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The Angel of Fatima and the Importance of Silence in Prayer

Pilgrimage to Fatima 2016
During 2016, I had the privilege of going on pilgrimage to Fatima, as part of our Dominican national pilgrimage for the Centenary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. I had previously visited Fatima on a number of occasions, but this time I became more focused on the visits of the Angel to the children, preparing them for the visits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

The Angel of Portugal
If you are familiar with the story of Fatima you will remember that the Angel taught the children a number of prayers, specifically focused on the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. On one occasion the Angel appeared with the Sacred Host and the chalice of the Precious Blood. The Angel taught the children to adore the Real Presence and to say the following prayer, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You”.

Faith, Hope and Love
As I prayed this prayer since this pilgrimage, I have often wondered why the Angel included ‘adore’ with the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. These virtues are infused into the soul by God at the moment of Baptism. The grace allows us to have a true relationship with God and to share the very life of God in the depth of our souls. Given the supernatural realities of these virtues, I have pondered over the addition of adoration in the prayer. Why include ‘adoration’ in a prayer which is concerned with our life of grace?

Learning to Love God
The theological virtues remind us of a very central truth of our religion. My faith, hope and love of God is not mine; I don’t decide to believe in God. I believe in, hope in, and love God because God, in an act of utter goodness and graciousness, has poured His life into my soul. My response to this offer to share in the life of God revolves around my willingness to adore. That is why I think it is included in the Fatima prayer. If we don’t learn to adore God, then very often, the life of grace lies dormant in our souls.

A Relationship of Love
By adoration I mean silent personal prayer in the depth of one’s soul. Pope Benedict XVI considered adoration as ‘a relationship of love between God and the soul of the person praying’. It takes place deep in one’s self. It occurs when you open yourself to God and to God alone. It is not a matter of words but an acceptance of the presence of God deep in the silence of your heart and soul.

Silence is so important
This is why silence is so important to the growth of the spiritual life and why I believe so many of us only live our faith on the margins, never really going deeper than the comfortable surface. St. Faustina wrote in her diary concerning the need for silence in the spiritual life, “In order to hear the voice of God, one has to have silence in one's soul and to keep silence; not a gloomy silence, but an interior silence; that is to say, recollection in God. ... God does not give Himself to a chattering soul which, like a drone in a beehive, buzzes around but gathers no honey. A talkative soul is empty inside. It lacks both the essential virtues and intimacy with God. A deeper interior life, one of gentle peace and of that silence where the Lord dwells, is quite out of the question. A soul that has never tasted the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others” (Diary, 118)

The Roar of the Media
In our modern age of so much noise and distractions, we need to discover the profound necessity for silence, if we are to live a Christian life. I was deeply alarmed by the result of the Abortion Referendum in Ireland, in which so many Catholics, against the clear teachings of the Church, voted to introduce the most liberal abortion laws imaginable. The only way I can in any way fathom this behaviour is to presume that people were so bombarded by the constant roar of the media and the political ruling classes that they did not silently reflect on what they were doing. The silent voice of the baby in the womb simply wasn’t heard.

If we can’t hear the silent voice of the baby in the womb, how will we ever hear the silent voice of the Holy Spirit? Again to quote St. Faustina, “The Holy Spirit does not speak to a soul that is distracted…He speaks to by His quiet inspirations to a soul that is recollected, to a soul that knows how to keep silence”. (Diary 552) If we are not to be carried away by the tide of secularism and anti-Catholic rhetoric, we Catholics will have to rediscover the need for silence in our daily spiritual lives.

Turn off the TV and the radio
Of course this involves discipline. We need to turn off the TV and the radio, to put aside the newspapers and the endless chatting. We need to enter into the silence of absence, if we are to advance into the silence of presence. We need to cut away the distractions and amusements of daily life and to seek only the word of God.

The Sword of Silence
As St. Faustina councils us, “Silence is a sword in the spiritual struggle. The sword of silence will cut off everything that would like to cling to the soul. We are sensitive to words and quickly want to answer back, without taking any regard as to whether it is God's will that we should speak. A silent soul is strong; no adversities will harm it if it perseveres in silence. The silent soul is capable of attaining the closest union with God. It lives almost always under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

God works in a silent soul without hindrance”. (Diary 477)
This was how the Angel of Portugal prepared the children of Fatima for the visitation of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. It is also how we must prepare ourselves for the struggle to remain faithful to Christ and His Church in this intensely secular age.

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