asking ourselves, “What can we do now?!?!” … why not make October 13, 2016, a day to heed the call to begin to do some penance … to crucify the flesh … a day to say to ourselves, “Just Stop It!”

JUST STOP … making excuses for challenging ourselves to respect our bodies and become physically fit

JUST STOP … eating junk food and being too idle

JUST STOP … making excuses for a poor prayer life

JUST STOP … making excuses for learning more about our faith and reading the bible

JUST STOP … denying Divine Revelation and compromising Truth with the world

JUST STOP … making excuses for not going to Mass beyond days of obligation

JUST STOP … making excuses for going to Confession *at least* once a month

JUST STOP … making excuses for not giving more at our parish – time and treasure

JUST STOP … finding reasons to miss our daily rosary

JUST STOP … clicking on porn sites or watching inappropriate TV, movies, etc.

JUST STOP … dressing immodestly or seductively

JUST STOP … using vulgar and inappropriate language

JUST STOP … looking for others to brighten your day, instead of brightening theirs

What do you need to stop, even though that may be hard, difficult … something that challenges you to be free from the enslavement of the flesh in order to be free to please God and fulfill your destiny as a child of God?

This demonic spirit moving unabated in our times requires prayer *and* penance!

JUST STOP IT!

Endnotes:
  1. HERE: https://www.romancatholicman.com/our-lady-of-fatima-1917-2017-why-100-years-matters/
  2. [Image]: https://www.romancatholicman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/third-secret.jpg
  3. The Message of Fatima: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000626_message-fatima_en.html
  4. [Image]: https://www.romancatholicman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LisaMowing1.jpg

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