On the 7th October 1571 at Lepanto, a Christian fleet faced the overwhelmingly superior fleet of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were at the peak of their naval power in the Mediterranean and threatened to overrun Christian Europe and in this extremity Pope Pius V formed a league against them. The Christian fleet, furnished by Venice, Genoa, and Spain was commanded by Don Juan of Austria. As early as September 17, Pope Pius enjoined the recitation of the Rosary on all Christendom for the success of the Christian arms. He had ordered all the churches to have the Forty Hours Devotion, with public processions and recitation of the Rosary. On that fateful October 7th, he himself spent the entire night in prayer. Before moving to the attack at Lepanto the Christian sailors devoutly recited the Rosary while the Papal Legate gave the Apostolic Benediction to them. For three hours, the sixty-five thousand men, all of whom had received Holy Communion that morning, continued to recite the Rosary. Then on each ship general absolution was given for the last time by one of the chaplains. The attack began. The wind which had been against the Christians, suddenly dropped. The battle raged until late in the afternoon, when the Turks gave way. The victory gave the naval power of the enemy a blow from which it never recovered and ended their threat in the Mediterranean Sea. Ever since the 7th October has been celebrated as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in gratitude for that victory.
So faced by huge odds the Chrsitian army knelt in prayer, confident in God's loving Providence, and then fought with tremendous courage and with an unshakeable trust and faith that God would help them. It must be remembered that courage is not the absence of fear, far from it, it is in fact the overcoming of fear and the tackling of any given problem despite that fear. So we are provided with an example of men who faced with overwhelmingly massive odds and gripped by fear, fought for what they prayed for. Today we are faced by massive odds as well, we perhaps feel powerless against a world situation which seems to get bleaker by the day and it is very difficult not to feel unsettled. BUT we should follow the example of those men at Lepanto and have courage, pray and then go to work with a strong will and a faith in God's Holy Providence. Because if everyone pulled together and boldly redoubled their efforts to work their way out of the present situation then that situation will indeed diminish and eventually disappear through sheer hard work. On the other hand if we allow ourselves to be paralysed by fear then the situation will only get worse. St Cajetan on his monthly day of commemoration asks us to have hope and to trust in God's bounty, to look to the future and not to surrender to our doubts and fears.
O Glorious St Cajetan, Father of Divine Providence, help all those who are unemployed, who search for employment and who fear for their jobs, lead them towards what they are looking for and pray for us all that we may be courageous in the face of adversity.
Paolo Veronese "The Holy Virgin interceding for the Christian fleet at Lepanto"