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On Sept. 8, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, will be re-consecrated to Our Lady, on the anniversary of our first consecration. To join us, follow the 33 Days to Morning Glory method of Father Michael Gaitley, using the beginning and ending dates depicted here.
August 22 is a day to celebrate the Queenship of Mary — but it’s also a day to decide whose side you will be on: Mary’s or her opposition’s
When my podcast, The Extraordinary Story, started looking at the life of Christ, it contrasted two views of the moment of the Annunciation. One showed her calm and collected — a 14th century poem that describes how “The king of all kings / For her son she chose. … He came as still / Where his mother was / As dew in April / That falls on the grass.”
The other showed the violence of her opposition — as described in the Book of Revelation:
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, loud noises, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. … And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon [who] stood before the woman who was about to give birth. … Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.”
These are two viewpoints on the same story: The profound peace of the maiden being visited by God like the dew fall; and the clamorous cacophony of the queen who provokes the devil.
The reading from Revelation is very importantly a symbol of the Church, but it is also a vision of Mary. Christians in the 300s and 400s saw Mary in these verses. In the 500s, the Greek writer Oecumenius, Bishop of Trikka, said the passage “is speaking about the mother of our Savior. The vision appropriately depicts her as in heaven and not on earth, for she is pure in soul and body, equal to an angel and a citizen of heaven.”
Catholics in America have no problem recognizing this “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet” – what it is describing is what we see in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The angels saw it too. Outside of time, they see all history at one moment: They see God choosing Mary as his way of entering mankind. They know that God incarnate in a man would be their king and this woman, as his mother, would be their queen. They saw it all and many worshiped — but others objected to it. Violently.
Maybe they could have handle it if they saw only Jesus on his throne; but they saw that this woman would be greater than them — and they saw that that, with her, the whole Church would surpass them. And that enraged them.
Essentially, the animals God was creating on earth would be elevated above their purity and light. It was a little like us being told that a cockroach was going to be given a human soul and a queen cockroach clothed with starlight would require our respect and homage.
They were right: God was absolutely incorporating we mere mortals into the family of God. St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians describes the scene this way:
“When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
Through this woman, God offers adoption to humanity. Because of her, we can be his sons and daughters. When the angels saw this, most of them praised God for it — particularly Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” His attitude was, “God is greater than I am; he knows best; so, his will be done.” Either he was echoing Mary or she was echoing him, because this is exactly the attitude that Mary showed at the Annunciation to Gabriel when she said “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.”
For his part, Satan “pursued the woman,” going after Eve at the dawn of human history. Adam and Eve could have joined Michael and Gabriel’s side, but instead they listened to the serpent and they joined his revolt. Each of us, their sons and daughters, has followed their example.
The angels, outside time and space, made their choice for all eternity. When human beings, bound by time and space, joined our “No!” to the devil’s, our rebellion began to unfold in in time and space. And it did, starting with the murder of Able by Cain. St. John Paul II spelled it out in his encyclical on the Gospel of Life:
“Cain’s killing of his brother at the very dawn of history is thus a sad witness of how evil spreads with amazing speed: man’s revolt against God in the earthly paradise is followed by the deadly combat of man against man.”
What started with the killing of Able continues with every sin today. “At the root of every act of violence against one’s neighbor there is a concession to the ‘thinking’ of the evil one, the one who ‘was a murderer from the beginning’,” wrote St. John Paul II.
On the other hand, following Mary’s way of thinking opens a way back. Mary, “like the Church of which she is the type, is a mother of all who are reborn to life. She is in fact the mother of the Life by which everyone lives, and when she brought it forth from herself she in some way brought to rebirth all those who were to live by that Life,” he wrote.
It truly is a day to put yourself on the side of peace, patience and love — or acrimony, pride and violence.
I have chosen to associate myself as closely as possible with Mary’s way of thinking, starting with accepting consecration to her as my mother and queen. So has Benedictine College.
Image:Miguel Cabrera – The Virgin of the Apocalypse