Belloc’s Warning

As this article from The Imaginative Conservative, Belloc’s warning was prophetic.

An excerpt.

1938, The world is on the threshold of the most devastating war in history, and totalitarianism is everywhere on the march. The Anschluss takes place in February. Later, in October, Germany annexes Sudetenland. In November, Kristallnacht. Beria becomes head of the Soviet secret police. The infamous Rape of Nanking culminates that year, and the great purge is finally winding down in Russia. Japan passes the National General Mobilization Law, focusing the entire Japanese economy on military readiness. The fascist takeover of Spain is nearing completion, and the Pact of Steel between Germany and Italy is only a year away, as is the formal start of the World War. Hitler is Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, edging out Stalin who wins the title in 1939.

That same year, a now-obscure Franco-British author saw things differently. In what certainly seemed at the time a bizarre, clueless historical non-sequitur, Hilaire Belloc publishes this peculiar warning: “The future always comes as surprise… but I for my part cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam.” He elaborates: “It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.” With great prescience, he adds: “There is no reason why its recent inferiority… should continue indefinitely. Even a slight accession of material power would make the further control of Islam by an alien culture difficult. A little more and there will cease that which our time has taken for granted, the physical domination of Islam by the disintegrated Christendom we know.”

At the time Belloc published these and many more warnings in his books, The Crusades: the World’s Debate (1937) and The Great Heresies (1938), the historical lands of Islam had been carved up by the European powers and seemed powerless to ever rise again. It was obvious to all the “experts” of that time that it was fascism and communism, and other more modern manifestations of totalitarianism, that imperiled freedom and democracy. Belloc’s clarion call was seen as so absurd and out of touch with current events that it went largely unnoticed for many decades. But Belloc sensed that the rise of fascism and communism were passing fads—that the soulless ideologies of Marxism’s class warfare and the racist, nationalist rants of the fascists could not long capture either the imagination nor the soul of Western civilization. For Belloc, it was Islam, long quieted under the boot of European imperialism and seething under colonial misrule, that remained the true, enduring, and implacable threat to Western values and culture.

I do not share Belloc’s almost Manichean view of the struggle between what he termed Christendom and the Islamic world. Indeed, most of us would reject his use of the term Christendom, and it is hard to accept the urgency of his call to restore a unified Christendom to counter the “perpetual” Islamic threat. In truth, some of his views of Catholicism neatly dovetail with the worldview of too many Muslims, who disdain the secular state and view religion as a way of life that takes precedence over all other loyalties, whether to family, friends, or one’s country. But his insights into the internal dynamics of Islam and his rightful fear that a religion as vibrant, virtuous, and sometimes virulent as Islam is a serious challenge to our modern understanding of country and community warrant consideration.

The Church & Communism, 100 Years Since Fatima

Excellent article from Crisis Magazine.

An excerpt.

The past 100 years from 1917 to 2017 have been an encapsulation of the protoevangelium, when God told the serpent “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” This 100-years-war has signified a most pronounced phase in the enmity. It began in 1917 with both (what are the odds?) the revelation of Our Lady of Fatima and the Russian Revolution to atheistic Communism. For the past 100 years the mystical body of antichrist has undoubtedly taken its most grotesque form in atheistic materialism, embodied in Socialist and Communist governments around the world. The serpent became the Leviathan. Before the “October Revolution,” Mary warned in Fatima in July 1917 of Russia, saying “she will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecution of the Church.” The rest, as we know, is history.

In this month and year of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, it is a good time to recall the “satanic scourge” (as Pius XI called it) unleashed on the world through the wicked wiles of socialism and communism. This is particularly important as Western cultural elites and sympathizers, have long sought to minimize the evils of Marxism, as The New York Times seems to have been doing recently, as The Federalist described, with “a series of fond, nostalgic recollections about the good old days of twentieth-century communism.” Perhaps it is time to review again all the fun had in the “red century” with some relaxing bedtime reading like The Black Book of Communism or Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. Or, maybe enjoy some uplifting reads about Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution?” Yay! Or, perhaps, just eat some popcorn and watch a little light entertainment like The Killing Fields.

Some may say, what about “twenty-first century Socialism?” Well, one need only take a quick scan of headlines on Venezuela. Not long ago Venezuela was a prosperous, oil-rich country, a Socialist miracle! Now, after 18 years of Chavez-Maduro Marxism, it is a Socialist hellhole. Many in the country have been reduced to starvation (a Communist specialty) and descended into stealing and eating zoo animals, with apparently a particular delicacy for collared peccaries and buffalo. This, sadly, is not an aberration in Socialist experiments, but the norm. It is probably more palatable, however, than the grass and bark diet in the prison-state of North Korea. The hard facts of history reveal that Communist demagogues killed up to 140 million people (as Dr. Paul Kengor cites in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism) from Lenin to Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot to Kim Jong-un to Chavez to Che and Fidel. The list goes on and on. Lenin did say, after all, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet; 140 million broken eggs, now that is a big omelet!

The Church, on the other hand, was never fooled by the cons of socialism and communism. From the beginning, encyclical after encyclical railed against the false ideology of Marx and Hegel. In fact, it is right there in the Catechism: “The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with ‘communism’ or ‘socialism.’” (CCC 2425) Whereas the Catechism is brief, the papal encyclicals are rich in detail and sweeping in condemnation.

In 1846, Pope Pius IX promulgated Qui Pluibus (On Faith and Religion), beating Marx to the punch, who published The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Pius IX wrote about the “unspeakable doctrine of communism,” which is “a doctrine most opposed to the very natural law. For if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone’s laws, government, property, and even human society itself would follow.” He warned about “the most dark designs of men in the clothing of sheep, while inwardly ravening wolves.”

In 1878, Pope Leo XIII wrote about the evils of socialism in Quod Apostolici Muneris. He began his encyclical about “the deadly plague that is creeping into the very fibers of human society and leading it on to the verge of destruction.” Pope Leo then singled out “that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning—the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever.”

The encyclical also warned that Socialists sought to destroy marriage and the family. For Socialists, there can be no higher allegiance to God or family, but only to the almighty State. Pope Leo asserted that the “foundation of this society rests first of all in the indissoluble union of man and wife according to the necessity of natural law.” Yet, the “doctrines of socialism strive almost completely to dissolve this union.”

Thirteen years later in 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued another encyclical on labor and capital and the working class in Rerum Novarum, the foundational text for Catholic social teaching in the modern age. Wrote Leo: “To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property…” This, the Church declared, is “emphatically unjust,” and the “remedy they propose is manifestly against justice. For, every man has by nature the right to possess private property as his own.”

Socialism is built upon the notion of coveting, a violation of the ninth and tenth Commandments. Rerum Novarum pointed this out: “The authority of the divine law adds its sanction, forbidding us in severest terms even to covet that which is another’s.” Socialism is also built upon the false idea of class warfare. Here too, Pope Leo dismissed their error: “the notion that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth.”

 

Russian Revolution

Commenting on the remembrance of the revolution as a romantic event vs the reality is the subject of this article from The Imaginative Conservative.

An excerpt.

This month is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, one of the most important moments in modern history, indeed in all of history. As a direct consequence of this one disastrous event, tens of millions of people would be slaughtered. Never in the field of human cruelty has so much blood been spilled by so many at the hands of so few. It is, therefore, crucial that we learn the lessons that this dark and debauched lesson in history teaches, lest we risk repeating its gross and grotesque butchery. Since this is so, it is alarming that the lessons have not been learnt. Take, for instance, a recent exhibition at London’s British Library, Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy and Myths. According to the British writer, K.V. Turley, who visited the exhibition, “there was a constant whiff of nostalgia, even a sense of something essentially noble about what had taken place a century ago.” Mr. Turley was “dismayed at the myths peddled yet again, the real tragedy still ignored.”[1]

Mr. Turley trailed through the exhibit, which consisted of tattered remnants of Bolshevik propaganda: posters, leaflets, pamphlets, and newspapers extolling the advent of the new Workers’ Paradise, as well as the odd piece of White Russian literature calling for the liberation of Russia from Bolshevism. The former items were treated with an air of reverence by those who had written the notes beside each item, as if these remnants of communism were quasi-religious relics; the latter, fewer in quantity and placed less prominently within the exhibit, were accompanied by captions proclaiming their “reactionary” and “crude” tone and their support for the discredited Tsarist regime. The overall effect was to give the visitors the impression that the Russian Revolution had been a good and noble endeavor, even if it ultimately failed to bring about the Workers’ Paradise it had promised. Returning to the title of the exhibit, “Hope, Tragedy and Myths,” the impression given was that the “hope” of the Bolsheviks was good and that the “tragedy” was that those hopes had failed to materialize. As for the “myths,” we would do well to begin with the very myth that the organizers of the exhibit had woven: The myth that the Russian Revolution contained anything that could be deemed “noble.”

“One wonders,” writes Mr. Turley, “given the history of Communism in the 20th century, why there is still so much residual romanticism attached to it—at least in some quarters in the West.” One does indeed wonder. What, for instance, is one to make of the Decree of the Russian Communist government on September 5, 1918, authorizing mass executions of opponents of the regime and the establishment of “concentration camps” for those Russian citizens considered to be “class enemies.” Is this a “noble” response to those dissidents who failed to subscribe to the “progressive” ideas of the Bolsheviks? And what is one to make of the fact that more than 15 million people lost their lives to either war or famine between the October Revolution of 1917 and the declaration of the Soviet Republic in 1922? Is this acceptable “collateral damage” in the face of such a “noble” cause? And then there’s the establishment of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, later to be known as the KGB, the most terrible and terrifying Inquisition in all human history. One wonders how the millions of people tortured by this Soviet Inquisition would think of their torturers’ cause being seen as “noble,” or what the millions of those who had their loved ones butchered and murdered by the Soviet Inquisition would think of such “nobility.”

These millions of victims were largely left out of the story, as told by the organizers of the London exhibition, as they are largely left out of the way the story of socialism is told in schools and colleges throughout the West. The tragedy is not that the Russian Revolution is being forgotten, it’s that it is being remembered in the wrong way. It is being seen through rose-coloured spectacles, its grim reality being smothered in layers of romantic myth. Socialists are still seen as freedom-fighters by millions of millennials, especially the most radical and violent of the socialists. This is why an alarming number of college students in the United States endorse and support the use of violence to silence those political opponents whose views they consider “offensive.”

Fatima Reflections

Superb article, the warnings of Communism, from Crisis Magazine.

An excerpt.

The devotion to Mary within the Christian DNA, could properly be said to derive in the first instance from the high esteem shown to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, who brings to Mary the announcement of her vocation of mother of the Savior of the world. In his greeting he says that this simple handmaiden is the highest specimen of our race, “blessed among all women” whereby what is evident to any student of history is that Mary would be called blessed for all generations (Luke 1: 26-33 and 48).

Within the Scriptures themselves we see Mary as Jesus’ first and most faithful disciple. At virtually every critical moment of Jesus’ earthly life we see Mary in the background: first, of course at the Annunciation and the Nativity, then at his initiation into the covenant of Israel at his circumcision; then, at the Flight into Egypt; and her presence throughout our Lord’s adolescence as well as at the inauguration of his public ministry in Cana (which she herself prompted through her intercession); and she continues right on through to his passion, crucifixion, and burial, even when his own apostles had abandoned him.

Moreover, the dissemination of this devotion in the Church was initiated by our Lord himself from the height of the Cross when he entrusts his Blessed Mother to his disciple John and thus to us as well. In all these key moments, including the very birthday of the Church on Pentecost where the Church is gathered around her, we detect what could be called a blue thread that gently runs through the origins of salvation history.

Mary’s pivotal role—always derived from and in relation to her son—is far too expansive to elaborate here. It should be sufficient to say that countless armies of men and women over the centuries have responded to her example and have set forth under her name to educate, comfort, minister and heal those in every conceivable kind of need and that more literature, music, art and architecture have been animated by her and more localities named in her honor than any other woman in all history.

Mary’s personality as seen in Scripture displays her availability of graceful and loving willingness to assist, protect, understand, and comfort those in any need or dire circumstance. Thus, it should be no particular surprise that from the middle of the third century (which is history’s first notation) and onward she begins to be seen in dreams and visions, a point we shall come to in due course.

Notable Features of Fatima

In the second apparition of the Blessed Mother on July 13, 1917, the end of World War I was foretold along with the warning of another, far worse war if people did not stop offending God.

Twenty million people died during the First World War; 50 million more would die in WWII. Additionally, Lucia, the oldest of the children (who only died in 2005), identified the attempt to annihilate those she called “God’s elect people”—i.e., the Jewish people. She further spoke of the spread of Russia’s errors throughout the world, the annihilation of many nations and the persecution of the Church. She said too, the good would be martyred and that the Holy Father in particular would have a great deal to suffer.

All this was prophecy when first spoken, but today reads like history: The Miracle of the Sun took place October 13; twelve days later, on October 25, the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution. The Czar was deposed, the Royal Family executed and Vladimir Lenin would introduce, for the first time in history, the doctrine of Karl Marx in political form. The map of Europe would be reconfigured owing to Soviet domination. Hitler’s attempt to resolve “the Jewish problem” resulted in the extermination of more than 6 million of “God’s elect” in the Shoah, that is, the holocaust.

By the time the first 50 years of Communism was complete there had been more Christian martyrs than in all Christian history combined.

How three illiterate shepherd children from a small town in Portugal would be able to make these kinds of observations let alone predictions is dumbfounding. In fact, when they were first told about Russia, they were under the impression that the reference was to a woman named Russia, not a country.

A consideration of the particular elements of Marxist dogma make these utterances, in 1917 by these children, every bit as astounding to my mind as the dancing of the sun in the sky for 10 or 15 minutes in front of more than 70,000 people.

The concrete errors that would spread from Russia to other parts of the world included the wholesale advocacy of social divisions into warring classes known in the Marxist lexicon as “dialectical materialism.” This is the belief that there is an intrinsic hostility between workers and those who own the means of production. This would necessitate, according to Marx and his followers, an ongoing class warfare pitting these classes irrevocably against one another until the Communist revolution was triumphant and private property, the family and religion were abolished. Once all these impediments to the revolution were eliminated, what would emerge would be an atheistic, classless, egalitarian, and sexually free society led by the proletariat.

Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and State, as well as the especially dull work, Das Capital, had been written in the previous generation and outline all these errors. While the children would have no idea what they contained, our Lady did, and gave a warning of what would, and in fact did happen, even as she was appearing in Fatima.

There are varied elements of the Marxist dogma that would become influential both directly and indirectly in the coming century, up to the present moment—all of which are anticipated at Fatima. By directly I mean the ideology of class struggle, abolition of private property and materialism previously noted. By indirectly, I mean the hermeneutic or taxonomy (a way of interpreting or classifying things) applied to other areas: the diminishment of the individual human person and his private initiative; the transference of economic class warfare to posit a parallel hostility between the sexes; humans and the environment; racial division, etc.

Vatican II & Fatima

The connection is strong but the promise unfulfilled is horrific, as this superb article by Prof. Roberto de Mattei from Rorate-Caeli relates:

An excerpt.

Since this year is the centenary of the Apparitions of Fatima, let us consider this point only. When Vatican II opened in October 1962, Catholics from all over the world were waiting for the disclosing of the Third Secret and the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate heart of Mary. John Haffert’s Blue Army led a mass campaign for years in this regard.

What better occasion for John XXIII ( died 3rd June 1963), Paul VI and with circa 3000 bishops gathered around  them, in the very heart of Christendom, to meet Our Lady’s requests in a solemn and unanimous way? On February 3rd 1964,  Monsignor Geraldo de Proença Sigaud, personally delivered to Paul VI, a petition signed  by 510 prelates from 78 countries, which implored the Pontiff, in union with all the bishops, to consecrate the world and in an explicit manner, Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Pope and most of the Council Fathers ignored the appeal.

If the Consecration request had been done, great graces would have poured down on humanity. A movement of a return to the natural and Christian law would have begun. Communism would have fallen many years earlier, in an non-fictitious way, but authentic and real. Russia would have converted and the world would have experienced an age of peace and order. Our Lady had promised this.

The failed consecration allowed Russia to continue spreading its errors throughout the world and these errors conquered the highest ranks of the Church, inviting a terrible chastisement for all of humanity. Paul VI and the majority of the Council Fathers assumed a historical responsibility for which today we gauge the consequences.

Miracle of the Sun

Wonderful article about the greatest event of the 20th Century, 100 years ago today, from the Catholic Herald.

An excerpt.

The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, which took place exactly a century ago, on October 13, 1917, was one of the most stupendous, if not the most stupendous event of the 20th century. And yet it is hardly known outside the Church, and not well enough known within it.

The people who braved the terrible rainstorm which struck Fatima that day had gone there because of the promise of a miracle. Exactly what sort of miracle they didn’t know, but they knew that something exceptional was going to happen. Many sceptics and unbelievers were also drawn there in the expectation of a fiasco in which the Church would be turned into a laughing stock.

The previous July, Our Lady had told the three Fatima children that she would perform a miracle in October, and this sensational report spread throughout Portugal, ensuring that a huge crowd was present on October 13, despite the appalling weather.

At noon, Our Lady appeared to the children, and after repeating her requests for the daily rosary, and promising that World War I would soon end, she said to them plaintively and sadly: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

Then, while the three seers saw visions of the Holy Family, the crowd of at least 70,000 people were mesmerised as the Miracle of the Sun unfolded. What happened was so incredible that even non-believers couldn’t deny it, as this report, which appeared in the secular Lisbon paper O Dia, indicates:

The silver sun … was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and the people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. … The light turned a beautiful blue as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. … People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of the miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.

This wasn’t the only unexpected response from a secular source. The journalist Avelino de Almeida had previously published a satirical article about Fatima in the anti-religious newspaper O Seculo, which had succeeded in drawing great attention to the apparitions. But when he witnessed the miracle first hand he adopted a very different tone and truthfully reported what he saw, even though he was violently criticised for this by fellow journalists.

Meanwhile, José Almeida Garrett, a young lawyer, reported that “The sun’s disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl. Then, suddenly, one heard a clamour, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight.”

Eyewitnesses to the miracle said that the sun danced in the sky, the colour of the whole landscape changed successively, and the sun seemed to come down towards them, so that many of the crowd thought it was the end of the world. It was also seen at a distance by various people, undercutting the idea that it was simply a collective hallucination. Something else that suggests that the miracle was genuine is that the people at the Cova felt the heat of the sun as it approached them. Their clothes and the ground – which had been soaked by the torrential rain – were dry at the end of the miracle.

Still, “freethinkers” continued to oppose what they regarded as a “despicable reactionary superstition”, fostered by the devotion of the ordinary Portuguese people at Fatima. Their opposition included an attempt to blow up the little chapel which had been built at the site of the apparitions in March 1922. Although the roof of the chapel was blown off, the tree where Our Lady appeared was undamaged.

A point worth focusing on is that many of the witnesses thought it was the end of the world, so terrifying was their experience. So we can also see the Miracle of the Sun as a foreshadowing of what will actually happen at the end of the world, and also as an indication that we are living in a time of crisis, of judgment, when we are called to stand up for the Church and for the truth.

Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima have also been linked with the Book of Revelation by authorities such as Pope Paul VI and respected writers such as Fr Louis Kondor, the now deceased postulator for the Causes of the seers Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

St. Dominic & the Rosary

Here is how it came to be, from Remnant Newspaper.

An excerpt.

Editor’s Note by Michael J. Matt: The following was published in The Remnant back in 1995, before the promulgation of Pope John Paul’s (when he was very elderly and ill) Luminous Mysteries. It is very fashionable these days to argue that Our Lady never actually appeared to St. Dominic in order to commission him with the task of spreading devotion to the most Holy Rosary. This entire incident, supported by at least 15 popes and numerous saints, is nevertheless chalked up as yet another one of the “pious legends of old Christendom” of which our Modernist friends are so fond.

But this “legend” is so well substantiated by popes and saints in history that its authenticity cannot be reasonably questioned without revealing at least a Modernist leaning.

When Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic at Prouilhe in southern France in the 13th century, she was accompanied by three angels, and she asked him: “Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world? I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”

At this, St. Dominic went out and preached the Rosary, first to the Albigensian heretics and then to all of Europe, in compliance with the instruction he’d received from Our Lady—with fifteen mysteries grouped into five decades each.

Lest there be any doubt of this, here is a photograph of the Basilica of Our lady of the Rosary and the Dominican Monastery of Prouilhe:

This is one of the most venerated pilgrimage destinations in France, and it is where St. Dominic established the headquarters of his Order of Preachers—the very spot where according to 800-year-old tradition Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the devotion of the Holy Rosary.

The history of this event is strongly supported by the tradition of the Dominican Order itself, but also Pope Leo XIII—the “Pope of the Rosary”, who wrote 12 encyclicals and 5 apostolic letters on the Rosary—who affirmed over and over again the Dominican origin of the Rosary and in a letter to the Bishop of Carcassonne (1889), admits that he accepts the tradition of Prouille as the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic, revealing this devotion—a tradition supported by at least 15 popes, including the great St. Pius V who codified the Rosary as it had been given to St. Dominic by Our Lady along with the Tridentine Mass after the Council of Trent. It should come as little surprise, then, that Modernists have been trying to crush both the Tridentine Mass and Rosary, ever since.

Here, then, is a more thorough history of the Rosary itself as well as its documented and demonstrated power against evil in the world, both in the past as well as more modern times. MJM

THE HOLY ROSARY:

Ultimate Liturgy

There is no mention whatever of the Rosary in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  Not even in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, whose final chapter deals exclusively with our Lady ’s role in the Church.    A vague reference in Article 67 to “practices and exercises of devotion towards her” might be assumed to include it, but according to Bishop Rendeiro of Coïmbra, the Bishops who wished to add to the text “the Rosary with meditation on the Mysteries of the life of Christ and the Blessed Virgin” were voted down. Apparently the Council deemed it best to follow the recommendations of the Theological Commission and make no mention of particular devotions, for fear of encouraging manifestations of piety beyond what they termed “the limits of sound and orthodox doctrine.” [1]

Fr. Avery Dulles, who wrote an interesting introduction to this decree for one of its English translations, says that “a separate document on the Blessed Virgin was contemplated, and was presented in draft form by the Theological Commission at the first session in 1962.  But the Fathers saw a danger in treating Mariology too much in isolation. . .” The decree reads, “This Synod earnestly exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word that in treating of the unique dignity of the Mother of God, they carefully and equally avoid the falsity of exaggeration on the one hand and the excess of narrow-mindedness on the other.”

Not for them the beloved adage of the saints, “De Maria numquam satis!”  They were solicitous to “painstakingly guard against any word or deed which could lead separated brethren or anyone else into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church.” They would only concede that the Church “has endorsed many forms of piety toward the Mother of God,” forms which “have varied according to the circumstances of time and place and have reflected the diversity of native characteristics and temperament among the faithful.”

There are certainly many devotions of this kind throughout the Catholic world, but it would be impossible to locate the Rosary among them, for this unique prayer has never been tied to any time, place or people, nor did it arise from any particular human culture.  Like all true liturgy, it had no earthly origin. Saints have believed that our Lord himself proposed it to the Apostles.

In point of fact the Rosary began at the foot of the Cross along with Sacred Heart devotion. When Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic with instructions to propagate the Rosary, she did so for the same reason that our Lord would one day appear to St. Margaret Mary. In neither case was anything new proposed to the faithful, who were merely being recalled to practices known in the Church from the beginning, but which they were in imminent danger of forgetting.

Lepanto, Our Lady, Islam

Superb article from Catholic World Report.

An excerpt.

Not many countries have their own names in Turkish. We usually use an adaptation of the French word, like Ingiltere for England, or Almanya for Germany. But the Polish had been a pebble in the shoe of the Ottoman Empire for so long that they earned their own word. Leh for the Pole, and Lehistan for Poland.

If there is a country in the world who knows the potential threat from Islam, or from Muslim countries, it is Poland. The history textbooks of my secular education in Turkey can attest to what kinds of menace it had become to expansion of Islam. It had its own subtitle in each chapter about the Empire that brought Islam out of Asia and Africa.

These Lehs are now praying the Rosary on the anniversary of a naval war that is unfamiliar to many Americans, Catholic or otherwise. October 7 is the day the Ottoman navy was defeated in Battle of Lepanto, thus saving Europe from further conquest by the formidable Muslim empire. It was a turning point in the flow of history, and Our Lady had no small role in this victory.

All the world was a chess board, the students from elementary school to college are taught in Turkey. On the one side stood the Christians, with their corrupted religion and altered holy book. On the other side stood the Ottomans, with Muhammad’s caliph as their sultan and the perfect religion as their guide.

For centuries, victories were many, as the Turkish Empire expanded from Asia to Africa, then to Europe. Even the New Rome, Constantinople, fell into the hands of Mehmed II. The Aegean Sea, which St. Paul crossed to preach, and where the Battle of Troy was fought, became a Turkish sea. What was stopping the soldiers of the caliph to make the Mediterranean Turkish as well?

From Istanbul, all things seem possible. The little island of Cyprus provided the perfect excuse for the Ottomans to deploy their mighty navy to Lepanto. Kaptan-i Derya, the Ottoman admiral, argued that the Crusaders were getting ready to conquer Cyprus. Once Muslim always Muslim. Even the suggestion of such re-conquest was unacceptable.

The textbooks emphasized how the wise admiral was right to predict the Christian treachery. Deployment of the navy in response was merely an attempt to defend the sultan’s hard-earned lands. The Ottoman navy was eventually defeated in Lepanto by the Holy League. Hundreds of Turkish galleys were destroyed, thousands of soldiers and officers were killed. The setback was significant.

After Lepanto, the Ottoman encroachment into Italy was halted. Eventually, this loss was the beginning of the end of Ottoman territorial expansion into Europe. This might be an obscure victory to the ears of those who were raised with Protestant history, but Lepanto was where Our Lady told the Muslims that they can come this far, but no more.

The fact that there was a Holy League despite the constant financial and political rivalries among Catholic states is no small miracle in itself. But the admiral of the Holy League, Don John, made sure that his troops would not only rely on their cannons and swords, but would use all the available spiritual weapons as well. His fleet fasted for three days in preparation. Franciscan, Capuchin, Dominican, Theatine, and Jesuit priests offered Mass and heard confessions in the Holy League galleys. Pope Pius V granted a plenary indulgence to soldiers.

Then came in Our Lady, because it was her mantle of protection that would lead them to the victory. Before the battle, Don John gave every man a rosary. The entire fleet and all the faithful in Rome and Italy petitioned Our Lady on their knees. She listened. She inspired Don John to try unheard-of strategies. She changed the direction of the wind. One of the bloodiest of battles ended in favor of Europe, which would be spared from Muslim invasion.

Our Lady showed Pope Pius a vision of victory, long before news reached Rome. In thanksgiving for this great favor, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7.

Praying the Rosary in Poland

A magnificent event in Poland when hundreds of thousand prayed the rosary on the border, as reported by this article from Catholic Herald.

An excerpt.

Faithful pray from the Baltic Sea coast in the north to the mountains in the south

Polish Catholics held rosaries and prayed together along the country’s 2,000-mile border on Saturday, appealing to the Virgin Mary and God for salvation for Poland and the world in a national event that some felt had anti-Muslim overtones.

The “Rosary to the Borders” event was organised by lay Catholics but was also endorsed by Polish church authorities, with 320 churches from 22 dioceses taking part. The prayers took place from the Baltic Sea coast in the north to the mountains along Poland’s southern borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and all along the border of this country of 38 million where more than 90 per cent declare themselves Catholics.

Organisers say the prayers at some 4,000 locations commemorated the centenary of the apparitions of Fatima, when three shepherd children in Portugal said the Virgin Mary appeared to them.

But the event also commemorated the huge 16th-century naval battle of Lepanto, when a Christian alliance acting on the wishes of the Pope defeated Ottoman Empire forces on the Ionian Sea, “thus saving Europe from Islamisation,” as organisers put it.

Prime Minister Beata Szydło showed her support by tweeting an image of rosary beads with a crucifix and sending greetings to all the participants.

While organisers insisted the prayers Saturday were not directed against any group, some participants cited fears of Islam among their reasons for praying at the border.

Halina Kotarska, 65, travelled 145 miles from her home in Kwieciszewo, central Poland, to express gratitude after her 29-year-old son Slawomir survived a serious car wreck this year. She described it as a miracle which she attributed to Mary’s intercession.

She said she was also praying for the survival of Christianity in Poland and Europe against what she sees as an Islamic threat facing the West.

“Islam wants to destroy Europe,” she said. “They want to turn us away from Christianity.”

Poles also prayed in chapels at airports, seen as gateways to the country, while Polish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan prayed at Bagram Airfield there, the broadcaster TVN reported.

Lepanto

The great battle within which the Rosary played such an important role is immortalized in this article from Pope Benedict XV from the Rorate-Caeli Blog.

And, here is a link to the immortal poem, Lepanto, by Chesterton from the Imaginative Conservative.

The article from Rorate Caeli, in its entirety:

We cannot but recall that four great Roman Pontiffs came from the Dominican ranks. Of these, the last, St. Pius V, won undying gratitude from Christianity and civil society. He joined together, after unceasing efforts, the arms of the Catholic princes, and under the patronage of the Virgin Mother of God, whom, therefore, he ordered to be saluted in future as Help to Christians, destroyed forever at Lepanto the power of the Turks.

In this is amply shown the third quality We have noted in Dominican preaching: a most zealous piety towards the Mother of God. It is said that the Pontiff knew by Divine revelation of the victory of Lepanto achieved at that very moment when through the Catholic world the pious sodalities of the Holy Rosary implored the aid of Mary in that formula initiated by the Founder of the Friar Preachers and diffused far and wide by his followers.

Loving the Blessed Virgin as a Mother, confiding chiefly in her patronage, Dominic started his battle for the Faith. The Albigenses, among other dogmas, attacked both the Divine maternity and the virginity of Mary. He, attacked by them with every insult, defending to the utmost of his strength the sanctity of these dogmas, he invoked the help of the Virgin Mother herself, frequently using these words: “Make me worthy to praise thee, Sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine enemies.”

How pleased was the Heavenly Queen with her pious servant may be easily gathered from this, that she used his ministry to teach the Most Holy Rosary to the Church, the Spouse of her Son; that prayer which, being both vocal and mental, in the contemplation especially of the mysteries of religion, while the Lord’s Prayer is fifteen times repeated together with as many decades of the Hail Mary, is most adapted to fostering widely piety and every virtue.

Rightly, then, did Dominic order his followers, in preaching to the people, to inculcate frequently this manner of prayer, the utility of which he had experienced. He knew, on the one hand, Mary’s authority with her Son to be such that whatever graces he confers on men she has their distribution and apportionment.

On the other hand, he knew that she is of a nature so kind and merciful that, seeing that it is her custom to succor the miserable of her own accord, it is impossible she should refuse the petitions of those who pray to her. Accordingly the Church, which is wont to salute her “the Mother of Grace and the Mother of Mercy,” has so found her always, but especially in answer to the Rosary.

Fausto appetente die

Benedict XV

June 29, 1921