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May 08, 2020 81 0 Carissa Douglas
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A Journey Together Forever

Sister Lucia Dos Santos, the oldest visionary of the three children at Fatima, shared a troubling prediction before her death in 2005. In a letter to Archbishop Carlo Caffarra (now Cardinal), she wrote:

“The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family.”

She also wrote that those who work for “the sanctity of Marriage and the Family” would always face intense opposition because it would be “the decisive issue” in this great battle.

Among those who have been at the forefront of this battle is a humble husband and father from Michigan who is now on the path to beatification. Irving “Francis” Houle was a devoted husband, a loving father to five children and was dedicated to the service of God as a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. In his later years, he became the first married man and father to bear the stigmata.

From the age of 67, he suffered through an experience of the crucifixion every night between the hours of 12 am and 3 am. He said that he offered up this excruciating pain, for those who were tempted to commit sins of the flesh during that time. Sometimes he could see them. Most were 25-40 years old – the age that most people become parents.

The attack on marriage and the family is pervasive and has left many confused and depressed. Young people are now being taught to accept and celebrate distortions of God’s beautiful plan for human life and the family. However, the greatest weapon Satan is using to attack families is pornography, because it is hidden like a deadly cancer destroying marriages and souls.

Even Christian men and women who practise their faith are not spared this particular temptation.

Strong families can have a tremendous impact, because they are the pillar and foundation of society. So, our ancient enemy – the devil – is working hard to break families down, hoping that the whole of society will crumble as family breakdown increases.

Now is the time to strengthen families, especially fathers, who no longer understand the profound importance of their role in the home. We need to fortify them with our prayer, offerings and support to enable parents to trust in God’s promise to sustain us. Perhaps it’s time to swallow pride and reconcile with your spouse, or time to discern growing your family. We are all called to greater fidelity to our vocations and to earnestly seek holiness.

I know I am never likely to bear the stigmata like Houle, but my husband and I definitely bear the stigma of having 13 children. They are physical manifestations of our love for each other and our “Yes” to life – a resolutely counter-cultural decision amidst the culture of Death. Choosing each other and embracing the sacrifices that come with raising children (spanning from a tiny baby to a tall teenager) is our daily battle. Even now, I’m trying to remember the last time I had more than 5 hours of unbroken sleep, but I’m happy to add this to the mound of offerings that will be used to defeat our common foe.

I’m also humbled by this man on the path to sainthood who sacrificed his sleep and comfort for hundreds of people he has never met. We will need his intercession for families as the final battle unfolds.

I take courage from Sister Lucia’s final words, where she bids us not to fear Satan’s attack, for “nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.” So, although it feels like an uphill battle, we know who will have the final victory.

Carissa Douglas

© is the author and illustrator of the Catholic children’s book series “Little Douglings,” which promotes the sacraments and the culture of life. She is the mother of 11 children ages 14 and younger. Be sure to check out her site at littledouglings.com where she blogs about her adventurous life with her big Catholic family and shares the humor and joy in her comic series: Holy HappyMess.

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