"Big Four" Highlights


A ‘New Lepanto’

A campaign of prayer, fasting and penance

By Jason Godin
Associate Editor, Fathers for Good

For approximately five hours on October 7, 1571, a patchwork alliance of Catholic maritime nations throughout the Mediterranean – the Holy League – fought to secure the survival of Christendom in Western Europe during the Battle of Lepanto. Commanded by Don Juan of Austria, sailors of the armada prayed the rosary fervently, imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary against the advancing forces of the Ottoman Empire. Victory arrived for the Holy League, against great odds and with great bloodshed, leading Pope Pius V to commemorate the day with the feast celebrated Oct. 7 as Our Lady of the Rosary.

More than 400 years later, headlines tell of a modern advance against Christians, who must deny their faith or face their death in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. To obtain graces from God to stop such tragedies, Maureen Flynn is among those calling for a “new Lepanto” without galleys or guns, but rather a nine-day campaign of prayer, fasting and penance.

Fathers for Good recently spoke via email with Flynn, who helped organize the 22nd International Week of Prayer and Fasting, an event held from September 20-28, 2014. The novena began with a prayer vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., featuring a number of noted speakers.

Fathers for Good: You had an impressive range of guest speakers – Dr. Scott Hahn, Johnnette Benkovic, Father Dermot Roache – scheduled for the opening event. What inspired their selection for the event?

Maureen Flynn: We chose, through much prayer, these three speakers because they had several things in common: a great love for the Catholic faith, the ability to give excellent talks on the importance of family in these times, and they all strongly believe in consecration to the Blessed Mother and devotion to Divine Mercy.

FFG: What are the main issues or situations in the world that will be prayed for in this event?

Flynn: We are certainly living in very tumultuous times! Our Lady needs her army to help her fight the battle of all battles. Disasters and wars in the world have intensified with the radical Islamic State ISIS spreading from Syria into a large area of Iraq. This has threatened the very existence of Christianity in what was once Iraq. Russia has invaded the Crimea and threatens to invade the rest of Ukraine, where a civil war between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army has broken out. An unprecedented Ebola epidemic has spread throughout four nations in Africa and threatens to spread through the world. Four thousand babies are aborted every day in the United States alone, and religious liberty in the USA is under governmental attack. As Pope St. John Paul II said, “Jesus Himself has shown us by His own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil.”

FFG: What can dads do for the upcoming event, both as leaders in the family and community?

Flynn: Fathers can follow the example of St. Joseph, who was the leader and protector of the Holy Family, and become the spiritual leaders of their families. They can do this by loving their wives and training their children in virtue and character. By doing this they can become strong leaders not only in their families, but also in their parishes and communities.

During the International Week of Prayer and Fasting, fathers can lead their wives and children in prayer, especially the rosary, each day for the nine days. They can also introduce their children to devotions that they might not be familiar with, such as fasting, Eucharistic adoration, daily Mass or praying novenas, to teach them the importance of these practices and their ability to change the current situations in the world.

Visit IWOPF.org to learn more.