In The Midst Of All The Agitation
by Thomas A. Droleskey
O Queen of the Holy Rosary,
O bless us as we pray,
And offer thee our roses
In garlands day by day,
While from our Father's garden,
With loving hearts and bold,
We gather to thine honor
Buds white and red and gold.
O Queen of the Holy Rosary,
Each myst'ry blends with thine
The sacred life of Jesus
In ev'ry step divine.
Thy soul was His fair garden,
Thy virgin breast His throne,
Thy thoughts His faithful mirror,
Reflecting Him alone.
Sweet Lady of the Rosary,
White roses let us bring,
And lay them round thy footstool,
Before our Infant King.
For, resting in thy bosom,
God's Son was fain to be
The child of thy obedience
And spotless purity.
Although today's revised article, The Gates of Our Very Souls, is pretty much an "evergreen" article that stands on its own each year and that I revised and republish to save readers, especially first-time readers, the trouble of having to scroll down on the Articles Archive page or to a search at the bottom of the Home page, I thought it opportune to prepare a brief additional reflection on this glorious feast that Holy Mother Church has given to us in honor of the very weapon that Our Lady gave to Saint Dominic de Guzman to fight the Albigensian heresy and was, of course, used as the weapon to turn back the Mohammedans in the Battle of Lepanto and at the Gates of Vienna, apart from being used to turn back that wretched lot of people known as the Dutch Calvinists in Peru and in The Philippines. The Rosary is indeed the weapon that is meant to fight the figurative "Turks" who seek the ruin of our souls.
We need to meditate pray and be agitated less by the events of our times. The devil desires us to spend our lives in perpetual agitation. This is what he does with endless news reports readily available on the internet or in the various other means of mass communication. All manner of people get very agitated during the quadrennial farce of hand-to-hand battle between competing sets of naturalists as they project onto the supposed "lesser evil" the status of a latter day King John of Austria or King John Sobieski of Poland (see A Name That Must Be On Our Lips At All Times). Those who permit themselves to get so agitated, those who are compelled to look for the "latest" news or to "prove" the latest popular conspiracy theory and, among many other categories one could mention, those who spend their days in ceaseless gossip and meaningless chatter in various internet "discussion forums" to "resolve" this or that theological issue or to "figure out" some dispute in which they are not involved personally and have no direct personal knowledge are permitting their souls to be needlessly agitated. We need to pray more and talk, including internet chatter, less.
More good can be done for the conversion of souls, upon which rests the entirety of personal and social order, by praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits. Is one really called to spend large portions of his day trolling around the internet for news or various "theories" to "explain" world events? Don't we know that all of the problems of the world, bar none, are caused by Original Sin and the Actual Sins of men, starting first and foremost with our own? Don't we realize that we will be held to a strict accounting by Christ the King at the moment of our Particular Judgment for how well we have used our time, for any and all moments that we have wasted on vanities and needless gossip and time-consuming exercises in just plain old curiosity about things whose details will be made manifest to us on the Last Day at the General Judgment of the living and the dead? Isn't our time better spent praying more Rosaries than by wasting it as one is agitated by one naturalist myth after another?
One gets less agitated by the events around us as one prays more, especially before Our Lord's Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament and by means of His Most Blessed Mother's Holy Rosary. This does not mean that one is unconcerned about those events. There's more to "civic duty," for example, than enabling the careers of competing sets of naturalists by believing that support rendered unto the "lesser evil" of the two will "retard" evil or, at the very least, prevent the "greater evil" that would have been done otherwise. It is not a proper function of one's civic duty to exercise the franchise, for example, and then close one's eyes for the next four years while the supposedly "lesser evil' advances pretty much the same agenda as the "greater evil" would have done, accustoming the lemmings just to shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh, well, what can we do? This is the best we have," just dismissing the advance of evil as regrettable but inevitable. Hello, out there in cyberspace. A steady dose of this for the past forty years now has accustomed "pro-life" voters into accepting utter silence about baby-killing during campaigns and inaction thereafter by their supposed "lesser evils" as they say, "Well, things could have been worse." This is civic duty? Nonsense.
To wit, a priest at a fully traditional chapel was aghast at me sixty-six months ago when I noted in a lecture in his parish the many ways that the supposedly "pro-life" President George Walker Bush had betrayed the cause of the protection of innocent human life at home and abroad. He did not know that Bush personally approved the decision of the United States Food and Drug Administration to sell the so-called Plan B "emergency" baby-killing potion on an over-the-counter basis to women over eighteen years of age. He did not know that Bush' the Lesser's first Solicitor-General, Theodore B. Olson, who is now helping to prepare United States Representative Paul Davis Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and was the lead legal counsel in behalf of opposing "Proposition Eight" in California, argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America that courageous sidewalk counselors such as Joseph Scheidler were actually "bandits" under the Hobbs Act of 1946 as they were depriving "legitimate businesses," baby-killing mills, of customers (see Meathead Meets Meathead).
The priest was shocked. "Where did you find this information?" he screamed at me. Screamed at me, mind you. Find? Huh? One does not have to spend one's days searching on obscure websites for that which is indeed readily available. If one wants to participate in the farce of naturalism, you see, one ought to be informed about what his supposed "lesser evil" "champions" have done and said before not only supporting them but projecting into their minds thoughts they do not hold while refusing even to hold them accountable when in office for advancing one grave evil after another under cover of the civil law. It is not to let the "'perfect' become the enemy of the 'good'" when there is no "good" to be done.
Such a dereliction of one's civic duty, which is legion among "conservatives," has permitted one phony pro-life politician after another to represent himself as a "champion" of the innocent preborn even though he supports the slicing and dicing of little babies in their mothers' wombs in certain "hard cases" and votes to confirm pro-abortion judicial nominees and/or is a full-throated supporter of unjust wars of American aggression and occupation. Although I used to get very agitated by the fact that people prefer to believe in the political equivalent of the tooth fairy while refusing to look at the details of the evils advanced by supposedly "lesser evils," all I can do is to point out the facts and to pray for the conversion of the nation, recognizing that it is pointless during the midst of the agitation to bring rationality to bear when people are in veritable states of hysteria and find themselves applauding when their "champions" demonstrate themselves to "acceptable" to "moderate" voters by claiming to be better able to conserve the welfare state than their rivals. It is enough to do the work and put out the information for one and all to accept or reject as they see fit, which is why I will wait until after the current farce of naturalism has run its course in thirty days to comment in depth once again on the "lesser evil" and the "franchise." The rest is simply given to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart by means of her Most Holy Rosary.
By the way, praying Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary is not doing "nothing" to advance the common temporal good of one's nation.
As I noted a few years ago, a man at a traditional chapel once said in protest against an invitation to pray more Rosaries rather than get himself all agitated in support of a libertarian who has prescribed pills that kill babies in his medical practice and believes that state legislatures have the right to permit, restrict or prohibit surgical baby-killing according to the "will" of the people shouted at the top of his lungs, "Ah! We've been praying the Rosary for thousands of years. Where has that gotten us?" Yes, so many Catholics, no matter where they fall along the vast expanse of the ecclesiastical divide in this time of apostasy and betrayal, believe that American "action" and "activity," not true Catholic Action founded in prayer, will "save" a country whose people are steeped in the pursuit of worldly pleasures and who believe that it is their "right" to do with their bodies as they please.
Well, of course, the Rosary has been around for eight hundred years now, not "thousands of years." Fidelity to the Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary has won the day not only at Lepanto or the Gates of Vienna or The Philippines or Peru or Austria in 1955 as the Soviets ended the occupation of their part of the country, of course. Fidelity to Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary has saved countless souls from sin and error, saving them from eternal damnation in the process. In the process, of course, Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary has helped to reform nations, especially during the era of Christendom in the High Middle Ages.
Consider these words of Pope Leo XIII, contained in Laetitiae Sanctae, September 8, 1893:
3. For We are convinced that the Rosary, if devoutly used, is bound to
benefit not only the individual but society at large.
No one will do Us the injustice to deny that in the discharge of the duties
of the Supreme Apostolate We have labored -- as, God helping, We shall ever
continue to labor -- to promote the civil prosperity of mankind. Repeatedly have
We admonished those who are invested with sovereign power that they should
neither make nor execute laws except in conformity with the equity of the Divine
mind. On the other hand, we have constantly besought citizens who were
conspicuous by genius, industry, family, or fortune, to join together in common
counsel and action to safeguard and to promote whatever would tend to the
strength and well-being of the community. Only too many causes are at work, in
the present condition of things, to loosen the bonds of public order, and to
withdraw the people from sound principles of life and conduct.
4. There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in
effecting this downgrade movement of society. These are -- first, the distaste
for a simple and laborious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind;
thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.
5. We deplore -- and those who judge of all things merely by the light and
according to the standard of nature join with Us in deploring-that society is
threatened with a serious danger in the growing contempt of those homely duties
and virtues which make up the beauty of humble life. To this cause we may trace
in the home, the readiness of children to withdraw themselves from the natural
obligation of obedience to the parents, and their impatience of any form of
treatment which is not of the indulgent and effeminate kind. In the workman, it
evinces itself in a tendency to desert his trade, to shrink from toil, to become
discontented with his lot, to fix his gaze on things that are above him, and to
look forward with unthinking hopefulness to some future equalization of
property. We may observe the same temper permeating the masses in the eagerness
to exchange the life of the rural districts for the excitements and pleasures of
the town. Thus the equilibrium between the classes of the community is being
destroyed, everything becomes unsettled, men's minds become a prey to jealousy
and heart-burnings, rights are openly trampled under foot, and, finally, the
people, betrayed in their expectations, attack public order, and place
themselves in conflict with those who are charged to maintain it.
6. For evils such as these let us seek a remedy in the Rosary, which consists
in a fixed order of prayer combined with devout meditation on the life of Christ
and His Blessed Mother. Here, if the joyful mysteries be but clearly brought
home to the minds of the people, an object lesson of the chief virtues is placed
before their eyes. Each one will thus be able to see for himself how easy, how
abundant, how sweetly attractive are the lessons to be found therein for the
leading of an honest life. Let us take our stand in front of that earthly and
divine home of holiness, the House of Nazareth. How much we have to learn from
the daily life which was led within its walls! What an all-perfect model of
domestic society! Here we behold simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect
agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love -- not of the false and
fleeting kind -- but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness
of service. Here is the patient industry which provides what is required for
food and raiment; which does so "in the sweat of the brow," which is contented
with little, and which seeks rather to diminish the number of its wants than to
multiply the sources of its wealth. Better than all, we find there that supreme
peace of mind and gladness of soul which never fail to accompany the possession
of a tranquil conscience. These are precious examples of goodness, of modesty,
of humility, of hard-working endurance, of kindness to others, of diligence in
the small duties of daily life, and of other virtues, and once they have made
their influence felt they gradually take root in the soul, and in course of time
fail not to bring about a happy change of mind and conduct. Then will each one
begin to feel his work to be no longer lowly and irksome, but grateful and
lightsome, and clothed with a certain joyousness by his sense of duty in
discharging it conscientiously. Then will gentler manners everywhere prevail;
home-life will be loved and esteemed, and the relations of man with man will be
loved and esteemed, and the relations of man with man will be hallowed by a
larger infusion of respect and charity. And if this betterment should go forth
from the individual to the family and to the communities, and thence to the
people at large so that human life should be lifted up to this standard, no one
will fail to feel how great and lasting indeed would be the gain which would be
achieved for society.
7. A second evil, one which is specially pernicious, and one which, owing to
the increasing mischief which it works among souls, we can never sufficiently
deplore, is to be found in repugnance to suffering and eagerness to escape
whatever is hard or painful to endure. The greater number are thus robbed of
that peace and freedom of mind which remains the reward of those who do what is
right undismayed by the perils or troubles to be met with in doing so. Rather do
they dream of a chimeric civilization in which all that is unpleasant shall be
removed, and all that is pleasant shall be supplied. By this passionate and
unbridled desire of living a life of pleasure, the minds of men are weakened,
and if they do not entirely succumb, they become demoralized and miserably cower
and sink under the hardships of the battle of life.
8. In such a contest example is everything, and a powerful means of renewing
our courage will undoubtedly be found in the Holy Rosary, if from our earliest
years our minds have been trained to dwell upon the sorrowful mysteries of Our
Lord's life, and to drink in their meaning by sweet and silent meditation. In
them we shall learn how Christ, "the Author and Finisher of Our faith," began
"to do and teach," in order that we might see written in His example all the
lessons that He Himself had taught us for the bearing of our burden of labor --
and sorrow, and mark how the sufferings which were hardest to bear were those
which He embraced with the greatest measure of generosity and good will. We
behold Him overwhelmed with sadness, so that drops of blood ooze like sweat from
His veins. We see Him bound like a malefactor, subjected to the judgment of the
unrighteous, laden with insults, covered with shame, assailed with false
accusations, torn with scourges, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross,
accounted unworthy to live, and condemned by the voice of the multitude as
deserving of death. Here, too, we contemplate the grief of the most Holy Mother,
whose soul was not merely wounded but "pierced" by the sword of sorrow, so that
she might be named and become in truth "the Mother of Sorrows." Witnessing these
examples of fortitude, not with sight but by faith, who is there who will not
feel his heart grow warm with the desire of imitating them?
9. Then, be it that the "earth is accursed" and brings forth "thistles and
thorns," -- be it that the soul is saddened with grief and the body with
sickness; even so, there will be no evil which the envy of man or the rage of
devils can invent, nor calamity which can fall upon the individual or the
community, over which we shall not triumph by the patience of suffering. For
this reason it has been truly said that "it belongs to the Christian to do and
to endure great things," for he who deserves to be called a Christian must not
shrink from following in the footsteps of Christ. But by this patience, We do
not mean that empty stoicism in the enduring of pain which was the ideal of some
of the philosophers of old, but rather do We mean that patience which is learned
from the example of Him, who "having joy set before Him, endured the cross,
despising the shame" (Heb. xvi., 2). It is the patience which is obtained by the
help of His grace; which shirks not a trial because it is painful, but which
accepts it and esteems it as a gain, however hard it may be to undergo. The
Catholic Church has always had, and happily still has, multitudes of men and
women, in every rank and condition of life, who are glorious disciples of this
teaching, and who, following faithfully in the path of Christ, suffer injury and
hardship for the cause of virtue and religion. They reecho, not with their lips,
but with their life, the words of St. Thomas: "Let us also go, that we may die
with him" (John xi., 16).
10. May such types of admirable constancy be more and more splendidly
multiplied in our midst to the weal of society and to the glory and edification
of the Church of God!
11. The third evil for which a remedy is needed is one which is chiefly
characteristic of the times in which we live. Men in former ages, although they
loved the world, and loved it far too well, did not usually aggravate their
sinful attachment to the things of earth by a contempt of the things of heaven.
Even the right-thinking portion of the pagan world recognized that this life was
not a home but a dwelling-place, not our destination, but a stage in the
journey. But men of our day, albeit they have had the advantages of Christian
instruction, pursue the false goods of this world in such wise that the thought
of their true Fatherland of enduring happiness is not only set aside, but, to
their shame be it said, banished and entirely erased from their memory,
notwithstanding the warning of St. Paul, "We have not here a lasting city, but
we seek one which is to come" (Heb. xiii., 4).
12. When We seek out the causes of this forgetfulness, We are met in the
first place by the fact that many allow themselves to believe that the thought
of a future life goes in some way to sap the love of our country, and thus
militates against the prosperity of the commonwealth. No illusion could be more
foolish or hateful. Our future hope is not of a kind which so monopolizes the
minds of men as to withdraw their attention from the interests of this life.
Christ commands us, it is true, to seek the Kingdom of God, and in the first
place, but not in such a manner as to neglect all things else. For, the use of
the goods of the present life, and the righteous enjoyment which they furnish,
may serve both to strengthen virtue and to reward it. The splendor and beauty of
our earthly habitation, by which human society is ennobled, may mirror the
splendor and beauty of our dwelling which is above. Therein we see nothing that
is not worthy of the reason of man and of the wisdom of God. For the same God
who is the Author of Nature is the Author of Grace, and He willed not that one
should collide or conflict with the other, but that they should act in friendly
alliance, so that under the leadership of both we may the more easily arrive at
that immortal happiness for which we mortal men were created.
13. But men of carnal mind, who love nothing but themselves, allow their
thoughts to grovel upon things of earth until they are unable to lift them to
that which is higher. For, far from using the goods of time as a help towards
securing those which are eternal, they lose sight altogether of the world which
is to come, and sink to the lowest depths of degradation. We may doubt if God
could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his
whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the
happiness which alone lasts for ever.
14. It is from this danger that they will be happily rescued, who, in the
pious practice of the Rosary, are wont, by frequent and fervent prayer, to keep
before their minds the glorious mysteries. These mysteries are the means by
which in the soul of a Christian a most clear light is shed upon the good
things, hidden to sense, but visible to faith, "which God has prepared for those
who love Him." From them we learn that death is not an annihilation which ends
all things, but merely a migration and passage from life to life. By them we are
taught that the path to Heaven lies open to all men, and as we behold Christ
ascending thither, we recall the sweet words of His promise, "I go to prepare a
place for you." By them we are reminded that a time will come when "God will
wipe away every tear from our eyes," and that "neither mourning, nor crying, nor
sorrow, shall be any more," and that "We shall be always with the Lord," and
"like to the Lord, for we shall see Him as He is," and "drink of the torrent of
His delight," as "fellow-citizens of the saints," in the blessed companionship
of our glorious Queen and Mother. Dwelling upon such a prospect, our hearts are
kindled with desire, and we exclaim, in the words of a great saint, "How vile
grows the earth when I look up to heaven!" Then, too, shall we feel the solace
of the assurance "that which is at present momentary and light of our
tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory"
(2 Cor. iv., 17).
15. Here alone we discover the true relation between time and eternity,
between our life on earth and our life in heaven; and it is thus alone that are
formed strong and noble characters. When such characters can be counted in large
numbers, the dignity and well-being of society are assured. All that is
beautiful, good, and true will flourish in the measure of its conformity to Him
who is of all beauty, goodness, and truth the first Principle and the Eternal
16. These considerations will explain what We have already laid down
concerning the fruitful advantages which are to be derived from the use of the
Rosary, and the healing power which this devotion possesses for the evils of the
age and the fatal sores of society. These advantages, as we may readily
conceive, will be secured in a higher and fuller measure by those who band
themselves together in the sacred Confraternity of the Rosary, and who are thus
more than others united by a special and brotherly bond of devotion to the Most
Holy Virgin. In this Confraternity, approved by the Roman Pontiffs, and enriched
by them with indulgences and privileges, they possess their own rule and
government, hold their meetings at stated times, and are provided with ample
means of leading a holy life and of laboring for the good of the community. They
are, are so to speak, the battalions who fight the battle of Christ, armed with
His Sacred Mysteries, and under the banner and guidance of the Heavenly Queen.
How faithfully her intercession is exercised in response to their prayers,
processions, and solemnities is written in the whole experience of the Church
not less than in the splendor of the victory of Lepanto. (Pope Leo XIII, Laetitiae Sanctae, September 8, 1893.)
We need Our Lady's Most Holy
Rosary. Men need to be reminded of this fact on a daily basis. Our Lady
has exhorted us to pray her Most Holy Rosary. This may not get "votes."
This is one sure way to win the favor of Heaven and of planting seeds
for the conversion of men and their nations to the true Faith, without
which there can be true order in the souls of men or in their societies.
None of the current problems we face can be remedied
or even ameliorated as long as men continue to sin unrepentantly and as
their nations protect grievously sinful behavior under cover of the
We need Our Lady. We need her Most Holy Rosary. It is
that simple. We are lost without Our Lady and her Most Holy
Rosary. Nations are lost without pilgrimages in honor of the Mother of
God. Lost. Done for. Kaput.
Everyone is but a midget naturalist who rejects the
simple belief that all men and all nations must honor Our Lady. She told
soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because He as regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.
He that is mighty, hath done great things for me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear
hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit
of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath
exalted the humble.
hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty
away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:
as He spoke to Abraham and his seed for ever. (Lk. 1: 46-55)
There is Heavenly work for us to do.
Let us quit our selfishness and our pessimism and anger and disordered pride once and for all.
Let us be about the business of saving souls, starting with our own by taking seriously True Devotion to Our Lady, as taught by Saint Louis de Montfort, to see to it that we can be of true Heavenly assistance to others as we use the rest of our lives profitably for the work of the Kingdom of Heaven which we desire to maintain our souls by means of Sanctifying Grace at all times and to possess for all eternity in Heaven, praying for the fulfillment of Our Lady's Fatima Message, which revolves around Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary and devotion to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. (See Appendix B
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Pope Saint Mark I, pray for us.
Saints Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius, pray for us.
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for us.
Blessed Alan de la Roche, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints
Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Prostrate before thy throne of grace, O Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, we intend to fulfill, inasmuch as it lies within our power, the request which thou didst make when appearing to us at Fatima.
The abominable sins of the world, the persecutions directed against the Church of Jesus Christ, and still more, the apostasy of nations and of Christian souls, and the forgetfulness, in fine, of thy maternity of grace by the greater part of mankind overwhelms thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, which is so united in its compassion to the sufferings of the Sacred Heart of thy Divine Son.
That so many crimes might be atoned for, thou didst ask for the establishment of the devotion of reparation to thy Immaculate Heart, and, in order to hold back the scourges of God which thou hast foretold, thou hast made thyself the messenger of the Most High, requiring of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to thy Immaculate Heart. Alas, the message has not yet been heeded.
That is why we desire to anticipate the happy day on which the Sovereign Pontiff will finally accede to the request of thy Divine Son. Without attributing to ourselves an authority which we do not possess, but penetrated with solicitude for the lot of the entire church, by a humble supplication addressed to thy Immaculate Heart, and united to the faithful bishops, priests and faithful, we have resolved to comply for our part with the wishes of Heaven.
Deign, therefore, O Mother of God, to accept first of all the solemn act of reparation which we present to thy Immaculate Heart for all the offenses by which, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, It is assailed on the part of sinners and the wicked.
Secondly, as much as it is within our power, we give, deliver and consecrate Russia to thy Immaculate Heart: we beseech thee, in thy maternal mercy, to take this nation under thy maternal protection, to make of her thy domain, where thou reignest as Queen, to make this land of persecutions a land of election and benediction. We implore thee to render this nation so submissive unto thee that, converted from her legalized godlessness, she might become a new kingdom for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and a new inheritance for His gentle scepter. May she, moreover, having returned from her schism of old, enter anew the unity of the One Sheepfold of the Eternal Shepherd, and thus submitted to the Vicar of thy Son, may she become an ardent apostle of the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ over all the nations of the earth.
Likewise we implore thee, O Mother of Mercy, by this manifest miracle of thy all-powerful intercession, to make known to the world the truth of thy universal mediation of grace. Deign, in fine, O Queen of Peace, to bring to the world that peace which the world cannot give: peace of arms and peace of souls; the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ, and the Kingdom of Christ through the reign of thy Immaculate Heart, O Mary. Amen.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton's Poem "Lepanto"
White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half-attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain – hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.
Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.
They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground, -
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk may hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces – four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still – hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.
St. Michael’s on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that bath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.
King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed -
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.
The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in a man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumed lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that swat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stairways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign -
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!
Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade. . .
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)