Friday, October 7, 2011

Don John and Lepanto

During my morning rosary run today, I was very much aware that today is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. More to the point, I was aware that the Memorial was established in thanksgiving for victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The rosary was ardently prayed before (and during, by those not engaged) the battle, and the victory by the Holy League was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In a spare moment this morning, I reread Chesterton’s Lepanto. It is stirring verse, celebrating the courage of Don John of Austria, at a time when other western leaders couldn’t be bothered to come to the defense of Christendom. 440 years ago, at the age of 24, Don John led a hastily-assembled fleet into battle and, in the process, saved western civilization. He is said to have told his men, “There is no paradise for cowards.”

Here I am, about to turn 42, raising my family in a bucolic village in fly-over country. What am I doing to save western civilization from all the threats that it faces in the modern world? I know God doesn’t call us all to be a Don John. I know about the Little Way of St. Therese, and how some of us are just called to be little purple flowers in God’s garden.

And yet, there’s always the whisper of a doubt in the back of my mind that maybe I was (or am) called to something more and my own laziness or cowardice got in the way.

To all of those who clearly have not been cowed, and who have taken positions on the front line, my hat is off to you. You have my respect, my admiration, and my prayers.

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