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Bishop Paul Sirba: A call to pray in reparation and for mercy

On Oct. 7, we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. The date recalls the famous Battle of Lepanto. In preparation for this defensive battle, St. Pius V ordered Christians in the year 1571 to say the Rosary daily, and before the battle, he ordered a day of fasting and prayer. The faithful made pilgrimages to shrines, like the shrine of the holy house of Loretto. He also ordered the troops to live their lives in harmony with Christian morals or teachings. On the day of the battle, the entire Christian army knelt and received Holy Communion.

The battle was a turning point for Christianity in Europe.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

St. Pius V, although 550 miles away from the battle, learned about the victory in a miraculous vision. Two weeks after the vision an official courier arrived with news of the victory. The pope, moved with emotion, attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In gratitude, he inserted a new petition into the Litany of Loretto, “Mary, help of Christians, pray for us.” He also instituted a new feast day, which he named, Our Lady of Victory, declaring that “by the Rosary, the darkness of heresy has been dispelled and the light of the Catholic faith shines out in all its brilliancy.”

Two years later, Pope Gregory XIII changed the new feast’s name to the feast of the Holy Rosary. The date of the celebration varied until St. Pius X transferred the celebration to Oct. 7, the actual date of the battle. Our new Cathedral, dedicated in 1957, was named the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary.

As a Church we are facing numerous challenges. Foremost is dealing with the clergy sex abuse crisis. I will be leading a holy hour and Rosary at the Cathedral on Oct. 7, 2018 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Even if you are not able to be present in person at the Cathedral, please join me wherever you are in praying the Rosary. That is the beauty of this prayer. Not only is the meditation of the mysteries profound prayer — it is so uniquely convenient! I plan on a personal nine day novena of rosaries beginning with Oct 7.

Through our Lady’s intercession, I invite you to join with me and the whole Church to beg God’s mercy. Like King David, bishops and priests “have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). We have also sinned against our brothers and sisters. Even though the priests who are now serving are not the ones who have abused minors, priests, acting in the person of Jesus Christ, take on the sins of all in their union with Christ, shepherd and head. Jesus saves. He never abandons us. He will heal us if we ask Him, if we beg His mercy.

I also encourage a return to Friday abstinence. Many of you have never lost this practice, but I encourage it again as reparation for these sins, our sins, and the sins of the whole world. Some have recommended a renewal of the Ember Days, the praying of the Penitential Psalms, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, all worthy forms of prayers of reparation.

The work to purify the Church continues. It begins with me and you. Mary, help of Christians, pray for us. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.