Once again, the bloody fingerprints of a terrorist have been left on our society. Ever since that dreadful day in September, 2001, we have been dealing with the fingerprints of terrorism either through waging war, using drones to take out terrorists, or through an increasing acceptance of trading our liberty for security. And as the years have waned, our taste for war has grown sour. In general, western democracies have little desire to fight any more wars. As a result, our will and resolve when it comes to dealing with terrorism is greatly diminished. And while being a warmonger is not what we aspire to, protecting liberty and freedom sometimes requires a strong hand. So either we keep doing what we are doing and hence keep getting what we are getting, or ask for the terms of surrender so the killing stops, or design a new strategy.
In so many ways we are becoming like the French and English on the brink of World War II. There was little desire at that time to enter another war; after all, World War I was still fresh in the minds of most Europeans. But it was that weakened resolve that made it all the more easy for Hitler to occupy France so quickly and beat down the English unmercifully. There’s a lesson there for us and probably a warning.
Another lesson can be gleaned from another time in history. By the middle of the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Turks, or the Mohammedans as they were known, had overtaken North Africa, made their way into Spain, and were knocking at the door of Western Europe. Their goal was to extend the Ottoman Empire to all of Europe and establish cultural and religious hegemony.
Once again, the will of the Europeans was weak and their resolve to push the invaders back was almost nonexistent. The Renaissance had bequeathed a little too much ease and comfort, and the divisiveness between Catholics and Protestants made forming a unified coalition almost impossible. But a few European leaders saw the trouble coming and with the help of Pope Pius V were able to string together a small confederation of the willing to fight off the Ottoman Turks. At the famous Battle of Lepanto, the Ottoman Turks were defeated decisively and for the next 500 years were no longer a threat to Europe.
The upset victory was attributed to the Pope and the faithful of Rome praying the Rosary during the Battle, as well as the newly found image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that one of the naval captain carried with him. Afterwards, the Church began celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, now Our Lady of the Rosary, on October 7 (the date the battle was won).
All of that reminds us that the greatest weapon that we have is prayer. Prayer can strengthen our resolve to bring a decisive end to terrorism, as well as giving us the wisdom to figure out how to accomplish that.
The Rosary is one of our most powerful prayer tools. Early in the 20th century, Our Lady’s apparition at Fatima warned of the coming turmoil and asked that the rosary be prayed for peace. More recently, Pope Francis placed his papacy under the protection of Our Lady of Fatima. It seems he is calling us at the beginning of the 21st century to heed the call to use the weapons of prayer, especially the rosary, to be instruments of peace for our world. During this centenary of Fatima, part of the new strategy to defeat terrorism is unleashing the power of the Rosary.
Our Lady of Fatima - pray for us.
Fr. John B.