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My New Purple Rosary

rosary3I recently purchased a purple rosary from a fellow CF Mom, purple being the “awareness color” for cystic fibrosis. Its centerpiece is a rose on one side with a tiny image of Mary and Bernadette at Lourdes on the other. Roses are a special symbol for CF (“cystic fibrosis” sounds like “sixty-five roses”). Not much about CF makes me cry anymore; I’ve steeled myself because I’ve had to grit my teeth and hand over my children too many times. I don’t get too excited over stories of healing or sainthood or miracles. But when I opened my package from Maine and the shiny purple beads fell into my lap, I fought tears and swallowed hope.

I read about the rosary; I love the idea of the rosary; I agree with the wonderfulness of the rosary; I just don’t actually do it. But I want to.

I want to sit with Mary and have her point to pictures in the photo album, “Here’s when I visited Elizabeth and her John leaped; here’s when He was born and the shepherds came; here He is telling stories of God’s kingdom…” I want to hold her hand as she remembers with me His crucifixion. I want to smile with her as she is reunited with her Son in heaven.

I understand that my body reflects my soul and that as my body absorbs the rhythmic motion within a set structure of sweet words, my soul can imagine, contemplate, and learn the great stories of our Lord. I understand that using such a sacramental is not a good luck charm but can help me focus my attention and inspire me to greater devotion. My soul can be brought closer to Jesus and in turn, my body can do better things.

The ex-protestant in me sees that it is not the repetition that is condemned by Jesus but the vanity (Matthew 6:7), that He Himself repeated prayers (Matthew 26:36-46), told His followers to pray in a certain way (Matthew 6:9-13), told a parable about persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and that the angels in heaven repeat prayers (Revelation 4:8). I see that the first half of the Hail Mary is Gabriel’s and Elizabeth’s words and that the second half reflects theology handed to us in the first few centuries of Christianity (“Mother of God” was defined and approved at the council of Ephesus in AD 431 in response to the roiling Nestorian heresy that Jesus was not fully God and fully human.).

And so I shall begin. I ask you, my Sistas that pray rosaries, to think of me when you pray your own- just one thought for this little child as I try something new in my walk with Christ, sitting with His mother, remembering Him and praying for my children with my new purple-rosed rosary.

Advent Liturgical Year Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: The Arks of the Covenants

4th Sunday of Advent

Lectionary 1

First Reading ~ 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm ~ Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Second Reading ~ Romans 16:25-27
Gospel Reading ~ Luke 1:26-38

Open Readings in another window.


Theologians through out Church history have held fast to the tradition of the Virgin Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, and today’s passages overlay nicely to show us the divinely designed parallels, such exciting Scriptures!

The Ark of the Covenant is found in the Old Testament Scriptures.  It contained manna, (bread God rained down from Heaven to feed the Isrealites in the desert for 40 years), the Word of God on stone tablets, and the rod of Aaron (proof of the true priesthood).  Upon Moses’s completion of the Ark “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40) .  When King David was to accept the Ark in his custody he learned that the previous person to touch it died.  Thoughtfully, King David asked, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”  Later, as we learn in today’s reading, while the Ark is still under his protection, King David learns that the Savior is to come through his bloodline, and the prophet says, “The Lord is with you.

The Virgin Mary, as the Ark of the New Covenant, has a similar story!  As we learn in today’s passage in the Gospel of Luke, the angel greeted the Virgin with “The Lord is with you” before she is told that she will miraculously bear a son.  Where the cloud overshadowed the Ark of the Old Covenant, Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit with the dawn of the New Covenant.  It was then her womb contained Jesus who later described himself as “the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41).  John also described Jesus as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14), and we can find in the book of Hebrews Jesus described as the  “great high priest who has passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14).  The Virgin Mary became the Ark of the New Covenant when she held Jesus in her womb.  Later, when Mary visited her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, she is greeted by words echoing King David’s, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43)

Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  It is in the theology of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant that we find amazing support for this doctrine.  God commanded the construction of the Ark in meticulous detail.  It was created with the finest materials, only the purest gold was to be used.  Perhaps a plain gold box could have sufficed, but instead God directed the construction of a masterpiece complete with meaningful artistic work; it was extraordinarily beautiful.   The Ark of the Old Covenant held symbols of the God’s divinity and power.  Meanwhile, the Virgin Mary held God Himself in the second person of the Trinity in her womb.  God knitted His son in her flesh.  The dwelling place of the Word made Incarnate, God’s only Son,  could only be held in an Ark of similar, if not even exceeding standards to that of the Old Covenant.  Furthermore, thinking back to the man who died when touching the Ark of the Old Covenant, and also to God’s warning to Moses, “But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live” (Ex 33)  it seems that sinful man perishes when in too close a proximity to God.  Meanwhile, we know that in Heaven we reside intimately with God, yet since nothing impure can reach heaven (Rev 21), we will have been washed of our sins and made perfect in order to be able to reside with Him.   This makes one wonder, could Mary,  as a sinful human, have even survived God Incarnate dwelling her womb?

As I have argued before (Mary’s Sinlessness and our Salvation), God’s plan for our salvation was and is perfect through and through.  I feel like today’s responsorial psalm “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord“, because He so loved me as to give His only begotten Son, that I might have eternal life with Him.  I am thoroughly grateful that the Lord found my salvation important enough as to have created for Himself, and for us, his perfect Mother, Immaculate Mary!

For further reading on Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, check out this fantastic article.

St. Ambrose (339-397)
“The prophet David danced before the Ark.  Now what else should we say the Ark was but holy Mary?  The Ark bore within it the tables of the Testament, but Mary bore the Heir of the same Testament itself.  The former contained in it the Law, the latter the Gospel.  The one had the voice of God, the other His Word.  The Ark, indeed, was radiant within and without with the glitter of gold, but holy Mary shone within and without with the splendor of virginity.  The one was adorned with earthly gold, the other with heavenly” Source