Oct 7 – Memorial for Our Lady of the Rosary
This day was originally observed as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Its date was chosen to commemorate the European victory at the third naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. This battle marked the high point of Turkish (Muslim) advance on European soil with the Balkans and the regions west and north of the Black Sea returning to Western (Christian) hands in the succeeding centuries. This victory, after two earlier defeats at the same location, was attributed to Our Lady of the Rosary as special processions were made on that same day in Rome for the sake of this crucial victory.
Pope Pius V ordered that a commemoration of the rosary should be made upon that day, and at the request of the Dominican Pope Gregory XIII in 1573, allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the rosary. In 1671, the observance of this festival was extended by Pope Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Pope Clement XI, after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August 1716 at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church.
This was done so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might include the pagans, and so that through faith we might receive the promised Spirit.
Even until now, I find it difficult to talk about salvation only in terms of faith. I always have to think that good works are so much part of the equation. So, passages that focus only on faith without even mentioning good works in a positive light are somewhat of a challenge for me. Today’s readings are actually a challenge to me primarily because our non-Catholic brothers and sisters seem to focus so much on salvation by faith alone. In fact, in one of the retreats that I attended, the priest said that it is indeed true that salvation is really through faith, and yes we need good works to come with it, but good works without faith are nothing. So, I hope you’re seeing where my confusion goes.
As of writing this reflection, I remembered one story that I heard from one of the priests. It’s a story about one of the martyrs from China. His name is Mark Ji Tianxiang. He was addicted to opium and the priest would not give him absolution. So he thought that the only way he could reach heaven was to die a martyr. And he prayed for that because he knew that his good works probably fell short. As always, our good Lord did not disappoint him. He died a martyr while still addicted.
I’m not sure how many of us think that we always fall short when doing good deeds. That’s always my story at the end of the day when I reflect on what I have done. And amazingly, God gives me the comfort in knowing that I have fallen short because it prevents me from thinking that I am good enough; and it keeps me very much aware that I need God’s grace. At the end of the day, I can say, “Oh, happy faults!” I then have a chance to ask God to shower me with graces so that I can have faith and try to do good again.
That is why while the emphasis on faith without mentioning good works confuses me sometimes, it makes me happy. After all, if it’s all just about good works, I would probably feel cursed trying to keep an account of whether I’ve done sufficient good works.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Lord, please continue to remind me to trust in you more than my good works.