The Ark of the Covenant was a wood box about four-feet long and two and a half-feet wide. The word “ark” comes from the Hebrew word “aron” which means chest or coffer.
The Ark was no ordinary chest. It was plated inside and out with gold. And it had an ornate cover, called the mercy seat, featuring two gold angels that covered the Ark with their wings. The Ark itself was made from acacia wood, a unique wood which resisted all kinds of decay, fungus and insects. The acacia tree was also known as the “miracle tree” because it could blossom without any water.
The Lord gave Moses detailed instructions on how to build the Ark, for it was to house the holiest objects in the possession of the Hebrew people – the Law, the Ten Commandments. The Ark is said to have also contained a jar of manna, the miraculous bread that God sent the Israelites so they could survive in the wilderness.
The Lord also instructed the Israelites to carry the Ark with gold poles that slipped through gold rings at each corner of the Ark – because no one was to touch the Ark. If one touched it, he would die.
The Israelites processed all over the wilderness with the Ark before crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The priests carried the Ark to the battlefields, giving the Hebrew people courage to defeat the enemies that surrounded them. Having the Ark with them, how could they lose?
The Ark of the Covenant factors in a passage from Luke chapter 1. Did you see it? Consider: The first thing the Virgin Mary did after the Angel Gabriel told her she was to be the Mother of God was to leave in haste, traveling south to a Jerusalem suburb to assist her pregnant cousin.
Right after Elizabeth greeted Mary with, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Elizabeth asked a question:
“And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (cf. Luke 1:43).
About a thousand years before this, King David decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to his new stronghold in Jerusalem. The Ark would be the center of worship for a unified kingdom of Israel. The procession was one of the grandest in Jewish history. David gathered 30,000 of the best and brightest men to escort the Ark.
But these best and brightest thought they were smarter than God. Though they were given clear instructions to carry the Ark, they decided to put the Ark on wheels. And then, in a suburb of Jerusalem, when they hit a bump on the road and the Ark started to tip over, David’s friend, in order to steady the Ark, reached out and touched it. And then he instantly dropped dead. It was then out of fear that King David cried out: And how does this happen to me, that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?
The gospel writer Luke gets it! The Virgin Mary is the Ark of the Covenant! Consider: The wood of the Ark never decayed; the Virgin Mary’s human nature never decays. The special tree used for the Ark blossomed without any water; the Virgin would blossom with the Incarnation – she would not be touched by man. The word of God, the Ten Commandments, carved on stone tablets were housed in the Ark; the Word of God, Christ, carved out of Mary’s flesh, was housed in her. Manna was in the Ark; Christ, the Bread that came down from heaven, was in Mary’s womb.
King David ended up leaving the Ark in the suburbs for three months before taking it to Jerusalem. A few verses later Luke writes the Virgin stayed with Elizabeth for –three months (verse 56). Is that not beautiful? Is that not poetic and mysterious? Of course it is. For the Virgin Mary is beautiful, poetic and mysterious.
She is also dangerous. She is a threat to the enemies of her Son. Last week a masked man (of course) in Washington DC jumped a fence and took a hammer to a $250,000 statue of the Virgin Mary. He hammered off her face and cut off her hands. Most people don’t know about this because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the “mostly peaceful protest” cheerleading antichrists who control the means of communication, and bring people “the news.”
Are you dangerous? Would you like to be dangerous? Do you carry a rosary on your person, in your pocket? The rosary is a deadly weapon. Its beads are bullets that pierce the heavens and mow down demonic threats from hell.
It became fashionable in the 1970’s to deride the rosary as old-fashioned, or as they would say, “pre-Vatican II.” Cool and hip priests and nuns argued praying the rosary was vain repetition and mindless mumbling on beads. Praying like that might have been cute for children, they said, but after Vatican II, we became a grown-up Church.
Actually, the counting of beads on a string, the running of beads through one’s fingers is therapeutic. It can lower blood pressure. And regards the rosary being for children, listen to St Paul: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child” (1 Cor 13:11).
St Paul understood that the faith given to us by Christ is a sacred mystery that can never get exhausted. The decades of the rosary are called “mysteries.” And the more one delves into those mysteries, the more beautiful, the more powerful they become. Scripture reveals that the Virgin Mary “pondered all these things in her heart.” Christians then should ponder them, too. They should ponder them when they are children, and keep pondering as adults.
Now for those out there who still dismiss the rosary as mindless mumbling and argue that Catholics who pray it lose focus, I have to say: I find it hard to believe that Catholics hold the patent when it comes to losing concentration in prayer.
For example: When people see a man out in a parking lot somewhere, with his face down on a mat and his tail end up in the air, facing the direction of Mecca, people’s initial reaction always seems to be: “Oh, look at him. He must be really holy.” Well, that may be, but do they ever consider that perhaps, just maybe, sometimes, that man is not always 100% dialed in? Is it possible that sometimes he wanders off and starts thinking about the big soccer game on TV that night?
What about the Bible-alone Christian? Are there some days he loses focus reading Scripture, like say in the middle of the Book of Leviticus? That’s not hard to do. What about the ex-Catholic suburban housewife that practices yoga down at the neighborhood mall? Can she wander off in the middle of her yoga session and start thinking about what she’s cooking for dinner that night, or the next big sale at Target?
My friends, pray the rosary. The Virgin Mary said to do so. Who then should you believe? The Virgin Mother, or some disobedient cool and hip priests from the 1970’s – who aren’t so cool and hip anymore?
Pray your rosary. And carry your cross, every day, like Christ commanded you. Don’t put it on wheels and think you can just skate by during your time on earth. No, carry it. For that is Christ’s will for you. He wants you to participate in His redemptive suffering. And He gives you His Mother as the Ark of the Covenant to stand by you, to give you courage in the dangerous battle for your soul.
Pray the rosary, and not just in the confines of your home with the shades drawn so you don’t offend the pagans out on the street. Pray it when you’re out walking or standing or sitting in line. You spend a good deal of your life standing and waiting for things. You might as well meditate on the life of Christ.
If someone approaches you and asks you who you think you are, acting all holy in public, you can simply answer, “I know who I am. I’m a sinner. And I just called myself one fifty times. And I asked the Virgin Mary, my Mother, to intercede for me.”
Then you smile. Why? Because you are joyful. You know the final battle has already been fought and won for you. No matter how bad things might get for you here in exile, ultimate victory is yours. All you have to do is show up on the battlefield and live and die for Christ.
Can you do that? If you bring the Ark of the Covenant with you, how can you lose?
Used with permission from the author.