Monday, May 31, 2010

Feast of the Visitation - Feast of the Queenship of Mary

MAY 31st in the traditional calendar is the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the new is the Feast of the Visitation.

Immediately after the Annunciation, Mary travels to the hill country, to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, who despite being thought barren, was pregnant with John the Baptist. The passage of the Visitation in Luke 1 strongly parallels 2 Samuel 6, where King David brings the Ark of the Covenant to his city, where John in the womb leaps for joy at at the coming of Mary, as David leapt for joy as the Ark drew near.

The old Ark of the Covenant, according to tradition, contained the Word of God on the tablets of the Commandments, some of the manna from heaven which fed the Israelites in the desert, and the wooden staff of the High Priest Aaron, which blossomed; and upon the Ark God's spirit settled.  All of these things figure greatly in ancient messianic prophesy, and so the Old Testament type of the Ark of the Covenant, we ought to expect, will be fulfilled in the New Testament in a greater and more wonderful way. And so, Jesus Christ is the Logos or Word of God, he is the new Manna from Heaven in the Eucharist, and as being a ‘sprout from the root of Aaron’ or descendant, is the new High Priest.

Recall that New Testament fulfillments are greater than Old Testament types.  As the design of the old Ark of the Covenant was given directly by God, according to Exodus, we ought to expect that the design of the Ark of the New Covenant to be pleasing to God in a more wonderful way. Mary is the new Ark, and all those things which were written of the old Ark ought to be fulfilled in a more marvelous way. Instead of being a box of wood, the new Ark is living flesh, instead of containing symbols of God's majesty, God Himself is contained. And both Arks were sacred and untouchable.

All too often Protestantism is defined as being not Catholic which is a shame. But let us consider this passage from the Visitation, found in Luke, and spoken by Mary:
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed
This passage is identical in both the Catholic Douay Bible, and the Protestant King James Bible. But do all generations call Mary blessed?

In Evangelical Christianity, the only important relationship is between the individual believer and Jesus; in Liberal Christianity, the only important relationship is between the individual and the spirit, although it is unclear if this is the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the age. All other relationships are left to the opinion of the individual, and are typically based on custom, personal preference, force of law, or worldly philosophy and not religion.

But in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, there are very many relationships; between us and Jesus, us and the Holy Spirit, us and God the Father, us and the Blessed Trinity one God, us and the Angels and Saints in Heaven, between the Saints themselves and with God, between the Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity itself, between us and our peers, us and our leaders, us and our dependents, us and animals, us and the inanimate created world, and between God and the created world.  These relationships have a theological and moral dimension and are guided by the principle of right relationships, a hierarchy of greater and lesser honor, dignity, duty, and responsibility. Denying these right relationships leads to egotism at best, and at worst, Satan's unwillingness to serve.

Our word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin religio, meaning bond, obligation, reverence — right relationships, and the word ‘piety’ has a much larger meaning encompassing even worldly relationships such as the family and the state.

In this system, the relationship between spouses has a greater dignity and honor than a parent in relationship to a child; the relationship of a sibling to his parents is greater than that with his other siblings;  a citizen owes more to his ruler than to his peers; a ruler has more responsibility over his subjects than to his peers.  We give more dignity to a human than to an animal, and more to an animal than a plant, and more to even a plant than the due consideration given to inanimate objects. Likewise, we give greater honor to Mary than to any other Saint by virtue of the Incarnation; but we give less honor to her than to God, for from God all things flow, and to God all things ought to return.

As Catholics are obligated to observe these relationships, rightly understood, we ought to rightly reverence our parents, our leaders, the Saints, Mary above all the Saints, and God most of all, and also have a right relationship with lesser things, for all worldly things were made by God and are very good, despite being fallen.

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