This will be my only communique for the week. I just arrived in Maine, NY at our retreat house, and in the morning I will begin my yearly five day retreat, in solitude. Thank God. Please pray for me. I will pray for you.
Fr. Angelo, can you explain this part of your post: “The enemies of Mary are, in a sense, transfixed with the same sword that has pierced Her heart. Her apostles know the point of that sword all too well, with memories both bitter and sweet. It is swordplay that is well-landed upon both friend and foe.”
Here is what I answered the first time it was asked:
I think of St. Luke’s (St. Simeon’s) reference to the secret thoughts of many laid bare by the piercing of Mary’s Heart (Lk 2:35). It is a question of compassion, i.e., whether we will open ourselves to it our not. We make ourselves vulnerable as She was when allow Her to pull down the wall that separates us from God. When that wall comes down, the ones that separate both friends and foes come down as well. The price of unity is paid for in the coin of compassion, and that means sorrow. Hence it is both bitter and sweet.
Some times we write about what we know. But sometimes we risk writing about what we do not know about what we know.
If that sounds like a bit of mystification, it is because I am mystified. There is something there to learn, and I still have to learn it.
I would just add that when I said that the “enemies of Mary are, in a sense, transfixed with the same sword that has pierced Her heart,” I meant to say that we all suffer and largely for our sinfulness. Our sins constitute the sword that pierced the Heart of Our Lady. Suffering sometimes brings even the hardened to their knees and it is an opportunity for them. Their response reveals the secrets of their hearts, especially insofar as they are challenged to accept the Mother in order to rise in compassion and generosity. Her friends suffer also, and sometimes—all too often—with as much reticence as those who are far away from God. That reveals their hearts too.
Over and out.
The Spirit of Lepanto is greater than the history in which it is rooted. The recounting of the historic of battle that took place on October 7, 1571 lends itself to the genre epic literature. The events of that day call for a bard like Chesterton to cast words into the cadence of drum and cannon:
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.
And I still get chills, when for the thousandth time I read the words:
. . . O Lady of Last Assurance,
Light in the laurels, sunrise of the dead,
Wind of the ships and lightning of Lepanto
In honour of Thee, to whom all honor is fled.
I pray that what gives me chills is the true Spirit of Lepanto, and that it does much more than give me chills.
I have always secretly lamented the fact that the Feast of Our Lady of Victory was changed to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and that the language of even the traditional collect for the present feast is void of the bellicose. We are all familiar with the prayer. We use it every time we pray the Holy Rosary.
I have much preferred the collect for the Mass Contra paganos (against the heathens), euphemistically englished in the hand missal “Mass for the Defense of the Church”:
Almighty, everlasting God, in whose hand are the strength and man and the nation’s scepter, see what help we Christians need: that the heathen peoples who trust in their savagery may be crushed by the power of Thy right hand. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .
I really don’t question the wisdom of Holy Mother Church in this regard, but I do think that in this feast we have an opportunity to consider with a contemplative mind the Spirit of Lepanto or what Professor Roberto de Mattei calls a “category of the spirit”:
As heirs of Lepanto, we should recall the message of Christian fortitude which that name, that battle, that victory have handed down to us: Christian fortitude, which is the disposition to sacrifice the good things of this earth for the sake of higher goods—justice, truth, the glory of the Church, and the future of our civilization. Lepanto is, in this sense a perennial category of the spirit.
It seems to me that this category of the spirit is transhistorical. It is the recapitulation of the protoevangelium:
I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
It is all right there. That is why Genesis 3:15 is called the first gospel (protoevangelium). Everything that comes after is all fulfillment, partially at first by way of types (Judith, Esther and the Ark, for example), and then in the fullness of time the Woman and Her Seed bring all things to fulfillment, waging war against the Dragon on the top of the world in the greatest eucatastrophe of all time.
St. John’s vision on Patmos of the Woman gloriously arrayed with the lights of heaven, but militantly in travail, projects into the past, present and future the tribulations of the People of God. The birth pangs are not of Bethlehem, but of Calvary. It was only at the foot of the Cross that the Virgin suffered in the throws of delivery. But surely there is an intimation of Bethlehem in this reference to birth, just as there must be an allusion to the flight into Egypt in the words And the woman fled into the wilderness (v. 6), though the primary reference is the cosmic battle with Satan and the rest of the fallen host.
But St. John was also speaking to the churches of his own time that were suffering persecution and were plagued by heresy. In the breathless voice of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle proclaims: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
But it is more than that. The Woman is the promised Victrix, Mary the New Eve, dolorous and glorious, in Her earthly adventure and in Her heavenly reward. She also represents the churches, the direct recipients of St. John’s revelation, addressed directly in his cover letters to the seven churches. But She is also the Church Militant of every age that suffers persecution and is plagued by heresy. Further still, the macrocosm of the Church Militant is reflected in the microcosm of each and every soul, where the Woman and the Dragon contest each other’s dominion.
Lepanto is a parable, a recapitulation of the protoevangelium, just as are the history of Judith and Mary and the churches which St. John addressed. But so are the chronicle of the Battle of Viena, and the Epics of Tepeyac and Rue du Bac, and more poignantly for our own day, the prophetic history and parable of the Acts of Our Lady of Fatima. These are the macro-eucatastrophes of the ages, which spell out in the sky, in the medium of light and miracle, the even more fundamental reality of the micro-eucatastrophes (hopefully) going on within our moral and spiritual lives.
The hateful spirits of, pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth claw at the doors of our hearts, or worse, live within them. We are kingdoms under siege or kingdoms fallen. We make so much of the macro and so little of the micro and for that we are recipients of the terrible apocalyptic reprimand:
But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance and do the first works. Or else I come to thee and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance (v. 4-5).
Perhaps I am all washed up for my secret regret. Perhaps the Church knows better than I. Of course she does! The collect for today’s feast and for every Rosary asks for the grace to transform the vision of truth seen through the eyes of the Victrix into Her very life within us: that meditating we might imitate. That is the fundamental art of war upon which all strategies and tactics depend. Perhaps the bellicose language has been pealed away from the orations because we tend win a few of the battles we do see, while loosing the war we do not see. The Third Part of the Secret of Fatima is bellicose and macro enough, but it all hinges on individuals, and therefore on praying and living the Rosary more than anything else.
Both St. Pius V and Don Juan prayed the Rosary. Together they were victorious, inside and out. Men of Prayer and Action, yes, but in all in its proper order. The Third Part of the Secret at Fatima refers to realities both micro and macro and in that order.
The Spirit of Lepanto is the Spirit of Mary Victrix. It (She) is a living ideal that communicates itself (Herself) from Heart to heart. It is vital and preeminently dangerous, boundless and indomitable. It is also the Spirit of the White Horse, upon which rides the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, whose head is crowned, whose eyes are fire and out of whose mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword. The Woman of chapter 12 is the Lady, who girds of the Knight in chapter 19 of St. John’s revelation. And together they constitute a power, beyond which cannot be conceived.
The great prophetic grace of our age is the message of the modern Marian apparitions, which, as already said, are recapitulations of the protoevangelium, but with this twist: we live in the most apocalyptic age and the urgency of the prophetic plea for devotion to Her Immaculate Heart is the voice of the Spirit speaking to the churches right now! St. Louis de Montfort says of the Marian Apostles of the Latter Days that
[t]hey will be ministers of the Lord who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love. They will become, in Mary’s powerful hands, like sharp arrows, with which she will transfix her enemies (56).
The enemies of Mary are, in a sense, transfixed with the same sword that has pierced Her heart. Her apostles know the point of that sword all too well, with memories both bitter and sweet. It is swordplay that is well-landed upon both friend and foe.
Fatima is a modern-day apocalypse. No wonder there in October the Woman revealed herself to be Our Lady of the Rosary and was clothed with the whirling sun. It’s spirit is the Lepanto of our age, that transhistorical category of the spirit that is both the first promise to mankind and the patrimony of this last age. However we name this Spirit, it is bigger than the histories in which it enshrined and deeper than the hearts in which it works itself out.
We can continue to bang out solutions of our own contriving that satisfy our egos, like clever soundbites and slogans, and rely on rhetoric and imprudent zeal, or we can look into the skies, indeed, into the Temple of God and make all things according to the pattern shown us on the mount (cf. Hebrews 8:5). If we do not see this vision and strive to embody it in our own lives, we have not understood, or have refused to understand the parable of Lepanto and the spirit of this feastday.
If you have not made the consecration to the Blessed Virgin, I pray you do, and soon. Don’t only pray the Rosary, live the Rosary.
Oremus pro invicem, and sing
I cast myself before Thee, Thy bondsman and Thy fool;
Thy patronage is freedom, Thy slavery my school.
I offer Thee my sword hilt and wait for Thy command
To serve among Thy servants who pledge to take a stand.
That I might die in battle, a victim of Thy love:
My wish, my prayer, my promise, thus written in my blood.
I saw the bark of Peter ride dark into the sun,
But darker still the marking of crescent, hoard and gun.
Her sails lay flat and mellow, Her men had pledged their troth,
Left hand on beaded psalter, the right to keep their oath.
The haughty fiend had counted on fear to win the day,
But Thine own breath has countered to turn the wind their way.
My Queen, to Thee be honor and praise through all Thy knights
Who toiled and bled and parted Thy martyrs robed in white.
All courtesy and prowess, all strength and gentleness,
Thy heart a pyx of virtue, Thy face all loveliness.
Then at the hour of judgment my colors Thou may see,
Thy Son upon His white steed, Thou pray to come for me.
Happy Feast of Mary Victrix.
The Templar Secrets
The series is now complete. All the videos are in the side bar as well.
The purpose of this series is to extract, examine and meditate upon the Catholic ideals of the Knights Templar in order to draw out the true “mysticism” of chivalry found there and to dispel the nonsense that has proceeded from the Freemasons and conspiracy theorists.
I am currently reading Phantastes by George McDonald. The following is the epigraph at the beginning of chapter seven and is taken from “Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton”:
Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes,
A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine;
Ile but lye down, and bleede awhile,
And then Ile rise and fight againe.
One is permitted to lay down and bleed awhile as long as he gets back into the fight—a soldiers rule of life.
It is my thesis that the devil’s spiritual warfare on our flocks will intensify as the years proceed and that all Christians, but especially priests, will have not choice but to engage more deeply in the spiritual battle for souls. There is no time like the present to begin the training.
This was written by Father Thomas Euteneuer in the introduction of his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant (xxxiii-xxxiv). I am reading it now. One does not need to be an exorcist to know he is completely on the mark.
I have mentioned before that Catholic militancy is in the first place about the interior life and that our real adversaries are not men who are “enemies of the Church,” but principalities and powers. This can also be taken a step further. Even in the external order where Catholic Action comes into play, the greatest opposition will come from the dark powers, whether through temptation or something more extraordinary like oppression and obsession.
But I believe there is also a middle between the two. As regular readers of this blog will know, I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories. One reason for this is because I have found that in order for something that appears to be the result of a “grand scheme” to occur it is not necessary for the rich and influential to secretly meet in the middle of the night in a hidden black-curtained dungeon, or, for that matter, in a corporate board room. It is sufficient that men open themselves up to the powers of the netherworld by playing fast and loose with their spiritual life. My own experience tells me that men can effectively collaborate in nefarious schemes without even knowing that they are doing it.
I never understood why Fr. Hardon was so adamant about those living in mortal sin being instruments of the devil. I would still qualify this sentence by emphasizing that this most often happens without the sinners knowledge, because most people sin through weakness and not malice, but I think I understand what he meant.
For many this will just be seen as dishonest scaremongering. [I am correcting this post so as to indicate by the following link a specific comment to a post on another blog (June 21, 2010, 4:14:16 PM EDT). Sean P. Dailey is the author of the comment in question, not Mark Shea. Please see this comment, below.] But sometimes we are given prophetic graces. In an age when so few priests, and more importantly bishops, are willing to be exorcists, the few who are find themselves crying in the wilderness when they speak to men about the dangers to which our age exposes itself.
I received the following is a message from a reader of my blog, who is commenting on my last post and graciously consented to have his words published here:
Great Blog, Father. Dicey subject. I agree that if a healthy amount of men could don chivalry– chivalry that tips its cap at all times to the Immaculate–we’d be able to cure a lot of what ails us. A cultural mine field has been planted between us and the armory, unfortunately. Only a mass charge with plenty of men will get enough of us over to the other side to do any good. A certain number of us are going to get blown up. The first wave, mainly. No one wants that honor, just yet. I wonder when critical mass will actually be arrived at, forcing the issue.
My introductory video is up on AirMaria as promised. It also appears here on MaryVictrix in the side bar. Look for the next episodes over the next few weeks.