Today and tomorrow are two special days on the Catholic liturgical calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and tomorrow is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. More on the latter in a subsequent post.
Recently I have undertaken a study of the 1917 Marian Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. While I had known the basics, I felt it necessary to delve beyond those and read more about the Apparitions. In doing so, I have found myself becoming more devoted to two of the three little shepherd children who were seers of the Apparition, Blesseds Francisco Marto and his sister, Jacinta. Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, both a few years away from becoming teenagers. They were beatified in 2000.
I have started a series of posts on Fatima, and these will continue on or about the anniversaries of each Apparition through their centenary in 2017. And so while I will be writing more about each of the two Blesseds off an on during the series, today I wish to introduce two aspects of them that I think Catholic alcoholics and addicts might find helpful in their struggle to maintain their recovery.
In reading about Fatima, I fell into a fascination with the unashamed and unabashed piety and holiness of these two young ones. While it might be relatively easy for young children of that era to be very devout and pious, before the corruption by mass media, TV, movies and radio, it was still very edifying.
Both of them, in their spiritual development during and after the Apparitions, took to two different pious acts. Francisco was always seemingly drawn to “comfort and console” Jesus; while Jacinta was more concerned with making reparations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. All of this can perhaps be better grasped if you read more on the Apparitions and the two Blesseds elsewhere (as I encourage you to do as it’s beyond the scope of any one post), or just gradually wait for the publishing of future posts on Fatima here . But in short, the basic message of the Apparitions was that the Blessed Virgin Mary exhorted the three seers (Francisco, Jacinta and their older cousin Lucia) to pray the Rosary for world peace and offer up personal sacrifices for the salvation of souls, especially those caught in grave sin, particularly sexual (although due to their age, the reference to sex was about “sins of the flesh.”) and to make reparations to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. The result in the lives of the three seers are inspirational and hopeful messages of courage and love.
They were horrified to learn that many people are damned due to certain sinful acts; their lives afterwards were marked by a sincere desire to make reparations for these acts. The Virgin Mary had revealed that people should make reparation for sins against the Sacred Heart of Jesus (heresies, sacrileges and blasphemies against the Church and the Eucharist) as well as sins against her Immaculate Heart (specifically against impure acts, in addition to Marian teachings and practices of the Church.)
And here is why I think Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto might make wonderful intercessors or even patrons for those in recovery, especially those addicted to sex and porn: based upon my readings of their lives, it often seemed that they would automatically, as if it was a part of their very nature, offer up sacrifices and make reparation for sins. Like I said up above, Francisco would be mostly concerned with “consoling” Jesus and Jacinta with making sacrifices in honor of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. With regard to Francisco and his emphasis on consoling Jesus, I would remind you that a central theme of the Venerable Matt Talbot and his “Way of recovery” is to transfer your love for your “drug of choice” onto the Sacred Heart. In other words, love Jesus and not the addiction. Not easy, but like any recovery program, a process you have to work at.
I have found it useful and fruitful to begin to call upon their help. I have yet to make it a habit, but when I remember, it seems to work. Whenever something is going on that might result in sin, be it anger or impatience or whatever, I can almost hear Blessed Francisco cautioning me to “be careful, that would hurt Jesus.” Or if I’m tempted in other ways, I can feel Blessed Jacinta warning me that it will offend Mary. “Too many people go to Hell! You mustn’t!”
And I get through it and feel stronger.
This is why I’m introducing them to you all today, given the proximity to the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A pretty good opportunity to bring them to your attention, two feast days that should be of interest to those addicts and alcoholics who struggle with the Catholic Faith, as well as impurity and other grave sins.
(In talking about this with my wife Rose, she told me that her father also had a devotion to them, ending every Rosary decade with a prayer to them. She isn’t sure offhand what the invocation is, if/when she remembers or finds out, I’ll add it in the comments.)
Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books!
"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"
"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"
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