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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marian Apparitions, Part IV, Mary's Rise to Power

Source: A Woman Clothed With the Sun, by John J. Delaney, 1961.
There are 3 major pillars upon which the entity identified as Mary has established her claim to near divinity. The first is Revelations 12:1-2ff, “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” A dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns challenges her, intending to kill the child. She cries out in pain, gives birth, and the Manchild is taken up to the throne of God. Satan and his minions are driven out of heaven, but they come down to earth to make war on the rest of the seed of the woman.

Catholics have somewhat of a point when they claim that the woman is none other than Mary. There is a shadow of her there, the birth and resurrection of Christ, and the attempt of King Herod to kill the child. If the woman was only Mary, then she is in fact adorned and glorified as a deity, clothed and crowned with creation as if she and the universe were eternally one.

But the Protestants also have a point when they point out that these images are mystical apocalyptic symbols with no linear timeline. The woman’s birth pangs are surely more than Mary in the cave. They denote the sufferings and persecutions of God’s people being birthed in the Kingdom of Heaven. The war takes place after the Manchild ascends to the throne of God. The dragon is Satan, but it is also the satanic, anti-christ world system comprising nations and governments. The woman is the mother of all the seed of God, thus representing the Judeo-Christian Messianic community which is persecuted by the world system.

The Marian apparitions, however, clearly place the Lady squarely in Rev. 12:1. She appeared to Catherine Laboure with 12 stars on her head. She talks about being Queen of the world, but, with the exception of Medjugorje, she comes only to Catholics and acts as if Protestants don’t even exist. She appears bathed in light, arrayed as royalty, and often has rays coming from her hands. Those are difficult images to resist.

The second pillar is the subtle supplanting of Mary as the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, where Jesus says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, and he will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel.” It’s not just that Mary was the woman bringing forth the promised Seed (perhaps she was) but that the ‘he’ becomes ‘she.’ Mary crushed the head of the serpent. This idea arose in 1531 when Mary appeared to an Aztec Indian in Mexico, speaking to him affectionately in his native language. She called for a basilica to be built. When the bishop required a sign, Juan Diego’s tilma was impinted with a beautiful image of the Lady of Guadalupe, which means ‘river of the wolf.’ It’s otherwise a beautiful story. In 7 years, 8 million native Mexicans were baptized into the church. One scholar suggests that the real word in the Nahuatl language was Coatlalupej, which would sound to the Spaniards like Guadalupe, a word they were familiar with. It means ‘stone serpent trodden on.’ From then on, Mary was celebrated as crushing the serpent-god Quetzacoatl, to whom many humans were sacrificed (p. 54, 55). In a genuinely lovely speech, she sweeps away all doubt as to her continued virgin state after the birth of Jesus. “Dear little son, I love you. I want you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, mother of the true God who gives life and maintains it in existence. He created all things. He is in all places.” Powerful words. She then requests that a basilica be built so that she can console the people and help them in their sorrow.

The third pillar is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the bodily resurrection and Assumption of Mary. Where did the Catholic Church get those ideas? From Mary herself. In 1830, a nun named Catherine Laboure was introduced to Mary by a child (that wasn’t really a child as it turned out, p. 71). She was granted a two-hour interview in which Mary spoke about the future of France. In the next appearance 4 months later, Mary stood on a half-globe with a spotted snake at her feet. She is holding a ball, representing the "world and all individuals," with a cross above it in her hands. Rays representing graces glowed from her hands. An oval frame began to form around the picture and words appeared, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” A medal was to be struck, which would protect the wearer and bring them graces (gifts and protection).

On the back was another picture – a cross, beneath which is an M, under that a bar, under that two hearts, side by side. One had a crown of thorns (Jesus), the other had a sword through it (Mary). Mary also wanted a statue to be made and dedicated to “the Virgin of the Globe.”

So [1] Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Immaculate Heart was approved by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. The medal was struck and sold. The statue eventually made. Author of the article, J. Dirvin, writes that these apparitions [2] resulted in the doctrine that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces. All prayers and graces coming and going to and from God go through Mary. Without her apparitions and words, this whole idea would seem like nonsense, even to the Catholic Church. Mary is launching her gradual campaign for equality with Christ upon irresistible Catholic sensitivities and beliefs. [3] Mary was called Co-Redemptress of the human race. [4] The 12 stars crowning her head placed her as the Woman in Rev. 12:1. [5] She promised salvation to all who would wear the medal (which makes her an Eternal Judge, like Jesus).

But Mary didn’t stop there. 1846, La Salette France in the French Alps, Mary appeared to two little cattle herders, Melanie, aged 14 and Maximin, 11. She shared her displeasure with the world saying, “I have appointed you six days for working. The seventh I have reserved for myself. And no one will give it to me. That is which causes my Son’s arm to be so crushing.” No, that is not Yahweh of the Old Testament talking, that is Mary! She is now pre-existant, an ancient giver of Sacred Law. She stands as an advocate between an angry Jesus who would punish mankind with disasters and plagues – Jesus, who is said in the New Testament to be our Advocate before the Father.

She made a threat that would be repeated in subsequent generations, including Bayside, NY. If people don’t turn away from sin and neglect of religion, a severe plague would come that would cause many young children to die in their mothers’ arms. Crops would fail, and people would starve. While the Church deliberated over these prodigies, a spring appeared and miraculous cures were reported. Eventually the Catholic Church authorized the cult of Our Lady of La Salette.

At Lourdes the Rosary was central, and sacred candles became a requested mode of showing devotion. Another cove, another spring, another basilica. When asked who she was, the beautiful Lady did not say, “I am the one conceived without sin.” No, her pronouncement was “I am the Immaculate Conception” (p. 137). The ‘I am’ statement echoes Yahweh and Jesus who made similar statements as to who they were beyond their attributes.

In the revelations of Fatima (see Part II) Mary reveals to Lucia that her Immaculate Heart will be a refuge and a way that will lead her to God. But my word count is up and the best is yet to come, so in another post I will discuss Bayside, NY, the culmination of melodramatic, threatening, petulant Goddess power. There is a lot about Marian apparitions that I could accept if it were not for her mighty scepter waving over the world. If God Almighty came to me and told me it was all true, I don’t know if I could submit to it. I do know that I find it soooo troubling that humans, on our beautiful blue pearl of a planet, are afflicted with such difficult and opaque mysteries.