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The Power of Human Freedom in Changing the Course of History

March 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Mercy, Sarah Reinhard

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The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (Week 5 of 8)

…paying attention to the Fatima message is not like going to a psychic or a palm reader. (By the way, please don't ever do that!) One of the great dangers of such people, whose powers often come from demons, is that they erroneously present the future in a fatalistic, “irrevocably fixed” way. They make it seem as if what they say will absolutely happen, leaving  the person feeling discouraged or even in despair if what's said is unpleasant. But this denies us the power of human freedom, one of the greatest gifts that God has given us in creating us. Through freedom, we can turn to God in prayer, and by his grace, move mountains or change the course of history. The life of the Church gives countless examples of the power of such prayer, often involving the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession

The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, Chapter 7, paragraph 4

The Power of Human Freedom in Changing the Course of History

Years ago, I thought the power of human freedom was thinking what I wanted, doing what I desired, and being free from the limitations felt were all around me. I was the “liberal” in a group of conservatives. Here's the irony: I was an agricultural major in my undergraduate years, immersed in some of the most “good ole boy” crowds on a campus of around 100,000.

I was rebelling, even as I insisted that yes, I was going to work in agriculture: I was going to be successful in what I saw as one of the most traditionally minded, male-dominated industries AND I was going to do it: (1) without ever getting married (because why would I? It was such an outdated, outmoded, unnecessary limitation!), (2) without needing to be anything other than self-sufficient, and (3) by working harder than anyone else.

Nearly twenty years later, I look back at that young lady and my heart breaks even as I chuckle a bit. Boy, she sure knew a lot more than I do! She was never going to have kids either, by the way. (Poor thing wouldn't recognize me!)

What I was worshiping, back then, wasn't the power of human freedom. In fact, I was more close-minded and unable to understand freedom than any of the people I would have labeled close-minded and chained.

Freedom doesn't mean “no rules.” In fact, not having rules is the definition of the opposite of freedom.

And the limitations of faith that I thought I saw, especially in all those farm kids I hung out with, weren't really limiting them; they were protecting them.

Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) is quoted in today's reading, “there is no immutable destiny…faith and prayer are forces that can influence history, and…in the end, prayer is more powerful than bullets, and faith more powerful than armies.”

No way.


Though I'm familiar with the facts presented in this book, reading these chapters again gave me chills.


Prayer has the power to change human history. My mom is proof of this. We had virtually no relationship for almost seven years, years when I was making some of the biggest moral mistakes of my life. During that time, I suspect she was wearing out the knees of her jeans and petitioning God in ways that St. Monica would understand.

What would happen if I approached my prayer with that passion? What if I gave the attention to my prayer life that I give the screens in my life? What could God do if I just showed up a few minutes more each day?

This story Fr. Gaitley tells so well is one that hammers home to me, yet again, the necessity of taking my prayer life seriously. And though I'm taking it seriously, I don't have to be all serious about it. There's no reason it can't be fun, inspiring, relaxing. (I'm a fan of it involving coffee as often as possible.)

But, if we get nothing else out of this story, let it be a call to action! Let it be the spur we need to hit our knees and pray for our world!

Reading Assignment:

Chapter 9

Discussion Questions:

1. What might you have done in the past that impacted history in a positive way? What can you do today to make an eternal impact?

2. The world is, without a doubt, in great need of our faith and our prayer. How can you resolve to make a difference?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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