Adonai is a word that doesn’t just mean “lord” but “beloved husband”. It is the word used for God, our Beloved Bridegroom as against the word for a master-husband of a slave-wife (concubine) which was ba’al. You may remember that Ba’al was the name or title of one of the dark gods of Canaan and it’s surrounding tribes.
We know from Scripture that Israel frequently found it difficult to discern between their Adonai and Ba’al and fell into worshipping Ba’al instead of the True Adonai, thus become slaves to their god(s) and subject to other nations.
In our journey towards God we need guides. Israel had Moses and the Prophets and the Church has the Apostles, their spiritual descendents and the saints. One of the reasons Jesus set up the Church the way He did – in fact it was probably the primary reason – was to keep us on the straight and narrow, so that we worshipped the true God, the true Bridegroom, Adonai, as He is and should be worshipped, and didn’t get cheated and tricked into becoming slaves ofthe Ba’als. We see in Scripture that Satan can quote Scripture pretty well and we are warned that he can appear as an angel of light. So we must be cautious.
We have celebrated the feast of St Juan Diego (dec 9th) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec 12th) and we know from this story that the Bishop was very cautious about what Juan Diego told him and that he asked for a sign. Some may say this showed a lack of faith in the bishop, but it didn’t. It showed the bishop was cautious and knew that just as Juan Diego could have seen Our Lady, he could have seen something evil, or nothing at all. Caution is wise in these cases.
On Dec 14th we celebrated the feast of St. John of the Cross, a great friend and support for St. Teresa of Avila and St John of Avila. These great saints were at work for Christ at the same time as St Ignatius of Loyola. God was very busy sending out extraordinary men and women to save souls in those turbulent times.
But the devil wasn’t sitting back on his tail either. He wanted to undo as much of God’s work as possible. Nothing new there.
At that time a new “saint” arose. She appeared to be a great mystic with many supernatural abilities and seemed very holy. Her astonishing abilities made her the darling of the rich and famous, even to Queen Isabella herself.
Sr. Magdalena of the Cross was allowed free rein for her spiritual events, even when some serious problems should have provided due warning that not all was well. I am not quite sure how she managed to be so well known as a saint without anyone insisting she receive proper spiritual direction, but it happened. God is merciful (thankfully) and had one of His real saints finally see her and soon she was unmasked and the poor woman was being given a serious of exorcisms, ridding her of at least two demons.
She was finally free of her possession and then tried before the Inquisition, who seeing she was repentant and anyway, it had not been all her own doing, she received a sentence that allowed her to return to religious life, this time quietly and in genuine service to God. She became like the St Mary Magdalene for whom she had been named, grateful that Jesus had released her from the devils who had taken such hold of her.
The Church authority is there to help prevent us falling into error (and we see from the rather sad story of Sr. Magdalene what happens when those in authority are slow to act). The damage her possession did to the work of St Teresa of Avila could have been much worse than it was, but I can’t help thinking that the poor woman could have been helped a lot earlier if those in authority had acted promptly rather than allowing the glamour of powerful people to hobble their Christ ordained mission.
In the end, of course, the devil failed. The great work of saints Teresa both the Johns and Ignatius burned and bloomed as they worshipped Adonai and not ba’al.
Of course the stories of far too many people both then and now is not that they get possessed by Satan, but that they are possessed by themselves. They worship the image they see in the mirror and sacrifice others to the unholy trinity of me-myself-I, while at the same time kidding themselves they are Christians.
So side step those Ba’als and sing O Adonai.