Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sacrifice for the Conversion of Sinners

I’ve been reading a book called Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs. In it, Lucia describes her early years and her friendship with her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco. She paints a sweet picture of their daily treks to the pastures with their families’ sheep.

One thing that strikes me is the willingness of these little children to obey Our Lady by offering praying the Rosary and offering sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Lucia describes Jacinta’s devotion in particular (since the “First Memoir” is primarily a description of Jacinta writing at the request of Lucia’s bishop).

Jacinta took very seriously Our Lady’s commands, and informed Lucia and Francisco that they must now pray the Rosary in its entirety (instead of “cheating” by just saying “Hail Mary” for each bead, and simply “Our Father” instead of the whole prayer). She also insisted on making a sacrifice, and Francisco suggested that they could give their lunch to the sheep every day as a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners. And so they did. Later, they became aware of some very poor children, and gave their lunch to them instead.

I suspect that Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta themselves also did not have a lot to eat – not like we do in these modern self-indulgent times, anyway – and to give up their lunch would have been a very significant sacrifice. After all, they had to walk some distance to take their sheep to the pastures, and they were young children. I’m having a difficult time imagining any 6- or 7-year-old child I’ve ever known who would willingly go hungry for the sake of the conversion of sinners. Even some adults I know wouldn’t be able to handle that sacrifice!

I suppose they were given the grace to accomplish these works of mercy, but still, they had to respond appropriately. Sadly, we don’t talk much about sacrifice in our current culture…not even in the Church. It’s not really part of our “mindset” because it’s just not talked about. Everyone I’ve heard talk about their Lenten discipline is giving up something like chocolate or coffee, or maybe some internet time. Those things seem trivial when compared to the three children of Fatima giving up their lunch every day!

It seems so necessary to me that we re-establish our Catholic identity! We seem to have lost sight of what it means to do penance. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that our true home is Heaven.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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