A Cloud Of Witnesses
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
Throughout the history of civilization, man has struggled with incivility, division and war. The sins of disobedience and pride are destructive. There are days when it seems like dark clouds loom over our world, and we struggle to find peace with the chaos and division.
The pitfalls of humankind are recorded in the Old and New Testaments, but peace and salvation are also detailed in God’s covenants. We are the heirs of His merciful love. Old Testament stories take us through a journey into the New Testament, where the foreshadowing of something new is revealed.
The metaphor of a cloud is used in the Bible to represent the presence and glory of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: In the theophanies (a visible manifestation to humankind of God) of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory—with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’" Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his Ascension and will reveal him as Son of Man in glory on the day of his final coming. The glory of the Lord "overshadowed" the ark and filled the tabernacle. (CCC 697)
A parallel is revealed between the Holy Spirit overshadowing the ark, and the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary. In (Exodus 25-30) we read that God was very specific in describing the ark as a place where he himself would dwell. The Blessed Virgin Mary became the living shrine of the Word of God, the Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant. (Luke 1:35)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, one of the most important Early Church Fathers of the second century considered the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the New Eve, just as her son, Jesus Christ is a new Adam. The obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in the Garden of Eden, and Mary’s yes to the Angel Gabriel undid the lie that seduced Eve.
When the Blessed Mother appeared to the children at Fatima on May 13, 1917, she asked that a rosary be recited daily to obtain peace and an end to war. On October 13th, we celebrated the 101st anniversary of Fatima and the ‘Miracle of the Sun’. The Church dedicates the month of October to the Holy Rosary, and the power in this devotion offers great hope for our nation. Historical victories in battles and crusades are documented because faithful people prayed the rosary. I recently read two great books on this topic: “Champions of the Rosary” by Father Donald Calloway and “The Marian Option—God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis” by Carrie Gress, Ph.D. These powerful books provide hope for saving a society in moral decay.
Mary said, “We can do more in one day of intense prayer than years of discussion.” A rosary in our hands could save civilization because with God all things are possible! Amen!