The feast of the Holy Rosary was instituted to commemorate the Battle of Lepanto, when a significant defeat was inflicted on the Ottoman Turks by the Holy League (a rather optimistic name for the coalition of southern Catholic maritime states that placed themselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and ascribed their success to her intercession). The Holy League’s victory effectively prevented further Turkish expansion westwards. Today, many Christians, in Africa and the Middle East especially, feel threatened by the rise of a militant Islam which seeks to exterminate them by every means possible. The West, however, is no longer Christian in any meaningful sense and seems to have no clear idea how it should respond to any perceived threat. We read about Boku Haram murdering children as they sleep and wonder how such intense hatred can exist, conveniently forgetting that drone attacks in Pakistan have also killed children as they slept. I certainly have no answers to any of the questions raised by terrorism or counter-terrorism in the world today.
My Muslim friends and I have often asked ourselves what we, as individuals, can do and the only answer we have been able to come up with is to pray and work for peace where we can. It often doesn’t seem much, but unless we do try to dissolve the old hatreds and antagonisms, we are doomed to go on living them. If you are a rosary pray-er, why not pray a rosary for peace between Christians and Muslims today?