The Holy League readied for a battle that would determine the fate of Christendom. The commander of their naval fleet was a young, chivalrous man named Don John of Austria. At twenty four years old, he was chosen by Pope Pius V to stop the onslaught of the Ottoman Turks who were set for conquering all of Europe, to submit them under sharia law. This came on the heels of the attack by the Turks in Cyprus, where many Christians were butchered, and those that remained were sold into slavery. Knowing that there would be no end to this until all of Europe submitted to Islam, Pope Pius V formed the Holy League to stop them from advancing any farther. They met in the Gulf of Patras, where the Ottoman Turks had a naval base stationed at Lepanto. The Christians ships were outnumbered, but they had the blessings of the Pope, the Papal banner waved in the wind above them, and on one of the ships a replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was also present. Rosaries were given to all who were aboard the Christian vessels, and Pope Pius V called upon all of Christendom to pray the Rosary for the success of the battle. Priests went across the decks of the ships hearing confessions. As the Holy League sailed towards the battle line of the Turks, the wind shifted in their favor, and having replaced the usual battering rams that were on ships during that time period for additional cannons, the battle began. In the end, the Christian fleet secured victory on the seas, having lost seven thousand men, compared to the thirty thousand lost by the Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius V was convinced that the prayers of the faithful and the intercession of the Blessed Mother had turned the tide of battle in their favor. The domination of the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean was at an end. Christendom was saved.
In a previous post last week I talked about the dangers of television, and how we should instead pick up authentic Catholic books and read about the Faith. I briefly mentioned that there was history that every Catholic should know about. This is a prime example. I never knew about the battle of Lepanto until just recently, and it is something that has captivated me ever since. The world that we live in today would be radically different if not for the Grace of God, the courage of Pope Pius V, Don John of Austria (a man younger than me), his troops, and the committed prayers of all of Christendom. The battle of Lepanto has been called ‘The Battle that Saved the West’ for this reason.
How much do we really know about Catholics who literally sustained the Faith with their blood, sweat, and tears? There are people who were burned alive, flayed alive, and fed to lions because they stood for the Truth. They were witnesses to the fact that there is more to this earthly life than the pleasures that are peddled to us. People would donate their wedding rings and life savings to either be melted down to make a Tabernacle, or to help build a Cathedral. There was a time when people were chivalrous, and gave everything for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Have we done our part to continue the legacy, or have we become complacent with the things of the world?
The world is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity, and the times of Christendom where multiple Saints were in one city giving Lenten Missions at the same time seem to be things of a bygone age. It can be distressing at times, but we can take comfort in the promise of our Blessed Lord, “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:18)
We need to stand up for the Truth. Abortion and Euthanasia are murder. Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, as is any other sexual act that is not between a man and a woman within the bond of marriage with the openness to create life. The Catholic Church is the One Church established by our Blessed Lord to be the Bulwark against evil, and she is necessary for salvation. The teachings of the Church on faith and morals are protected by the Holy Spirit from error and are not there to hinder us, but to give us the fullness of life that we can only achieve when we die to ourselves and are reborn in Christ, within His Mystical Body-The Catholic Church. Our brothers and sisters, the Saints who lived before us, struggled with the forces of darkness as we do, but they did not concede to them, and nor should we. If you are not as of yet part of the Pro-Life movement, it is a great time to get on board. Defend traditional marriage when and where you can. Research more instances in history where Catholics took a stand against evil and heresy. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if all Catholics united in praying the Rosary for the end of abortion, as they united for the victory at Lepanto. May our Blessed Mother rally the troops once again as we battle against the principalities and powers, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. I highly recommend researching more into the battle of Lepanto, it is a crucial point in Catholic history. Christopher Check has a great audio book that you can find here, and G.K. Chesterton wrote wonderful poetry about it as well. Learn the Faith, defend the Faith, and spread the Faith.