Friday, October 7, 2016

Man the Lifeboats, Pray the Rosary

Each year on October 7th, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The Feast was instituted by Pope Pius V as an act of thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks in the great naval battle of Lepanto. On this day in 1571, Christian Civilization was saved from utter destruction when the Turkish fleet was decimated. Pope Pius V credited this amazing victory to our the Blessed Virgin Mary who had been invoked through the recitation of the Holy Rosary both by sailors aboard their ships and by the entire Christian population of Italy.  Had things turned out differently, the invasion of Italy by the Turks would have been a most likely outcome. With that invasion, Rome could have fallen and Islam could have spread violently across all of Europe.

Originally, the feast was dedicated to "Our Lady of Victory."  It was later changed to "Our Lady of the Rosary." I am kind of partial to the "Our Lady of Victory" title. So many things in life seem impossible and dangerous. I like knowing that we have in our possession a secret weapon that assures victory. Although many things have been written about the Rosary (e.g., how to say it, how to mediate upon the mysteries, what are its promises etc), what continues to amaze me is simply this: It works! The Rosary brings victory. Struggling with some temptation? Pray the Rosary. Have a difficult  family situation? Pray the Rosary. Desire the conversion of sinners? Pray the Rosary. Want to transform the world? Pray the Rosary.

The defeat of the Turks at Lepanto saved Western Civilization.  We live at a moment in time when Western Civilization is quickly disappearing. What the Turks were unable to do with their ships and weapons, we ourselves have done by voluntarily surrendering our Christian heritage. We live, it seems, at a moment in time when one age begins its sorrowful and rapid decline and when nothing noble stands ready to take its place. It is like a ship at sea, taking on water and quickly slipping beneath the waves. The passengers have manned the lifeboats and are now floating in the darkness left to wonder what will happen next? Are there rescue ships steaming towards us? Will the dawn reveal to us a horizon of welcoming coastlands or, having scuttled the great ship of Christendom, will we be left to float aimlessly and precariously, tossed about by every wind and wave?

In moments of great import and danger, it has always been the Catholic inclination to turn to the Holy Rosary. Lifeboats are a good place to pray the Rosary. Eventually, as we drift in the darkness and see the remnants of a great culture disappear from sight; as we realize that the civilization we worked so hard to destroy was what protected us from the pirates and sharks who now surround us; when we realize that we sunk ourselves and that the vaporous speeches of our captains will not save us; then from one of the lifeboats a small voice will begin and will travel from boat to boat. These lifeboats will become the beginning of a new armada, an armada whose victory is certain for their battle cry shall be: Hail Mary, Full of Grace.


  1. Wonderful post. I first heard of the battle of Lepanto in grade 9 at St. John's Prep in 1944. Later, as juniors or seniors, we read Chesterton's mighty poem about the event. The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (or Victory) is a good time to remember the history and the part Mary played in it.

    1. Thank you. If you want to read a good article, I saw this today:

  2. I read the article this morning. I think you are responsible for my signing up with Crisis.