The Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph
By Sergio Centofanti
"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!" These were the words of Our Lady to the shepherd children of Fatima over 100 years ago, words that give hope in the midst of the clamour of wars. On March 25, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At Wednesday’s General Audience, he prayed intensely for peace: "Lord Jesus, who died in a mother’s arms in a bunker in Kharkiv, have mercy on us… Stop the hand of Cain!” The meekness of prayer overcomes the arrogance of evil.
But even today there are so many wars in the world, often forgotten: in Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia... In Ukraine, the Russian army continues to bomb civilians, refugees, simple people queuing to buy bread; houses, hospitals and churches are hit and devastated. In the bombing of the paediatric hospital in Mariupol, a pregnant woman died with her baby. Wars cause suffering and devastation everywhere.
Many are praying for peace. In the midst of wars, prayer is not useless. We will never know how much good a simple, small and silent prayer can do in the world. It is the force of love, the power of the Spirit that blows everywhere and transforms and converts. Everything is possible with God, all it takes is a chink in the heart that opens wide and changes murderous hands. Prayer does not change God by dint of words, prayer changes hearts and converts them to God so that they may finally welcome His gifts. God's gift is the Spirit who heals the world of hatred with love.
Pope Francis asked: “How do we bring war into prayer?” Prayer allows itself to be transformed into action, charity and practical faith. Prayer, in its weakness, can appear to be a failure. Even God seems to fail in Jesus on the cross: instead, it was there that he conquered hatred, evil, death, and began a new history, a new creation.
The message of Fatima does not intend to satisfy apocalyptic curiosities about the end of the world; it only launches a heartfelt appeal for conversion so that humanity may be saved from the selfishness that destroys. In these difficult times, we are accompanied by Mary's consoling words: "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph". In 2000, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained the meaning of these words as follows:
"My Immaculate Heart will triumph". What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of all kinds. Mary's ‘fiat’, the word of her heart changed the history of the world because she introduced the Saviour into this world - because thanks to this "Yes", God could become man in our space and remains so now forever. The evil one has power in this world, we see it and experience it again and again; he has power because our freedom continually allows itself to be turned away from God. But since God Himself has a human heart and has thus turned man's freedom towards good, towards God, freedom for evil no longer has the last word. Since then, the word has been valid: ‘In the world, you will have tribulation but have confidence; I have conquered the world’ (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to rely on this promise.”