Saturday, September 12, 2009

Penace & Sacrifice

"We must make many Sacrifices and perform much Penance . . . Garabandal 1961 - 1965

What does sacrifice and penance mean? Joey Lomangino said it means "to fulfill our daily duty well. We should accept with grace the trials and tribulations that come to each of us always offering every part of our day to God through our Morning Offering Prayer." Joey also said "you don't have to look for crosses and sufferings, they will come as God's will in our daily lives." Joey should know, he has been blind since 16 years of age!

At Fatima in 1917, Our Lady appeared to three young children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta with a plea for mankind to amend our lives. She called for sacrifice and penance.

In the Gospels the word penance means conversion of one's life, a turning away from sin, and a turning back to God. As Our Lady insisted at Fatima: "Men must amend their lives, and ask pardon for their sins . . . They must no longer offend Our Lord, Who is already so much offended." The Fatima message is a call for men to give up sinful practices which grieve God and draw down His chastisements on the world, to make reparation for them. Commenting on Our Lady's request for penance, Sr. Lucia wrote: "The part of the last apparition which has remained most deeply imprinted on my heart is the prayer of our heavenly Mother begging us not to offend any more Almighty God, who is so much offended."
Heaven? or Hell?Image by karmablue via Flickr

Jacinta too, shortly before her death, remarked: "If men only knew what eternity is, how they would make all possible efforts to amend their lives . . . mortification and sacrifice give great pleasure to Our Divine Lord."

In August of 1917 Our Lady told the children, "Pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them." As to the kinds of sacrifices Our Lady was asking, she revealed to Sr. Lucia on one occasion: "The good Lord is allowing Himself to be appeased . . . but He Himself complains most bitterly and sorrowfully about the small number of souls in His grace who are willing to renounce whatever the observance of His laws require of them."

"Many persons," Sr. Lucia explained, "feeling that the word penance implies great austerities, and not feeling that they have the strength for great sacrifices, become discouraged and continue a life of lukewarmness and sin." Then she said Our Lord explained to her: "The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require."

In this materialistic culture in which we live, almost heroic virtue is required to be faithful to the duties of the Christian life. Yet, over and above those sacrifices "required of every person", the children of Fatima practiced many little acts of mortification and renunciation on their own initiative.

It is hoped that many devotees of Our Lady will not be content with the minimum required and will not pass up opportunities of voluntary mortification, placing in the hands of Our Lady the fruits of the little trials, frustrations and irritations of each day accepted with patience and resignation.
Fatima AngelImage by seminarianvoitus via Flickr

It was in this same spirit that the Angel spoke to the children in 1916: "Offer up everything in your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners . . . More than all else, accept and bear with resignation the sufferings that God may send you."

It is now 92 years since Fatima and 44 years since Our Lady's appearances at Garabandal. How much more time does mankind have to amend their lives? Can we respond to Our Lady's call at Fatima and Garabandal for penance and sacrifice?

[Adapted from an article by Tony Kissane at]