Topic category: Religion & Philosophy in the News
THE VIRGIN MARY – A LINK TO ALL RELIGIONS
Chapter 8 of 36 Chapters in “God's Prophetic Zodiac” © Gerald V. Todd 2007 www.lulu.com
This book would not be complete without addressing the Islamic Faith as well as others among the Gentile religions. The true tenets of all faiths, overcoming the idea of some that human sacrifice is an essential element, is love and adoration of God as each understands Him. Human sacrifice is actually a perverted understanding of the primordial promise of a Redeemer who would shed His own blood on our behalf. We will argue about that until the day we all are blessed with a full understanding of that Promise so eloquently imparted from the bright, shining stars of night.
GOD'S PROPHETIC ZODIAC addresses the issue of Islam because;
1. God made a promise to Ishmael, son of Abraham and Hagar, maidservant to Sarah, who encouraged the union that produced him. Genesis 16 says his generations would be numerous and that he would set himself against his brothers. His descendants are the desert Arabs, who form the basis of modern Islam. Ishmael was born 13 years before Isaac. His name means either “May God hear!” or “God has heard!” Isaac, the progenitor of Judaism was born to Abraham and Sarah in his 100th year.
2. The Arab astronomers and astrologers played a vital role in the development and maintenance of the ancient (Redemption Model) star names and constellations. The gifts of the Magi who recognized Jesus’ birth from the star names and constellations, were products of the Arabian Desert – gold, frankincense and myrrh.
3. The majority of the ancient star names and appropriate constellations used in THE PROPHETIC ZODIAC came from the work of Arab astronomers and astrologers.
4. Islam, by command and writing of the Prophet Mohammed, holds the Blessed Mother, the mother of Jesus, in the highest esteem above all women, as evidenced in the Koran. The 1950’s television star, the late Bishop Fulton Sheen, understood the meaning of the Universal Love of God as it applies to all mankind.
There are at least two reasons for Ishmael’s descendants being “intractable”, especially toward Jews. We address them in part in this chapter. The reasons may surprise you. It is presented with the greatest love and respect for the magnificence of our monotheistic faiths with the hope we will all come to love each other as we strive to love God.
II. MARY’S MESSAGE TO ALL FAITHS
The special-ness Mary represents to the major monotheistic faiths is more than coincidental. Anyone who has studied Scripture, ancient traditions and the stars of the sky by their names, knows that our adventure on this earth is of great meaning. But who will listen?
What is the lesson in all this? Apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje... seen as satanic by some, a figment of fertile imaginations by others, and a wonderful mystery to me, started 10 years to the day before the break-up of Yugoslavia began. Her significance needs to be clarified to Jews in the Messianic mother role symbolized by Israel herself, Christians (some who hate her because Catholics love her), and Muslims whose Prophet held her above all women, even his beloved Fatima.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed; the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever. Glory.
(The Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary)
Seeking out a childlike role model has become a lost art in our time. With childlikeness being a seemingly undesirable goal, it is always amazing to see the world reach out for the likes of Mother Teresa, who displayed the best elements of childlikeness: simplicity, spontaneity, and dedication to God.
Mary, Virgo of the Stars, is the universal role model for childlikeness. Jesus presented her to us as our Mother as He hung on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. She holds the key to world peace today, as the world divides itself between believers and unbelievers, Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists and Hindus; each seeking joy, peace and a relationship with God as they have come to understand Him.
We will introduce Mary as she has revealed herself in our times, and as she stands ready to bring the Judeo-Christian and Moslem worlds together through a seed planted by Mohammed himself, and evidenced by her reported apparitions in Medjugorje.
III. BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS OF COMMUNISM AND CAPITALISM
The Catholic has an eternal view of life, even to sensing fellowship with those who have gone before, especially, the Mother of God , the penultimate human being and Mother of the Church. Her message is clearly of compassion, exhortation and warning. Like a Mother she loves her children, scolds them, warns them of dangers, and exhorts them to be their best. She is serious and seems to be making an extraordinary effort to bring us around to freely accepting our responsibility to bring love and childlikeness back to our hurting world, before we self-destruct.
As described at the beginning of this chapter, Mirjana, one of the visionaries complained during elocution that it was so difficult to be a Christian in a communist country. Mary reportedly told her she understood, but that the children should seek out a local Moslem woman named Pasha, whom she described as one leading a holy and blameless life.
A modern daughter of Hagar, Pasha is a beneficiary of the covenant God made with Hagar, maidservant of Abraham and Sarah. She and her son, Ishmael, who was fathered by Abraham on Sarah's insistence, were expelled from Abraham and Sarah's household, once Sarah bore Isaac. Sarah lacked faith in her own ability to produce a child, in spite of God’s promises. Sarah, then in her nineties, had given up on God's promise of descendants and prodded Abraham to join with Hagar in the mating that produced Ishmael, the father of the Arabic peoples, and ultimately Islam. History has centered on the conflicts that were brought about by the stubbornness and unforgiveness of these great peoples.
The late Father John Duggan, S.J., a truly childlike and brilliant man, in the summer of 1988, lost his passport, as he was ready to fly to Medjugorje. Father Duggan did the childlike thing. He just went to the airport and got in line. In spite of moments of doubt, and sheer terror, he got all the way from Los Angeles to Medjugorje, in communist Yugoslavia, and back to Los Angeles without his passport. It was as if his path was cleared by a heavenly force, in spite of the determination of various border control agents from both sides.
Most of the 30 million people who have visited Medjugorje over the years have returned home with a new or renewed faith. They came back transformed and certain of being touched by the hand of God. I asked a retired public official if he was ready to go back. He said, "I have no need to go back. I know what I am supposed to do." The experience seems to have its basis in a message God wants the whole world to hear.
There is a power of good gathering in the world today. It is rising against the terrible evil of financiers and the governments they control going wild, as if we are being again reminded, "The love of money is the root of all evil." "Medjugorje" is symbolic of being between the mountains of capitalism and communism in the world. The local people are known to have a childlike faith, in spite of years of official persecution. They are most hospitable to the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that have come every year since the apparitions began. As a (now former) communist country, there was no way the government would allow a circus to develop around a religious theme, as has been so painfully common in the west, especially the United States.
IV. ISLAM MUST FACE ITS OWN ROLE IN GOD’S PLAN
"…in some countries new forms of religious fundamentalism are emerging which covertly, or even openly, deny to citizens of faiths other than that of the majority the full exercise of their civil and religious rights, preventing them from taking part in the cultural process and restricting both the church's right to preach the Gospel and the rights of those who hear this preaching to accept it and be converted to Christ. No authentic progress is possible without respect for the natural and fundamental right to know the truth and live according to that truth. The exercise and development of this right includes the right to discover and freely to accept Jesus Christ, who is man's true good." Pope John Paul II "Centesimus Annus" Social Encyclical
V. The late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen taught us of Mary’s love for Islam
Islam is the only great post-Christian religion in the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of Arabia. Islam takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His majesty and His creative power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet, announcing Him, just as to Christians, Isaiah and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.
The Christian European West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Moslems. At one point, they were stopped near Tours and at another point, later on in time, outside the gates of Vienna. The Church throughout northern Africa was practically destroyed by Moslem power, and at the present hour, the Moslems are rising again.
If Islam is a heresy, as Hillaire Belloc believed, it is the only heresy that has never declined. Others have had a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social movement. Islam on the contrary, has only had its first phase. There was never a time in which it declined either in numbers or in the devotion of its followers. The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has been at least on the surface, a failure, for the Moslems are so far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of Mohammed to become a Christian is much like a Christian becoming a Jew. The Moslems believe that they have the final and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ was only a prophet announcing Mohammed, the last of God's real prophets.
The Koran, which is the Bible of Islam, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception, and also in her own virgin birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary's family in a genealogy, which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran's description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal "Gospel of the Birth of Mary", one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended on the latter. Both books describe the old age and definite sterility of the mother of Mary (St. Ann). When however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: "0 Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me."
When Mary is born, the mother says: "And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under your protection, O Lord, against Satan!"
The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Moslem tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered, "Do you not know that God, when He created the wheat, had no need of seed, and that by His power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was say, ‘So be it,’ and it was done."
VI. “REASONS” FOR HATRED AMONG RELIGIONS
The Koran also has verses on the Annunciation, Visitation and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying, "Oh Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth." In the 19th chapter of the Koran, there are 41 verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the 4th book, attributes their condemnation of the Jews to their calumny against the Virgin Mary.
“God's Prophetic Zodiac” also proposes with numerous proofs that the Jews are “branded” with the message of our salvation, are blind to it, but yet bring down the wrath of the evil one, often by those who should be their greatest exhorters. A reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews thoroughly clarifies the position and role of the Jews in history. Ultimately, it is for the salvation of the rest of mankind.
At the present time, the hatred of the Islamic countries toward the West has become hatred against Christianity itself. Statesmen are now taking it into account, there is a grave danger that the temporal power of Islam may return on a broad scale, and with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. Moslem writers say, "When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on their wings these Arabic words, 'We are God's host, each of us has 99 eggs, and if we had 100, we should lay waste to the world and all that is in it."'
How shall we prevent the hatching of the hundredth egg? I believe the fears of some concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that Islam, instead, will eventually be converted to a belief in the divinity of Christ - and in a way that some of our missionaries would never suspect. I believe that this won't happen through the direct teaching of Christianity, but through summoning the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God.
VII. MARY IS FOR THE MOSLEMS THE TRUE SAYYIDA, OR LADY.
The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary." In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say, "I surpass all the women, except Mary. "
This brings us to the pivotal issue, namely why the Blessed Mother revealed herself in the significant little village of Fatima, Portugal, so that to all future generations she would be known as "Our Lady of Fatima" as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son, too.
Evidence to support this is found in the historic fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him, she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he had the name of the town where he lived changed to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.
The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception the Moslems in Africa, India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima (see left). Moslems attended the church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady was erected.
Missionaries today, and Westerners marvel at the prayer disciplines of the Moslems seen on television. Forces once gathered and are again gathering to deal with despotic and demonic heretics, Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the horrible universal terrorist acts that occurred in New York and Washington, DC. Perhaps it would be wiser for them to experience a full understanding of the role of Christ, with love expressed through his Blessed Mother, along with their Moslem brothers and sisters.
It might be safe to say that Moslems may not experience a conversion to Christianity per se, because they too are people of God’s Promise, but rather experiencing a tremendous enrichment of their faith by coming to a true knowledge of Jesus. How that will fit into the traditional organized modes of the Christian Church is speculative, as Christianity today needs a powerful renewal of its own spirit. We can best hope that the experience will make us true brothers and sisters as children of our common and only God.
Perhaps Christian relationships with the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ; bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with what the people already accept. Because the Moslems already have a devotion to Mary, we should be satisfied to merely expand and develop that devotion with full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the
Moslems the rest of the way to her divine Son in a way that He sees fit. She will never accept any devotion to herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her divine Son. As many of those who lose devotion to her also lose belief in the divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.
Much of the hatred and prejudice Moslems feel toward Christians has been broken through acts of charity, schools and hospitals. Even this has failed in some cases, as in 2001, the Taliban of Afghanistan arrested 3 charitable service workers from the United States on charges of teaching Christianity, which carries a death penalty.
It now remains to use another approach, to take the 41st chapter of the Koran and show how it was taken directly out of the Gospel of Luke, that Mary could not be, even in their own eyes as expressed by the Prophet himself, the most blessed of all the women in Heaven if she had not also borne One who is the Savior of the world.
If Judith and Esther of the Old Testament were prefigures of Mary, then it may very well be that Fatima herself is a post-figure of Mary! The Moslems should be prepared to acknowledge that, that if Fatima must give way in honor to the Blessed Mother, it is because she is different from all the other mothers in the world, and that without Christ, she would be nothing.
VIII. MEDJUGORJE AND THE MUSLIM HOLY WOMAN In November 1991, I forwarded a series of faxes to local newspapers from an acquaintance in Mostar, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzegovina), about the atrocities going on there. Her cries were ignored by all but those who could but pray. Much later, accounts in the newspapers spoke of the events in that unfortunate land. They apparently came to the wrong conclusion that this was merely tribal warfare that has gone on for centuries and should not concern us.
One of my best friends conducts annual pilgrimage tours to Medjugorje (Med-u-goree), in Bosnia. They visit the site of reported daily apparitions of Mary, the mother of Jesus. For over twenty years, believers have been warned and cajoled and urged by her to come to her Son and pray and fast to avoid the conflagration to come, apparently to little avail. She said, “I have come to wake you up!”
(Photo not included (1981) Vicka, Jakov, Ivanka, Mirjana, and Ivan at St. James Church in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia experience conversation and listen to messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She seems to be still exercising that power as she continues to lead people to Jesus. Since 1981, she has been appearing daily to one or more of six young people in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, confounding unbelievers, and those whose beliefs are limited to the printed Bible. It may surprise many of all religions that God sees all of us as His children, and we are expected to act like His family.
One of the bright, but puzzling items comes out of the reported daily apparitions of Mary to several Bosnian young people, one of whom is Mirjana. Father Jozo, the pastor of St. James Church in Medjugorje, interrogates the young people regularly. Mirjana looks at the others (young visionaries) and told Father Jozo she complained to the Virgin, “I was telling Madonna it wasn’t easy for me to be close to God. I asked her, “Who is truly close to God among us?”
Mary reportedly told Mirjana, “Look at your neighbor Pasha, a saintly woman and very close to God.” Father Jozo asked, “Isn’t Pasha a Muslim lady?” This was in Sarajevo, where Mirjana was going to school. Pasha is a Muslim!
Why would this eternal Jewish mother, whom Mohammed held in highest esteem of all women, tell a Catholic girl to seek out a Muslim lady?
Mary said, “Our relationship with God is important and we should make every effort to spend time in prayer with him.” Father Jozo asks, “Is the Madonna saying we should all become Muslims to come to God?” Mirjana replies, “She did not say we should become Muslims but that in the eyes of God, we are all his children. He makes no distinction between Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox, Jew, Pagan or any other religion.” Ivanka cuts in and says, “Madonna did say there was only one God and one religion.”
“Nobody must imagine that he is religious while he still goes on deceiving himself and not keeping control over his tongue; anyone who does this has the wrong idea of religion. Pure, unspoiled religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: the coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.” James 1:26-27
IX. WE HAVE GREAT REASON TO HOPE
Christianity has its origin in God's promise to our first parents, Adam and Eve, of a virgin-born Redeemer who would suffer, but would overcome the evil one, restoring mankind's authority over God's creation, as God intended it. Some Islamics call Jesus “The Suicidal God,” misunderstanding his sacrificial role in salvation history. We have nothing to be ashamed of in standing tall for our faith. Its roots are in antiquity, and its future is in eternity. That is why we must not believe the lie that we are in a "post-Christian era”, but on the threshold of the first complete, childlike Christian era in history. Surely, it is a New Age dawning, new and fresh and beautiful, yet we should not be disappointed to find great pain and tribulation in the process. Evil does not die easily.
We can share the pangs of birth with our dear and blessed Mother, who shows herself as Mother of All, from her own Jewish origin to the motherhood of Christ to most honored woman in Islam.
Gerald V. Todd
Biography - Gerald V. Todd
Jerry is a retired engineer with strong experience in environmental innovation which he still applies today with 2 clean water and energy saving technologies. His life avocation in writing and study of philosophical and biblical themes as they apply to the body politic's spiritual warfare. He survived stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006; now in excellent health. A graduate of the University of Illinois (1958, Industrial Engineering), Jerry had post graduate studies at both the University of San Francisco and the University of Santa Clara in California between 1961 and 1963 (Logic, Marketing). As co Founder and seminar presenter he was awarded a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Valley Christian University operating under California private-post secondary statutes for mid career student, VCU was the pioneer external degree school for mid career students. Its course structures were picked up by several well known Christian colleges. Hosted local broadcast radio and TV shows, "Religion on the Line" and "The News Firm" (jointly with wife, Joanne), respectively. Jerry has published several books that are available at Amazon. Jerry is available to speak as a visiting lecturer at the high school, college or community organization level. Jerry is married 55 years to Joanne Dean Todd – 3 children, 8 grandchildren.