Launching the second video in our Thinking Through Catholic Truth series…
Launching the second video in our Thinking Through Catholic Truth series…
That light-hearted response to the threat to conquer Rome contrasts with the reaction here
The following extracts are taken from How the 1571 Battle of Lepanto saved Europe…
For those who know little history, today’s battle with the Islamic State in the Middle East may seem new and unprecedented. It is not.
In a.d. 622, Mohammed set out from Medina to conquer the whole Christian world for Allah by force of arms. Within a hundred years, his successors had occupied and pillaged every Christian capital of the Middle East, from Antioch through North Africa (home of Saint Augustine) and Spain. All that remained outside Allah’s reign was the northern arc from Southern France to Constantinople…
Even today, in the eyes of political Islamists, the expansion of Islam is far from finished. The dynamic obligation at the heart of their Islam is to conquer the world for Allah, and to incorporate it all into the great Islamic Umma. Only then will the world be at peace. Submission to Allah is the reason the world was created…
The Greatest Sea Battle in History: Lepanto, October 1571
For more than three years, Pope Pius V had labored mightily to sound alarms about the deadly Muslim buildup in the shipyards of Istanbul. The sultan had been stung by the surprising defeat of his overwhelming invasion force in Malta in 1565. The savagery of Muslim attacks on the coastal villages of Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia, and Greece was ratcheted upwards. Three or four Muslim galleys would offload hundreds of marines, who would sweep through a village, tie all its healthy men together for shipment out to become galley slaves, march away many of its women and young boys and girls for shipment to Eastern harems, and then gather all the elderly into the village church, where the helpless victims would be beheaded, and sometimes cut up into little pieces, to strike terror into other villages. The Muslims believed that future victims would lose heart and swiftly surrender when Muslim raiders arrived. Over three centuries, the number of European captives kidnapped from villages and beaches by these pirates climbed into the hundreds of thousands.
The reason for this kidnapping was that the naval appetite for fresh backs and muscles was insatiable. Most galley slaves lived little more than five years. They were chained to hard benches in the burning Mediterranean sun, slippery in their own excrement, urine, and intermittent vomiting, often never lying down to sleep. The dark vision that troubled the pope during the late 1560s was of even more horrible calamities to befall the whole Christian world, bit by bit. But unity in Europe was hard to find, and even more scarce was the will to fight for survival.
There is no point here in giving the whole narrative of the battle. Suffice it to say that in the center, the volleys from the galleasses out in front destroyed one Muslim vessel after another. ..
As news of the great victory of October 7 reached shore, church bells rang all over the cities and countryside of Europe. For months, Pius V had urged Catholics to say the daily rosary on behalf of the morale and good fortune of the Christian forces and, above all, for a successful outcome to the highly risky preemptive strike against the Turkish fleets. Thereafter, he declared that October 7 would be celebrated as the Feast of “Mary, Queen of Victory.” A later Pope added the title “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary” in honor of the laity’s favorite form of prayer. All over the Italian peninsula, great paintings were commissioned — whole galleries were dedicated — to honor the classic scenes of that epic battle. The air of Europe that October tasted of liberties preserved. The record of the celebrations lives on in glorious paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and many others. Click here to read How the 1571 Battle of Lepanto saved Europe
It is a well established fact that Our Lady won the Battle of Lepanto for the Christian armies, and so maybe it’s time to redouble our prayers, take Our Lady at her word and trust totally in the power of the Rosary to defeat heresies, and time, too, for us to remember the words of the Fatima seer, Sister Lucia, that there is no problem, whether temporal or spiritual that cannot be overcome by the power of the Rosary. That’s quite a promise.
So we learn plenty about the power of the rosary; Is there anything else to learn from the Battle of Lepanto in the context of the contemporary threat from Islamist terrorism? Are we, for example, praying sufficiently for the conversion of Muslims?
Wishing all our bloggers and readers a very happy Feast of the Assumption. Feel free to share your favourite prayers, hymns, stories – even your favourite jokes, of the good clean fun variety – to celebrate the Feast. But first, click here to read Munificentissimus Deus – the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII defining the dogma of the Assumption in 1950.
The Lady told Lucia: …Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, and for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’“
As Our Lady spoke these last words (Lucia said) she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.”
The Explanation of the Vision
Our Lady said to us, so kindly and so sadly: “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God, that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.
In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.”
Our Lady then taught the children a prayer to add to the end of each mystery of the Rosary: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of Hell, Take all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need.
Believe it or not, there are actually Catholics who disapprove of Our Lady showing the children the vision of Hell. Why on EARTH would anyone think or say such a thing?
There is no shortage of warnings about Hell in Sacred Scripture, and saints down the centuries have had visions of the torments awaiting souls in Hell: “I saw the torments of hell and those of purgatory; no words can describe them. Had poor mortals the faintest idea of them, they would suffer a thousand deaths rather than undergo the least of their torments during a single day.” St. Catherine of Siena.
So, rather than be shocked at the children of Fatima being shown the vision of Hell, the truly Catholic response is one of gratitude; it is, surely, a great grace to have had the dogma of Hell affirmed by Our Lady herself at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was to come under enormous attack. Or perhaps you would have preferred a vision of Heaven? Share your thoughts…
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Father Mark Higgins, a priest in the Archdiocese of Southwark, whose beautiful sermons on YouTube, preached at events organised by a group called Day With Mary (DWM) and featured on this blog in the past, has now been dropped by the group for a sermon which they consider to be “a direct attack upon Islam”. Here’s an extract from their email to Father: “You were invited to give two sermons on Our Lady, which you kindly accepted to do. Your second sermon however, contained much that was a direct attack upon Islam and contained highly imprudent expressions. This was all done in a way that would most likely have generated adverse reactions, not only against yourself and the Catholic Church, but would also have put at risk the personal safety (even lives) of other Catholics and clergy, as well as DWM members and churches we frequent. I am sure you can understand the risk your sermon could place many people in, if you are up to date with current news in this country and elsewhere…”
This is a very troubling email, given that it comes from a layperson representing a group with some kind of official standing in the archdiocese; the group has elected to rebuke a young priest – for what? For preaching the Faith – no more, no less. That’s troubling. It’s also troubling that the DWM group thinks nothing of assuming that all Muslims are extremists, ready to take offence at the perfectly understandable desire of a Catholic priest to win their souls for Christ. Is it not much more offensive to implicitly suggest that the dogma outside the Church, no salvation should be kept hidden from Muslims, because they cannot be trusted to reject it without resorting to terrorist violence? This is manifestly the fear of the DWM group.
Well, let’s read the text of Father Higgins’ talk, and draw our own conclusions as to whether it represents “A direct attack upon Islam”. It’s certainly true that there are those in high places today who have opted out of preaching Christ and seeking converts to the Faith, in order to avoid “offending” non-Catholics, but since it’s not an attitude supported in either Sacred Scripture or Catholic Tradition, it seems to me to be entirely at odds with the Christian imperative, straight from the lips of Our Lord Himself: “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations: baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)
Text of Talk: Virgin Mary leading Muslims to Christ – Fr Mark Higgins
Back in the 1950s Archbishop Sheen wrote a book on Our Mother Mary entitled, The World’s First Love; whilst very few people have read the entire book, one chapter in particular stands out – Chapter 17, Mary and the Muslims. He tries to make the point that the Virgin Mary has a special place in the plan of Almighty God in bringing about the conversion of the Muslims.
I think some heretical Catholics these days act as if the Muslims don’t need to be converted, but if we take the bible seriously, and the teachings of the Church seriously, we can only reach one conclusion- without Christ, the Muslims are not going to make it to heaven.
My brothers and sisters, here in London, you have Muslims all around you; what a blessed opportunity God is giving you to bring them salvation, through bringing them the truth about the saviour Jesus Christ and the one Holy Catholic Church He founded.
Thank God that many people in our city are making efforts to bring the saving message of Christianity to these unfortunate Muslims, but from what I can see, there has yet to be a torrent of conversions; there are certainly some, there have been some in this parish, there were some in my last parish, but the floodgates are yet to open. But I promise you, the floodgates will open, and a vast number of Muslims will be converted, but this will only happen when we get with [the] plan of Almighty God, and His plan, as archbishop Fulton sheen realised, was for those Muslims to be brought to Christ, through the means of His blessed and Holy Mother Mary.
Archbishop Sheen hadn’t come up with something new here, you can hear it whispered in Catholic prophecy, you see it mentioned in the writings of the saints and the mystics.
Many of them knew from the intimacies of prayer that, as the world draws to a close, as God begins to prepare the world for the return of His son, there will be an age of special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And that during this age of Mary, many of the followers of Islam will abandon their false religion and embrace the only saviour Jesus Christ.
St. Louis De- Montfort writes “The power of Mary over all devils will be particularly outstanding in the last age of the world. At that time Mary will extend the Kingdom of Christ even over the Muslims,
The history of our religion encourages us to anticipate the miraculous.
No one would have expected the mass conversion of the pagan Mexicans to the one true faith, no missionary would have dared foretell it in 1530, and yet within the few decades that followed 15 million Mexicans embraced the true faith.
How did this happen?
It was through our Blessed Mother, appearing to St . Juan Diego, and miraculously imprinting her image on his tilma. Her image fascinated the Mexicans and made them realise that she was the mother of the true God, the God who crushes the head of their serpent God and stands on top of the moon, his symbol.
Towards the close of the last century we began to see heavenly signs that God was following a similar plan for the Muslims, we saw this in a number of mass apparitions that took place in Egypt- such as those in Assuit, Zeitoun, and Omrania. In each of these apparitions the Virgin Mary appeared on top of a Church on successive evenings, she stood there, crowned with twelve stars, she stood there, holding her son, her son, who was the source of the light that enveloped her. She was presenting her son to the Muslims of Egypt, her son, who is the source of all her titles and honours and glories.
You see that is the unusual thing about the Virgin Mary in Islam, her role is really bigged up, but bigged up for what? The Koranic view of Mary is an almighty anti-climax.
She is the only woman in the Koran to even get named, she is spoken of in Surah 3. as “chosen above the women of all nations”, in Surah 19 as alone bearing a son and remaining a virgin, and in Surah 3 as being fed by the holy angels as a child.
And for what reason? To give birth to a prophet?
It simply doesn’t add up, because the Mohammed seem to think there had been 124,000 prophets, why would this one, the prophet for the Jewish people have such an extraordinary mother? With titles and dignities that stand as an anomaly in Islamic theology.
O Muslims, consider the grandeur of the Blessed Virgin, even according to your own book and you will discover that she must be so much more than the mother of some prophet.
O Muslims, look towards the Taurat and the Injil and you will discover why the Virgin Mary is so highly praised, you will discover the truth about her mission and the mission of her son.
O Muslims, Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah 7 made 500 years before the Virgin Mary’s birth, He writes “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold a Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel, a name which means God is with us.”
Can you see, the Virgin is great because her son is the greatest. The Virgin is graced because her son is the author of grace, the virgin is untouched by men, because she is the ark of the covenant, the place reserved for God Himself.
My friends, we shouldn’t just stand waiting idly for the Lord to reach the Muslims through some extraordinary wonder, because we don’t know when the Lord will act; instead, we should be arming ourselves with reasons for our Holy Faith and explanations to offer the Muslims on the truths of Christianity.
So often Muslims are the ones taking the initiative to try and lead us into their heresies and deceptions, but truly we have the words that they are waiting for, the message that will set them free from the bondage of the law and of trying to please their God through ticking the boxes of Sharia.
In your conversations with Muslims, do not be afraid to start off by talking about the Blessed Mother- talk about her apparitions, her many apparitions, agree with them that Mary is ever Virgin and untouched by Satan’s grasp, but let them know that all this was prophesied in the Christian scriptures, and prophesied right next to verses that declare that she will give birth to God clothed in human nature, to the saviour of the world.
Show them the Book of Genesis in which God so masterfully reveals to Satan how He will be crushed by a woman, by a woman and her seed, by Jesus Christ through His holy mother Mary.
In all of their needs and worries, encourage them to seek the Virgin Mary’s intercession, I have personally known of Muslims to receive great graces through Mary, and often these graces becomes signals to them, signs to them of the insufficiency of their religion and of their need to get to know about the real Mary, and the real Jesus.
It is true, the Koran does talk about Jesus Christ, but the Jesus in the Koran is a fabrication. If you read the words of the Jesus of the Koran you don’t meet a person, you just discover some guy who goes around saying “I am not God, worship the one God”, you don’t find the person of Jesus Christ in the Koran, you don’t find the Jesus who meets people, who touches their lives, who slowly reveals His divinity and offers reconciliation with God through a personal relationship with Him.
No, the Jesus of the Koran is a 2d figure, simply a mouthpiece of Islam. A cardboard cut out of Islam. And surely, if the real Jesus had been as the Koran depicts Him, there could have never been any Christianity, because the false Jesus of Islam leaves no room for thinking he is anything more than some regular guy.
The Jesus of the Koran isn’t the real Jesus, He doesn’t even have the name Jesus, He is called Isa, a name which means nothing at all, whereas the name Jesus means saviour, the true Jesus is the saviour, that’s why God gives Him that name through the archangel Gabriel- you must name Him Jesus, because He will save the people from their sins.
Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone, the redeemer, the Word of God who took a human nature to Himself and offered a sacrifice to counter-balance the sins of the world.
That Jesus Christ came into the world through the Virgin Mary, and He continues to come to the world through her intercession, He is continually the fruit of her holy womb,
Almighty God has so willed it, He has willed that the Virgin Mary give birth to the entire Christ, to the head and also His members, through the power of God the Holy Spirit.
O Virgin Mary, we beg you, complete the task that the Almighty has given you, bring your son, the only saviour to all peoples who do not know Him. And help us O blessed Virgin Mary, to be ambassadors for your son,
Help us to have your gentleness, and your sweetness and your patience as we seek to evangelise the Muslims, give us the words that will touch their hearts, help us to lead them to consider your dignity and your holiness, so that admiring you they may be brought to the saviour, and to find salvation, in the One Holy Catholic Church He founded.
I fail to see any “attack” upon Islam in Father’s talk, which was delivered in Woolwich last summer but considered unsuitable for publication online by Day With Mary staff fearful of offending Muslims and (more to the point) terrified of putting themselves at risk in some way. I can’t see any reasonable Muslim taking offence – they know that Christianity is, by its very nature, missionary, and since they seek converts themselves, they can hardly object to Catholics obeying Christ’s instruction to do the same, right to the ends of the earth.
After an appearance on a TV discussion show, I was contacted by a Muslim who – in the friendliest manner – entered into an extended theological debate with me, with no animosity whatsoever – topic…that one religion is not as good as another! It emerged during our email exchanges that he had been surprised at my remarks on TV simply because his “liberal” Catholic friends had led him to believe that the Church taught equality of the “Abrahamic” religions. At no time did I feel under threat for explaining the true teaching of the Church, which he soon came to recognise as quite contrary to the liberal version he had been given.
One commentator hit the nail on the head with this description of the DWM group: “Day with Mary spouts a pietist Catholicism-lite which is afraid to challenge modernist doctrines and is unwilling to evangelise Muslims.” Sounds about right to me. I say, enough of such cowardice in the name of a false prudence. What do you say? Share your thoughts.
But not yet. Firstly, consider this: far from “attacking” Islam, Father Higgins has shown true love and compassion towards Muslims, by wishing to bring them to Christ. He knows that, to quote Pope Leo XIII, this can only be done through Our Lady:
Every grace which is communicated to this world has a threefold origin: it flows from God to Christ, from Christ to the Virgin, and from the Virgin to us . . . Nothing comes to us except through the mediation of Mary, for such is the will of God. Thus, just as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so likewise no one goes to Christ except through His Mother. Whosoever will not have recourse to her is trying to fly without wings . . . O Virgin Most Holy, no one abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; no one, O Mother of God, attains salvation except through thee!
Now, why on earth would any Catholic keep that beautiful truth from our Muslim brothers and sisters? Whatever happened to their Confirmation graces, the character of the Sacrament of Confirmation which makes us Soldiers of Christ. Any coward is unattractive – but a cowardly soldier?
As the Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady brings the Month of Mary to a close, feel free to share your own personal devotions to Our Lady on this thread, along with your favourite Marian hymns, prayers, poems and stories. Enjoy!