The Last Word
“The continual prayer of a just man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
The First World War is framed by the sacrifice of two saints. On August 20, 1914, Pope St. Pius X offered his life to prevent it (we will only know in Heaven the effect of this papal sacrifice) and on September 21, 1918, Padre Pio, after months of asking the Divine Justice to end the bloody war, and of continuously offering himself as a holocaust for this intention, found out that his prayers had been answered, but not the way he had expected it. He had been ready to die instead of all the war victims, but instead, by receiving the sacred stigmata on that day, he was literally going to live an ongoing death for 50 years. He lost about one pint of blood every day for 50 years and by 1950 he was eating about once per day, and barely sleeping at night. Doctors could not understand how he was alive. Nevertheless, he would carry his sacred wounds a solid 50 years, until three days before his death, which occurred on September 23, 1968.
Indeed “[t]he continual prayer of a just man availeth much.”
“From pestilence, famine and war, deliver us O Lord” (Litany of the Saints). War unleashes the most inhumane passions, it is true, but it is also the occasion of the greatest acts of heroism, heroism of self-denial, of sacrifice, of acts of mercy, of charity. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Almighty God knows how to use the calamity of war to put some wisdom in man’s heart.
At Fatima in 1917, Our Lady also made use of the prayers of little children to accelerate the end of that Great War. “I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, and to continue praying the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only She can help you… Continue to say the Rosary to obtain the end of the war.”
If prayer and self-sacrifice can end a bloody war, and it did, it can also bring peace to the Church who is in the midst of this frightening spiritual warfare. Let us be encouraged by the lessons of history and the teaching of Sacred Scripture.
Fr. Daniel Couture