On the morning of the battle, Simon and his officers heard Mass offered by St. Dominic himself. Simon’s thousand men numbered too many to fit inside the chapel, so they watched Mass through the open door of the church while mounted in their saddles...
Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
A heavy sky covered the St. Thomas More priory lawn, as Revernd Father wearing a vibrant red cope began the Palm Sunday ceremonies. The wooden altar erected for the outdoor ceremonies was the one blessed from daily use in past years along the way of the 100 mile Pascua Florida Pilgrimage. Near the altar the choir sang the Propers, while the faithful remained in rows of some two dozen vehicles and reverently attended, this latter adaptation being a concession to the needs of the day to protect the faithful from the coronavirus pandemic. The faithful left their vehicles a few at a time and with distance to receive Holy Communion.
Thus began our Holy Week, when we commemorated our Lord’s royal triumphal entry into His holy city of Jerusalem while the crowds waved palm branches, placed palms on the ground before him, and shouted Hosanna! (“adoration and praise”).
Three centuries before the first Mass was said on North American soil, the Albigensian heresy had come out of Eastern Europe and established itself in the wealthy region of southern France. This fatalistic error denied the Incarnation and opposed itself to the Papacy, the hierarchy, the sacraments, and marriage; it also threatened the French throne. For years the Catholic Church had tried to win over the heretics by preaching and persuasion, but war finally came.
The last major battle of the Albigensian Crusade was the Battle of Muret, won by the Catholic side led by Simon IV de Montfort in 1213.
On the morning of the battle, Simon and his officers heard Mass offered by St. Dominic himself. Simon’s thousand men numbered too many to fit inside the chapel, so they watched Mass through the open door of the church while mounted in their saddles.
After Mass, Simon’s force led a sudden cavalry charge against an Albigensian army twice their number led by King Peter II of Aragon. The shock of the assault scattered the heretic army, and King Peter himself was killed. The heresy faded after that.
Our own situation is not nearly so imminent as the threat that Simon faced, but we still show courage and prudence in how we live our Catholic Faith, relying on the grace and strength that comes from the Sacraments to bolster us.
Just as the palm leaf symbolizes peace and the triumph over the prince of death, the victory of the spirit over the flesh, and eternal life, may our Lord grant us deliverance from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as from all errors, heresies, and the spiritual plague of sin that sickens our souls.