As October 7th fell on a Sunday this year, few sermons mentioned the fact that yesterday was also the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Originally called the feast of Our Lady of Victory, the day was inaugurated by Pope St. Pius V, in 1572, to commemorate the decisive Catholic Naval victory in the battle of Lepanto over a far superior (in numbers, ships and experience) Turkish (Muslim) force the previous year. Although the Christian forces no doubt fought with courage, conviction and valor, Pius V attributed this miraculous victory, which kept the Muslims from taking control of Rome, largely to the thousands of Catholics who prayed the Rosary publicly in the streets while the battle was being fought. The feast was extended from Spain and Italy to the Universal Church in 1716, and currently, the entire month of October is considered to be the month of the Rosary also.
With this in mind, it is no coincidence that many bishops, including our holy local shepherd Peter Sartain, who is very active in the local fight to keep abortion out of Aurora as well as the universal fight for life "from conception to natural death," know that, outside of the sacrifice of the Mass, the Rosary is the primary prayer to remedy the plight of the unborn, and thus two commemorations are really one.
There are several factors to consider here. First, while all of us Catholic pro-lifers are both proud and joyous for all the Christian brothers and sisters who have joined us in the pro-life battle, many Catholics are legitimately concerned that the public recitation of the Rosary (at least at the Aurora abortion site) is being neglected because some Catholic leaders are afraid of offending the other denominations that are present. While it is quite FIT-ting for us to join these sects at the site in ecumenical pro-life prayers, these petitions can never take the place of the Rosary. Secondly, while individual private Rosaries are always an option when one cannot be present, every saint from Dominic to St. Louis de Montfort to Our Lady of Lourdes proclaimed that for grave matters of sin, the public recitation of the Rosary was always preferable, and could never be replaced by individual prayers alone.
As the battle of Lepanto was won by thousands of people literally stepping out in faith to publicly recite the prayer that (according to St. Louis de Montfort) the devil most hates, so will the battle over life be won as well.
Of course it is always difficult, if not dangerous, to put our faith on the line publicly. The people near Lepanto no doubt felt personally threatened by the Turks; it was their own homes (and bodies) that were on the verge of being overtaken, so you could say they had a little extra incentive. And yet if we don't overturn Roe vs. Wade, it soon (as in China) could be our own bodies or those of our children being threatened. And since this is the blog Fighting Irish Thomas, why not take the argument a step further? If the 80,000 fans in the stands at Notre Dame Stadium were reciting the Rosary instead of just cheering (or booing), it might not translate into instant Irish athletic success, but at the very least, it would have a substantial unnerving effect on our opponent.
So, especially during this thus-designated month, pray the Rosary publicly, for pro-life, for vocations, for peace in our world. I can't say if you'll see Lepanto-like results immediately, but I do know that the Notre Dame Team is 1-0 in October, which is the exact opposite of its record in the month when the Rosary was not specifically recommended.
Our Lady Queen of Victory (Our Lady of the Rosary), pray for us!