A Propos of The Battle of Lepanto (1570) and War
Mary and the Muslims
Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Muhammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of
Arabia. Islam takes the doctrine of the unity of God, his
Majesty and his Creative power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the
repudiation of Christ, the son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the
Trinity, Muhammed made Christ a prophet announcing him, just as, to Christians,
Isaias and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.
The Christian European West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Muslims. At one point they were stopped near
southern France], and at
another point, later on in time, outside the gates of . The Church throughout northern Vienna Africa was practically wiped out by Muslim power, and in
recent times the Muslims are beginning to rise again.
If Islam is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, it is the only heresy that has never declined.
Others have had a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social movement. Islam, on the contrary, has only had its first phase.
The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has been, at least on the surface, a failure, for the Muslims are so far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of Muhammed to become a Christian is much like Christian becoming a Jew. The Muslims believe that they have the final and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Muhammed, the last of God’s real prophets.
At the present time, the hatred of the Muslim countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into account, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake off a West that has ceased to be Christian and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Muslim writers say, `When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words: “We are God’s host, each of us has 99 eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should lay waste the world with all that is in it.”’
The problem is, How shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg? It is our firm belief that the fears some entertain concerning the Muslims are not to be realized, but that Islam, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity and in a way that even some of our missionaries never suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the direct teaching of Christianity but through a summoning of the Muslims to a veneration of the Mother of God. This is the line of argument:
Mary in the Koran:
The Koran, which is the Bible of the Muslims, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First o fall, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and also in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy that goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran’s description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Muhammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: `O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.’ When Mary is born, her mother says: `And I consecrate her with al of her posterity under they protection, O Lord, against Satan!’
The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Muslim tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. IN this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered: “Do you not know that God, when He created the wheat, had no need of seed, and that God by his power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say, `So be it,’ and it was done.”
The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying: `Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.’ In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran there are forty-one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary.
Our Lady of
Mary, then, is for the Muslims the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Muhammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Muhammed wrote: `Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in
Paradise, after Mary.’ In a
variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: `I
surpass all the women, except Mary.’
This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in the 20th century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little
, so that to all future
generations she would be known as Our Lady of Fatima. Since nothing ever
happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the
Blessed Virgin chose to be known as `Our Lady of Fatima’ as a pledge and a sign
of hope to the Muslim people and as an assurance that they, who show her so
much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too. village of Fatima
Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Muslims occupied
centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Muslim chief
had a beautiful daughter by the name of Portugal Fatima.
A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind
when the Muslims left but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so
much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in
1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima the daughter of Muhammad.
The final evidence of the relationship of the
of Fatima to the Muslims is the
enthusiastic reception that the Muslims in Africa and and
elsewhere have to the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned
earlier. Muslims attended the church services in honor of Our Lady; they
allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in India the
Muslims, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of
Our Lady of Fatima was erected. Mozambique
Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Muslims will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent to Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Muslims have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Muslims the rest of the way to her Divine Son. She is forever a `traitor’ in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Many of our great missionaries in
Africa have already
broken down the bitter hatred and prejudices of the Muslims against the
Christians through their acts of charity, their schools and hospitals. It now
remains to use another approach, namely that of taking the 41st
chapter of the Koran and showing them that it was taken out of the Gospel of
Luke, that Mary could not be, even in their own eyes, the most blessed of all
the women of heaven if she had not also borne One who was the Savior of the
world. If Judith and Esther of the Old Testament were prefigures of Mary, then
it may very well be that Fatima herself was a post figure of Mary! The Muslims
should be prepared to acknowledge that, if Fatima
must give way in honor to the Blessed Mother, it is because she is different
from all the other mothers of the world and that without Christ she would be
ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY AND FAITHFUL
ON THE MOST HOLY ROSARY
1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.1
The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.
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6. A number of historical circumstances also make a revival of the Rosary quite timely. First of all, the need to implore from God the gift of peace. The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. At the start of a millennium which began with the terrifying attacks of 11 September 2001, a millennium which witnesses every day innumerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence, to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Consequently, one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace, especially in the land of Jesus, still so sorely afflicted and so close to the heart of every Christian.
A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.
* * * * * * *Mary's memories
11. Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51). The memories of Jesus, impressed upon her heart, were always with her, leading her to reflect on the various moments of her life at her Son's side. In a way those memories were to be the “rosary” which she recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life.
Even now, amid the joyful songs of the heavenly Jerusalem, the reasons for her thanksgiving and praise remain unchanged. They inspire her maternal concern for the pilgrim Church, in which she continues to relate her personal account of the Gospel. Mary constantly sets before the faithful the “mysteries” of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power. In the recitation of the Rosary, the Christian community enters into contact with the memories and the contemplative gaze of Mary.
* * * * * * *MYSTERIES OF CHRIST – MYSTERIES OF HIS MOTHER
The Rosary, “a compendium of the Gospel”
18. The only way to approach the contemplation of Christ's face is by listening in the Spirit to the Father's voice, since “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:27). In the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus responded to Peter's confession of faith by indicating the source of that clear intuition of his identity: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What is needed, then, is a revelation from above. In order to receive that revelation, attentive listening is indispensable: “Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery”.27
The Rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ's face. Pope Paul VI described it in these words: “As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany- like succession of Hail Marys, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel's announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: 'Blessed is the fruit of your womb' (Lk 1:42). We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Marys constitutes the warp on which is woven the contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that eachHail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin”.28
A proposed addition to the traditional pattern
19. Of the many mysteries of Christ's life, only a few are indicated by the Rosary in the form that has become generally established with the seal of the Church's approval. The selection was determined by the origin of the prayer, which was based on the number 150, the number of the Psalms in the Psalter.
I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ's public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light:“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).
Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer's traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary's place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory.
* * * * * * * * * *
MYSTERY OF CHRIST, MYSTERY OF MAN25. In my testimony of 1978 mentioned above, where I described the Rosary as my favourite prayer, I used an idea to which I would like to return. I said then that “the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life”.31
In the light of what has been said so far on the mysteries of Christ, it is not difficult to go deeper into this anthropological significance of the Rosary, which is far deeper than may appear at first sight. Anyone who contemplates Christ through the various stages of his life cannot fail to perceive in him the truth about man. This is the great affirmation of the Second Vatican Council which I have so often discussed in my own teaching since the Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis: “it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man is seen in its true light”.32The Rosary helps to open up the way to this light. Following in the path of Christ, in whom man's path is “recapitulated”,33 revealed and redeemed, believers come face to face with the image of the true man. Contemplating Christ's birth, they learn of the sanctity of life; seeing the household of Nazareth, they learn the original truth of the family according to God's plan; listening to the Master in the mysteries of his public ministry, they find the light which leads them to enter the Kingdom of God; and following him on the way to Calvary, they learn the meaning of salvific suffering. Finally, contemplating Christ and his Blessed Mother in glory, they see the goal towards which each of us is called, if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. It could be said that each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man.
At the same time, it becomes natural to bring to this encounter with the sacred humanity of the Redeemer all the problems, anxieties, labours and endeavours which go to make up our lives. “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps 55:23). To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. Twenty-five years later, thinking back over the difficulties which have also been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, I feel the need to say once more, as a warm invitation to everyone to experience it personally: the Rosary does indeed “mark the rhythm of human life”, bringing it into harmony with the “rhythm” of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing.