Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Sunday, October 5, AD 2003

"He who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the Lord;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."1

Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text- English

    It is universally acknowledged that when, while hanging on the Cross, our Lord entrusted His holy Mother to the care Saint John the Apostle, and He also entrusted not only Saint John but the entire human race to the care of His Blessed Mother. Her care is, or course, primarily spiritual, but occasionally extends to the material and physical needs of her children. Occasionally it includes the "Holy Protection" of entire cities and peoples from those who would extinguish the holy religion of her divine Son. Her motherly intercession is commemorated by the Church on several feast days, two of which fall in October.

    "In 911 A.D. the Mohammedan hordes attacked Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise. The terror-stricken people gathered within the church to pray to the Blessed Virgin. The Mother of God saved them from utter destruction and captivity. St. Andrew and his disciple, St. Theophanius, both from Ukraine, were in Constantinople at that time. They entered the church of the Holy Wisdom where the people were praying all night while the Christian army fought against the attacking Saracens. At dawn St. Andrew and St. Theophanius saw the Blessed Virgin appearing with outstretched arms and imploring God's mercy upon the besieged Christians. She held a veil {omophor} over the attacked city as a sign of assured protection. To the great joy of the inhabitants the Christian soldiers were blessed with a striking victory over the Moslems. On their return home the two saints publicized the miracle among [their] people. Thus the feast of "Pokrova" (patronage) of the Blessed Virgin was introduced into the Church to denote Mary's protection over our people." Relatively shortly thereafter, Ukraine and Russia became officially Christian nations. Pokrova is observed in the Eastern Churches on October 14th.2

    "Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Luther, had filled the sixteenth century with terror by his exploits. He left his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race; the subjugation of Rome and Vienna -- the Pope and the Emperor -- to the power of the Crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy, when, on October 7, 1571, it came into action in the Gulf of Lepanto, with the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the Rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, Saint Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don Juan of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life's work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of this triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by a commemoration of our Lady of Victory. His successor, Gregory XIII, altered this title to Our Lady of the Rosary and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation. A century and a half later this limited concession was made general. As Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski, had extended the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary [September 12] to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the feast of the Rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on August 5, under the auspices of Our Lady of the Snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade."3

    Today Islamic persecution of Christians continues in the world. Far worse, Christianity and Christendom are in a state of almost complete disarray. Formerly Christian nations have been made indifferent to God, His Commandments, and His Church; "ecumenism" is the order of the day. Instead of the Universal Church, we have a World Order urging religious "tolerance," universal disarmament, and the abdication of personal, state, and national sovereignty in favor of rapidly expanding regional and even global government. Political corruption that would have brought swift execution in former years is shrugged off as the "normal" and irremediable state of things. Corruption is equally rampant in the Church at every level, in ways and in degrees that could not have been imagined or predicted less than a century ago. Publicly professed heretics are named Princes of the Church -- the men who will elect the next Pope!

    We mentioned two of our Blessed Mother's interventions in the affairs of peoples and nations; many similar miracles could be recounted. In virtually all of the accounts there are two factors. The first is heartfelt and unrelenting prayer. No nation has ever been saved or converted by people carrying tokens in their pockets or worn about their necks; nor by prayers rattled off in the manner of a Tibetan prayer wheel. Our Lord and Lady will be moved by charity, sincerity, and compunction of heart; not by statistics or rote. A Rosary said with devotion and real meditation on the lives of Jesus and Mary is worth more than a thousand uttered by habit. If we ask for their Holy Protection from the evils that have enslaved the world, our prayers must be sincere.

    The second common thread in all of our Lady's interventions into human affairs is the willingness of men to do their part. The "hordes" are not chased away by divine intervention alone. Rarely, if ever, do we hear about legions of angels fighting the battles of men. The soldiers of Leo the Wise of Constantinople, and of Don Juan of Austria were well trained troops, many of whom gave their lives so that Christendom could continue to flourish on this earth. The same must be true of all who ask God to change situations over which they, themselves, have some control. Our Lord and Lady wait, willing to help us overcome our problems. But we must take the first steps. God does not work by magic -- if we ask for protection from evil, and for the conversion of people and families and nations, there must be a flourishing Catholicism for them to convert to.

    Let me close by calling your attention to this morning's epistle.4 It is one of several in which the Church quotes the words of the Old Testament and applies them by way of "accommodation" to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Sometimes the words are taken from King Solomon's Canticle of Canticles, to point to the love and beauty of the Mother of God. On a few feasts the words are from the Book of Judith, to indicate the power of the Blessed Mother to dispel heresies and scatter the heretics. At other times, like today, we read from the Book of Wisdom or the Book of Proverbs -- passages in which Mary is equated wiith the virtue of wisdom.

    "Hear instruction, be wise, and refuse it not." We live in a world that prides itself on its civility. There is today, at least the fiction that men can resolve their differences at the conference table rather than on the battle field -- that we can have peace and justice through the force of our minds, rather than by force of arms. That may not always be the case, but to the degree that it is actually true, it means that the citizens of Christendom must possess that wisdom which the Church equates with the Blessed Virgin.

    So, as we celebrate this feast of our Lady's Holy Rosary, let us be sure to pray to God with true fervor for the protection of Christian Society; let us pray that He would inspire us and those around us to holy action, to doing what is within our own power to nurture the Catholic Faith in a Christian civilization; and, finally, let us pray for the gift of wisdom that we may possess the Holy Ghost, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin, "to be truly wise, to judge rightly in all things, and ever to rejoice in His consolation."5 The Book of Proverbs gives us an "offer that we cannot refuse," a choice either for or against Mary and the Divine Wisdom that, for rational people, is no choice at all:

"He who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the Lord;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."1

1.  Proverbs viii: 35-36.
2.  Michael Schudio, CSSR, Our Divine Friend [Ukrainian Rite hand missal] (Yorktown, Saskatchewan, Canada: 1959), Feast of Pokrova, October 14th, p. 521-522.
3.  Dom Guéranger OSB, The Liturgical Year, First Sunday of October, Vol. XIV, p. 297-298
4.  Proverbs viii: 22-24. 32-35.
5.  Collect, Mass of the Holy Ghost.



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