MARY, THE ARK OF COVENANT
When you shall see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, rise ye up and follow it.
(Josue iii, 3)
Saint John tells us in the Apocalypse that "the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the Ark of His Testament was seen in His temple" (Apoc. XI—19).
The Ark of the Covenant seen in the temple of God in Heaven prefigures the Blessed Virgin Mary. Between her and the Ark of the Covenant, built by Moses, are found the following resemblances.
The Ark of the Covenant (of the Old Testament) was made of an incorruptible wood, while Mary never suffered at any moment of her life the corroding influence of even original sin. The Ark was overlaid within and without with purest of gold, and Mary, in her purity, is of the purest of gold, so Immaculate is she that of her it is said : "All the glory of the king's daughter is within" (Psal. XLIV—14). The Ark of the Covenant was covered with a propitiatory; Mary is a propitiatory for all who have recourse to her.
Two cherubims, made of gold, spread their wings over the Covenant, whereas choirs of angels hovered constantly over Mary. In the Ark were placed the tablets of the commandments (the law of God); in Mary is the law itself in the person of Jesus Christ.
There was in the Ark the rod of Aaron, which had blossomed; Mary conceived in her womb that incomparable flower of the rod of the root of Jesse. (The rod of Aaron also symbolizes the priesthood; Mary contained the High Priest Himself, who is Christ the Lord). We also find in the Ark a portion of the manna that came down from Heaven and served as food for the Israelites in the desert; in Mary was the bread of life that came down from Heaven in the person of Jesus, the Redeemer of the world, who said : "I am the bread of life, this is the bread that came down from Heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead; he that eateth this bread shall live forever" (John VI—35-59).
In the Ark was the table of the law; in the womb of Mary was the heir of the testament. The Ark contained the law, Mary contained the Evangel (the Gospel). From the Ark came the voice of God ; from Mary came the Word of God. The Ark glistened from within and without with the purest of gold; Mary shone, from within and without, with the brightness of resplendent virginity. They overlay the Ark with gold taken from the bowels of the earth ; God enriches Mary with a gold, all heavenly, chastity and charity.
"When you shall see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, rise you up and follow it" (Josue III—3). Behold Mary, the Ark in the temple of God in heaven ! Rise you up and follow her, paying her homage, respect and veneration.
"The sea saw" the Ark of the Covenant "and fled : the Jordan was turned back" (Psal. CXIII —3) . At the very name of Mary, hell trembles, and the demons take to flight.
Before the Ark the walls of Jericho crumbled: before Mary the chains that bind the sinner fall from his shackled hands.
The Ark insured victory to the Israelites, Mary obtains for us victory over the powers of darkness, and aids us to conquer all our enemies. The Ark of the Covenant was a sign of the presence of God among His people; Mary was the Ark bearing God in her chaste womb, for in her the "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John I—14).
The Ark was the guarantee of peace to the Israelites; Mary contained the "Prince of Peace." The Ark was the power of the people of God; Mary was the tabernacle of the "power of God." The Ark of the Covenant was the propitiatory of the old law ; Mary was that of the new law. The Ark of the Covenant brought the favor of God upon His people and a malediction on His enemies, Mary brought blessings to all the human race, but destruction to all who reject the salvation she offers them through the fruit of her womb, Jesus.
God looked complacently on the Ark, He takes delight in Mary, His most pure, most chaste, Virgin Mother.
Source: The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as set forth in Her Litany, CHAPTER XXXI. Ark of the Covenant. Imprimatur. J. CARD. GIBBONS, Archbishop of Baltimore. 16 Feb, 1914.
Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.
(Litany of Our Lady)