Before I write about Our Lady’s title of Ark of The New Covenant I want to just tell you about how Mary brought me to the Catholic faith:
I was raised in the Protestant faith, The Church of England. I believed in God but never knew Him – I did not have a personal relationship with Him. It was upon my introduction to the Catholic faith that this changed for me. I had been taken ill with M.E. and had become bed-bound so I joined an online group of people with the same condition. It was here that I met my first Catholic friend and she introduced me to Mary and the Saints. In particular, she introduced me to St Padre Pio, a Saint, like all Saints, who had a deep love for Mary. Have you ever noticed that? I cannot think of a Saint who does not love and have a deep devotion to Mary!
I soon fell in love with Mary. One day I saw a plate advertised, it was Our Lady of Lourdes. On the rear of the plate it had Our Lady’s words: Pray the Rosary, fast and make sacrifices. I wondered what the Rosary was. I looked at the image of Mary on the plate and said, “If you want me to pray the Rosary, you will have to teach me what it is.” Our Lady wasted no time, within the week, we had a visitor: the local Vicar from the church down the road who just popped in to say hello as he had heard we were new to his parish. We got chatting and I suddenly said to him, “do you know what the Rosary is?” Although he was Church of England, he said, “Yes I do… and I just happen to have a copy of the prayers on me.” Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather!
So Mary had used a local Vicar to teach me the Rosary. I got a set of beads from an antique shop and began to pray, well that was it, my love of Jesus and Mary just grew and grew. I continued to be very ill with M.E. and spent a total of 20 years with the debilitating illness – 13 of those years completely bed-bound. It was a time of deep conversion and inner healing and I know I only coped with that suffering because of my Catholic faith.
The local Catholic Priest came to see me and I received the Sacraments of Confirmation and my First Holy Communion in my bed. My wife also joined the church and became a Eucharistic Minister so she could bring me home Jesus in the Eucharist, and I received Holy Communion each week. This was my greatest joy.
My spiritual life deepened and I made the “Life Offering” through Mary, offering up each day my sufferings and prayers. I prayed Rosary after Rosary, Chaplet after Chaplet. My entire life became an offering for the world. And then… I was cured! Sorry, I seem to have gone a little off topic. What I am trying to say is that Mary brought me home, she helped transform my life, bringing me so close to her Son that I wanted to imitate Him. Now my illness has gone I can get to Mass on a daily basis and I have found that there is a mystery that so few discover.
Back to the Mystery of Mary, but first, her title of Ark of The New Covenant:
This is why Mary is considered the New Ark: Just as the first Ark held the Manna from heaven, which fed the people of God in the desert, so Mary’s body held the very ‘Bread of Life,’ that brings life to the soul. As the first Ark contained the rod of the long-ago ancestral priest, so Mary’s body contained the divine person, the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who was to “rule the nations with a rod of iron.” The original Ark held the tablets on which God had written the 10 Commandments, the “Word” of God given to Moses. Mary held within her “The Word made Flesh” (John 1:14) in her Son. There are also other parallels between these two Arks. David, before the first Ark exclaims “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6::9) Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, the New Ark, “Why is this granted me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) David “danced” for joy before the old Ark (2 Sam 6:14, 16) whilst John the Baptist leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb before Mary (Luke 1:44). Finally, the old Ark remained in the hill country for 3 months (2 Sam 6:11) and Mary stayed will Elizabeth for 3 months (Luke 1:56).
If Mary is the Ark of the Covenant then she also becomes the Mercy Seat. In Leviticus we read that the old Ark had a Mercy Seat, where the Lord’s Spirit would descend and the presence of the Lord would “overshadow” the Ark taking the form of a cloud. In Luke the Angel Gabriel tells Mary ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will “overshadow” you.’ (Luke 1:35)
In part 3 I will talk a little more about Mary of the Bible and then in part 4 Mary of the Saints before I reveal the greatest Mystery of them all.