Lepanto & Victory, the Rosary & the Abundant Life
447 years ago, on October 7th in 1571 A.D., a huge naval battle raged between Christians and Muslims in the seas off the coast of Greece. Some naval experts consider the Battle of Lepanto the most decisive naval battles since Actium in 31 B.C. While the soldiers went to war, the people went on an extended Rosary Procession led by Pope Saint Pius V through the streets of Rome. And when Pope Pius heard the good news of a dominant Christian victory, he named today in honor of Our Lady of Victory. Today, she is known as Our Lady of the Rosary. Her feast day crowns the month of October and the month of the Holy Rosary.
Through this genuine historical event, we recognize a pattern from the Gospels. Behind every Martha is a Mary. In other words, every active work needs to be supported by prayer. Both large and small apostolates are buoyed up and sustained by prayer that is hidden, patient and hopeful. Prayer is necessary for genuine fruitfulness.
Through the victory at Lepanto, we can also perceive Mother Mary as a genuine protector and defender. She is deeply interested in spreading the Gospel of her Son through the world. She loves truth and beauty and goodness and desires deeply that everyone come to live the abundant life that Jesus promises (Jn 10:10).
The month of October is a time to renew and cultivate a deep and perduring bond with Mary our Queen and Mother. With matters little and large, we can reach out to her with small dart-like prayers: Mary, help me. Mother, protect me. My queen, strengthen me. Speak with her anytime, all the time, about our joys and sorrows. In this way, Mary becomes our constant aid and companion. As for the Holy Rosary, the greatest of Marian devotions, an old priest once told me, “When you reach for your rosary, know that you reach for the hands of your Mama!” That idea: the rosary is the hand of Mary, has never left me. May it never leave you, and be for you a consolation in times when hope seems lost.
October is also Respect Life Month. Larry York, our Respect Life Coordinator, and the Knights of Columbus, have a full month planned: today is Roses for Life; next week a Right to Life Car Raffle; and on the last Sunday, white ribbons of purity and chastity - an acknowledgement that decisions for and against life begin long before the crises of unwanted pregnancies in the hearts of men and women.
It’s natural for October to be dedicated both to Mary and to life. Mary said “let it be done to me” and accepted the uncertainty of an unplanned pregnancy. As a woman of deep prayer, she trusted and waited in hope to witness the manifestation of the Lord’s great design. She embraced the challenges and surprises, all the while seeking about truth, goodness and beauty. Now Mary desires the same for all her children.
I will be spending the next two weeks on retreat. In my physical absence, I will be lifting up the whole OLPH family and placing it under the loving mantel of Mary’s protection. Our Lady of Victory, pray for us! Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Yours in the heart of her Son,