Today is the memorial of the Holy Rosary, a feast instituted by Pope Saint Pius V in commemoration of the Christian naval fleet in the victory at Lepanto on October 7th in 1571, vastly outnumbered against the Ottoman Turks, who had turned the Mediterranean into an Islamic lake. The Pope asked Christians to pray the Rosary beseeching Our Lady, as he himself led a procession through Rome, that God through His mother would send what aid He willed.
Sure enough, the winds, the waves, the very battle itself went the side of truth and goodness, and Father Rutler is correct, that if things had gone the other way, Europe would be a very different, and very diminished, place today: No music, no Mozart or Bach or Palestrina, no universities to speak of, no deep red vino, whether Italian or French, no monasteries, their prayer and their beer but dim memoires, almost no freedom of thought or expression: In a word, no Catholicism, which means a vitiation of truth and freedom, subjugation and submission for all, but especially for the fairer sex.
Many, many Popes have urged the daily recitation of the Rosary since Pius V, not least the saintly John Paul II, who in 2003 dedicated one of his last encyclicals, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, to this ancient prayer to the Virgin, also giving us the Luminous mysteries, again as Father Rutler declares, to guide us in these dark times, which John Paul likely foresaw in some way.
The Rosary saved Europe in the time of Pius V, but also earlier, through that original great promoter of the Rosary, Saint Dominic, battling intellectually and spiritually against the Albigensians in the 12th century inheritors of the eary Manichean heresy, that all matter was evil, including bodies, marriage and children. As one priest recently put it, the very words of the Ave Maria put paid to this demonic lie: And blessed is the fruit of thy womb. God Himself took a body, sanctifying our very flesh by His Incarnation, declaring all ‘incarnations’ good and holy, and that this flesh, now subject to sin, will be gloriously resurrected on the last day.
As the Amazonian synod begins today, we see a resurgence of this heresy in certain tenets of the extreme ecologists, who want to drastically limit the human population to reduce ‘carbon’ emissions, for every person, every baby, is, to their jaundiced, pinched view, a polluter and consumer, and to be greeted into this world only grudgingly, rather than joyfully, or his life snuffed out beforehand.
Hence they promote a new and more subtle Manicheism dressed up in pseudo-scientific garb. Stop having children, or, if you really must, only one, maybe two, and this macabre message even from certain members of the Church. We are contracepting, aborting and just plain willing ourselves out of existence. Even those not given to the boogeyman of ecologism just don’t seem to care enough to begin and raise families. Despair, lethargy, a subtle ennui, and charity-gone-cold are the order of the day.
And all the while the Muslims, stopped at Lepanto in 1571 and again in 1683 at Vienna, don’t seem particularly given to the global warming hysteria, are having lots of children; and we should be aware of the adage, demography is destiny. We reap what we sow, and, more to the point, what we do not sow.
Yet the Rosary, or more properly, Our Lady, saved Europe, our civilization and culture, more than once before, and can do so again, if we but offer ourselves to Christ, to God, through her.
So dust off the Rosary; pray it daily, meditatively, pondering what ‘salvation’ really means, especially as we approach the 102nd anniversary of the last of the apparitions at Fatima on October 13th. You will see the fruit soon enough.
Queen of the most holy Rosary, ora pro nobis!