Since 11 September 2001, the symbolic date of the beginning of fundamentalist terrorism as a new form of “fragmented” war, the world, even Europe, which after WWII has known a discrete period of peace, is now becoming more and more insecure. As believers, we cannot but see the great battle between good and evil, love and hate, the Woman clothed with the sun and the infernal dragon unfolding behind these human events.
The Book of Revelation narrates that a woman surrounded by miraculous signs and a dragon appeared in heaven, both helped by angels. There was a great battle, which ended with the victory of the woman and the expulsion of the dragon. Thus, a mystical voice rises a prayer, announcing that this is the salvation of Christ. After the prayer, the dragon keepts trying to kill the woman, but in vain. The woman has given birth in the meantime and the defeated dragon promises to kill all her descendants.
That red dragon is nothing by Satan, the evil. St. John himself introduces the dragon this way, saying also that he is the Old Serpent, the one in the Genesis pushed humanity to commit the original sin. He was helped by angels too, and eventually fell to the ground. But the woman is the Virgin Mary. The liturgy wants us to contemplate this figure, the Woman clothed with the sun, is during the feast of 15 August: The Assumption of Mary into heaven. From the study of ancient documents, it came out that the “Assumption” of Mary was regarded was considered to be a certain thing in the popular tradition and in the Eastern Church of the first centuries.
It had been written that Mary fills a little the “void” of motherly love in the general idea of the divine. Msgr. Bertolone writes in I Care Humanum: “Do you remember the vision of the great wonder in heaven mentioned by the seer of Patmos, narrated in the Book of Revelation? It is yet another sign of the woman. That apocalyptic sign was often linked the figure of the woman par excellence, Mary, the Mother of God, the woman clothed with the sun. And rightly so. But that big sign is also the revelation – the apocalypse of women’s dignity. Thanks to the woman clothed with the sun, the winner – for the sake of the child she carries in her womb – in the fight against the dragon, every woman of the past, present, and future can legitimately re-read ‘her’ human and Christian novelty”.
This motherly love of God, which is reception, compassion, and tenderness comes under the banner of the victorious “fight”. Beyond all the mawkish and stereotyped ideas of “femininity”, she is able to face “fight” for her children. The contrast between the woman in labor and the imposing power of the dragon endows femininity with more value, whose main characteristic is not overwhelming power that allows to challenge the dragon, but her ability to generate life.
Pope Francis, also during his reflection on the Rosary prayer, pointed out that there is “a competitive dimension to it”, there is struggle, a prayer that supports the battle against the evil one and its accomplices.”
The more insurmountable our difficulties and the more obscure our security and peace prospects seem to be, and the more terrible the present acts of terrorism and violence are, the more insistently we have to pray. Prayer is “the first and most important “working tool” in our hands! – Francis pointed out during the Angelus on 24 July, “to strengthen our ability to fight together with God”, so that His Kingdom of justice, love, and peace may come.
The enmity between the Woman and the dragon is still extremely topical: we can see it in the whole relativistic drift against unborn life, we can perceive it in the transformation of the value of femininity. It is an unprecedented attack and we need the protection of the Woman clothed with the sun now more than ever.