ASK FATHER: Parish prayer effort to beg protection from Islamic terror. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

From a reader…


I will appreciate your help in leading me to a prayer to protect us from terrorism (specifically Muslim, if possible) that can be recited by our parish weekly during these threatening times. I do this at the behest of my Pastor.

Your pastor is wise to seek to do something like this.  We are living in increasingly dangerous times.

Today I had lunch with a priest who remarked that the Church is really good and reacting and reforming, but not very good at foreseeing and avoiding.  Why wait to tackle a problem before it turns into disaster?  A stick in time saves nine applies also to the fabric of the Church.

The Rosary was used at the Battle of Lepanto!  Can you think of something better than that?

But wait!  There’s more.

I was recently reminded of the 1889 encyclical about St. Joseph, Quaquam pluries of Pope Leo XIII (will we see his like again, I wonder).  In that encyclical Leo asked that a prayer be added at the end of the recitation of the Holy Rosary especially during the month of October (dedicated in a special way to the Rosary).  The prayer was indulgenced then and it is still indulgenced now.  It is in the Handbook of Indulgences.  It would be said after the Salve Regina and the usual concluding prayer of the Rosary.  Of course it could be used after any Marian devotion (it seems appropriate to use it in conjunction with a Marian devotion).  It could be used by itself as well.


To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;  O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence;  O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.


So, perhaps you might have in the parish a Rosary after morning Mass and a Rosary in the evening as a scheduled event, and include the prayer to St. Joseph.  Father could hear confessions for the time of the devotion (and after).

Also, don’t forget that one of the historic reasons for the institute of the Forty Hours Devotion was the threat of Islam!

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you panty-waists are grizzling, “This is horrible.  Pray against terrorists?  They are simply misunderstood!   After all, Vatican II says that we all pray to the same God… and … you know.  We are brothers and sisters and we must never suggest anything so triumphalistic and retrograde! They are a ‘menace”?  NO! YOU are the menace with your throwback fear mongering!  You are a deplorable xenophobic islamophobe!  You probably support Donald Trump because you HATE VATICAN II!

I’ll pray for you after I sorrowfully watch the video of a thug in a hood shouting in Arabic as he saws your head off on the street outside your parish church… no, wait… your faith community’s worship space. Even though you are seriously screwed up right now, there is hope for you. I’ll pray that, at the end, you gave courageous witness to the Catholic Faith and to Christ.  And, if you are beatified, I’ll pray to you, asking you to intercede for our nation and to beg that God be appeased.  Until then, please just shut up.

Back to Forty Hours.   If the Rosary is something that you can have in the parish everyday, Forty Hours is a special event, very intense, which you can have once a year.

The mighty St. Charles Borromeo (shall we see his like again, I wonder) wrote to Pope Paul III asking for indulgences for his institution of Forty Hours. Paul III responded:

“Since … Our beloved son the Vicar General of the Archbishop of Milan at the prayer of the inhabitants of the said city, in order to appease the anger of God provoked by the offences of Christians, and in order to bring to nought the efforts and machinations of the Turks who are pressing forward to the destruction of Christendom, amongst other pious practices, has established a round of prayers and supplications to be offered both by day and night by all the faithful of Christ, before our Lord’s Most Sacred Body, in all the churches of the said city, in such a manner that these prayers and supplications are made by the faithful themselves relieving each other in relays for forty hours continuously in each church in succession, according to the order determined by the Vicar . . . We, approving in our Lord so pious an institution, and confirming the same by Our authority, grant and remit”, etc.

It is time to bring this devotion back and to do it right!  Forty Hours Devotion means 40 hours.  I would like to see this done as it used to be: on a rotating basis, parish to parish, throughout dioceses, on a fixed, annual schedule so that it is predictable.  It would also like to see used the Clementine Instruction and in the Extraordinary Form.

There are many devotions and prayers already written and used by our forebears for centuries.

They must be REVIVED!

So many people today ought not to be receiving Holy Communion.  They perhaps go to Communion anyway when they are at Mass because they feel pressure as everyone goes forward.  At all these devotions, stand alone and without Holy Mass, everyone participates equally with no need to go forward.  They can pray and participate in the life of the parish and be devout and join the personal problems and petitions to the prayers being offered.  People would return to Church on Sundays for Vespers and Benediction.  Old hand missals often included the prayers for Vespers along with the prayers for Mass.


I’ve often contemplated the signs of the times and wondered if the wrath of God will be averted through our prayers and mortifications.  Once there were many communities of sisters who did reparation for the sins people committed.  Once there were many many more Masses being offered.  Once there were many more devotional practices and, as a Church, we talked about sacrifice and expiation, the anger of God at sins and our need to beg for mercy.

Before it is too late, this must be RESTORED!

Once upon a time, Popes vigorously moved the entire Church – which still had a strong identity – to common action in prayer.  I wish that our bishops, at least, would give us collective guidance that doesn’t amount to nice thoughts about kitties, sunshine, and birthday cakes on this real threat and on a range of other issues.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. IHSV says:

    Exactly. Well said. I go to FSSP parish that for some reason has been taking away the few devotionals we had ( it isn’t the safest area, TLM ghetto). How I long for these things! I always wondered what the 40 hours in my missal meant.

    I bought combat rosary for my groomsmen gifts and Novenas from the Benedictine Sisters for their families. Oh how I wish Fr. Z I could live some of these devotions, I read about them in my old books and feel nostalgic. Bells, indulgences, prayers… I miss them even though I’ve never had them, but they exist somewhere in my collective traditio memory of my ancestors.

    [“I miss them even though I’ve never had them, but they exist somewhere in my collective traditio memory of my ancestors.” Well said, friend.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I have never lived as an adult in an American parish post Vat II which has had 40 hours devotion.I would love to see this devotion unleashed again. One of my friends in the Midlands of England has just been this past week. Fortunate man…..should we ask our priests for this?

  3. lmgilbert says:

    “Once there were many more devotional practices and, as a Church, we talked about sacrifice and expiation, the anger of God at sins and our need to beg for mercy.”

    After my father’s death I found among his papers a well-worn novena booklet for the Novena to the Sorrowful Mother. He had spoken to me of this novena which was ongoing at the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows (Servite) on Jackson Blvd in Chicago during the Depression and WWII. He told me that the novena was held every half hour on Friday evenings, and that when one crowd exited, another immediately filled it up, yet the place is simply immense..

    In fact, the website for the basilica says “Through the 1940’s and into the 1950’s the Great Novena filled the church weekly in up to 38 separate services,” so it must have involved more than Fridays.

    In imitation of this phenomenon of grace another 2300 parishes throughout the USA set up in their churches stations for that novena. One wonders what role those prayers played in the saying of those times: “God watches over drunks, fools and the United States.”

    Check out the history page at the Basilica’s website:

    Only in the 1980’s were these seven stations removed from our local parish church in Lisle, Illinois and the novena ceased.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Our pastor instituted Sunday afternoon Rosary and Benediction close to eighteen months ago. The intention – to pray for the enemies of the Church. (I assume that is all of them, both interior and exterior). Ours is a small parish not far from the middle of nowhere. Plainly speaking, I thought he was nuts. I was nuts. After the noon mass (Novus Ordo / Ad Orientem) most often it appears to be about sixty people stay on (others return) – sometimes a good number more. I am dumbstruck. It has become a habit for me, and it appears a healthy number of others. Just beautiful. There is hope.

  5. lmgilbert says:

    We are in Portland now, but making the above comment brought me back in spirit to the West Side of Chicago, the Basilica and its terrifying environs. And this in turn brought to mind a 14 minute BBC mini-documentary called The Lost Streets of Chicago that I viewed only last evening. Given the language throughout, I have grave reservations about recommending it, but since your column was prompted by the Muslim menace, it is germane that one cannot view that documentary without realizing that practically the entire very well-armed South and West Side of Chicago are more than ripe for mass Muslim recruitment. Talk about sheep without a shepherd, and more than ready for a shepherd. The language notwithstanding, and withal alarming, it was a very touching piece.

    And then there is the nearby, empty basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows where these distraught, menaced and largely very poor people could find solace and direction if only the Lord would raise up someone to shepherd them in that direction. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us! Should not the poor have the gospel preached to them?

  6. MarkJ says:

    For those who speak French, here is the French version of the prayer to St. Joseph given above…

    Nous recourons à vous
    dans notre tribulation,
    bienheureux Joseph, et,
    après avoir imploré le secours
    de votre très sainte Épouse,
    nous sollicitons aussi
    avec confiance votre patronage.
    Par l’affection qui vous a unie
    avec la Vierge Immaculée,
    Mère de Dieu,
    par l’amour paternel
    dont vous avez entouré l’Enfant Jésus,
    nous vous supplions
    de regarder avec bonté
    l’héritage que Jésus-Christ
    a conquis de son sang,
    et de nous assister
    de votre puissance
    et de votre secours dans nos besoins.

    Protégez, ô très sage Gardien
    de la divine famille,
    la race élue de Jésus-Christ:
    préservez-nous, ô Père très aimant,
    de toute souillure d’erreur
    et de corruption;
    soyez-nous propice et assistez-nous,
    du haut du ciel,
    ô notre très puissant Libérateur,
    dans le combat que nous livrons
    à la puissance des ténèbres;
    et de même que vous avez arraché
    autrefois l’Enfant Jésus
    au péril de la mort,
    défendez aujourd’hui
    la sainte Église de Dieu
    des embûches de l’ennemi
    et de toute adversité.
    Accordez-nous votre perpétuelle protection,
    afin que, soutenus par votre exemple
    et votre secours, nous puissions
    vivre saintement et obtenir
    la béatitude éternelle du Ciel.

    Ainsi soit-il.

  7. Moro says:

    I think we should, no matter the circumstances, pray for the conversion of all muslims to the true faith. God willing, they will convert and we won’t have to worry about Muslim Terrorists any more because they will be gone.

  8. rtjl says:

    Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The psalms are FULL of prayers for protection from enemies, and not just prayers for protection, prayers for the utter defeat of enemies. They are even full of prayers for protection from hidden enemies, enemies you don’t even know you have.

  9. Moro, here is a novena to Our Lady for the conversion of Muslims HERE

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you! Taking Fr. Z’s hint, I looked up Quamquam pluries on the Vatican website, where the English, Spanish, and Italian versions conveniently appended the prayer in those tongues, but the Latin did not!

  11. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    Knowledge is power.

    If I were in charge, every Parish across the globe would have to hold mandatory lessons on islam, attend it, or don’t show your face on Sunday, which would cover how to counter the arguments of islamic apologists.

    Can you counter any islamic argument?
    Do you even know islamic arguments?

    It is an embarrassment that islam is being countered by Protestants! St. Thomas Aquinas would smack upside the head if he could see the state of the Church Militant today!

    Here’s a few tips for you:

    Learn islam, sit down and read these:

    If you have an hour, watch this:
    The early history of islam is its Achilles Heal. There’s nothing there. “Don’t you find it odd that mecca, a supposedly great trading city in Arabia, doesn’t appear in the historical records until 741, and doesn’t appear on a map until the year 900?” “Why was the capital of the very first caliphate medina, and not mecca?” “Why do all the first mosques for 100 years point to the city of Petra, and not to mecca?”

    Stick to muhammed like white on rice in glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm!!!
    If muhammed did it, commanded it, or allowed it, it is sunnah, and it is a part of islam and can be argued. You can’t go wrong if you stick to muhammed. “No, we’re not talking about Old Testament violence, we’re talking about muhammed, stay on topic.”

    Learn about the horrible things muhammed did, and learn to bring them up, and ask about them. “muhammed slept with a nine year old girl, do you think this is appropriate?” “muhammed killed 600-800 men and boys in a single day, do you think this is appropriate?” “muhammed called for the death of homosexuals, do you think this is appropriate?” The list goes on and on…

    islam is evil and must be fought against. And if you don’t, you are complicit in it.

  12. Dad of Six says:

    We are blessed here in SE Michigan to have at least two parishes with a annual Forty Hour Devotion- Assumption Grotto in Detroit and Sacred Heart in Imlay City.

    Thank you Father Z for the Saint Joseph’s prayer…that will now be part of our daily rosary.

  13. wmeyer says:

    I have a silver combat rosary, and a bronze. I got a gold for my wife. The silver is the only rosary I have owned which has survived beyond six months as a pocket rosary. It was three years old in August. Wonderful weapons!

    We do not have the 40 hours here in my parish. We do, however, have 24/7 adoration in our new chapel, and I have been pleased to serve as a guardian in support of that.

  14. Rich says:

    With the newly-approved apparitions of St. Joseph in Itapiranga, Brazil, whose messages promote devotion and consecration to the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph, we can also add that to the list.

  15. Pingback: CATHOLIC FRIDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  16. James C says:

    Father, this couldn’t be more timely for me. I live in Bari, and there have been some terrible sacrileges committed recently in the Cathedral of St Sabinus (whose relics are in the crypt, spirited to Bari from Canossa in the wake of Islamic invasions). Reparation!

    Bari. Il parroco della Cattedrale Don Franco Lanzolla “prega” con gli islamici: “Siamo tutti credenti poi ognuno ha scelto la sua strada: il Vangelo o il Corano”

    See the rest here and pray:

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