"Pray! Pray! Pray!" Spiritual Warfare demands it!

      The parallels to the vision imparted to Saint John Bosco in 1862 and a similar battle that actually happened in 1571 are remarkable. The former shows the key to victory, the latter enacted it. The former emphasizes the two solid columns, the Two Pillars that soar into the sky from the thrashing waves. At the top of one column is a giant Eucharistic Host, miraculously suspended in midair above the colonade with rays of light streaming from it. At the top of the circular column is inscribed the Latin words Salus credentium which means "Salvation of believers." On the other pillar stands the Immaculate Mother of God with radiant light and clouds swirling around her in celestial glory. On this column is inscribed Auxilium Christianorum. Translated from the Latin it means "Help of Christians." These two pillars stand as the beacon for the flagship that is bearing down with enemy cannons and artillery on either side, along with the threats of the sea which endeavors to engulf and throw the vessel to and fro. At the helm of this flagship vessel is the Roman Pontiff. In John Bosco's time it could have been Pope Pius IX. In our time it could very well be Pope John Paul II and in the times known as the Battle of Lepanto, it was Pope Saint Pius V. It is the latter who we celebrate today in liturgical circles, honoring the 225th successor of Peter and one of the great Popes in Church annals. It is no coincidence that he was born in Bosco, Italy on January 17, 1504 and it is no coincidence that during his papacy from 1566 to 1572 another saint Saint Francis de Sales was born who Don Bosco would honor by founding the Society of St. Francis de Sales - the Salesians. All three were born in Italy, all three were giants in leaving a legacy for Holy Mother Church and responsible for countless souls. All three had a strong, undeniable devotion to Our Lady believing the best way to grow closer to Jesus was through His Holy Mother. They intuitively knew the Will of God and acted upon it for the good of all concerned.

     One of the greatest concerns during Pius V's pontificate was the mounting threat of the Turkish terror that roamed the Mediterranean. Christians cowered at the thought of the infidel threat. There seemed no hope whatsoever as the enemy moved in for the kill. But Pius was dauntless in his resolve that God would not allow Rome to fall and he formed the holy league with Venice and Spain. Along with the Papal States these allies helped soundly defeat the Turks in the Gulf of Corinth at what is called the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. It was an upset of tremendous proportions and from that point on Saracen domination on the seas and on land diminished greatly. But credit was not given to the military prowess of the holy league as media spinmeisters might do today were they covering the event. Rather, due credit was given to God and His Holy Mother through devotion to the Holy Rosary. It was Pius who rallied his flock to pray like never before and to pray the Rosary faithfully for "the Blessed Mother would not let us down if we truly trusted and believed" he conveyed to the faithful. They responded, Heaven responded and the rest, as they say, is history for the Battle of Lepanto has gone down as one of the greatest victories in the history of the Church. Pius V was quick to give credit where credit is due and dedicate that day to the Blessed Virgin, proclaiming it as the feast of Our Lady of Victory which was changed a few years later by his successor Pope Gregory XIII to be universally observed as the feast of the Holy Rosary.

     These "case histories" verify the importance of prayer and the inevitability of opposition to God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Never has this been more evident than in these waning years of the second millennium. We speak of this in our on-going megaseries on the Church today in today's issue and we remind all that prayer is more important than ever. It is also no coincidence the way the liturgy is scheduled as we wind up April with the feast of St. Pius V, the great advocate of the Rosary and devotee of Mary and turn it over the next day to Saint Joseph the Worker, patron of the Church and protectress of Mary for it is this gentle, fatherly saint who ushers in the Month of Mary, the month devoted to devotion to her Holy Rosary that is capped with the feast of the Visitation on May 31. This year, in an odd twist of Providence, Pentecost Sunday falls on this same date. Many anticipate this could be the most appropriate time when the Holy Father proclaims the Fifth Dogma, known by many as the "Final Dogma" - that of officially declaring as dogma that Mary is Advocate, Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces. This is something that was accepted at the Council of Trent which closed three years before Pius V became Pope, but it was Pius who implemented and perpetuated the beautiful truths of the Tridentine decrees. Now it just a matter of our present Holy Father putting the final, undeniable and indelible mark on the final dogma. When he does the flagship Holy Mother Church will be that much closer to securing safe harbor between the two pillars, but there will be one last typhoon of trouble as the great schism will rise from the swirling seas in a final great battle reminiscent of Lepanto. We'd do well to prepare now by heeding the advice of St. Pius V, St. Francis de Sales, St. John Bosco, our own John Paul II, countless other saints living and dead, and Our Lady, who at Medjugorje and elsewhere, urges us to "Pray! Pray! Pray!" Spiritual Warfare demands it!

Michael Cain, editor

Daily CATHOLIC          April 30, 1998