Catholic people of faith in our country will embrace a mission
On August 15th, Catholic people of faith in our country will embrace a mission of what I consider self-survival, praying a 54 day Novena for our Nation. ( www.novenaforournation.com). The Novena starts on the great feast day of the Assumption of Our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary and ends on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7th, a date which memorializes the Battle of Lepanto, the great sea victory of European Christians over the Muslim invaders of Europe in 1571. This well known victory was spurred on by the believers of Christian Europe praying the Rosary, at the behest of Pope Pius V, invoking the intercession of the Blessed Mother to protect Christendom.
The battle of Lepanto and Our Lady of the Rosary is just one chapter of volumes that has been written about the Blessed Mother and her intervention in salvation history since her Assumption into heaven. I also have a reflection about Our Blessed Mother, her role in salvation history, and the conversion of souls.
I mention often in my preaching about how I feel that Our Lord’s Mother was the inspiration of His great teaching, the Sermon on the Mount. I am especially struck by Jesus’ words. “They will persecute you, insult you, and speak falsely about you because of me, rejoice and be glad, your reward will be great in heaven. For they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.” Matthew 5:10-12
I can picture Jesus saying these words to His Mother in private even before His public sermon, warning her of the great sorrows that she would endure not only on earth through His crucifixion, but also after His Ascension into heaven. Mary’s reward in heaven is greatest among all creatures for her love and obedience was unsurpassed; her 7 Sorrows well documented.
Mary has also been the greatest prophet of the Church since Pentecost yet no one has been denigrated more or slighted in the Christian and secular world than Mary has been in the last centuries. (Enumeration of this is a topic for another day.) Suffice it to say though that an undeniable case can be made that more souls have come into the Catholic Church or returned to the faith because of Mary than any other vessel or means of conversion. Mary always points us to her Son in a clear and determined fashion. Many examples of this can be given for Mary has appeared many, many times in the last 2000 years throughout the world.
For the purposes of this reflection, I would like to concentrate on just one great example, maybe the greatest example, which predated Lepanto by almost 40 years. On December 12th, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Juan Diego at Tepecac. The story of the miracle of the tilma is well known and the conversions brought about by the miracle well documented.
I feel it is important to focus on the context of this great miracle by our modern day prophet, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our reflection begins at the beginning of salvation history found Revelation Chapter 12. For me, there can be no denying while reading this chapter of Revelation, two simple, but important facts. 1. “The woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet with a crown of 12 stars” is Our Lady of Guadalupe with child. 2. This was the beginning of salvation history, the origin of the battle between good and evil that remains till this day. “Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child. . . . She gave birth to a Son destined to rule the world with an iron rod. . . . Then war broke out in heaven.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared a mere 14 years after Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Revolt (Reformation) in Europe. According to various sources, during the decades immediately after the Reformation, between 5 million and 10 million Catholics were lost to various sects of Protestantism. What has always struck me about the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe was twofold. 1. The conversion of the pagan culture in central America including the end of child sacrifice. 2. The replenishment of Catholicism with up to 10 million converts in central America in the decades after the miracle.
To this day, Our Lady of Guadalupe remains the patroness of the Americas, her manifestation as the Immaculate Conception being the patroness of our country. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn and, of course, along with Jesus and St Joseph, Mary makes up the Holy Family with Mary and Joseph bonded in the perfect marriage of fidelity and chastity.
Today in our country, life at all stages especially in the womb, marriage, and family are all under attack. Religion freedom is under siege! In light of the lessons manifest in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, her conversion of a pagan culture and the end of their child sacrifice, as well as the restoration of health of the Catholic faith, it seems not only prudent, but a cooperation of the grace of Jesus proclaimed at the Sermon on the Mount for us to pray the Rosary and invoke the intercession of the greatest prophet in the history of our Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Let us invoke Our Mother for the conversion of our country and for the end of all attacks against the sanctity of life, marriage, and family as well as for the protection of our religious freedom. Join us from August 15th till October 7th for the 54 day Novena for our Nation. May Jesus be merciful to us and bring about the desired conversion of souls through the intercession of His Mother and ours.
Fr Stephen Imbarrato
Priests for Life