Plesae find the fully referenced article here.
As a final argument for the discourse on the ages of the world, one would presumably ask, what in the world do the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary have to do with the beast kings, the days of creation, and all human history? Well, herein is something astounding that I never thought I would have discovered but that is, quite frankly, mind-blowing, at least in and of itself, sparing whether there is divine intention here, and it is this: what if, instead of at the beginning or end of Scripture in epic fashion, as with Genesis and Apocalypse, God left somewhere in the middle of Scripture a little scene of soft whispers that conveyed this mystery, something obscure and humble and small, kind of like the familiar passage with Elijah and the mountain, where the Lord sends great manifestations of power but only in the soft wind and whisper is he present? “And he said to him:
Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias?” (1 Kgs 19:11–13)
And that little breeze is the Joyful Mysteries pregnancies!
The first question we might ask is, where do we begin? That is, how would we even start to argue that the full narrative of the pregnancies of St. Elizabeth and Mother Mary image, from beginning to end, the whole divine plan, from the fall all the way to the New Creation, inclusive? Well, for starters, the very end of the sequence does symbolize the end of history, namely, that by our very Advent Tradition, the birth of Our Savior, that is, his First Coming, is a type, or foreshadowing, of his Second Coming! That, then, seals the final endpoint of the pregnancies with the corresponding end of history. From there, we have only to conclude that the beginning of the sequence, that is, the time of St. Elizabeth’s conception, is the beginning of history (possibly, here, as well, the very beginning is the angel’s visitation to St. Zachariah, where he doubts the message.)
Particularly, then, the great intermediate event of the pregnancies is clearly the birth of St. John the Baptist, and, dare we say, we can surmise this would be appropriate for the greatest intermediate event of actual history, which is the First Coming of Christ. Indeed, this will be the case, but we need to work it out.
Preliminarily, it seems warranted that, in order to make a case for the general comparison between the pregnancy scenes and the ages of history that we have seen in the days of creation and beast, a numerical correlation for timing of the respective events should be accomplished first, so let us proceed with this to start. At first glance, there is not much help. In the days of creation and beast kings, the total ages of history are eight, from beginning to end inclusive. The pregnancy scenes, on the other hand, are way off. Effectively, as would be evident, the unit of time measurement in pregnancy is the month, and, regardless of what a month might stand for, there are effectively roughly fifteen of them in the first three Joyful Mysteries. How?
Well, let us probe it. Obviously, any one pregnancy is nine months. This, then, accounts for the first great period, the gestation of St. John the Baptist culminating with his birth. Then, the question remains how long after St. John is born is Jesus born. The answer is almost six months. This is because when Mary conceives Jesus, Elizabeth has already been pregnant for almost six months. “And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren” (Lk 1:36) That is, if Mary conceives in the sixth month after St. Elizabeth does, then she will give birth in the sixth month after St. Elizabeth does. Six full months after the end of nine months is 9 + 6 = 15. Hence, Mary will give birth somewhere in the fifteenth month overall in the pregnancy scenes.
Unfortunately, nine, six, and fifteen don’t help us. None of these figures are eight, or even five, as with the Old Testament ages. Well, here is the solution: just to the right of nine is ten, and similarly, sixteen is just to the right of fifteen. One would react, “And this helps us how?”. It helps us because half of these numbers are five and eight, respectively, and five and eight are numbers we need, meaning, eight total ages and five ages for the Old Testament. Now we can ask, how can we derive ten from five and similarly sixteen for eight? The answer is, whereas there are eight days of creation, each “day” has two parts, “evening” and “morning.” Aha! More specifically, each age of human history has two parts, first darkness, or sin, and then light, or redemption. Hence eight total ages of history makes 8 * 2 total parts = 16 parts. Moreover, five ages of the old law is 5 * 2 = 10 total ages. Now we are on to something.
Toward this end, to get a clearer picture of our comparison of the month chart versus the ages by creation days, let us list this here:
Light: Confounding of Tongues, Formation of Hebrew People (Abraham)
Darkness: Egypt Enslaves
Light: Exodus, Red Sea, King David
Darkness: Pre-Exile Wickedness of Jews
Light: Exile, Repentance, Restoration to Holy Land and Temple
Darkness: OT Antichrist Antiochus, Maccabees
Light: First Coming of Christ
Darkness: Pagan Rome Persecutes
Light: Catholic Christendom, Doctrinal Development
Darkness: Intermediate Gentile Secular Apostasy [today]
Light: Sabbath Rest, Our Lady's Age of Peace [future]
Darkness: Great Apostasy, NT Antichrist [future]
Light: Eternal Sabbath, Second Coming of Christ [future]
And now with the phases of darkness and light numbered like the months:
- Darkness: Fall
- Light: Flood
- Darkness: Babel
- Light: Confounding of Tongues, Formation of Hebrew People (Abraham)
- Darkness: Egypt Enslaves
- Light: Exodus, Red Sea, King David
- Darkness: Pre-Exile Wickedness of Jews
- Light: Exile, Repentance, Restoration to Holy Land and Temple
- Darkness: OT Antichrist Antiochus
- Light: First Coming of Christ
- Darkness: Pagan Rome Persecutes
- Light: Catholic Christendom, Doctrinal Development
- Darkness: Intermediate Gentile Secular Apostasy [today]
- Light: Minor Chastisement, Gentile Renewal, Our Lady's Age of Peace [future]
- Darkness: Great Apostasy, NT Antichrist [future to now]
- Light: Second Coming of Christ [future to now]
Now, the ages of the old law, we saw, were five, and with our fleshing of this out to ten parts, we see that the tenth part is actually New Testament, the First Coming of Jesus himself (see above with the month chart). This, then, leaves nine parts for the Old Testament proper. Bingo! More specifically, as we carefully examine the above, note that St. Elizabeth carries the child that culminates the Old Testament for the same nine months, pointing to nine phases of spiritual activity that alternate between darkness and light—consisting of five nights partitioned by four lights, leaving, again, a succeeding fifth light as the birth of God into history itself.
This is entirely appropriate, for if we can view St. John the Baptist as embodying the whole Old Testament himself, how much more incredible sense does it make for his progressive development in his holy mother’s womb to image the very self-same development of the Old Testament history, so that his birth images the birth of the God-Man into history, heralded literally as it was by the adult St. John the Baptist. Wondrous, also, is it to correlate this analogy with Apocalypse 12, the woman who wails aloud in travail to give birth, a sign, most assuredly, not only of the Virgin giving birth to Jesus, but also of the Old People themselves passing through the great trials of the Old Testament to give birth to that same child that is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron. (Rv 12:1–5) In this way, pregnancy becomes, epically, a type of the Old Testament ages. Please note, as well, that this is not arbitrary numerology or wild association. To the contrary, these phases of Old Testament activity have been drawn in this discourse from Sacred Tradition, and while admittedly built upon, have been so also built upon with straightforward spirituality and theology, even appropriate theology. In this vein, to say that the nine lesser ages of Old Testament history are mirrored in woman’s nine month beauty of carrying and developing a child is not far-fetched but sensible and, dare we say, profound.
As space is scarce, we can quickly cover three other aspects and leave further details for an outer source of the author. The next element can be St. Zachariah. In the beginning of this sequence, he doubts the message of the angel and is struck dumb through discipline until the birth of St. John, at which time he speaks and proclaims the name of John for the child. Long story short, St. Zachariah can image the Gentiles, or fallen humanity, until the time of Christ: in the beginning of the human drama, God gave the message to man of His benevolence and the fecundity to which he called his apocalyptic spouse. Man, by falling, disbelieved in God’s benevolence and so merited great disciplinary punishment, beginning with suffering and death, and then expressed through the two epic chastisements we have seen above: the first two great ages of man, anti-Baptism, or the Flood, and anti-Marital disposition toward God, or Babel and the confounding. Indeed, at Babel, humanity’s “tongue is tied,”, so as to render each nation dumb unto the others, unable to communicate, in much the same way in which St. Zachariah cannot speak to those around him. Indeed too, this is reflected in the CCC:
This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel. But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.
But at the Coming of Christ, the Gentiles are loosed from the prison of paganism, nationalism, and confounded tongue at Pentecost and enter the kingdom of God, the Catholic Church, proclaiming, “Jesus is Lord!”, just as Zachariah proclaims “His name is John,” recalling, again, that the birth of St. John is an image of the First Coming of Christ in our theology.
As for the second element, let us fast forward to the endpoint that we did not fully resolve: in the days of creation model, Christ returns in the eighth light, which, by the factor of two we have seen, becomes part 16 (see the outline above). Hence, if it is true that Jesus comes the first time at the very end of part nine and beginning of part 10, as in the months, we would expect that Jesus returns, by the similar number 16 here, at the very end of month 15 and beginning of month 16. However, as we saw earlier in analyzing the Annunciation and its implications for the full duration of the pregnancy narratives, by the particular detail of St. Gabriel’s salutation to the Blessed Mother, Mary conceives not at the end of month six but in the sixth month of St. Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Hence, this extends the implication out to the time Mary giving birth: not at the end of month fifteen but within month fifteen. At this point, the analogy seems to fail slightly.
However, let us more closely examine these last parts, that is, fifteen and sixteen. Firstly, and admittedly, the very end of month 15 and beginning of month sixteen would seem to image when Christ should come back: the very precipice of the end of history and the inauguration of the world to come, seeing as part sixteen is that very Second Coming and New Creation. Hence, that Mary gives birth before this precipice, that is, before the end of the month in question, seems to have Christ coming prematurely. But, aha! Jesus does come prematurely! “For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.” (Mt 24:21–22) Again: “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rv 16:15; similar passages: Mt 24:36–51; 1 Thes 5:2) Effectively, using the theology we have already developed, and in particular remembering Hebrews 6 (which reveals that, practically speaking, apostates don’t tend to come back if they have fully tasted the Gospel before their departure (Heb 6:4–8)), we note that humanity is practically incurable spiritually at the very end and so will not en-mass repent (which is one of the reasons that the world is ending, since, when no further substantial redemption of the human race is possible, there is no longer reason for a self-same history to continue; why? This is because the ultimate objective of post-fallen-man history is the redemption of man). Consequently, if no meaningful repentance is possible in history at that time, there is no nothing to hold back the self-destruction of the world, for the end of a world that is incurably spiritually dead is a world that is definitively physically dead; recall our theology that science without faith spells doom for humanity; in fact, it will have been only the counterpart en-mass repentance of the world in the minor tribulation that will have prevented humanity from killing itself off; see also the theological argument from the Armageddon article:
Godless empires that are decadent, materialistic, and blasphemous (the harlot, man fornicating figuratively with the world, instead of marrying God) almost always have a “fornicating partnership” with the negation of the Ten Commandments (the ten horns of the beast). That is, they care neither for God (no true religion, no care for God), nor for their fellow man, and the human-to-human moral law (disrespect of authority, drunkenness, abortion, gossip, sexual immorality of all kinds, greed, dishonesty, and the like …). Too, for a time, the fraternity lasts, just like the fornicating and drunken teenager enjoys his illusory lifestyle. But lo and behold, eventually, the corruption (the negation of the Ten Commandments, the ten horns of the beast.) starts to catch up with the materialism and decadence (the harlot), just as the teenager begins to suffer the consequences of immorality (addiction, failed relationships, selfishness, and so forth). Then, it slowly burns her up and eats her, as Apocalypse (The Book of Revelation) 17 reads.
Hence, now we see why Jesus comes early. If Jesus lets the era of the great apostasy and tribulation run its full course, he would return to an empty world, no life as we know it. This then would explain the fifteenth month of our discussion above. Jesus does not “wait” until the fifteenth month is complete. He returns “early” so as to save the world from total destruction, and that some remnant of his Church might survive for the real “rapture.” This also enhances our earlier discussion of the parallel between day one, or king one of the beast, Noah’s day and the Flood, and the end of the world, or day eight. Here, just as Christ must step into history early to prevent self-extinction of man, so in the beginning, man’s stubborn resistance to repentance prior to the Flood would create a similar situation, namely, that without repentance, humanity in Noah’s day also faces extinction; subsequently, the Flood, far from being divine wrath in the proper sense, is rather mercy, mercy to prevent humanity from annihilating itself in this early ignorance and selfishness.
The subsequent corollary to this is that by the fact that Our Immaculate Lady gives birth to the Christ child, again an image of the Second Coming by Advent Tradition, within the fifteen month, and not at the end, explains perfectly why Christ “breaks into the great apostasy early.” Consequently, both endpoints of the pregnancy narratives as well as the midway birth of St. John the Baptist, symbolizing the First Coming of Christ, perfectly image all human history, from beginning to end.
A final anecdote can be the sixth month itself. Might there be meaning in the first six parts of human history? There certainly is. Let us examine this last element. In particular, St. Elizabeth, upon miraculous conception, withdraws into seclusion and says, “Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.” (Lk 1:25) The connotation lends itself to the notion that the Lord is acting “on behalf” of St. Elizabeth. Further, since Mary’s conception of Jesus enters almost immediately within the sixth month with no further discussion of Elizabeth therein, it would seem to imply that her seclusion persists until the Visitation. So also, then, would the Lord’s activity on behalf of her persist as well. For this reason, we can argue that God’s representative and beneficial activity runs all five months and a partial month.
Now, from our parts model, this would seem to imply in analogy that God will act mightily on behalf of the just for the first six parts of human history. Bingo! It does! Just look at the parts!
- Darkness: Fall
- Light: Flood
- Darkness: Babel
- Light: Confounding of Tongues, Formation of Hebrew People (Abraham)
- Darkness: Egypt Enslaves
- Light: Exodus, Red Sea, King David
The first six parts of history have three lights, parts two, four, and six. And what do we see in these lights but supreme divine intervention by God on behalf of the just! Just follow it:
The first great light is the Flood, and it doesn’t get any more supreme than that: God acts on behalf of Noah with one of the greatest forces of his discipline in human history: the Baptism of the world of its wickedness and the formation of a new world, a world that is beginning to be redeemed.
The second great light is the confounding of the tongues at Babel and the calling of Abraham. Again, Babel is supreme divine intervention to restrain man’s selfish and perverse pursuit of materialistic union apart from God. Too, the extensive direct communication of God with Abraham is substantial involvement.
Finally, the third light, or sixth part overall, is the Exodus, wandering in the desert, and establishment of the Old Testament kingdom. Need we say more about the supreme miracles wrought by God upon Pharaoh and his Egyptian people: the epic parting of the Red Sea, and the great miracles in the desert, including the Manna from heaven, the healing from the snake bites by looking upon the serpent upon the staff, the striking of the rock to bring forth water, the pillar of fire, and so forth. All these mighty deeds of intervention, as with Noah and the Flood, were done “on behalf” of Moses and the Israelites.
Now, note, again, that St. Elizabeth’s seclusion and God acting on her behalf effectively ends with Mary’s visit. The scenery now changes to dialogue, love, and help between St. Elizabeth and Mary, a time of waiting and watching. Too, after the sixth part of history, and in particular with David, major divine miracles and intervention on behalf of the just taper off, and Jewish history now becomes largely a time of the prophets, a time of waiting and watching for the Messiah; after David and before Jesus, the history of the Jews simply doesn’t contain mega-miracles like the Flood, Babel, or the Exodus. Miracles are mainly small, and the age of the prophets sets in.
Finally, this sixth month has another dimension. More specifically, just as we have that the sixth part is light three of Augustine’s five ages of the Old Law, so we note that that same third light happens to be David by the same testimony of Augustine:
- From Adam to Noah
- From Noah to Abraham
- From Abraham to David.
So David is light three and in the midst of part six, just as Mary conceives Jesus in the sixth month. And what did the angel Gabriel say to Mary at the time of this conception that relates to David? “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Yes! Amen! David, in the sixth part of history, is the seed of the ultimate reign of Jesus Christ, who brings his lineage to complete fulfillment at, first, Jesus’ First Coming, secondly, in his reign through the Church, and finally, at his Second Coming, just as Mary conceives the seed of Her Son in the sixth month of St. Elizabeth.
A supplemental observation can be made: St. Elizabeth is much older than Mary. This mirrors some Fathers’ treatment of the prodigal son: the older son is the Jews and the prodigal [younger] son is the Gentiles. That is, the Jews are born into God’s family first through Abraham, then the Gentiles much later through Christ, hence, why they are younger. So also, that Elizabeth carries the Old Law in her being, whereas Mary carries the New Law is only reinforced by the age contrast.
In conclusion, we have just shown, flawlessly, that the entire series of events in the Joyful Mysteries’ narratives of the pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth provide a perfect analogy for the entire plan of God, from the fall to the Second Coming, inclusive.