“Today’s society does not pray. That’s why it’s falling apart.”
So observed the beloved Italian saint and mystic Padre Pio.
The organizers of a grassroots prayer movement agree – and are committed to a cultural change of course.
“Many have seen the great difficulties in the problems of the world and the family,” said Maureen Flynn.
“Everyone is good at articulating the problem, but few provide the solution,” added Ted Flynn. “We are asked not to be part of the problem, but part of the solution – and the solution that Heaven has given us.”
Maureen agreed, “We have an opportunity to be a part of these solutions that Heaven has told us will destroy evil.”
That opportunity will come nationwide on October 1, when the International World Day of Prayer and Fasting Conference, a grassroots movement founded by the Flynns, will follow Heaven’s direction as people gather at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. DC The conference will continue online until October 9th with the theme “The Eucharist, Our Lady and the Weapons of Heaven to Conquer Evil”. to focus on praying and fasting for our nation, our leaders, our families and the church.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF.org), which received the apostolic blessing of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. Saint Teresa of Calcutta also gave her support.
The nine-day event will be even bigger this year as a coalition of other apostolates joins this effort to mobilize people. For the first time, Rosary Coast to Coast will join the effort. Her own 54-day rosary novena for families and the nation also concludes October 9 with a “National Rosary Rally” in Washington, DC and across the country.
“The grave crisis currently affecting the Church and the world can only be fully resolved through the spiritual weapons of Heaven – Holy Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Rosary, prayer and fasting,” Maureen said. “Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and the Saints have told us that these spiritual weapons will destroy evil.” Regarding this very intense struggle between good and evil, Maureen quoted the words of St. John Paul II Gospel Life: “Jesus himself showed us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (Matthew 4:1-11).”
“When we think of weapons we think of warriors in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Our Lady has her army of prayer warriors around the world,” Maureen said. “We’ve been doing this for 30 years and the last five to 10 years has been amazing to see all these groups across the country and worship chapels across the country. All over the world people consecrate themselves to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady is the general against Masonic forces and demonic forces.” It was Masonic forces that attacked the visionaries in Fatima and tried to prevent people from going to the apparition site.
“Our Lady said prayer and fasting is the answer,” Ted explained.
Ted emphasized the response IWOPF focuses on: “If we do exactly what Heaven requires of us, we can be healed and converted. We must use the tools heaven has given us if we are to tear down this fortress of fear, anxiety, distress, depression, despair and people feeling overwhelmed. More and more people are seriously looking for answers. If we stick to the foundations of faith – prayer, adoration, rosary and Holy Mass as the center of our lives – we will heal the land. But we must use the tools of heaven.”
Father Francis Peffley of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and longtime Legion of Mary spiritual director for the Virginia and Maryland region, agreed. “We need God’s grace and mercy more than ever in our country and society.” As one of the keynote speakers at the Shrine event, he will focus on “The Twin Pillars of Victory: The Eucharist and Our Lady”.
He said: “We need to refocus on the two pillars of victory, namely Jesus in the Eucharist and Our Lady. The Eucharist and Our Lady are the key to bring peace to the world and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.”
Father Peffley has seen these efforts grow and envisions they will help bring our nation back to God and the moral teachings of the Bible and the Church, “that the country and the world may learn the sanctity of life, marriage and of the family and “will bring about the conversion of hearts and bring the mercy of God upon us.” The effort will be an instrument of grace for the “salvation of souls.”
Another IWOPF speaker will be Susan Brinkman, a Discalced Carmelite of the Secular Order and Director of Communications and New Age Research at Women of Grace. She told the Register that “Catholics are going through a period of great turbulence, both within the Church and in the culture around it. As discouraging as it may seem at times, we must never forget the words of St. Paul: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Romans 5:20). Seize the Grace! Take the weapons that God gave us. They are perfect for this day and time.”
“By remaining in a state of grace, strengthening ourselves with the sacraments, praying daily for God’s intervention, and mortifying the passions that weaken us, we can and will rise from the morass of this world,” she added. The IWOPF offers “the perfect opportunity to reflect, regroup and renew our faith in the God who promised never to fail us. We have him and we have each other. What more do we need?”
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, an exorcist and associate professor at the Catholic University of America, will also speak during IWOPF week. He told the Register: “The Blessed Virgin Mary’s call to prayer and penance that we hear in so many of her apparitions is as relevant today as it was at Fatima and elsewhere. We gather to pray her Rosary, to pray for healing, to encourage one another in faith. It is so important in our world grappling with bitter conflict, declining faith and war.”
Father Chris Alar of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and EWTN Host Living Mercy of Godwill also give a lecture during the week.
“Our two spiritual weapons of our time are Jesus, the mercy of God, and Mary,” he said. “In the Eucharist we experience Jesus entirely as divine mercy, and in the Rosary we unite most closely with Mary.”
Also on October 1st, Dave and Joan Maroney of Mother of Mercy Messengers and Divine Mercy for America will speak at the shrine in Washington. The same day begins the monthly novena of her apostolate to our nation.
“Throughout history the Church has prayed and fasted to combat heresies, Church troubles, wars, plagues and pandemics, and we are keeping that tradition alive [conference] and bring the focus to… what’s been lost,” Joan said.
Dave added, “The International Week of Prayer and Fasting is positioned to be the spark that people could need when they wake up to see, ‘This is wrong; this is wrong’ and their hearts begin to be converted and awakened by the Holy Spirit.”
“As a society and as a culture, we need to take that to heart and have that attitude in our heart that we need God in our country and in our daily lives.”
He sees the IWOPF as “a resource that gives people guidance on how to pray and fast, and an event that can help them put this into practice and continue throughout their lives.”
Joan recommended, “If people could start with a little daily prayer, we know what that would lead to,” including
“More people would start praying the rosary.” She thinks the rosary testimonies from coast to coast are giving people “the courage to be a public witness, to pray the rosary and to gather in faith across the country “.
The testimony of the Saints is a particularly poignant introduction to why faith is key. The conference organizers hope that many who attend the conference in person will be inspired by Blessed Carlo Acutis.
As Maureen explained: “The relic of Blessed Carlo, beatified in 2020, will be available for veneration throughout the day in the side chapel of the Miraculous Medal in the Upper Church. One of his famous quotes is: ‘The Eucharist is my way to heaven.’”
On October 1, people around the world can join the IWOPF in person or via livestream at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. There will be a Procession of Nations, Mass, all-day Eucharistic Adoration, a Rosary of Divine Mercy, Confessions, a Global Living Rosary and inspirational talks by Catholic speakers.
The conference can be viewed free of charge on each presentation day. Visit IWOPF.org or email for complete information [email protected].