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“Maiden of the Lost Ark”

September 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Dr. Peter Howard, Feast Days, Mary

“Maiden of the Lost Ark”

EdwardHicksDetailOfNoahsArkGoogleArtProjectTwo of the greatest mysteries of the Old Testament revolve around the significance of two arks that disappeared. The first was the ark constructed by Noah and the second was the Ark of the Covenant constructed by the Israelites as dictated by EnteringThePromisedLandCopyright2007CorbertGauthierREQUIRES HOT LINKGod through Moses. Both arks were directly related to God protecting and saving His chosen people. Serving as content for some of Hollywood’s most epic film productions over the last century, the arks reemerge continuously as fascinating mysteries that cause the frantic modern world to pause and wonder. Perhaps partly inspired by Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, there continue to be archaeological quests that search for them hoping their discovery would unlock secrets that would bring this world back to God.

Why did God allow two critical arks, known for saving His people and establishing His covenant with them, to disappear? Surely, their discovery would inspire a world that has all but rejected the true God, right? Not exactly. We see clear evidence not only of a world moving beyond Christianity, but a reversion back to the Old Covenant, with plans being considered to construct a new temple in Jerusalem. As one biblical scholar put it, when the good is seen as the best, it becomes the enemy of the best. In other words, when Christianity (Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church) is rejected as the fullness of God’s revelation, and the fulfillment of His covenant with His people, and attention is directed back to rebuilding the “old temple” which housed the old covenant ark, such people become God’s enemy – for they have formalized their rejection of the revelation of the fulfillment of God’s covenant in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? Because the world is going backwards in every sense. Every moral precept is being violated and codified into law. We are embracing, for most unknowingly, the precepts of social Darwinism which presents a humanity divorced from God which, in short, proposes that given enough time, man will eventually evolve into gods through the advance of science (which is the root of the word “knowledge”). Never before in human history has mankind so rapidly advanced in science and the technology which arises from it. Has this evolution led humanity closer to God, the source of all science (knowledge)? If two world wars, hundreds of millions of abortions and 270 million people murdered by the state – all in the twentieth century alone – doesn’t clearly reveal that answer, then nothing will. It is Genesis 3:1-5 playing out to its near fulfillment:

JordaensDetailOfFallOfManNow the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [RSV* with Apocrapha]

The “tree of knowledge [science]” and “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
What characterizes the followers of Lucifer? They are those who wish to substitute science for God because they believe that the concept of God is not something independent and absolute from them, but something that evolves – something into which humanity can evolve as it progresses in science. The fruition of this philosophy is a materialistic, technocratic society which replaces God and, therefore morals, with science and eugenics (the evolution of the perfect human species) – as mankind takes upon itself the evolving role of being God as humanity “progresses” in science. The pride and disobedience of Lucifer has never been more alive in the world than it is today. And we know what happens to a society when it listens to his invitations.

NacimientoDeLaVirgenJusepeLeonardoToday is the feast of the Nativity of Mary. Apart from a rather quick shifting of gears, what in the world does all this have to do with today’s feast day? Well, it has everything to do with it. No sooner does humanity fall through Adam and Eve than God announces its salvation . . . through “the woman” (Gen 3:15), the Ark of Salvation. And this woman, while clearly announced, is yet veiled in mystery throughout the Old Testament until “the fullness of time” had come and “God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4:4). For almost six centuries, God’s people were slaves and without any object that assured them of God’s presence. The Ark was gone and for many, so was their hope.

The Nativity of Mary is the beginning of God’s answer to the cry of God’s broken and enslaved people: Where is the Ark of God’s Covenant? God’s people would not be reintroduced to the Ark of the Covenant until the Annunciation when St. Gabriel greets Mary and reveals that SHE is the true Ark of the New Covenant, because she was the woman predestined to be the virgin-mother of the Savior (cf. Is 7:14]. As the Ark of the Old Covenant vanished from the world into obscurity through the pride and disobedience of God’s people, it reentered history amidst the perfect humility and obedience of the New Israel, represented by Mary. And just as the construction of the Ark of the Old Covenant was dictated by God (cf. Ex 25ff) to bridge His relationship with His people and crafted with the greatest finesse of human hands, Mary was prepared and created to be the Ark of the New Covenant by God’s own hands according to His Immaculate Conception! Mary would not be an inanimate container of blessed relics of God’s caring for His people, but she would be the living Ark from whose very flesh the Son of God would forever unite Himself to all humanity!

If one still had doubts as to whether St. Luke was making this comparison with Mary as the New Ark of the New Covenant, all one has to do is read what immediately follows his account of the Annunciation where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. In just a few sentences, St. Luke makes a clear allusion that Mary IS the new Ark of the Covenant, bearing within her the living fulfillment of the items in the old ark in the person of Jesus the Christ:

  • The Ten Commandments tablets (Jesus is the Word Made Flesh Who fulfills the Law and the Prophets writing the Law on our hearts, not on stone)
  • The rod of Aaron (Jesus is the New High Priest)
  • The manna (Jesus is the True Bread come down from Heaven in the Eucharist– cf. John 6)

St. Luke wants to make it clear that what was symbolized in the Ark of the Old Covenant is now fully realized in Mary, the true Ark of the New Covenant. First and foremost, the Ark was the place par excellence of God’s presence. As the Book of Numbers reveals:

And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O LORD, and let thy enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” Nm 10:35

In the Visitation narrative of St. Luke (1:39-44), St. Luke applies to Mary all that was said of the Ark in 2 Samuel 6:2-11. Compare, for example, 2 Samuel 6:9 with Luke 1:43.

  • In 2 Sam 6:9 we read: And David was afraid of the Lord that day and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Then in Luke 1:43: “And why is this granted me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

  • And in 2 Samuel 6:11 we read: And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of O'bed-e'dom the Gittite three months; and the LORD blessed O'bed-e'dom and all his household. And then in Luke 1:56: And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

And if any doubt remains after seeing these intended connections in the Gospel of Luke, then one only needs to turn to the end of Revelation 11 and read on into 12 where St. John sees and describes the ark of the covenant assumed into heaven and his language is quite clear to whom he is referring:

MaryQueenBVMVirginKupelwieserCircleMondsichelThen God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple . . . in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

There it is. Mary is undoubtedly the Ark of God’s Covenant who continues to bring forth the treasury of her Son’s grace and power to the Church and to the world . . . as we are seeing like never before in our extraordinary age of Mary. Wherever the Ark of God’s Covenant is, there is God with His peace, His power, His mercy, His love, His salvation and His VICTORY!

Now, you’re probably asking: “You also said earlier in this post that Mary is the Ark of Salvation. What’s that about?” We’ll talk about that in my next blog post on the Holy Name of Mary. Until then, don’t forget to say your Rosary!

*Revised Standard Version [Bible]

HF Official Logo BANNER[1]+

Art: Detail of Noah's Ark, Edward Hicks, 1846, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.  Entering the Promised Land, Corbert Gauthier, copyright 2007, used with permission, all rights reserved. Detail of Fall of Man, Jacob Jordaens, 17th century; Nacimiento de la Virgen (Birth of the Virgin), Jusepe Leonardo, circa 1642, PD; Mondsichelmadonna (Woman of the Apocalypse), Circle of Leopold Kupelwieser, 19th century; all PD-US, Wikimedia Commons. Dr. Howard's Heroic Familes Logo used with permission.

Editor's Note: “Ark of the Covenant” is a title with which the Church honors Mary in the Litany of Loreto (click here), often prayed at the end of the Rosary. 

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About Peter Howard

Dr. Peter Howard presently lives in Illinois with his wife, Chantal, and five children. Dr. Howard is a professor of Theology at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation ( In 2015, Peter and Chantal founded dedicated to the mission of “awakening Catholic families to their critical call to live their faith with courage, passion and purpose.” He is also a Catholic videographer (, author and national Catholic speaker who has spoken at the 2015 American Chesterton Society Conference, 2012 Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas; the United States Air Force Academy; parish retreats and on Catholic radio programs such as Radio Maria. Peter earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome, Italy. Dr. Howard's theological expertise lies predominantly in Mariology and the teachings of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. He is the author of the 2014 book: The Woman: The Mystery of Mary as Mediatrix in the Teaching of Fulton J. Sheen. Like his spiritual mentor, +Fulton Sheen, Dr. Howard is passionate about evangelizing families by communicating the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith as the answer to the challenges and errors of the world. If you would like to invite Dr. Howard to speak at your parish or event, contact him at

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  • Michelle

    You are such a blessing. Thank you for always encouraging and fortifying my Catholic faith!

    • Thank you, Michelle, and God’s blessings be upon you this special day!

  • I have read so many Catholic commentaries saying that Revelation 12 is talking about the Church, not Mary. Makes me scratch my head. When you read the Scriptures in context, it’s so obviously Mary! (That’s not to deny that it is secondarily the Church as well.) Especially when you recall the close relationship between John the Evangelist and Mary, and the fact that in John’s Gospel Jesus refers to her as “woman.”

    • That’s right, Connie. It is obviously Mary! Woman-serpent in Gn 3, Woman-dragon Rev 12. Woman giving birth in travail in Rev and Mary giving birth to the Church at the Cross in Jn 19. St. John was definitely making that connection. I draw it out even further in my book, “The Woman”, which is at the heart of understanding the mystery of Mary in salvation history as the New Eve. As Lumen Gentium says, Mary is a “type” of the Church, not the other way around (cf. LG 53, 63, 65).

      God bless you.

  • GregB

    I really like this article comparing the arks. In reading the article I got to thinking, Christ is called the New Moses. The infant Moses was placed into a basket and placed in the river. Isn’t the basket that the infant Moses was put into a mini ark?
    From what I’ve read, all of the attempts to build a third Temple have been futile.
    From my reading of the Fall of Man the serpent was promising Adam and Eve autonomy from God. The essential nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one of indivisible loving union. They are not competitors or rivals. Lucifer was setting things up that godhood was based on competitive rivalry.

  • Cathy

    I was looking foward to a posting that sweet and flowery and received more importantly a Good Dose of Spiritual Reality!Thank -You Peter?

  • DianeVa

    Thank you Dr Howard! Such a great, clear article! It is so obvious if one reads the Bible with a desire to seek Truth that Mary indeed is the New Ark and the old ark will never be found for it has been recreated in Mary.

  • kcthomas

    A great article . How blessed is Mary,our Mother !
    Sometime ago RCSD published articles on yoga by theological experts. Kindly help me to have access to them, for knowledge and reference. Thank you

    • LizEst

      Hi kcthomas! Click on this link for a listing of all the posts. Then, when you click on the name of the post, you will be able to access the specific article or radio show:
      There are currently five yoga posts and two Divine Intimacy Radio Podcasts listed in the Yoga Series. We hope to have more yoga posts in the future…but we do not have a date for that yet.

  • Renee C

    I don’t quite understand your concept of turning the tree of knowledge of good and evil into the tree of knowledge of science. These are two completely different concepts. I’m a nurse and I see scientific knowledge being used for people’s welfare every day. I find the study of science causes a greater understanding of the workings of God. Science is a tool and people can choose to use it for good or evil. It sounds as though you think scientific study is inherently evil. A quick review of the Catechism reveals that this is not the stance of the Catholic Church.

    • LizEst

      Sorry Renee C, your link has been disallowed. It does not go anywhere! As well, any link must conform to the Magisterium. I don’t whether what you intended did or not…but since it didn’t link to anything, no sense including it. God bless you!

      • Renee C

        Liz, the link was certainly in conformity with the Magisterium and it works perfectly well from the word file that I used to type the original post – how odd that the link was rendered inoperable just by being transferred to Disqus. I hope you are not insinuating that the Church does not approve of scientific study by your statement that all links must conform to the Magisterium. Science is not evil, people can choose to use it for evil. I would encourage readers to Google Church Catechism on science and multiple listings will come up. Since strange things are occurring with my link I will post a few of the statements that were linked:

        Science and Technology in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

        159 Faith and science : “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” (Dei Filius 4: DS 3017) “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (GS 36 ‘ 1)

        • LizEst

          Renee–Do not assume that we were insinuating that the Church does not approve of scientific study. This is reading into my statement. We did not know whether or not the link conformed to the Magisterium because we could not access the link. And, because we could not access it, we disallowed it…and that is in perfect keeping with our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here which I would urge you to read through:

          Now, somehow, the link got reattached. And, I tried to access it again in various ways and still could not do so. Why that is is anyone’s guess. Your quote above from the Catechism is 100% correct. In fact, here is a excellent site for anyone wanting to check into this further: This is actually the link I was hoping you were sending! Hope this helps.

          • Renee C

            Liz I think it’s quite reasonable for me to assume that your statement about the Magisterium applies to my post since it was in response to my post. I find it very strange that you would “expect” such a specific link since my comment was about the Catechism, not the Magisterium.

          • LizEst

            Renee–Did you read the Frequently Asked Questions as urged to do so? We could not determine if your link was, indeed, faithful to the Magisterium. We check all links that people provide against that standard. As to your comment about “expecting” a specific link, my comment was that I was hoping for it, not that I was expecting it. There is a difference in the two words. If you have not read the Frequently Asked Questions, please go back and read them carefully, in particular question 4, numbers 1-21 inclusive here: If you did read them, please go back and reread them carefully and thoughtfully. Thank you and God bless you.

          • Renee C

            No matter, I’ve removed my address from Catholic Spiritual Direction’s mailing list.

    • Thank you, Renee, for your comment. Two points I’d like to made. First, The latin word for knowledge is “scientia” and hence is derived from it. Science, as we use it today, refers to the natural sciences — that which deals with material things. It is the lowest of the “sciences” with philosophical superseding it, followed by theological, culminating with mystical. Natural sciences deals with the things of this world and when we succumb to the temptation to seek to be the masters and manipulators of science — with the mentality that we will eventually evolve in science to the point where we will be like God, controlling creation, life and death (and all between) — which is basically the mentality of our technocratic society, we make science (an inherent good) an enemy of God (who is the best) by pitting it in opposition of HIs causes instead of in service of it. This is the difference between the attitude of Lucifer and the good angels — taking and possessing as ones own what does not belong to oneself versus receiving it and putting to the service of God and other. When natural science is sought after and put to use according to its properly place in the order of creation and at the service of it, then it is doing what it is ordered to do. Anything else is an evil – a disorder and lack of what should be there in intention.

  • Albert Fiedeldey

    Brilliant ; without Israel and the Old Covenant, things wouldn’t be clear at all

  • Zee

    Great article. Thank you and God bless

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