Posts Tagged ‘Lepanto’

Victory at Lepanto and the Rosary

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/10 at 12:00 AM
  • Last Tuesday the Church celebrates the victory of the Catholic naval fleet over Muslim Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. That autumn the Catholic Church and all of Europe was facing its most menacing enemy, and the very fate of Christendom was hanging in the balance.
  • Marauding Muslim Turks had been advancing from the East for several years. At this point in history they controlled most of Northern Africa and the Middle East, and the Turks had their eyes set on Venice and the whole of Europe.
  • The Catholics, led by the famous Don Juan, were seriously outnumbered. But Don Juan had something the Muslims didn’t have. He had the blessing of the pope; the help of Jesuit, Dominican and Franciscan chaplains who accompanied the fleet; the prayers of the faithful; and rosaries for all of his men going into battle.
  • Early on the morning of October 7, 1571, the battle of Lepanto began. And throughout the day, in the church of St. Mary Major in Rome, Pope Pius V prayed the Holy Rosary with the Christian faithful for the Catholic naval fleet, imploring our Lady for victory over the Turks.
  • By early afternoon the battle was over. With a loss of only 7500 men, the Catholics – against all odds – emerged victorious, and today, October 7, became known as the feast day of Our Lady of Victory. The Turks were vanquished, and Europe was saved from militant Islam.
  • Later this feast was renamed in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, as it was because of thousands of people praying the Rosary that this victory was secured. It is for this reason that the month of October is especially dedicated to the Holy Rosary.
  • Sadly, Christendom is not done fighting! More enemies abound, and we have more battles to fight today, especially against atheistic secularism. Seeking to excise all religion from public life, secularists are waging what some have described as a “war on God.”
  • At its heart this war is based upon a selfish and proud refusal to submit to a higher authority, much like the non serviam uttered by satan so long ago. Nowhere is this battle more apparent than in issues concerning marriage and the procreation of new life.
  • Not only do secularists refuse to recognize the God-given nature and purpose of marriage and the marital act, and not only do they seek to redefine marriage and the marital act according to their own selfish desires and whims, but they also want the freedom to destroy the beautiful fruit of marriage and the marital act: human life. This is perverse. This is evil!
  • Both our first reading and our Gospel today talk about marriage. Our first reading from Genesis speaks of how it is not good for man to be alone, and how a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.
  • In doing so, this passage from Genesis, which is repeated by our Gospel, provides the very foundation for the Church’s teaching on marriage and the conjugal act.
  • As Catholics we believe that marriage and the conjugal act go hand-in-hand and are not to be separated. The marital act is sacred; it’s a holy act of love. Because it is so sacred, the conjugal act is not something we can just enter into as we please and with whom we please.
  • On the contrary, it’s an action that carries serious responsibilities, and thus it should only be entered into by people who have accepted and vowed to live out these responsibilities together: namely a man and a woman who are married to each other.
  • You see, the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children, and the secondary purpose of marriage is the intimate, exclusive, and indissoluble unity of the couple.
  • These fundamental purposes are most perfectly realized in the marital act. Thus, neither purpose should ever be divorced from the marital act because doing so distorts the purpose of the act and breaks down the marriage.
  • Because the primary purpose of marriage and the marital act is the procreation and education of children, we can see that in God’s design, the creation and protection of human life and the institution of marriage are inextricably bound up together.
  • Human life is meant to be created and nurtured within the context of a family, which is naturally formed through marriage. Therefore, we must do everything we can to protect the sanctity of marriage and resist anything that corrupts a traditional understanding of marriage.
  • But we have to do more than just protect the traditional understanding of marriage to protect human life. In today’s society we must also fight the very grave evil of abortion.
  • Since 1973 when abortion was legalized in our country, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the U.S., and currently 22% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion (cf. Guttmacher Institute, August 2011 report). Truly, this is the greatest shame of our country.
  • Abortion is a very difficult issue emotionally because so many of us have been affected by it in one way or another. As a priest I’ve heard scores of confessions in which women and men have confessed to this terrible sin. The pain of this sin runs so very deep. But please know that God’s mercy runs deeper!
  • And so I must say: if you have been involved in an abortion in some way and haven’t yet confessed it, please do so. Please come to confession and receive forgiveness. If you are sorry, God will forgive you. So fear not! God wants to give you His mercy!
  • Abortion has also become a tricky political issue in our country because abortion supporters have been successful in framing this issue in terms of a woman’s right to determine if and when she will be mother, and Americans tend to place great value on personal rights.
  • Abortion supporters have also succeeded in categorizing abortion as a form of health care. But honestly I don’t care what President Obama, Hilary Clinton, Kathleen Sebellius, or any other abortion supporter say. Simple logic tells us that ripping an unborn child limb by limb from his mother’s womb is not health care!
  • Moreover, while women may have legal rights to an abortion, women do not have a moral right to kill their children. While abortion is a choice that is currently protected by US law, it is always in every circumstance a wrong choice, an evil choice, and must never be condoned.
  • Thus, abortion is something we must fight! We do this through our prayer, through our fasting, through peaceful demonstration and protest, and through voting for pro-life officials.
  • As this year is an election year, this last way of battling abortion takes on greater importance. While the Catholic Church does not explicitly tell us whom to vote for in any given election, Holy Mother Church does provide principles for us to follow in the voting booth.
  • Specifically, the Church says that when it comes to voting, we must first look to those issues that deal with that which is most important: life, specifically: abortion, same-sex unions, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia.
  • These issues are of the highest importance because they are all intrinsically evil acts, and therefore as Catholics we cannot support candidates who promote or support these evils. To do so is to be complicit in their sins.
  • Moreover, while issues such as health care, immigration reform, and the economy are important and may certainly have a moral dimension to them, they must not be accorded greater value in our decision-making than the life issues because they do not deal with intrinsic evils. They are important, but not as important as the issue of life.
  • So my brothers and sisters, I urge you to study up on the candidates and their positions. And do the right thing by voting only for the viable candidates that best protect life.
  • Let us do this so that life in all its form may be protected and defended, that evil may be exposed and eradicated, that truth and goodness be defended, and that God may be praised.
  • May our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary aid us and intercede for us in this battle for the protection of all human life.

7 October 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

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Otranto Revisited: Who is winning the battle and what are the implications?

In 13 History on 2013/08/30 at 12:00 AM

The Ottoman Turks, captured Constantinople, seat of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern portion of the original Roman Empire) in 1453, thus completing the total fall of the Roman Empire. Constantinople, which the renamed THE CITY  (Istanbul) became the capital of their empire.   With the aim of making the Mediterranean their lake and the Europeans Moslems, they launched continuous attacks on key Christian maritime cities.

Otranto was just a part of a well plan.  The Ottoman fleet of 128 galleys arrived at the Neapolitan Otranto on July 28, 1480.  As in medieval times, the citadel for refuge was the castle and to this haven they fled but the Castle of Otranto fell on August 11 to the invaders.

Archbishop Stefano Agricoli and many others were killed right in the cathedral; Bishop Stephen Pendinelli and Count/Commander Francesco Zurlo were sawn in two while alive.

The motto of Islam was “convert or die”.  The lands bordering the Mediterranean which had once been Christianized and led by Early Church like Augustine were falling like dominos to the Moslems.  In Otranto, 800 men ran for the hills but were eventually caught and beheaded by the Moslems for absolutely refusing to convert.  On Sunday, May 12, 2013 Pope Francis canonized the 800 men.

By the middle of the sixteenth century, the Mediterranean had become a Moslem lake, that is until Charles V of Spain’s son, Don Juan of Austria led the European fleet that defeated the Moslems on October 7, 1571.  While the Christians galleys were vastly outnumbered by the triple galley fleet of the Moslems, the Christians won a resounding victory attributed to the prayers of Christendom and those of the Christian captives who were enslaved as rowers of the Moslem galleys.

With the Battle of Lepanto began the decline of the Ottoman Empire which was divided up by the Allies after World War I and granted nationhood after World War II.  The Moslem approach has changed: invasion of Christian lands by immigration.  Just look at Europe and the USA and ask yourself: Who is winning that battle and what are the implications?

Pope St. Pius V 1540-1572

In 13 History on 2011/05/12 at 10:23 PM

Pope St. Pius V was a history-making pope and one of the giants of the whole history of the Western world.  He is called the Father of the Catholic Reformation and savior of Christendom.


In 1556, a Dominican monk, Antonio Ghisliere, who prayed the rosary daily, was chosen pope in 1556 in a unanimous roll call vote because of his passionate devotion to Christ, the Church, his iron courage, relentless perseverance and spotless reputation. He begged not to be chosen but the whole Church joyfully celebrated his selection.  

Son of a poor muleteer, he was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps had not the Dominicans given him a good religious and secular education. A professor of philosophy and theology, he also held various positions of authority in his community.  He was a living example of monastic virtues and the spirit of his order’s founder, St. Dominic.


In 1556 he was made bishop. His zeal against heresy led him to be chosen to be an inquisitor of the faith in Italy and later for all Christendom.

He began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor. As pontiff he practiced the virtues he had is displayed as a monk and a bishop. A simple man, he only owned two coarse woolen shirts and dined on and egg and a few vegetables. Daily, he made two meditations on his knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  In his 7 years as pope, he visited the hospitals and sat by the bedside of the sick, consoling them and preparing them to die. He washed the feet of the poor and embraced the lepers. An English nobleman was said to convert on seeing him kiss the feet of a beggar covered with ulcers.


He addressed the cardinals exhorting them to reform themselves and their households and avoid the kind of life that had given so much scandal in the past to the humble members of the church.    

He declared that he intended to carry out the decrees of the council of Trent to the letter. He banished luxury from his


court, raised the standard of morality, labored with his intimate friend, St. Charles Borromeo, to reform the clergy,    


obliging his bishops to reside in their dioceses and the cardinals to lead lives of simplicity and piety. 


He appointed Borromeo as the head of a special commission or the reform of the clergy as he had already done so in Milan.  Consequently, a cardinal who had left the church and married, was thrown out and six heretical bishops were removed, as well as one bishop who stormed out on Christmas day, denouncing the pope, throwing down his mire and staff and stormed out of the church, mounting a horse and riding away to join a Calvinist army.  Also, a whole religious order was also suppressed.

Pope Pius also ordered that the catechism of the Council of Trent be published, and it was done within a year. St. Peter Canisius, a German Jesuit, immediately made the German translation.  Soon it appeared in Polish, French, and other languages

Right at the beginning of his pontificate, he had the new General of the Jesuits, St. Francis Borgia,  set to work on a general history of the church to refute the distorted Protestant history circulating. With the indispensable aid of the Jesuits

and many others, the pope began the reform of the Church, or as it is called, the Catholic Reformation, a gigantic  

undertaking that would require more than a full generation to complete.

Pope St. Pius took all the words and examples of Christ literally.  The famous Protestant historiographer, Ludwig Von Pastor wrote that everyone who met him “felt that he was in the presence of a man of unshakable firmness and of a profound seriousness, which, far removed from anything in this world, was fixed entirely on spiritual things.”  


Not only did he reform the religious orders, but he had imprisoned bishops who refused to live in their dioceses, insisted on regular Sunday religious instruction, regular attendance by children to instructions, establishment of seminaries, ordered bishops to visit their parishes and make regular visits to Rome. In 1570, he approved of a common liturgy and missal.  

During this period of tremendous religious and political upheaval, the Church was fortunate to have this powerful and persuasive leader.  In Germany he supported the Catholics oppressed by the heretical princes; in France he encouraged the League by his counsels and with financial aid; in the Low Countries he supported Spain. The Pope often said that Philip II of Spain was the only king upon whom the Church could consistently depend.  


He eventually excommunicated Elizabeth of England and supported the cause of her imprisoned cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, writing her in prison to console her.  

Philip II sent the  Spanish Armada to capture Elizabeth and replace her with the legitimate descendant of Henry VII. 

The two great and constant worries for him were the struggle against the Protestants and the Ottoman Turks.  He constantly tried to unite the princes of Christendom against their hereditary enemy, who sought to destroy Christendom.  

In 1570 Suleiman attacked Cyprus threatening all Christendom, he did unite the forces of Spain and Venice.  Don John of Austria, the commander-in-chief of the expedition, had in his flagship a replica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  

On the day of the Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, the pope was working with the cardinals, when, suddenly, interrupting his work opening the window and looking at the sky, he cried out: “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army”.

When eventually the new of the victory arrived, the Pope burst into tears.  LEPANTO’s fame has echoed down the centuries as a magnificent victory over the Muslims, a battle which dealt the Turkish power a blow from which it did not recover until modern times.  Cervantes, author of Don Quijote, fought in this battle and said that it was: “the greatest

day’s work seen in centuries.”

Having requested all Christendom to pray the rosary during the battle, this devout son of St. Dominic, consequently instituted the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated the first Sunday of October in honor of Mary, “Help of Christians.”

This simple, devout and Christlike pope is remembered for his rare virtue and an unfailing and inflexible integrity.  

Note: See post 9/11 in Category: History and post Bagels, Croissants, Capuchino and Shish-kebobs in Category: Historical Tid-bits.