Fr. Campbell, "On Eagle’s Wings"
Who does not look for safety and security in times like these? For those who are bewildered and afraid, the Gospel today is good news indeed. Our Lord says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny grain of mustard seed that grows into a large tree, so that the birds of the air may dwell in its branches. In other words, there is plenty of room for all in the Kingdom, and we are all invited. And the best part is that the Kingdom of Heaven is already among us. Come on in, and be free from the anxieties of this world!
The Church is the Kingdom of Heaven at its beginning. Like Noah’s ark, the Church floats upon the waves of present worldly chaos, and those inside are carried safely to their heavenly destination. Unfortunately, millions of Catholics have lost sight of the true Church and are wandering around in spiritual darkness. The Church in our time has been obscured, as Our Lady foretold at La Salette. It has become unrecognizable, since it dresses itself in new garments styled by Vatican II. Even the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been changed into an unfamiliar ritual, and millions of Catholics throughout the world have been deprived of the true sacraments. Although the Church still survives in the hearts of those who have the true faith, for them it is a time of great anguish and confusion.
But God has provided for these times. Our Lady told Sister Lucy, one of the three children to whom she appeared at Fatima, that God wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She asked for the consecration of Russia, in particular, to her Immaculate Heart. She also asked for the recitation of the Rosary, that the dogmas of the true faith would be preserved.
Why is the devotion and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary so important for these times? Because God, knowing of the apostasy to come, and that millions of the faithful would lose sight of the Church, provided us with a way of knowing the Church through Mary, and of remaining within the bosom of the Church through Mary. There is a mysterious identity between Mary and the Church, so that we could even say, paraphrasing Jesus’ words to the apostle Philip, “He who sees Mary sees the Church.” Ephiphanius of Salamis wrote in the fourth century:
“Eve looks forward to Mary, and her very name ‘Mother of all the living’ (Gn.3:20) is a mysterious presage of the future, for Life itself was born of Mary, whence she became more fully ‘the Mother of all the living’… Nor can we see the passage ‘I will put enmities between thee and the woman’ (Gn.3:1) as applying to Eve alone: it received its true fulfilment when that holy and unique One came, born of Mary without work of man…”
St. Cyril of Alexandria spoke these words at the Council of Ephesus in 431:
“And so, brethren, may it be granted to us to adore with deep humility the indivisible Trinity. And then let us praise with songs of joy Mary ever virgin, who herself is clearly the holy Church, together with her Son and most chaste spouse. To God be praise for ever.”
Closer to our own time, St. John Eudes writes:
“Mary’s pure heart is truly a heaven of which the sky over our heads is a mere shadow and image. It is a heaven exalted above all others, of which the Holy Ghost speaks when He says that the Savior of the world went out from a heaven surpassing all others in excellence, when He came on earth to redeem mankind: A summo, caelo egressio ejus… The heavens are called the special work of God’s hands, “The heavens are the works of thy hands,” but the heart of the Mother of God is the unequalled masterpiece of His omnipotence, His unfathomable wisdom and His infinite goodness… [T]he Admirable Heart of Mary is the Heaven of Heaven, because, as Saint Bernard says, it contains the entire Church, which is called in Sacred Scripture the Kingdom of Heaven, and because all the children of the Church receive through Mary the life of grace” (St. John Eudes, The Admirable Heart of Mary, Part II, Chapter 2).
Those who have a true devotion to Mary will never lose the faith. As the Church says on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary: “Rejoice, O Virgin Mary: for you alone have destroyed all heresies in the world.”
This is why the devil hates Mary so much. His plan to destroy the Church, in which he has almost succeeded, is foiled by the humble and Immaculate Virgin Mary.
We speak of “Holy Mother Church”. In fact, of course, the Church is not a woman, but a union of persons of which Jesus Christ is the Head. And the preeminent member of the Church is Mary, who enfolds the members of the Church as a Mother. Mary, personifying the Church, is our real Mother. The words of the psalm yearning for “the courts of the Lord” give us an idea of the happiness of those who dwell in Mary as in a Mother:
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and he swallow a nest in which she puts her young – your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God! Happy are they who dwell in your house!... I had rather one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. ” (Ps,83:4,5,11).
In the Book of the Apocalypse we read about the great Red Dragon which attacks the Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet. But she flies into the desert on the wings of a great eagle. The Dragon spews forth a river of water to drown her, but it is swallowed up by the earth. The Dragon turns then to attack the rest of her children “who keep the commandments of God, and hold fast to the testimony of Jesus” (Apoc.12).