The Ark of the New Covenant

In his Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul calls Our Lord the “high Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle” (9:11). Greater than the Israelite priests — those who “serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” —Christ Our Lord has “obtained a better ministry, by how much also he is a mediator of a better testament which is established on better promises” (8:5-6). To St. Paul — and to all other Catholics — the Old Law was both finished and surpassed by the New Law of the Gospel.

Far from making us shun the Old Testament, this revealed doctrine gives us Christians the only proper outlook there is on the Old Testament. Our faith in “him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write” (Jn. 1:45), is the key to the inspired Hebrew books. And while the new surpasses the old, there is no competition between the two dispensations: Both came from God, and both form a continuity of revealed religion beginning with Adam and ending with the end of all, which is to say, having its end in the Blessed Trinity and in life everlasting. All of this was said by Our Lord in that pregnant utterance recorded by St. Matthew (5:17): “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” And St. Paul’s testimony in his Epistle to the Romans (10:4) is that “the end of the law is Christ.”

Since we have the key to the Hebrew books, and since they were “written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11), we don’t throw them away now that they are fulfilled. It is our joy to open up the books of the ancient alliance and find Christ in them. When we do so, we feel some of that burning in our hearts that the disciples experienced on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:32).

Typology

A very important device in the study of the Old Testament — one employed under inspiration by New Testament writers — is typology. The Greek word typos , “blow, impression, or model” gives us the English word “type,” from which we get “typewriter” — something that leaves an impression on a page. We also get “archetype,” “prototype,” and “stereotype,” from it. A type, in the way we are using it here, is any thing (person, event, institution, object, etc.) in the Old Testament which foreshadows some New Testament reality. The New Testament reality itself is called an “antitype.” St. Paul engages in typology (the study of types) when he calls Christ the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) and says that Adam “is a figure ( typos ) of him who was to come” (Rom. 5:14). In this case, Adam is the type, and Our Lord the antitype.

The Old Testament is filled with types of Our Lord. Adam, Isaac, Moses, Josue, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, the paschal lamb, the tabernacle, the temple, the brazen serpent, and many other people and things foreshadowed Jesus. Other New Testament realities were also foreshadowed. The twelve sons of Jacob were types of the twelve apostles. Joseph, “the dreamer” of Genesis, was a figure of St. Joseph, who received messages in dreams. Baptism, an antitype of circumcision (Col. 2:11), was also prefigured in the flood: “baptism, being of the like form, ( antitypon , literally “antitype”) now saveth you also” (1 Pet. 3:21). The Eucharist was prefigured by the manna in the desert (John 6). There are many, many more.

So not only was Our Lord prefigured; other New Testament realities were as well. Given her central role in God’s plan, it would be strange indeed if the Blessed Virgin were not one of those realities.

As Jesus was the “last Adam” to St. Paul, Mary was the “New Eve” to many Church Fathers (including St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Augustine, and St. John Damascene). Other people and things in the Old Testament were seen by the Fathers to prefigure the Blessed Virgin: the moon, the earth, Noe’s Ark, the rainbow, Sarah, the burning bush, Miriam (Mary), the sister of Moses, Aaron’s rod, Abigail, Queen Esther, Ruth, etc.

Many of these Old Testament types of the Blessed Virgin have come into the devotional life of the Church. In the Litany of Loreto, for instance, Our Lady is called Tower of David, Morning Star, House of Gold (referring to the Temple) and — the title we write of here — Ark of the Covenant.

Our Lady’s Shadow

To avoid confusion, it should be mentioned that this is not the ark of Noe, which was completed about 2350 BC. We mean the ark God commanded Moses to build around 1490 BC. It was built by men handpicked by God — Beseleel and Ooliab — who were given supernatural wisdom for the task. It was a box made of setim (or acacia) wood, about three feet long and two feet wide and high, overlaid with gold on the inside and outside, with a golden ring at each of its four corners. Through these rings were thrust two poles of setim wood, also overlaid with gold. The ark could be carried using these poles, just as a king or important personage might be carried on a movable throne (as in pre-“popemobile” days, when the Holy Father had the sedia gestatoria .) Around the top of the ark was a rim or crown, and covering it was the “mercy seat” or propitiatory, a lid of pure gold which was where God’s glory dwelt, and from which God would speak to Moses. This propitiatory had two cherubim on it, facing each other, with their wings spread over the top.

God’s description of the ark is given in Exodus 25, and the details of its manufacture and placement in the tabernacle are found interspersed throughout the rest of that book. During the years of sojourn in the desert, it was kept in the tabernacle, the portable house of worship which was the predecessor of the Temple of Solomon. All proportion guarded, to liken the ark to the tabernacle in our Catholic churches would be no mistake. The ark was the thing that made the Israelite tabernacle holy, for it was upon the mercy seat that God dwelt, just as He dwells in the tabernacles of our churches. The chief difference — and it is one illustrative of the greatness of the new dispensation over the old — is that the old tabernacle housed a mere manifestation of God’s presence, whereas our tabernacles contain the Incarnate Second Person Himself.

For its history after arriving in the Promised Land, we turn to Father O’Reilly’s Catholic Bible Dictionary : “The ark remained at Silo, but was brought in the time of Heli, the high-priest, to be borne against the Philistines at the battle of Aphec (I Kings 4:3-4). The Israelites were defeated and the ark taken and placed by the Philistines in the temple of Dagon in Azotus (5:1-2); it overthrew and broke the idol of Dagon, and gave rise to a plague (6-9); so that they sent it back in a cart drawn by kine which took it to Bethsames (6:1-15). For their irreverence many of the Bethsamites lost their lives; so that it was carried to Cariathiarim (6:19; 7:2); it was removed by David to the house of Obededom (I Paral. 13:5-13; 2 Kings 6:2-11); and thence to Jerusalem (v. 12); Oza being killed on the way for putting out his hand to hold it up (2 Kings 6:7; 1 Paral. 13:9-10). When Solomon erected the temple, the ark was placed in the Holy of Holies within it (3 Kings 8:3-6); there it remained till the captivity, when it was hidden by Jeremias in a cave (2 Mach. 2:5); [it was later] seen by St. John in the temple of God in heaven (Apoc. 11:19).”

Now that we’ve briefly glanced at the ark, we will connect the dots between it and Our Lady.

The Incarnation

The Ark of the Covenant contained different things at different times. St. Paul lets us know that it had “a golden pot that had manna and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed and the tables of the testament” (Heb. 9:4). Since each of these things corresponds to something in Christ, the contents of the type foreshadow the contents of the antitype. The tablets were God’s written word, while Jesus is the Incarnate Word; the Rod of Aaron represents Aaron’s priesthood (Num. 17), while Jesus is the “high priest of the good things to come” (Heb. 11:9); and the manna was the bread come down from Heaven which fed Israel in the desert, while Jesus is the Bread of Life, who declared: “Your fathers did eat manna in the desert: and are dead. 85 I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn. 6:49, 51).

We should note that the ark was seen by many Fathers (e.g., St. Ephrem, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose) to be a type of Christ Himself, that is, of the Incarnation. This is not an obstacle to our Marian interpretation, since the same Old Testament thing can foreshadow more than one New Testament reality. For instance, the Temple foreshadowed Jesus (Jn. 2:19), and the Church (Eph. 2:21), and individual Christians (1 Cor. 3:16). The intimate union of Jesus and Mary in God’s plan makes for such “cross-typing.”They are so close in the divine light that their shadows coalesce.

Now, the former ark contained the essence of the Old Law. Our Lady contained the essence of the New Law. Our Lady became a divine “container” — or bearer of God — at the Annunciation.

This highly unusual monstrance, from Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Chicago, Ill., depicts the Blessed Virgin on the Ark (image source)

Hail, Full of Grace

Atop the ark was the “propitiatory.” The Catholic Encyclopedia points out that “the corresponding Hebrew word means both ‘cover’ and ‘that which makes propitious.'” This cover, then, was where God was made propitious (favorably disposed or benevolent) to His people. This fits the antitype of Our Lady, who “found grace with God” (Luke 1:30), and thus made Him propitious so that He “overshadowed” her and dwelt in her. Mary is the new propitiatory where God became favorably disposed to mankind.

Seeing Our Lady as the New Ark in the Annunciation is no novelty. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (+c.270), in his Third Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary , has God the Father speak thus to St. Gabriel: “Speak in the ears of my rational ark, so as to prepare for me the accesses of hearing. But neither disturb nor vex the soul of the virgin.”

Upon the ark — on the propitiatory, between the two cherubim — was where the shekinah , or “glory cloud,” came down. Derived from the Hebrew word for “to dwell,” this was God’s visible manifestation showing that he “dwelt” with His chosen people. On the two occasions when the ark was enshrined in the tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon respectively (Exod. 40:32-33 and 3 Kings 8:6-11), the shekinah filled them in so spectacular a way that neither Moses nor the priests could enter in. Now the shekinah is identified with the action of the Third Person in both Catholic and Protestant circles. The descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, for instance, is seen as an antitype of the glory cloud overshadowing the Temple.

With that for our background, let us consider the Annunciation. The language of St. Luke’s narration seems to echo that of Moses in Exodus:

Exodus 40:32 [v. 34 in other translations]: “The cloud covered the tabernacle of the testimony, and the glory of the Lord filled it.”

Luke 1:35: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Scholars point out that the Greek word for “overshadow” used by St. Luke ( epischiadze ) is also used in Exodus 40 in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament most often cited by Our Lord and the Apostles. As the glory cloud covered and filled the tabernacle, over the ark, so the Holy Ghost came upon and overshadowed the New Ark.

Another way the Annunciation was foreshadowed in the story of the ark is the passage of the Israelites over the Jordan into the land of promise. In the history, as it is related in the book of Josue, Chapter 3, God works a miracle to let his children pass over the waters. We should keep in mind that Josue is a type of Jesus. In fact, the two had the very same name: “Jesus” is “Josue” coming into English via Greek, whereas “Josue” (or “Joshua”) comes directly from Hebrew. Also, because Moses was punished for his doubt (Deut. 32:48-52), he could only look at Canaan from afar; Josue was chosen by God to lead the people into the Promised Land. Moses represents the Old Law, while the Promised Land represents Heaven. Moses was insufficient to lead God’s people into Heaven, but Josue — Jesus — could do it. This Josue / Jesus typology is standard fare in Scripture study.

As God had promised, when the priests carrying the ark set their feet in the Jordan, the waters were stopped, allowing the people to pass into Palestine. The waters swelled up like a mountain as the thousands of Israelites passed through. Upstream, the river backed up all the way to a town named “Adam” (“Adom” in Douay Rheims Bible, but “Adam” in other translations), while the downstream waters flowed into the Dead Sea. Now, what is it that flows from “Adam,” leading to the “sea of death” (damnation, hell) and which prevents entrance into the heavenly Promised Land? Original Sin.

The old ark stopped the flow of water from the city Adam to the Dead Sea, but the New Ark stopped the flow of sin from the man Adam. In her Immaculate Conception, Mary stopped the putrid stream so that the New Josue could lead men to the true Promised Land. Worthy of note is that the ark didn’t get wet by the waters: as soon as the feet of the priests carrying it touched the Jordan, it stopped flowing. Similarly, Mary was not even touched by sin.

Some commentators have reckoned 10th Nisan — the Jewish calendar date for the Israelite crossing of the Jordan — as March 25th, the date of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Our Lord in the immaculate womb of Mary. Made worthy of being God’s Mother by her Immaculate Conception, Mary opens a channel through sin’s murky waters, allowing the New Josue to lead His chosen people to Heaven.

The Visitation

Immediately after St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation, the evangelist tells us of Mary’s visit to St. Elizabeth. This instance in Our Lady’s life has stunning parallels with a very detailed account in 2 Kings. While King David was having the ark transported from Cariathiarim to Jerusalem, a tragedy occurred — the death of Oza. Terrified at this act of divine wrath, King David decides to “park” the ark in the hill country of Juda, at the house of Obededom the Gethite.

In his Hail Holy Queen , Scott Hahn summarizes some of the similarities: “Luke’s language seems to echo the account, in the second book of Samuel [2 Kings in DR], of David’s travels as he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The story begins as David ‘arose and went’ (2 Sam 6:2). Luke’s account of the visitation begins with the same words: Mary ‘arose and went’ (1:39). In their journeys, then, both Mary and David proceeded to the hill country of Judah. David acknowledges his unworthiness with the words ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’ (2 Sam 6:9) — words we find echoed as Mary approaches her kinswoman Elizabeth: ‘Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ (Lk 1:43). Note here that the sentence is almost verbatim, except that ‘ark’ is replaced by ‘mother.’ ” 1

The ark was three months in the house of Obededom, the same duration that Mary was in the house of Zachary and Elizabeth. Like Zachary, Obededom was a priest. (We know this, because 1 Paralipomenon 15:24 tells us that he was among those who carried the ark, something only priests could do.) While in the Gethite’s house, the ark was a source of tremendous blessings: “And the ark of the Lord abode in the house of Obededom the Gethite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. And it was told king David, that the Lord had blessed Obededom, and all that he had, because of the ark of God ” (2 Kings 6:11-12).

Mary’s three-month stay with Elizabeth also brought blessings: St. Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Ghost” (1:41); St. John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, just as David “danced with all his might before the Lord85 leaping and dancing before the Lord” (2 Kings 6:14-16); St. Elizabeth — a classic “high-risk pregnancy” — was blessed with a safe delivery; and St. Zachary, his tongue now loosed, is filled with the Holy Ghost and utters his beautiful canticle, the Benedictus .

Tradition tells us that St. John’s joyful dancing was occasioned by his deliverance from original sin. This fulfills yet another aspect of the typical ark, as Abbot GuE9ranger points out: “Yet beneath Zachary’s roof, blessed as it was, the enemy of God and man was still holding one captive: the angelic embassy that had announced John’s miraculous conception and birth could not exempt him from the shameful tribute that every son of Adam must pay to the prince of death, on entering into this life. As formerly at Azotus, so now Dagon may not remain standing erect in face of the ark. Mary appears, and Satan, at once overturned, is subjected to utter defeat in John’s soul, a defeat that is not to be his last; for the ark of the Covenant will not stay its victories till the reconciliation of the last of the elect be effected” ( Liturgical Year , Vol. 12, pg. 397).

Father Michael O’Carroll, in his Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary , informs us of a providential coincidence in liturgical history: “The [Ancient] Jerusalem Liturgy had a feast of the ark on 2 July; no other Old Testament treasure was commemorated thus. The date is seen to coincide with that chosen for the later feast of the Visitation.”

Trinitarian Relations

“A threefold cord is not easily broken” (Eccles. 4:12). The ark also expresses the threefold relationship that Mary has with the Blessed Trinity. She was planned and designed by God the Father. She bore in herself God the Son. And she was the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, who “overshadowed” her, making her fruitful. Regarding Our Lady’s spousal relationship with the Third Person, we point out that the ark was perpetually veiled. Not only was it behind a veil in the tabernacle and in the Temple, but whenever it came out of the Holy of Holies in procession, it was covered with a veil. Now a veil on a woman indicates modesty and humility, virtues Our Lady possessed to an eminent degree; but to the Jews it also represented marital fidelity. It was a sign of a woman’s subjection to her husband (1 Cor. 11:2-16). Mary was the most perfect, the most faithful bride of the Holy Ghost.

This puts a perspective on the Virgin’s relationship with St. Joseph. Since Our Lady was the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, St. Joseph would not even consider touching her in the way of marriage. Besides the motive of his own sublime chastity, the Head of the Holy Family would not wish to share the terrible fate of Oza, who touched the ark and was struck dead. (For a defense of Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, see “Mary Ever Virgin” in From the Housetops , No. 49.)

Our Lady of Victory

As a symbol of God’s presence with His people, who were fighting many powerful enemies, it stands to reason that the ark had a military significance, and not only a liturgical one. For instance, it was a holy weapon in the days of Josue, when carried seven times around the walled city of Jericho. As the Negro Spiritual tells us, “the walls came a-tumblin’ down.” Like the ark, Our Lady is a fighting figure for the members of the Church militant. The ark knocked off Dagon’s head (1 Kings 5:4); Mary is “the Woman” of Genesis (3:5), who will crush the head of the ancient serpent. She is also the strong combater of heresies, who toppled the cursed Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus. And she is Our Lady of Victory, who more than once aided Christian armies against enemies of our Faith. In her liturgy, the Church applies to Mary those words of the Canticle: “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array? ” (Cant. 6:9).

The Assumption

When he defined the bodily Assumption of Mary, Pope Pius XII made reference to ark typology: “Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: ‘Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified’ [Ps 131:8]; and have looked upon the ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord’s temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven” ( Munificentissimus Deus , 26).

Some Fathers who applied Ps. 131 [132]:8 to Our Lady as the New Ark were these:

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (+ c.270): “Come, then, ye too, dearly beloved, and let us chant the melody which has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, ‘Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest; Thou, and the ark of Thy sanctuary’ [Ps. 131:8]. For the holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary” ( The First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary ).

Chrysippus (399-479): “The truly royal ark, the most precious ark, was the ever-Virgin Theotokos; the ark which received the treasure of all sanctification85 you and the ark of your sanctification; for when you shall have arisen and sealed the ark of your sanctification, then that ark will arise85”

Hesychius (ca. 433): “The ark of thy sanctification, the Virgin Theotokos surely. If thou art the pearl, then she must be the ark” ( De S. Maria Deip. ).

These Fathers were from the East. Having inherited a rich patrimony of Greek and Syrian theology, the eighth-century St. John Damascene refined oriental ark typology in three intense sermons on the Assumption. We regret our lack of space, for these sermons are soaked with ark-Mary references. We will limit ourselves to these samples:

“The apostolic band lifting the true ark of the Lord God on their shoulders, as the priests of old the typical ark, and placing thy body in the tomb, made it, as if another Jordan, the way to the true land of the gospel, the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of all the faithful, God being its Lord and architect. Thy soul did not descend to Limbo, neither did thy flesh see corruption. Thy pure and spotless body was not left in the earth, but the abode of the Queen, of God’s true Mother, was fixed in the heavenly kingdom alone” ( Sermon 1 on the Assumption ).

“Today the sacred and living ark of the living God, who conceived her Creator Himself, takes up her abode in the temple of God, not made by hands. David, her forefather, rejoices” ( Sermon 2 on the Assumption ).

The Heavenly Temple

We mentioned that the ark was hidden by Jeremias the Prophet. To protect it from the invading Babylonians, in about 586 B.C., he stored the holy artifact in a cave on Mount Nebo — where Moses went up to view the Holy Land and die. This Jewish tradition is explicitly recorded in 2 Machabees, Chapter 2, where we are further told that Jeremias’ disciples wanted to mark the spot, in order to see the ark later. The prophet was not pleased: “he blamed them, saying: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy. And then the Lord will shew these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also shewed to Moses, and he shewed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God.”

So, about 600 years before Our Lord, Jeremias hid the ark in the very place where Moses could view (but not enter) the Holy Land, and he promised that it would not be seen until God will “receive them [the Jews] to mercy.” Having surveyed the various explanations of this passage, the great Scripture scholar Cornelius a Lapide concluded that the “more common and convincing” opinion is “that the ark85 will be revealed at the end of the world, when God, through Elias and Enoch, will convert his people, namely the Jews, to Christ, and will gather them with the nations into the one Church. Then, to confirm the faith of the converted Jews, Elias will reveal the ark, as Jeremias had promised in his time.”

It’s as if the Jews spiritually return to that Nebo whence, in the person of Moses, they could only look ahead to the greatness of the Messianic kingdom. They will accept Jesus Christ, His Mother, and His Church, and God will “receive them to mercy.” Moses will cross the Jordan.

With this in mind, we turn to the stunning vision of St. John’s in Apocalypse Chapters 11 and 12. Just after the testimony of the two witnesses (Enoch and Elias), the Beloved Disciple relates:

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (11:19-12:1).

Noting that chapter divisions were not part of the original inspired text, commentators have pointed out that the first verse of Chapter 12 forms a continuity with the last of Chapter 11. (The Church herself disregards this chapter division in the Roman Missal’s lesson for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.) There is a continuity of thought from one verse to the next. St. John is seeing the ark and the Woman: the ark who represents the Woman, and the Woman who is represented by the ark.

Perhaps, in the end times, it will be the “woman clothed with the sun,” the new Mercy Seat, through whom God will receive the now perfidious Jews to mercy. Should this be the case, Our Lady’s utterance, already fulfilled in the first century, will take on a new meaning: “He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy” (Lk. 1:54).

But we will avoid imitating the Evangelical Protestants, who calculate their end-times chronologies to the most miniscule of details, straining out the gnat of Greek and Hebrew particles as they swallow the camel of their heresy (cf. Mt. 23:24). St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s speculations on Our Lord’s return in glory, from The Secret of Mary , are done with proper Catholic reserve:

As it was through Mary that God came into the world the first time in a state of self-abasement and privation, may we not say that it will be again through Mary that he will come the second time? . . . No one knows how and when this will come to pass, but we do know that God . . . will come at a time and in a manner least expected, even by the most scholarly of men and those most versed in Holy Scripture, which gives no clear guidance on the subject. (God Alone, the Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, pg. 277)

Until that time, let us honor the ark of the New Testament so as to be worthy of Him whom she bore. To honor her, few words are more beautiful than those composed by St. Methodius of Olympus (+311):

God paid such honor to the ark, which was the image and type of your sanctity, that no one but the priests could approach it, open or enter to behold it. The veil separated it off, keeping the vestibule as that of a queen. Then what sort of veneration must we, who are the least of creatures, owe to you who are indeed a queen — to you, the living ark of God, the Lawgiver — to you, the heaven that contains Him Whom none can contain? (Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna )

 

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Side Bars from the Original Article

Pagan Syncretism and Idolatry?

Frequently, the more vulgar sort of anti-Catholic will isolate an element of Catholic belief or practice, show that a pagan religion had a similar feature, and draw a connection between the two. He then accuses Catholics of synthesizing Christianity with paganism. Various charges that Catholicism is a revival of the ancient “Babylonian Mystery Religion” fall into this class. The arguments generally go like this: Hindus have prayer beads — and so do Catholics! The Assyrian devil worshipers confessed their sins — and so do Catholics! The Babylonians had a “mother goddess” named “Ishtar” — the Catholics have Mary! The absurd logic of these arguments (which are often based on sheer fabrications) can be blown apart by a ninth-grade debating student.

Here is an interesting fact for the anti-Catholic: The ancient Egyptian and other near-eastern pagans had barks or bari on which they carried their idols in procession. These pagan boxes were made of precious wood, overlaid with gold or silver, and images were graven upon them. Arks unearthed in Cana and Phoenicia even had cherubim engraved on them! Sound familiar? The ancient Israelites, Moses and Josue included, must have been pagans, right?

Reassuring us that “the number of fools is infinite” (Eccles. 1:15 ), some modernists have advanced the claim that the ancient Israelites were indeed idol worshippers, based upon this very fact.

This brings us to a related anti-Catholic charge: the accusation of idolatry. Because we incorporate images of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the saints into our devotional life, Catholics violate the commandment of God not to “make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth” (Ex. 20:4). If this Biblical condemnation were absolute, then God led His own chosen people to violate it by commanding that angels — things “in heaven above” — be graven on the ark.

 

Biblical Names & Books

Some people may be confused by the spellings of Biblical names, both proper names and names of books, as they appear in this article. The Douay Rheims Version and some other Catholic versions (Knox, Confraternity Edition) use different conventions than Protestant and modern Catholic translations. The following chart will help the reader:

Douay Rheims Version
1 & 2 Kings
3 & 4 Kings
1 & 2 Paralipomenon
Noe
Josue
Oza
Jeremias
Apocalypse
Psalm 131

King James Version
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Noah
Joshua
Uzzah
Jeremiah
Revelation
Psalm 132

(The Psalms from 1 to 8 are numbered identically in both versions. From 9 up to 147 they are 1 number off, with some other differences in dividing Psalm verses. Psalms 148 to 150 are identical in both numerations, so both systems have 150 Psalms. The Catholics follow the Vulgate / Septuagint numbering, while the Protestants follow the 6th-century A.D. Jewish numbering.)

 

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1 Dr. Hahn is not often quoted in our pages. Regrettably, his works are infected with indifferentism, which sullies this book in several places. For instance, there is an unqualified reference to Judaism as a “noble religion,” and another to C.S. Lewis as a “great Christian,” along with several flattering references to the errant ecumenical movement. However, credit must be given where it is due, and Hail Holy Queen does have its brilliant moments. One such is this quotable quote on page 120: “The sin of the first Adam and Eve was not that they desired divine life but that they desired to be divinized without God.”