Our Lady of Victory, pray for us.
October is upon us, a whole month dedicated to the Rosary. Soon we will be celebrating Our Lady of the Rosary, which is the new name given to the feast previously called Our Lady of Victory.
It may seem incongruous, harking back to Our Lady of Victory as Pope Benedict XVI takes remarkable steps to show his respect for Islam and rebuild bridges with Muslims. After all, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on Oct. 7 — the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto.
But there are clear parallels to our day — parallels that we should take to heart.
As Ottoman invaders threatened to
round the Gulf of Corinth into the western Mediterranean and threaten
It worked — the would-be invaders turned back in defeat.
Today, a new Pope is calling for two a two pronged action of his own. Just like Pius V, he wants us to pray — and he wants us to join a battle every bit as difficult as the one Pius V called the Church to in his day. Only for Pope Benedict, love and reason are the weapons of choice.
Not that Pius V was much different. It’s as unfair to sum up his pontificate with the Battle of Lepanto as it is to sum up Benedict with his words quoting a 14th-century emperor on Mohammed at his Sept. 12 University of Regensburg speech.
Pope Pius V began his priesthood
as a professor, and began his work in the
Pope Benedict’s pontificate is also more focused on the Christianity of Europe than it is on any threat to the West or any other religion. On Sept. 8, speaking to Canadian bishops, the Holy Father spelled out his mission, echoing words that he has used throughout his pontificate.
The Holy Father identified the fundamental problem of our day as “the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere.” The Church’s mission is to repair the split, he said, by helping people “recognize and experience the love of Christ.”
It’s of a piece with what we have heard from him before. He is critical of “the dictatorship of relativism” and sees the only answer in “friendship with Jesus.”
In September, Pope Benedict spent far more time promoting this vision than he did speaking about Islam.
He continually pointed Catholics
to Jesus, asking them to spend time with him, to get to know him. Before he
On Sept. 11, he begged parents to
introduce their children to Jesus through the
That same day, he gave an impassioned plea to Catholics to turn to Mary as a way to get close to Jesus, saying, “Holy Mother of God, pray for us, just as at Cana you prayed for the bride and the bridegroom! Guide us toward Jesus — ever anew! Amen!”
On Sept. 12, the day of the fateful words, he defined friendship as “being with” the other, saying “Eucharistic adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord.”
Pope Benedict XVI is much more concerned that we think about who Jesus is than that we think about who Mohammed is. He wants us to reconnect with the basic things that bring us into friendship with Christ: Sunday Mass, confession, prayer, works of charity.
That’s why, for Benedict, the call
to meet Islam in dialogue is as bold and courageous as Pius V’s call to meet
invaders in the
Our job is to do what Catholics in Pius V’s day did. Listen to the voice of Peter and act. If we turn to Jesus as they did, we’ll be just as gratified with the results. And if we don’t? Then today’s “Battle of Lepanto” will end very differently.