Division. Accusations. Cover-ups. Family breakdown. Family secrets. Chaos in our families, in our country, in our world and in our Church. What is an authentically Catholic response to all of this? Prayer, of course. But how to pray and what kind of prayer?
Father Richard Heilman, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has organized a super-charged Catholic event: “Rosary Coast to Coast.” This event has it all: a sense of history, a universal reach and, of course, the most distinctively traditional Catholic devotion, the Rosary.
Oct. 7, the day of “Rosary Coast to Coast,” is the feast of the Holy Rosary. This feast dates back to the high-stakes Mediterranean Battle of Lepanto, which took place Oct. 7, 1571. European Christian forces were vastly outnumbered by the Ottoman forces. Pope Pius V called on everyone to say the Rosary. The sailors and soldiers prayed. So did the entire city of Rome. Miraculously, the Christian forces won the battle, and the city was saved.
Last year, the people of Poland encircled their entire country with prayer At last count, more than 1,000 sites are registered in the United States and in 39 countries. In the U.S., prayers will begin at 4pm Eastern, including at a big rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Around the time I first heard about “Rosary Coast to Coast,” I had noticed several families here in my local Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, having marriage problems. These were good, devout families, not those whom I would have expected to be having problems. (Because of my work defending the family, people confide in me.) I thought to myself, “The Evil One is slinking around causing trouble, even in our dear little devout diocese.”
I decided to get the Ruth Institute involved as the local organizers for “Rosary Coast to Coast” here in our home base of Lake Charles. We made this decision for two reasons. First, even though we are principally an interfaith scientific and educational organization, we are very much aware of the spiritual, even demonic, nature of the attacks on the family. What could be more unnatural than a mother thinking it is good to kill her own child in the womb? What could be more heartbreaking than a family torn apart by divorce, with the children coping with the day-in and day-out struggle of living in two separate households? What could be more irrational than an attack on the human body itself, resenting the differences between male and female, and even denying the reality of sex differences? What could be more genuinely evil than young people being abused by their pastors and then finding that authorities protect the perpetrators, not the victims?
These tragic crimes are so deeply entrenched in our society, there is no natural reason to be hopeful. We are not going to solve these problems on our own, no matter how much scientific evidence we produce. We need Divine assistance.
Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima, reported the words of the Mother of God. “The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Sister Lucia added, “Don’t be afraid, because whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue.” Then she concluded: “Nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”
The other reason we got involved is that we knew the people in the community of Lake Charles would love it. South Louisiana is the “Catholic Buckle” on the Bible Belt. The Catholic ethos is very much alive here. Catholicism is part of the Cajun identity.
And they do love it. We announced the “Rosary Around the Lake,” a plan to meet on the shores of Lake Charles and go as far around the lake as possible. We encouraged people to organize “decades” and sold T-shirts to go along with that idea. Get 10 blue shirts for every one gold shirt (the colors of the local university). We sold more than 500 shirts before the deadline. We will probably get many times that number of people to come out for their Blessed Mother if the weather is good.
And we have good reason to expect good weather. We have a fantastic “Good Weather Committee.” The school children are all praying for good weather.
We are also doing our best to include our non-Catholic neighbors. I know for a fact of a few of our dear Baptist friends will be present. When people ask me, I tell them to pray in whatever way they can in good conscience. (I am also teasing them a little bit, as you can see with these billboards now on display around Lake Charles.)
In Lake Charles, this is an initiative of the laity. But our clergy have been very supportive. Lake Charles’ Bishop Glen Provost will attend and will lead the Apostles’ Creed. The clergy around the diocese have promoted the event and have encouraged people to attend.
When the dust settles after Oct. 7, we will all go back to our ordinary occupations. But we will not be so ordinary. We will have a renewed commitment to stand up for the truth in our own lives, in our country and in our Church. I have no doubt at all that Mary will be delighted. I am sure her Divine Son will speak to each of us in the privacy of our hearts and show us what we can do to help.
One more thing: I received a communication from a pro-family activist in Romania. He had reached out to me about some of our materials. They will be having a referendum on the definition of marriage. Guess when the vote will take place? Oct. 7.
I have no doubt at all that the Mother of God and her Divine Son will have something to say about that vote!