I commend to my Junto friends a series of lectures from Dr. Brendan McGuire of Christendom College, on the topics of the Crusades (three hourly lectures) and the Reconquista of Iberia (two hourly lectures), respectively. These can be found by going to the Institute of Catholic Culture’s Media Library and locating these lectures; or by utilizing the Apple’s iTunes U app for PC or devices and searching for the author.
In such a relatively brief time the material is obviously a very encapsulated form of this history. Nonetheless Dr. McGuire wastes no time with a telling of the high points that is rich, enlightening and enjoyable. The two series overlap, as it were, as the Christians take on the character of Crusade in resisting and finally defeating the self-proclaimed Caliphates in Iberia. As for the Crusades, McGuire makes a yeoman’s defense of Catholic heroes such as Richard the Lion Heart who typically receive the now-standard short shrift in popular media. Two aspects of the story of the Crusades I found especially interesting were the sometimes non-hostile, almost perfunctory relationship between Christians paying tribute to Muslim governors and vice versa, depending on who was on top; and the tapestry of indulgences and excommunications as the Crusaders imperfectly carried out their holy mission with fallen natures.
It’s safe to say that today, using modern weapons and technology, there is an attack on western Judeo-Christian civilization. At the turn of the first millennium the papacy rose to prominence as leader of the western world to rally a defense of Christendom. Do we have leaders and laity with that kind of mettle today?
Saint Louis IX, pray for us!