October 7, 2018
We are a nation and a people that knows from our own experience that victory very often requires sacrifice, sometimes, great personal sacrifice. How many families have experienced the loss of a loved one while serving in our armed forces usually defending freedom in other parts of the world for people we don’t know but for ideals that we share – liberty, justice, and freedom. The United States is a nation that honors those who have been willing to make that sacrifice and, in particular, our military, our veterans, and their families. We know that their sacrifice has made a difference in our world and for our people.
The Feast of Our Lady of Victory honors a naval victory at Lepanto on October 7, 1571, where a small Christian force defeated a larger Turkish force threatening to invade Europe, preventing the opening of the Atlantic Ocean to Turkish naval power, which threatened to extend the Turkish empire even to the Americas. This conflict wasn’t just about territorial ambitions. It was about religious freedom, a clash of cultures, the liberty of man, and a vision and philosophy of human existence and society. Pope Pius V opened all the churches of Rome for prayer night and day and in particular asked for the recitation of the Holy Rosary. When the Holy Father heard of the great victory at Lepanto he created a new feast, Our Lady of Victory. His successor, Gregory XIII changed the title to Our Lady of the Rosary. This Victory at Lepanto protected a people, culture, and a vision that we understand as western society.
Victory is rarely easily achieved or won. Very often victory requires tenacity, endeavor, sacrifice, and even suffering. To achieve victory a person must be focused, determined, single-minded and be willing to go beyond the ordinary. Victory doesn’t simply come to us it must be achieved, it is won, it is made to happen.
Victory also presumes something that is worth having, worth achieving, something that is worth sacrificing for. Those who seek victory don’t want to settle for second place, they don’t want to be the people who also ran or placed, they don’t want to settle for the mediocre, the norm, the average, or the ordinary. People who seek victory want to be the best, they want to win, they want to achieve the highest standard, and they want to succeed. Settling is not an option – only victory will do! Sometimes victory is for themselves, but more often it is for the sake of others.
And that bring us to Our Lady of Victory. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the pastor that settles for the mediocre or is happy to be the parish priest of a parish that has settled. For me settling for the status-quo is not an option. In the next few months, I hope to articulate an ambitious plan and vision for our parish. It is a vision which calls for us all to step up, share in the vision, and even make sacrifices. Victory is achieved by those who are determined to win and willing to give everything. If this describes you, well then Victory is the place for you and Victory is the place to be.
I want to develop a culture of growth, a deepening of faith, a place of energy, vision, and hope. I want Victory to be the parish that other parishes look to when they want to know how far they can go and how much they can achieve. I want the people of Victory to experience a parish that sets them on fire for Christ, that helps them find their way, and that sustains them as they become and live as the people God wants them to be. I don’t want my people to settle for a life, or a religion, that is about the average, the moderate, the ordinary. I want a liturgy that is focused and energized on praising and honoring God and feeding us. I want our Church to be beautiful and welcoming. I want a school that is open to all our Catholic children where finances don’t even come into the equation. I want our school to be a mission of the parish and not a service we provide. I want our children to be formed in the best values and virtues of the Catholic faith. I want our people to know what true marriage is really about and live it. I want families to be places of life, energy, faith and ambition. I want to make disciples, not passive observers. I want to make leaders, not mindless followers. I want our children to live life not to simple exist and go through life. I want to feed lambs so that they become shepherds.
Our Lady of Victory parish should be “a light on a hill,” “the salt of the earth,” a “sheepfold,” and the “Temple of God.”
Victory is not simply handed to us! Victory is achieved, it is fought for, it is made to happen. Don’t tell me that we can’t achieve anything we want to. I don’t accept that! We can do it if we are willing to have the vision, the courage, the tenacity, to do the hard work, and make the necessary sacrifices. We are not named Victory for nothing – so let’s make it happen and let’s be Victory!
Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!
- Fr. Ben