The Devil’s Greatest Enemy (Pt. 2): Mary, the New Judith

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‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty.’
– Ps. 44:4

“Judith is one of the types of Mary, who crushed the head of the serpent.”
– Dom Gueranger, OSB

Our portrait of the Mother of God – not to mention our portrait of the Church, of which she is Mother – will be radically incomplete if we lack knowledge of the Old Testament types/figures of Mary. The book of Judith, for instance, as with the book of Esther, will be of little use to us if we do not see in them a mirror of Mary. Let us look, then, at some central passages in the book of Judith, bearing in mind that Mary, the true Judith, surpasses all her types: ‘Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all’ (Prov. 31:29). “She has surpassed all the daughters (Saints) in nature, in grace, in glory. She has surpassed all the souls of men, all the intelligences of Angels” (St. Bonaventure).

N.B. Under each subheading below, the first verse is taken from the book of Judith, while the second (relevant) verse is taken from another Book of the Scriptures. Pay close attention to the clear connections with Mary’s Magnificat (in red).

THE BOOK OF JUDITH: A FORESHADOWING OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS

+ CHAPTER 13

Leads Us Into the Church
Judith: ‘Open the gates, for God is with us, Who hath shown His power in Israel.’ (v. 13)
‘Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates…’. (Prov. 8:34)

Loved and Honoured by All
‘And all ran to meet her from the least to the greatest…’ (v. 15)
‘And in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted…’ (Ecclus. 24:3; cf. Prov. 31:28)

The Spouse of Mercy Incarnate
Judith: ‘And by me His handmaid He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel: and He hath killed the enemy of His people by my hand this night.’ (v. 18)
Mary: ‘He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy.’ (Lk. 1:54)

Immaculate
Judith: ‘And the Lord hath not suffered me His handmaid to be defiled: but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for His victory, for my escape, and for your deliverance.’ (v. 20)
‘Thou art all fair, O My love, and there is not a spot in thee.’ (Cant. 4:7)

The Instrument by Which Hell is Conquered
‘The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee He hath brought our enemies to nought.’ (v. 22)
Mary: ‘He hath showed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.’ (Lk. 1:51-52)

Greater than All Those Who Prefigured Her
‘Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth.’ (v. 23)
‘Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all.’ (Prov. 31:29)

Always to be Praised
‘Because He hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord, for ever…’ (v. 25)
Mary: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord… behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’ (Lk. 1:46, 48)

Laid Down Her Life for Us
‘… thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulations of thy people; but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.’ (v. 25)
Prophecy of Simeon: ‘And thy own soul a sword shall pierce…’ (Lk. 2:35)

Deserving of Reverence
‘… he [Achior] fell down at her feet, and reverenced her…’ (v. 30)
‘And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.’ (Lk. 1:41)

Gives Life to the Elect
‘Blessed art thou by thy God in every tabernacle of Jacob…’ (v. 31)
‘Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect.’ (Ecclus. 24:13)

Her Soul Magnifies The Lord
‘… in every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.’ (v. 31)
‘My soul doth magnify the Lord… O magnify the Lord with me: and let us extol His Name together.’ (Lk. 1:46; Ps. 33:4)

+ CHAPTER 14

Leads Us Into Battle
Judith: ‘… let every man take his arms: and rush ye out, not as going down beneath, but as making an assault.’ (v. 2)
‘Thy neck is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks: a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men.’ (Cant. 4:4)

+ CHAPTER 15

The Glory of the Heavenly Jerusalem
‘… they all blessed her with one voice saying: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem…’ (v. 10)
‘God is wonderful (gloriosus) in His Saints: the God of Israel is He Who will give strength and power to His people.’ (Ps. 67:36)

The Joy of the Church
‘… thou art the joy of Israel…’ (v. 10)
‘The dwelling in thee is as it were of all rejoicing.’ (Ps. 86:7)

The Honour of Our Race
‘… thou art the honour of our people.’ (v. 10)
Mary: ‘Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name.’ (Lk. 1:49)

Ever-Blessed
‘… the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever.’ (v. 11)
‘And among the blessed she shall be blessed…’ (Ecclus. 24:4; cf. Prov. 31:28)

+ CHAPTER 16

Glorifies the Holy Name of God
Judith: ‘… extol and call upon His Name.’ (v. 2)
‘… let us extol His Name together.’ (Ps. 33:4)

Visits Us With Her Divine Son
‘He hath set His camp in the midst of His people, to deliver us from the hand of all our enemies.’ (v. 4)
Zachary: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people… Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.’ (Lk. 1:68, 71)

The First to Intone the New Canticle*
Judith: ‘… let us sing a new hymn to our God.’ (v. 15)
‘Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things.’ (Ps. 97:1)
* This fact deserves a post of its own. Given time, I will write something brief at some stage.

Invites us all to serve God
Judith: ‘Let all Thy creatures serve Thee…’ (v. 17)
Mary: ‘Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.’ (Jn. 2:4)

Invites us to Fear of the Lord
Judith: ‘But they that fear Thee, shall be great with Thee in all things.’ (v. 19; cf. Ps. 33:10)
Mary: ‘And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.’ (Lk. 1:50)

The New Sanctuary
‘And the people were joyful in the site of the sanctuary: and for three months the joy of this victory was celebrated with Judith.’ (v. 24)
‘And Mary abode with her [Elizabeth] about three months.’ (Lk. 1:56)

Most Renowned
‘… she was most renowned in all the land of Israel.’ (v. 25)
‘And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise.’ (Ecclus. 24:4)

Perpetual Virgin
‘And chastity was joined to her virtue, so that she knew no man all the days of her life…’ (v. 26)
Mary: ‘How shall this be done, because I know not man?’ (Lk. 1:34)

Honoured Above All Saints in the Church’s Liturgy
‘And on festival days she came forth with great glory.’ (v. 27)
‘And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.’ (Apoc. 12.1)

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‘… there is great delight in her friendship,
and inexhaustible riches in the works of her hands…
love her, and she shall preserve thee…

forget not the groaning of thy Mother.’
(Wis. 8:18; Prov. 4:6; Ecclus. 7:29; cf. Jn. 16:21, Apoc. 12:2)