‘Morning Star’, ‘Seat of Wisdom’, ‘Spiritual Vessel’, ‘Gate of Heaven’ and ‘Ark of the Covenant’ are some of the titles we bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mother in her Litany. Do you think that they were inserted without any reason? Each of the titles given to the Blessed Virgin describes one or other of her traits, characteristics or missions. Many Christians are ignorant about the great role which God the Father has reserved for Mary, whom He selected to give birth to His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Many Christians are worried about the ‘high esteem’ with which the Catholic Church regards her because they know that Jesus is the only mediator between man and God. Needless to say, non-Christians could never ever grasp the reasons why the Church keeps on praying for the intercession of Mary. When we, the chosen people are ignorant about the glories of our Divine Mother, why should we blame others?
Ignorance about Mary is, in a way, ignorance about Jesus. Ignorance about Jesus is surely ignorance of the Father. As we know, the Bible tells pretty little about Mary. Saint Louis De Montefort suggests that the reason why Mary’s role in the salvation history of man was hidden at the time of her life on earth was that God the Father reserved the knowledge about her to be exposed only during the end times. Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Being the ‘Morning Star’ she appeared in the horizon to herald the rise of Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness. In the brightness of sun the sheen of a star cannot be visible. But a time was to come when she will again be visible on the horizon of time. We are writing this at a time when the ‘Morning Star’ announcing the arrival of Jesus in glory is shining across nations. How else should we explain the Marian apparitions happening in various corners of the world in these days?
Times may change. But Mary’s role never changes. It is to prepare the world to receive her son. She is being sent to us to prepare the world for the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ in glory. Look at all Marian apparitions from this perspective and we will gain more understanding, more wisdom and more enlightenment about the events unfurling around us. This is why she is called ‘the Seat of Wisdom’.
When we call her ‘Spiritual Vessel’ we are confessing that she is a treasure house of spiritual wisdom. She leads us to Jesus who is undoubtedly the way, the truth and the life. Only through Jesus does one enters heaven and if it is Mary who takes us to Jesus, the title ‘Gate of Heaven’ is an apt salutation for our Holy Mother.
We know the Virgin Mother is also called the ‘ Ark of the Covenant’. In the Old Testament, we read about two arks. The first one is the ark built by Noah at the commandment of the God. It was to save Noah and his dear ones from the impending deluge. When he was engaged in the making of the ark, people around him would have mocked him, saying; ‘Here is a guy who builds an ark where there is no water. Here is an eccentric who believes his delusions to be messages from God. Here is a man who wastes him time and energy on something unproductive’. It would have continued up until the time the windows of the heavens opened and rain started, and they realised that it was no ordinary rain and it was not going to be an ordinary flood. It was an all consuming deluge. For sure, they should have run to Noah’s Ark, which was the only way to escape the fury of rising waters, but unfortunately for them it was by then, locked. They would have knocked at its door and Noah, being a righteous man would have been glad to save at least some of his friends and relatives also if space permitted. But we never read that Noah had opened the door of his ark. Why?
‘And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in'(Gene. 7:16). Here comes the answer. It was not Noah, who shut the doors of the ark from inside, but God himself locked the door from outside. And we know He is the one ‘who opens and no one will shut and who shuts and no one opens’ (Rev. 3:7). Those who couldn’t enter the ark perished.
As for the Ark of the Covenant, it was the symbol of God’s presence with His people. It contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a jar of Manna, and the rod of Aaron. Israelites did experience the power of the true God through the Ark of the Covenant while crossing the Jordan. The river was overflowing as usual in the harvest time. The priests carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river and the river dried up for the time required for hundreds of thousands of Isrelites to cross the river. Again, at the time of conquering Jericho, we see the Ark of the Covenant playing a pivotal role. It was later placed in the Jerusalem temple at the Holiest of Holy place and it was separated by a curtain from the Holy Place. Ordinary people were not entitled to approach the sanctuary where God dwelled. A curtain separated them from God. We know that Jesus, with his sacrifice in the cross, made all the humanity entitled to approach the divine presence of God. In Mark 15:37-38, we read that at the moment Jesus died on the cross, ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ indicating the gift of free access to God’s presence to all the humanity through the eternal sacrifice of Jesus.
What does Mary have to do with either of these arks, so as to entitle her to the somewhat unusual title of the ‘Ark of the Covenant’? Well, Mary is the ark designed and designated by God the Father for the end days. Her mission is simple. To emulate Noah’s Ark to the extent that it provides a safe refuge to the believers at times of perils, pandemics and natural calamities. More than what meets our eyes, understand these words in the spiritual context. When we are flooded with the currents and whirlwinds of false doctrines and when we fear being overpowered by the seducing charm of this world, the Blessed Virgin Mother is our refuge. I should stress, she is our only refuge.
Virgin Mother is also the Ark of the Covenant because it was she who gave birth to Jesus whose body and blood was symbolised in the heavenly Manna. Jesus Christ came to fulfill God’s Law as represented by the ten commandments, and he, like Aaron, is the eternal Priest.
In Fatima, our Holy Mother requested us to consecrate ourselves to her immaculate heart. In every subsequent apparition, it has been a recurring theme, indicating the importance she attaches to the act of consecration.
What does consecration mean? It is simple. It is entrusting your life to Mary in a true spirit of repentance, love and sacrifice. Be a child again. Do not wish for anything which your mother doesn’t allow. Conversely, be assured that your Mother knows what is best for you. If Jesus did what Mary wished in Cana, we also should do what she wishes today. It is nothing but renouncing our pride and emulating her humility.
We read in the Book of Revelation, ‘Then God’s temple was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail’ ( Rev. 11:19). Yes, there is a time when the Ark of the Covenant is again coming to the picture. Go on reading. ‘ A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars’ ( Rev. 12:1). Theologians suggest that this woman symbolises our Holy Mother as well as the Holy Church. Read further and see how the chapter ends; ‘Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus’.
We are going through a period when the old dragon called Satan wages war on the children of Mary. What should a child do when somebody tries to attack him/her? No doubt, the child will run to mother for cover. As Mary’s children, we are also supposed to run to her for protection. This is the essence of consecration. Once we are consecrated to her immaculate heart, our beloved Mother will protect us under her mantle.
Fr Stefano Gobbi writes in ‘To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons’ that she is the New Ark of the Covenant. Her immaculate heart is the refuge which she has prepared for us. With maternal love she invites each of us to enter the New Ark placed inside her immaculate heart. These are the last minutes to enter the safety of our Blessed Mother’s immaculate heart. She told Fr Gobbi that this consecration will make us capable to bear the heavy weight of those bloody tests and trials to precede the second coming of Jesus Christ.
We call upon all to consecrate their lives to the immaculate heart of the Blessed Virgin. ‘True Devotion to Mary’ authored by St. Louis De Montefort will help us in its preparation. It follows a thirty three days’ schedule culminating in the consecration happening on the next day. Ideally the act of consecration is to be done on one of the feast days of Our Lady, though there is nothing that prevents us from doing it on any other day. If you are seriously thinking of consecrating your lives to her on the coming feast of her Nativity ( September 8) start the process on 6th August.
For those who could not find a copy of the Montefort’s book, the following tips would be helpful to prepare for thirty three days.
They should dedicate at least fifteen minutes every day for reading the Bible. Pray a Rosary and say the Blessed Virgin Mother’s litany. Do some acts of sacrifice every day. Always be in a state of grace and if possible attend daily Holy Mass. If not, attend Holy Mass online. Read Magnificat
(Luke 1:46-55). Recite St Bernard’s prayer. Above all take a strong decision to be with the Mother at all times. Do everything as she wishes. She will take us to the gates of heaven.
Let us pray with confidence: ‘ARK OF THE COVENANT, PRAY FOR US’