Church bulletin

Today, for those of the Roman persuasion, is our memorial of the Holy Name of Mary, within the octave of the feast of her Nativity. Once it was celebrated on the Octave itself, in accord with the original Jewish custom of naming a child on the eighth day from birth. As most Catholic venerations, it begins in the long murky pre-pre-modern past. The custom among religious of taking or bestowing the name “Mary,” among other given names, is itself of great antiquity. From what I understand (and I am neither liturgist nor Church historian), we might look to the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, which met (at the Church of Mary) in that ancient Greek city, now Islamized as Selçuk within post-modern Turkey. That was the council where Our Lady was boldly proclaimed the Theotokos — the “Mother of God” — in defiance of Nestorians and others who would call her only the “mother of Jesus,” in light of their impoverished Christologies.

But these Idleposts are short, or meant to be short, and we will fast-forward to anno 1683, and stand in imagination with the Polish king, Jan Sobieski, at the Gates of Vienna. In one of the most significant battles of history, he defeated the Infidel Turk, who had been for centuries constantly extending his conquests through eastern and central Europe. Had Sobieski’s badly outnumbered and outgunned “coalition of the willing” (i.e. the French wouldn’t help) failed on that occasion, all the rich, upper Germanies could have been overrun, and the Ottoman Sultan would have had his hands on the resources to sustain his westward push, farther. And, more millions of Christians would have been slaughtered, enslaved, or converted.

Sobieski’s improbable triumph — which turned the tide towards Christian reconquest of the Hungarian plains, and much of the Balkans — was accomplished on the 11th of September, 1683 (with mop-up extending well into the 12th). It was done explicitly in the Name of Mary. All Europe knew that at the time; though over the last few centuries our memories have been failing.

For the first anniversary, Pope Innocent XI extended this ancient feast or memorial — then associated mostly with the Spanish Habsburg realms — to the universal Church, in thanksgiving for the Victory of Our Lady. The “Name of Mary” remained in our calendars until the unspeakable Annibale Bugnini had it erased, as part of the liturgical “reforms” (or more accurately, “deforms”), after Vatican II.

But Saint John Paul II restored it in 2002 — coincidentally, the year after another memorable event, done on the anniversary of the great battle. Perhaps gentle reader remembers that news: which involved office towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and a field in rural Pennsylvania. For you see: while we had forgotten the Gates of Vienna, the Musulmans had not.

Several readers of my Saturday post were puzzled by my mention of the Gates in question. My post for today is merely informational. I would drive you all to Mass, but, I don’t have a car.