The Battle of Lepanto
October has been traditionally dedicated to the honor of Our Lady of the Rosary and the recitation of her Rosary. Her feast is celebrated on the 7th of October, in memory of the Victory believed to have been brought about through her intercession by the faithful, reciting herRosary. It was in 1571 that this battle, crucial for the survival of the Church then was waged between the Holy League, as it was called, composed of a patchwork of some Spanish and Italianfleets against the overwhelmingly huge naval fleet of the Ottoman Empire with a large array of warships tens of thousands of men trained in naval warfare. It was not only a war between opposing armies but between two religions, Christians and Muslims, a war where the Christians were definitely at the losing end. It was fought at Lepanto, hence the famous Battle of Lepanto. Miraculously the Holy League prevailed despite their enormous disadvantage. The Turks were mercilessly routed. It was Our Lady’s victory for the Church. The faithful with the Blessed Mother’s light, the rosary, prevailed over defeat, over darkness.
Once again this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called all Catholics all over the world to pray the rosary particularly on the of month of October for a very urgent reason. Another battle! The Vatican Press Office said the Pope wants “ all to join in communion and in penitence as the People of God , asking the Holy Mother of God and St Michael the Archangel to protect the Church from the Devil who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other) The Pope says, He ( the Devil) is the Great Accuser who goes around the world to accuse people. He reminds us that “in moments of great spiritual turbulence, we take shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.”
Pope Francis, being a Jesuit, keen on this perennial battle and schooled in the Ignatian meditation of the Spiritual Exercises on the battle between the two standards, that of Jesus, the other of the Devil, perceives this menace in our midst today: the Devil has escalated his war against humanity particularly the Church and her faithful. This conflict started way back in the Garden of Eden and which will continue until he is finally defeated in the end of time; when God iscompletely glorified by all. The devil is helpless before God so he strikes against humankind as it is created in God’s image and likeness.
We are aware of these wars being waged on many fronts in our world today: nations at arms against each other particularly in the Middle East but also beyond, some for racial reasons, others, religious; Many die as the martyr’s in these persecutions. There are threats of war amongpowerful nations, all creating unrest and uncertainties among countless peoples. Grave calamitieshit different countries both rich and poor and the devastation of nature and properties. The Holy Father have all these in his mind, most especially what is happening in the Church under his care, divisions and dissensions under his apostolic office; sexual abuses and scandals among priests, bishops even Cardinals; The disheartening apostasy from the faith in the Catholic Church, the repudiation of many Catholic tenets, like the sanctity of marriage, the inviolability of life, particularly of the unborn of the; the family is endangered and the future of humanity is not ensured. The Enemy has seemingly the upper hand in the affairs of the world; He has entered every area of life particularly the family and is determined to win. Signs of the Impending end times? Pope Francis says “only prayer can defeat him.” And the prayer he asks is the Rosary.
Fatima and the Rosary
Our Lady at Fatima has made repeated appeals to pray the rosary every day. On May 13 1917 she said to the three children:”Say the rosary every day to bring peace to the world and end of the war.” World War I was about to start then. Nowadays we believe that prayers of the rosary worldwide have averted the danger of a World War III .Nevertheless it is very apparent that we are still in war and it is against the Snares of the Devil in our daily life. This is the battle that the Pope is warning us against and more. Let me quote again from Our Lady’s message from the Blue Book “ Continue to recite it (the rosary)…thus responding to the invitation which the first of my beloved sons, the Vicar of Jesus, has so urgently made to you.”(msg. 182,e) In this message Our Lady affirms and concurs with appeal the Pope has made. The Church in heaven and earth are clearly united in battling against him whom Our Lady calls, her Adversary.(Blue Book passim)
Mary and the Blue Book
In order to understand better why the Church, the Popes in history and Pope Francis insist in the recitation of the Holy Rosary let us look into the messages of Our Lady, received through interior locutions by Fr Stefano Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests and compiled in the so called “Blue Book” used in cenacles and dubbed “the school of Mary”. They are in consonance with the messages of Our Lady in Fatima but now addressed to priests and consequently also to the laity (604 in all, from 1973 – 1997). While these messages have no Papal approval they carry several imprimaturs , meaning there is nothing contrary to faith or morals in the manuscript. The proof of authentic spiritual and even pastoral value can be gleaned from the response they have received all over the world from priests, bishops, even Cardinals ,of course, the Popes from Pope St John Paul II on and more numerous than the clergy are the laity. (The messages will be in italics, together with the message number and line or paragraph.)
Let us listen to our Lady: She asks, “Why is the rosary so efficacious” (275e)
And she gives this answer to her question ”Because it is a simple prayer, a humble one and it forms you spiritually in littleness, in meekness, in simplicity of heart”. (.275f ) “It is a prayer that you say together with me.(275,i)
Our Lady prays with us in this simple prayer and forms us in her own spirituality of simplicity littleness and meekness . How does he form us. She outlines for us:
“By contemplating its mysteries, you are led to understand the plan of Jesus, as spelled out in all of his life, from the Incarnation, to the consummation of this glorious Pasch, and thus you penetrate ever more profoundly into the mystery of the Redemption.
And you begin to understand this mystery of love through your heavenly Mother; moving through the passage way of her heart, you gain possession of the immense treasure of the divine and burning charity of the Heart of Christ “.
In the rosary you are formed for the perfect glory of the Father with the frequent repetition of Jesus taught you: ‘Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come.
You are also formed for the everlasting adoration of the Most Holy Trinity with the recital of the ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.’” (275,n,o,p,q)
Our Lady has given us explanation of the very core of our faith expressed In a very simple yet powerful prayer as we will see latter. It is not just recitation much less is it a like repetitious mantra to obtain something but truly a meditation and formation into the mystery of salvation in our Lord Jesus. To explain her messages will be superfluous. We will continue to quote this message in the hope that we will see another dimension of the Rosary that the Holy Father wants us to open up to.
“Today your Holy Mother asks you to make use of the Holy Rosary as the most efficacious weapon for the fighting of the great battle, under the command of the ‘Woman clothed with the Sun,’
“Give your support to my invitation; multiply your cenacles of prayer and fraternity; consecrate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart; frequently recite the Rosary! Then the powerful Red Dragon will be shackled be this chain, and his margin of action will become ever more restricted. In the end he will be left impotent and powerless and harmless.
“The miracle of the triumph of my Immaculate Heart will be made manifest to all.” (275, r,s,t,)
Mary’s Final Battle
Every time we pray the Rosary, we pray for our personal intentions or private intentions ask by others for us to pray for. This view and use of the rosary while valid is in complete. The rosary indeed is a very useful prayer for obtaining favors for our or other’s needs. But Our Lady herself invites us to see further from ourselves and from our small needs. She invites us to look at our world from the from vantage point of God. God and His work of salvation for His creation where Mary, the Mother of His Son is a docile cooperator. She received the task of Motherhood of us at the foot of the cross from her dying Son.. The reason of His death was our sins. Mary was to take care of us with Him. Being a good and loving Mother, She wants everything good for her sons. She wants to guard them from sin and the cause of sin, the Evil one. From creation on in Scriptures the “Woman clothed with the Sun” (Rev 12,1) who would be taunted by the Dragon. …Angry with the woman and (he) went off to wage war with the rest of her offspring.(Rev. 12, 17) Our Lady knows that the role of that woman has been assigned to her to war against the Dragon and ultimately to defeat him. The Devil is proud and full of lies and wiles and he uses all means to entice to sin. Our Lady is humble and full of truth and holiness and her only weapon is a fragile rosary that will be the ‘’chain that will shackle him’.
The triumph of her Immaculate Heart will coincide with the triumph of the reign of the Lamb, of Her Son Jesus. (he Blue Book , passim) Pope Francis I am sure refers also to this final battle and victory. The Battle of Lepanto was just a prelude. The definitive defeat of the Dragon will still be wrought through the rosary of our Lady. Our daily rosary involves us in this battle to prepare us for this victory. This gives us hope. Every rosary is a step towards that victory.
Beyond October and always
The call of our Lady of Fatima is for the achievement of peace and conversion of sinners. Peace is a fruit of conversion, among nations, communities, families, and in our hearts as we are all sinners. She assures us it is her rosary that will be her weapon to achieved the triumph of herImmaculate Heart and the reign of the Eucharistic Lord. She asks for daily rosary. The call therefore goes beyond the month of October. It should be part of our daily routine however should not be said routinely but with devotion, taking our active role in her final battle for peace..“Pray for us of Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
By Religious Contributor Monsignor Pagulayan
To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His mother.”
~ Saint John Paul II
On October 22, we celebrated the memorial of Saint John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II holds a special place in my heart. I was born during his papacy and was blessed to have witnessed how he inspired love, forgiveness, hope, unity, and respect among God’s children all over the world.
I participated in the World Youth Day celebration in the Philippines in 1995 and vividly remember how I felt seeing him for the first time as his Popemobile passed by infront of me. I was overcome with so much joy that my tears just started falling and it wasn’t because he was “the Pope, the Successor of Peter” which moved me. Pope John Paul exuded holiness and serenity that I felt even then that I was in the presence of an angel or a saint.
As it turned out, he truly was. Pope John Paul joined our creator on April 2, 2005 and was beatified in Saint Peter’s Square on May 1, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, his successor. He was canonized on April 27, 2014.
He is lovingly remembered for having a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which he says was inspired by Saint Louis de Montfort. Among the many great and beautiful things he has done in service of God and His Church, Pope John Paul II is also known for being a champion for marriage and family.
Here is an excerpt from a homily that Pope John Paul II gave in Malta in 1990:
(2)“Today, Malta’s families must still rely upon Mary’s motherly protection and care, as they face new challenges to the fulfilment of their vital mission to individuals and all society! In God’s plan, the family is where children learn what it means to be responsible individuals and members of a larger community, where they first encounter the virtues of unselfish love and self-sacrifice, and where they first come to understand the mystery of God’s love as it is expressed in the love of their parents. Since the family is the “first and vital cell of society” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11), the spiritual health of its families will always be the fundamental measure of a society’s strength. May the families of Malta and Gozo never hesitate to look to Mary, the Mother of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Mother of all mankind in the order of grace (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 62), as a sure guide amid life’s challenges and trials!”
(3)“How often, in your families, do you feel powerless in the face of painful and apparently insoluble situations? How many people find it a constant struggle to forgive longstanding grudges, or to overcome deeply-rooted feelings of anger, hostility, jealousy or resentment? How many people desperately long for someone they love to abandon a way of life or a course of action which they know will only lead to frustration and unhappiness? And how frequently do our hearts go out to someone who is caught up in the toils of mental anguish or a bitter grief which knows no consolation? At moments like these, should we not trust in Mary’s loving intercession, confident that the most hopeless of human situations can be transformed by the saving power of Jesus, who in answer to her request turned water into wine, who died on the Cross that we might live forever?”
(4) “Mary’s cooperation in the mystery of God’s plan as it unfolded in the Incarnation of her Son invites all Christian parents and children to think about their own vocation to be cooperators in the mystery of God’s grace at work within their families. Our faith teaches us that each human life, beginning at the moment of conception, is a gift from the Creator and endowed with an infinite value in his eyes. Our faith reminds us that all human beings have been created in God’s own image and likeness and given a vocation and destiny that will find their ultimate fulfilment beyond this earthly existence, in a communion of life and love with the Blessed Trinity. Faith also teaches us that we are united with all other members of the human race in a deep moral solidarity, that our actions and choices have consequences not only for ourselves but for others, and that we shall be judged by the measure of our love and concern for the least of our brothers and sisters.
Is it not in the life of their families that most people come to learn the magnificent truth which lies behind these profound affirmations of Christian faith? Unfortunately, it is easy for individuals and families to be so caught up in the many anxieties of daily life that they fail to stand back, put their lives in spiritual perspective, and rediscover the truth of their own vocation. How tragic this is, for without a spirit of prayer and meditation how can we discern God’s will for us, turn to him in obedience and love, and thus experience the happiness and peace for which he created us?
For this reason, I encourage all of you to pray constantly (Cfr. 1 Thess. 5, 17), especially within your families, in humble thanksgiving for everything that God in his goodness has done for you. Ask him every day to help you to remain faithful to the vocation which he has given you in Christ! Do not be afraid to bring before him all your hopes, your needs and concerns. Parents, pray for your children, that they may grow in the new life which they received in Baptism. Children, pray for your parents, for you too have a part to play in making them holy (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes, 48). Moreover, as members of a greater family, pray in union with Christ’s Body throughout the world for the needs of all humanity: for the sick and the oppressed, for the leaders of nations, for those who labour for justice and peace among peoples, and for those who promote responsible stewardship of the natural environment. Pray for all those who in any way give glory to God by humbly serving the needs of their brothers and sisters. And whether your work is at home, in the fields or at sea, in the factories or in Malta’s growing tourist industry, offer it to the Lord as a pleasing sacrifice in preparation for the coming of his kingdom!
Let’s us pray…..
Prayer to St. John Paul II
Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus.
Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.
May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.
Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.
Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.
Resources: Full Transcript of the Homily ; Prayer
Develop a lively devotion for Our Mother. She knows how to respond in a most sensitive way to the presents we give her. What is more, if you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, Our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path.”
~ St. Josemaria Escriva
This month of the Holy Rosary, let’s read a message from Our Blessed Mother from the book, To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons. This book is a compilation of 604 messages in the form of internal locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi, an Italian Priest.
In Message 184 Your Rosary, the Blessed Mother speaks to us about the power of the holy rosary and the power of uniting ourselves through prayer.
Thank you for the rosary Blessed Mother. Help us persevere in prayer and love. Amen.
Lourdes (France): October 7, 1979
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Anniversary of the Vicory of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lepanto
a “Here also, I have brought you to gather many priests, religious, and faithful into cenacles of prayer and life with me.
b I am truly present in these cenacles, and I am joining in your prayer.
c By this prayer, you offer your heavenly Mother a powerful force in intervening for the salvation of many of my poor straying children and in disposing the painful events of your time according to the motherly plan of my Immaculate Heart.
d Your entire rosary which you recite in the cenacle in accordance with the urgent request of your Mother, is like an immense chain of love and salvation with which you are ale to encircle persons and situations, and even to influence all the events of your time.
e Continue to recite it, and multiply your cenacles of prayer, thus responding to the invitation which the first of my beloved sons, the Vicar of Jesus, has so urgently made to you.
f I am now able to make use of the power that comes to me from your prayer, and I want to intervene as Mother to shorten the time of the trial and to comfort you in the sufferings which await you.
g Everything can still be changed if you, my children, listen to my voice and unite yourselves, though prayer, with the unceasing intercession of your heavenly Mother.
h For this reason, here, where I appeared as the Immaculate One, I ask you again to continue with greater generosity and perseverance in the recitation of the holy rosary.
i The rosary is the prayer which I myself came down from heaven to ask of you.
j By it you are able to lay bare the plots of my Adversary; you escape from any of his deceits; you defend yourselves from many dangers which he puts in your way; it preserves you from evil and brings you ever closer to me, because I am able to be truly your guide and your protection.
k As has already happened in other critical situations, so also today, the Church will be defended and saved by it’s victorious Mother, through the power which comes to me from you, my little children, by means of the frequent recitation of the holy rosary.
l Take courage, beloved children! Pray, have confidence, and enter into the refuge of my Immaculate Heart, that you may form part of my victorious cohort.
m This is my hour, and soon the whole Church will be brought to a new splendor by her whom you invoke as Queen of Victories.”
The Rosary is the “weapon” for these times.
~ Saint Padre Pio
October 7 (Sunday) is the the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. As a prayer community, let us offer our personal petitions to our Blessed Mother and include the poor, the elderly, the sick, the lonely, the lost, the weary, the victims of abuse and injustice, the unborn, and the forgotten. Also, let us remember to pray for the crisis within the church and the issues troubling the world.
I invite you to post petitions in our prayer wall and in our Facebook group.
Intercede for us O Blessed Mother…..
Our Lady Of The Holy Rosary Novena Prayer
My dearest Mother Mary, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet. Accept this Holy Rosary, which I offer you in accordance with your requests at Fatima, as a proof of my tender love for you, for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in atonement for the offenses committed against your Immaculate Heart, and for this special favor which I earnestly request in my Rosary Novena: (Mention your request).
I beg you to present my petition to your Divine Son. If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused. I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God’s holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.
I offer you this spiritual Bouquet of Roses because I love you. I put all my confidence in you, since your prayers before God are most powerful. For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus, your loving Son, hear and grant my prayer. Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.
We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times.”
-Pope Pius XII
When I look at the world today, there are so many things that I see happening that are not of God. I’m sure you see it too.
We are constantly faced with moral dilemmas and unfortunately fail to include God or let simple goodness prevail in our choices. God seems to have been pushed back so far away from our daily lives, from our society, that He is barely recognizable in people and events. I sometimes wonder about the future.
For parents, caregivers, families and friends, we are challenged to bring God into the forefront. The children in our care need us to protect them and guide them towards God. We owe it to these children to give them a future where the light of Christ shines brightly and that they themselves become the light of Christ to others.
We need to start with ourselves. The Prayer of Saint Francis beautifully instructs us of what we must do. It is in aspiring to be Christ that God triumphs! Let us pray the Prayer of Saint Francis and ask that our actions today and always be guided by this prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Resources: Loyola Press