Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Lady of the Rosary & the Battle of Lepanto

Today is October 7th, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This feast day was instituted by Pope Pius V, now St. Pius V, a Dominican. It was Pope Pius V who sounded the alarm in Europe over the encroaching Muslim armies and navies. Time and time again, he called for the nations of Europe to take up arms against the invaders before the Christian nations were overrun.

Finally, the call was answered. Don John of Austria was placed in command of the Holy League, and a great naval victory was won in 1571 at Lepanto, off the shores of Greece. While still in Rome, the Holy Father had a vision of the victory. To thank the Blessed Mother for her intercession in obtaining this victory, he instituted today's feast.

Why is this important?

Well, for starters we are all speaking English. Also, we are not kneeling facing Mecca five times a day. Christendom was saved out of great peril, and for that reason we should all say a Rosary today in honor of the Blessed Mother.

In addition, I took the opportunity to read Lepanto, a poem by G. K. Chesterton. If you have not read it, you should. It has the brilliant smash and glitter of words that is a hallmark of GKC's writing, and it insightfully portrays the differences between the Christian outlook on the world and the Muslim one.

Here are two of my favorite lines (8-9), which have haunted me ever since I first read them:

"And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross."

Also, here is some commentary on the poem by Dale Ahlquist, a noted Chestertonian scholar, who has this to say about the disregard shown Lepanto by modern literature critics: "But all those tributes, as well as the poem itself, have been forgotten... So the problem with the poem is that it is a defense of the Catholic Church, of the Crusades, and of war: three things not generally looked kindly upon in today's English literature classes; of course, neither are rhyme and meter. The only twentieth century poetry that is permitted to be studied is that which clashes with everything: with the ear, with history, and with common sense."

Unfortunately, that is very much true. In literature class, I had to read poems fetishizing decaying bodies and glorifying some of the... nastier... aspects of Greek mythology. I was subjected to strange and uncomfortable interpretations of relatively straightforward works. 

Read a poem commemorating a Christian naval victory? Good heavens, no. Of course not.

We have been silent too longer. We need not walk in shame. Glory shines in our past. It is up to us to ensure that glory shall shine in our future, as well.

In Pace Christi,


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