Fasting the weapon in Augustine's Daily War
"But now the necessity of habit is sweet to me, and against this sweetness must I fight, lest I be enthralled by it. Thus I carry on a daily war by fasting, constantly bringing my body into subjection..." - St. Augustine
e5 Sons of Mary
By Steven C. Habisohn, e5 Founder
A SWEET DISCOVERY
The goal of Christian conversion can be summed up as conforming oneself to the person of Christ. The simple "What Would Jesus Do?" campaign is a child of this. This pursuit of holiness is like a bottomless treasure to be explored. It is for this reason that the pursuit of holiness through the conforming oneself to Christ becomes an endless joy, a supremely interesting challenge.
On the path of conforming ourselves to Christ we find a particularly sweet discovery. That is the knowledge that Christ came into this world as part of a family, most notably a son. It is by this position of son that he is so often referred, not only relative to His Father in Heaven but also to His mother on earth, Mary.
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mk 6:3, RSV).
It is as a son that we see his divinity and human nature perfectly brought together. He is at the same time the Son of the Divine Father and Son of a human mother.
CONFORMING OURSELVES TO CHRIST
So in order to fully conform ourselves to Jesus through baptism we literally become children of the Heavenly Father who we call "Abba." Yet, Jesus does not stop there. He gives us all He is, his whole sonship as our inheritance. If he can have us share in his divine sonship will he not have us share in his human sonship as well?
It would seem obvious in regards to salvation why we need to become children of God, but what use is it to become a child, much less a son, of Mary as well? We begin to find out the answer to this question as we pursue the great paradox that in the gospels Jesus never called Mary "Mother". He only directly addresses her twice in all the Gospels and only in the Gospel of John. He addresses her in the most peculiar way both times. He addresses her with the title "Woman."
THE WOMAN OF CANA
"Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me?" (John 2:4, NAB)
Translations of the Bible have struggled with how to phrase this. Surely Jesus could not be addressing his mother so demeaningly. They often add words to soften the title to the ears, like adding "Dear" before woman so it becomes politely "Dear Women." However, such translations miss the mystery hidden behind this title. It is this mystery I wish to explore. It is the mystery of "The Woman."
"The Disciple whom Jesus loved", John, was the great writer of the Gospel of John. His gospel stands out as significantly different than the other narratives of the life of Jesus. It is particularly symbolic. Its starts with "In the beginning was the Word" obviously referring to the Genesis account of creation.
His symbolism would have been quite obvious to the Jewish reader of the day. For instance, at the wedding of Cana he starts it out symbolically as the third day of creation writing "On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there." In doing so he is drawing his reader into the mystery of the creation stories of Genesis but with the new light of Christ shining on them. It's interesting that John mentions Mary's presence at the wedding before Jesus and his disciples. This was undoubtedly meant to be a story about the role of Mary in the work of the new creation in Christ.
It is here too, in the story of the wedding feast at Cana that Jesus speaks to his mother for the first time directly as "Woman."
After being told by His mother of the lack of wine at the wedding Jesus says,
"Woman, how does this concern of yours involve me?" (John 2:4, NAB)
John, the great gospel poet, is drawing our attention to a great mystery of the woman of genesis by citing Jesus' title for his mother. The Jewish reader of the day would not have missed the allusion to the "woman."
THE WOMAN OF GENESIS
The "woman" of Genesis is prophesied by God Himself to Satan when God says:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at his heel." (Gen 3:15 , NAB)
Truly Mary is this prophesied woman spoken of by God in what has been called the proto-gospel of Genesis 3:15. Is it not her offspring, Jesus, which will crush Satan? Its seems obvious, however the facts continue to build and in a way that has a direct effect on us on our mission to conform ourselves to Jesus.
THE WOMAN OF REVELATION
There is another place that the "woman" of Genesis is quite obviously spoken of. That is in Revelations chapter 12.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Because she was with child, she wailed a load in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky: it was a huge dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns; on his heads were seven diadems. His tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them down to earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, ready to devour her child when it should be born. She gave birth to a son-a boy destined to Shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and to his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert, where a special place was prepared for her by God; there she was taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days.
Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out, he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
'Now have salvation and power come, the reign of God and the authority of His anointed One. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before God. They defeated him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; love of life did not deter them from death. So rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell therein! But woe to you earth and sea, for the devil has come down upon you! His fury knows no limits, for he knows his time is short.'
When the Devil saw that he had been cast down to earth, he had pursued the woman that had given birth to the boy. But the woman was given the wings of a gigantic eagle so that she could fly off to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent she could be taken care of for a year and for two and a half years more. The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth to search out the woman and sweep her away. The earth then came to the woman's rescue by opening its mouth and swallowing the flood which the dragon spewed out of its mouth. Enraged at her escape, the dragon went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep God's commandments and give witness to Jesus. He took up his position by the shore of the sea." (Revelation 12, NAB)
Is it not interesting that in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, there is a two line foreshadowing of the battle between the woman's offspring and the devil and then in Revelations, the last book of the bible, a deep inner look at the battle between Satan and the Woman's offspring. Appropriately, the Genesis foreshadowing does not designate only one offspring (Jesus) but leaves open the possibility for the woman's offspring to be many (plural), meaning all Christians.
It is this dynamic of the children of Mary defeating the ancient dragon that God has divinely ordained. Satan was defeated ultimately by the first offspring of Mary - Jesus. But it is through the cooperation of the "rest of her offspring" that God has ordained the effective application of the defeat of Satan. This would coordinate perfectly with Revelations 12:17 where it is "the rest of her offspring" that defeats Satan "by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony."
THE WOMAN OF GETHSEMANE
But are we truly this mystical mother's offspring? The offspring that will battle and ultimately defeat Satan? Christ answers this in his final address to Mary as "Woman" while using some of the last difficult and precious breathes of his life. The Gospel of John portrays it this way,
Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, there is your son." In turn he said to the disciple, "There is your mother." From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care. (John 19:26-27)
This was more than a practical sonship involving the cares of daily living, this was also a spiritual sonship involved with conforming ourselves to treat Mary the same way Christ did as a son. John, by practically taking the place of Jesus in Mary's family life, shows us the icon of spiritual sonship. It is these sons ,"the rest of her offspring" that do battle with Satan "by the blood of the Lamb."
The disciple, the new son, takes care of her desires as a good son would. If she thought someone needed help, like the wedding couple at Cana , she would go to her son and ask him to help them. It is here that we start to see the wonderful gift we have been given by Christ at the Cross. We have the possibility now, like Jesus, to take into our hearts the desires of Jesus' Mother. Unlike the original woman of Genesis, Eve, Mary, as THE WOMAN of the new creation is totally preoccupied with doing God's will, which is to defeat Satan and bring everyone to Jesus.
THE WOMAN: OUR MOTHER
It is therefore imperative, like John, we actively conform ourselves as sons of Mary.
How do we do this as e5 Men? As good sons, like Jesus at Cana, we answer Mary's prayers of intercession for the sake of those in need. We do it through fasting and prayers offered for Mary's intentions. This seems to fit perfectly within charism of the e5 which is men fasting and praying to merit Christ's grace for the needs of a woman.
To be called to love Mary in the way that Jesus loves Mary is a great honor and should be a great desire of our heart. To just say we honor Mary is one thing, but to be able to love Mary like Jesus by actively interceding for her intentions is a path to holiness and joy that should not be thrown aside.
This is why I strongly recommend this e5 consecration to Mary. In my personal experience a relationship with Mary ,the Mother of Jesus, is nothing short of a great joy and consolation. It is through this fasting for her intentions that I came to realize that consecration to Mary, especially as a man, is to be her good son and to answer her needs with loving sacrifice. The love of a mother is one of the most sublime loves on earth; imagine the love of the mother of Jesus!
I pray that you desire to love her and be loved by her. She IS that sweet discovery on the path to conforming ourselves to the person of Christ.
I Invite you to join this special division of the e5 Special Forces and Fast for Mary's intentions, whether that be for any of her intentions or her intentions for a specific situation. Like any e5 Special Forces fast there is no sign up except for the original e5 man registration. Once you are an e5 man you can fast extras days as much or as little as you feel called to.