Omnium Gatherum

As I write, I’m packing for Kansas City and watching coverage of the terror attack in Barcelona, a sad sign of the times. In KC, I’ll get everything up to date with old friends as on August 21 we view a syzygy of our planet with its yellow star and grey satellite. I’ve seen a total solar eclipse once before. The spectacle reveals why people find them so portentous.

Speaking of portents, our Lord says in Luke 21:25: “There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations.”

There may be reports of eclipses in the Bible. Hezekiah, King of Judah, had a fatal illness when Isaiah the Prophet healed him and predicted 15 more years of life. As a sign, Hezekiah asked that the shadow cast by the Sun should go backwards (2 Kings 20:10). NASA’s website shows a total eclipse in 702 BC, with more than 60 per cent visibility in Israel. Hezekiah died in 687.

In 763 BC there was a solar event visible in war- and plague-afflicted Nineveh, called the Bur-Sagale eclipse, which helps scholars figure out ancient calendars. The Assyrian scholar Donald Wiseman, once of the British Museum, thinks that that’s when Jonah would have been in Nineveh preaching “Repent!” They did.

On a likely date for the Saviour’s Crucifixion, April 3, AD 33, a blood-red Moon, already in eclipse, rose over Jerusalem. The eclipse would have started below the horizon just at the hour the Lamb who was slain breathed His last. Viewed from the Moon, the syzygy (straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies) was a total solar eclipse in the constellation Aries, the “Ram”.

This year during the Jewish “Days of Awe”, the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Atonement), on September 23, 2017, Mercury, Venus and Mars will conjoin amidst Leo’s nine stars, totalling 12, directly above the Virgin. The Moon will rise at her feet and the Sun will rise directly behind, as if to clothe her. Now, please review Revelation 12.

The eclipse on August 21 occurred 54 days, including the end date, before the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, October 13, 1917. That “54 days” will immediately strike Catholics as significant, for it is the number of days of a special kind of “novena”.

Coincidences, you say? Sure. Go to confession anyway.