Lex orandi, lex credendi. The law of praying is the law of believing. So goes the old Christian axiom on the relation between faith and prayer. One of the truths that comes from this rule is that we can examine our prayer and discover what we believe. Most interesting to me, on a personal level, is to notice in prayer how my sense of God and of faith has changed over time. I think, for example, of how my punctuation of the Act of Contrition has shifted over time. Today I'm also thinking of the 'Fatima prayer.'
During the months of May and October here at the general curia, the common meditation period between vespers and supper is given to the rosary. It seems to be the custom here to use the prayer at the end of the decades: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen. Of course here we say it in Italian: Gesù mio, perdona le nostre colpe, preservaci dal fuoco dell'inferno, porta in cielo tutte le anime, specialmente le più bisognose della tua misericordia. Amen.
I remember encountering this prayer for the first time when I was a catechumen and I went to a rosary at the parish where I was going to be baptized. It wasn't, however, present in the little booklet from which I first learned to pray the rosary, and so I've never really adopted its use. Besides, I'll admit it, when I was younger it seemed to me a little patronizing the part about the souls in most need of Jesus' mercy. Here we were, righteous rosary-saying folks (and we all know that praying the rosary is one of the marks of an extra-good Catholic) praying for those poor souls in most need of mercy.
Over time, though, I've come to realize that it's not that way at all. Why? Because when I pray for Jesus' mercy on the souls most in need of it, I'm praying for myself. That's me, Jesus, the soul most in need of thy mercy. Even if someday I get to the point where my sins aren't as objectively grave as some of my brother and sister sinners in this world, I will be still a worse sinner because I persist in my sins and spiritual laziness even with everything God has given me.
So I've decided that I'm happy to say the prayer. And I'm grateful for everyone else in the world praying it for me and my fellow souls most in need of Jesus' mercy.