During the eighth apparition of Our Lady to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France, Bernadette turned to the onlookers and exclaimed, “penitence, penitence, penitence!”
Discerning the Third Secret of Fatima Sr. Lucia wrote, “After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!”
Our Lady has appeared on Earth several times to promote a message of peace, with that message of peace Our Lady has urged us to take up penance. As we approach the season of Lent it is good to begin to ponder how we can answer the call of Our Lady and live a life of penance. Today the world infiltrates many with falsehoods, lies, and eternal damnation. Our Lord offers us the fullness of truth and eternal salvation. Many will choose to fall to the ways of the world, so submit themselves to living in and of the world.
Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati once said, “Foolish is he who follows the pleasures of the world, because these are always fleeting and bring much pain.” The world offers us pleasure, to put a name to it, Satan, the Evil One, offers us worldly pleasure. The Gospel of St. Matthew 6:19 warns us of this very lie of Satan, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” The treasures on earth can better be described as those Seven Deadly Sins as described in the Gospels and in the Catechism: pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, and sloth. As Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati alluded to, if we follow the pleasures of the world [the Seven Deadly Sins, earthly treasures, etc.] we would be foolish, as these pleasures bring much pain [eternal damnation].
To combat the Seven Deadly Sins, the Church offers us the Four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. To heed the call of Our Lady, we must also practice penance. Perhaps today, in this modern world, to even live a virtuous life may at first be a type of penance. There are also many other penances that we can observe in our daily life. Our prayers and devotions that we hold on earth will assist us greatly in Eternal Glory, as the Gospel of St. Matthew 16:20-21 promises, “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
So may we promote the life of penance in our own lives, as that will unite us closer to Christ himself, and will prepare our souls for Final Judgement, where our treasures in heaven will be eternal. Meditate on the life of Christ with Our Lady in the Holy Rosary, enter into the Passion of Christ by praying the Stations of the Cross, imitate the lives of the saints by reading their own works, and uniting ourselves closely to Christ by receiving Him in the Most Holy Eucharist and by adoring Him in Eucharistic Adoration.