Our patronal feast day

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and so it is the patronal feast day of our parish. From the point of view of the calendar, it is a good dedication because we also get to celebrate Rosary Sunday with solemnity. This morning, I preached about St Dominic and the Albigensian heresy, and St Louis de Montfort as examples of the power of the Rosary. Here is the sermon from last Sunday.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence (Eph 1.4)

In 1571, at the Battle of Lepanto, the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman fleet that was threatening to invade Europe. The Battle turned the course of events decisively, saving Christian Europe and liberating 15,000 Christians from slavery. Don John of Austria led the Christian fleet but the victory, one of the most decisive in history, was attributed by Pope Saint Pius V to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary. People had been praying the Rosary all over Europe but especially in Rome, asking our Lady for her protection and help.

In thanksgiving, St Pius V instituted the feast which was first called Our Lady of Victories and later Our Lady of the Rosary in thanksgiving to Our Lady for her intercession.

At Fatima, Our Lady identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary and told the children “My Immaculate Heart will triumph!” Today, we need the prayers of Our Lady for a different type of battle, one that has been called “The Culture War.” The American philosopher, Peter Kreeft has wisely pointed out in his book on this subject (which is well worth reading) that this war is not against the “enemies” that we might imagine. Even as a spiritual battle, it is not against Muslims or Protestants or secularists or freemasons or abortionists. It is the battle of which St Paul spoke in Ephesians 6 when he said,
Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The secularists, the BBC, the purveyors of the culture of death, are not our “enemies”, they are people whom we should love, pray for and try to bring to Christ. But we should stand firm against the devil and what St Paul calls his “wiles”.

Our culture permits the destruction of innocent human life, undermines marriage and the family, ridicules chastity and modesty, sneers at Catholic faith and morals, and encourages the young to lead sinful lives.

Our Blessed Lady warned of all these things. She taught us to do more than simply deplore them. She encouraged us to use the weapons of prayer and penance to fight them: especially to pray the Rosary. The dedication of our parish Church is a reminder of this call of Mary at Fatima.

If we are able to, we should also engage in the cultural and intellectual battle for hearts and minds that is so vital for the survival of our Christian culture. It is also vital for the survival of our families, for the survival of the faith of our children and grandchildren, and for our own survival in a country where we are free to speak out about our faith and about Christians morality.

May Our Lady of the Rosary strengthen us for this apostolate of charity.

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