Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- April 30
St Pius V,
(entered heaven this day in 1572)
The tone of distress that percolated through your last note gladdens my heart. My dear nephew, if ever you feel as if everything is going perfectly in your life – especially in your spiritual life – get on your knees and pray, for it means that the devil is happy with you and has ceased his attacks. But if obstacle after obstacle presents itself, and even the littlest things keep going wrong despite your very best efforts, well then, rejoice, for that will mean the devil is quite angry with you and is doing his best to derail your splendid progress. Yes indeed, "life on earth is continual warfare" as the Good Book says (Job 7:1).
The valuable question, therefore, is not how to avoid difficulty, but how to emerge victorious. Today's saint, Pope Pius V, perfected one sure-fire strategy. This northern-Italian born Dominican priest came into the Apostolic See (i.e. the papacy) while Europe was disintegrating on the inside due to the Protestant Revolt and besieged on the outside by the vicious Muslim Turks. Pius tirelessly defended the true faith and prayed his way to victory over the Turkish invaders. You remember the story. As soon as the Christian fleet with its 20,000 soldiers set sail the Pope had all of Christendom commending its victory in unceasing prayer. On the fateful day, October 7, 1571, the invaders were repelled at the naval battle in the Gulf of Lepanto, at the very moment that a rosary procession was being held in the Roman church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (one of the few Roman attempts at Gothic architecture, by the way). At the same moment, the Pope himself was in a meeting. Suddenly, he stood up, opened a window, and stared out into the sky, transfixed. A few minutes passed. "This is not a moment in which to talk business," he commented as he closed the window, "let us give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians" True to his word, he established the feast of the Holy Rosary for the entire Church on October 7th, and he added the title "Help of Christians" to the Litany of Loreto, a prayer of veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, my dear nephew Pip, I am hardly surprised that our Lord has not exempted you from the law of spiritual battle, and I highly recommend recourse to Mary as a sure defense against the devil's many attacks – after all, God himself went to her at the critical moment of salvation history, why shouldn't we?
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