I missed the first of the month to present an image of Our Lady, but this one seemed very appropriate for the eve of Independence Day and for the end of the Fortnight for Freedom. This awesome depiction, that I call Our Lady of the Apocalypse, is a mosaic in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The image shows Mary as the woman clothed with the sun, from the book of Revelation chapter 12 (go read this passage)
This brief story has multiple levels of meaning. One is a description of the birth of Jesus as the triumph of God over the power of Satan, represented by the dragon. It is through Mary’s obedience that God broke into the kingdom of Satan and began a revolution that is, right now, tearing apart the kingdom of Satan and destroying the power of evil on earth. This is because Satan gains power through lies and deception, but Jesus reveals the truth.
This world-wide revolution is embodied in the Church, and another level of meaning is that the woman clothed with the sun is the Church. Jesus, shown as a little child in the mosaic, is being lifted up to Heaven while the Church remains on earth to do battle with the dragon. In this battle, the dragon gathers strength when people accept his lies and most of all when they commit sin. The Church draws strength from God, and the more the members of the Church give up sin and live in holiness, the more the Church is effective in the fight.
This image is also a good reminder for Independence Day, not simply because the Church in the United States is locked in a battle with the forces of lies and sin even as we speak, but especially because this image reminds us that true freedom, the freedom that Jesus brings, is freedom from sin. We have a choice whether we will be slaves to sin or servants of God, and at the end of the day those are our only choices.
Morality is so important because the moral law teaches us how to live so that we can keep our freedom and not become trapped in sin. This is why the Church can never accept the idea that society should be free to make up its own rules, use pornography, use contraception, and legalize same-sex marriage, as long as the Church is permitted to have its own private rules on marriage and morality (although society seems to resent even giving the Church that much room). This is because true freedom is freedom from sin, and we are not about going to sell 300 million Americans into slavery without a fight. +