WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR: MARY AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SATAN

A MEDITATION AS A PREPARATION FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE B.V.M., December 8, 2004

Mary

While the U.S. and its allies continue their struggle against international Terrorism, there is another battle going on behind the scenes: the struggle between the "woman clothed with the sun," and the ancient enemy of mankind, "the serpent" (Rev. 12:1). This struggle was prophesied at the very dawn of the human race. A leading Catholic Theologian, Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., explains:

"The role of Mary was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In Genesis, the very first book of the Old Testament, which has been called the 'protoevangelicum,' meaning 'first gospel,' the 'woman' and the 'serpent' are put in 'enmity.' 'I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel' (Gen. 3:15).

"Enmity means a complete and entire mutual opposition. Since the seed of the woman is Christ [who will crush the serpent's head by his redeeming work], then the woman [in this prophecy] must refer to the Blessed Virgin, who, with her Son, has complete enmity against Satan and against sin" (Introduction to Mary, Queenship, 1993).

In this dramatic struggle between the powers of heaven and hell, Satan's weapons are twofold: sin and death. By leading humanity into the mire of sin, he has entrapped us all in his domain of physical and spiritual death. Yet Mary, who shares in her son's enmity towards the serpent, triumphs by God's grace over both of the serpent's weapons: over sin, by her Immaculate Conception, and over death, by her glorious bodily Assumption into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

According to the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, Mary's struggle against Satan continues today as the Devil relentlessly makes war on all her children (Rev. 12: 1-5, 17):

"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars...And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon... And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron... And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan...Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus."

Many times in Christian history, it was Mary, the Mother of the Savior, who rescued the People of God in their hour of need. In 1571, for example, the Turkish fleet threatened to invade Italy by sea, and to capture the very heart of Christendom for Islam. Pope St. Pius V quickly rallied a coalition naval defence force from Spain, Venice, Genoa, and the Knights of Malta. In October of 1571, the Holy Father called upon Christians everywhere to turn to the Rosary and ask Our Lady's intercession for the embattled Christian naval forces. Miraculously, when the two fleets clashed off the coast of Lepanto, all but 45 of the 270 Turkish ships were sunk or captured. St. Pius V, attributing this stunning victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, ordered the invocation "Help of Christians" to be added to the Litany of Loretto, and declared October 7th the Feast of our Lady of Victories. Later, the Holy See transferred this feast to October 1st, under the title of the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

In 1683, a Turkish army 200,000 strong, under the command of Mustapha, "Scourge of Humanity," surrounded the city of Vienna, Austria, with a garrison of only 10,000 defenders. If Vienna had fallen, all of central Europe would have been opened for Muslim conquest. However, at the urgent plea of Pope Innocent II, the Polish King John Sobieski rushed his famous Polish cavalry, backed by the army of the Duke of Lorraine, to rescue the beleaguered city. On the way to battle, Sobieski entrusted his desperate mission to the prayers of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Black Madonna. Though Sobieski's forces were outnumbered by more than 4 to 1, the Christians surprised the enemy with a lightning offensive. The Turkish army was completely routed; fleeing in panic, Mustapha even left his tent with all his treasures behind! King John Sobieski then returned to Czestochowa in triumph, and laid at the feet of the Blessed Virgin the captured banners of the invaders. Christendom had been saved by our Lady again!

Even today, Mary has not laid aside her role as "Help of Christians," and adversary of Satan. In her reported messages to the youths at Medjugorje, for example, she repeatedly calls on us all to use the weapon of the Rosary to pray for world peace: a just and lasting peace in which Satan can no longer threaten the innocent and the helpless (August 8, 1985):

"Dear children, today I call you to pray against Satan in a special way. Satan wants to work more, now that you know he is active. Dear children, put on your armour against Satan: with Rosaries in your hands, you will conquer."

Mary invites each of us, therefore, to help drive back the forces of Satan and evil in our world with the help of the Rosary. In every age, evil takes a new form, and plots anew to destroy the Church, and to oppress and slaughter the innocent. In the last century alone mankind endured the worldwide struggle against Fascism, then against Communism, and now against international Terrorism. Meanwhile, on a global scale, the innocent are slaughtered by abortion, or left to languish in poverty and hunger. Political agreements and military coalitions alone cannot overcome such terrible evils: we need to pray every day for justice and peace, committing all our cares into the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God. Only through her can the U.S. and its allies win a true and lasting victory in the War on Terror. Only through her can men and women of good-will successfully overcome the evils of poverty and abortion in our world.

Moreover, we should never forget that the struggle against Satan is far more than a political and military struggle. Above all, it is a constant battle for the immortal souls of men and women. Satan's first objective is to claim our hearts - especially the hearts of Catholics - for his own possession.

Even here, Mary has come to our aid. In 1830, the Blessed Virgin appeared in Paris to a young religious sister by the name of Catherine Laboure of the Daughters of Charity. Mary appeared standing on a globe, and crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Rays of light, symbolizing the graces which she obtains for us by her prayers, streamed from her outstretched hands. Encircling this image of Mary the words appeared: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." Mary instructed Catherine: "Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces. They should wear it around the neck."

This apparition of the Blessed Virgin was declared authentic by the Church in 1836, and the medal received papal approval in 1842. Meanwhile, countless graces and miracles were received by those who devoutly wore the medal - so many, in fact, that it earned the nickname "The Miraculous Medal," the name by which it is known today. In addition, Catherine Laboure was canonized, and this devotional medal spread throughout the world, heartily endorsed by such saintly souls as St. Maximillian Kolbe and Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

"All who wear it will receive great graces. They should wear it around the neck," Mary had said. In other words, The Miraculous Medal is to be worn close to the heart, as a continual prayer to our Lady for her intercession against the wiles and snares of Satan. If the struggle against Satan is not won on the battlefield of human hearts, it will never be won on the military and political battlefields of this century. Our hope is still in "the woman clothed with the sun," whom our Lord has set with Him in "enmity" against the serpent: "o Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!"