Recently, on a cold December night, I took my kids and a friend to go see the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. The last time these two giants of our solar system were as close as they were was in 1623, but since their position in the sky would have appeared near the sun it was probably not observable. The last time the grand conjunction would have been visible to observers was in March of 1226, and since this kind of celestial event won’t happen again until 2080, I figured it was worth seeing. While it was cloudy the first time we tried to see it on the evening before its peak brightness on the Solstice, we were able to see it a few days later on the last day that they would be observable in my latitude
As I peered through my binoculars, I mused on how seeing them offered a luminous and pleasant ending to 2020, a year gifted with many astronomical phenomena. There was the Blue Moon in October and the asteroid 2018VP1that flew near Earth the day before the election. There was also the Beaver Moon penumbral lunar eclipse which occurred 28 days after the election, and the beginning of a new solar cycle which increased the intensity of the aurora borealis and even appears to be connected with the rise and spread of the current pandemic beyond its Chinese homeland.
Since many news outlets kept referring to this conjunction as the Christmas star, I thought about how in ancient times astrologers such as the Magi would have seen this or any of this past year’s events as an omen of some import. After a moment’s more reflection though, and a bit of a chuckle, it dawned on me that those kind of star-gazing soothsayers are still with us today, such as the astrologer who claimed that Joe Biden’s “victory” was written in the stars or an Indiana pastor who said that the great conjunction signaled the advent of the Antichrist.
Whether any of those celestial signs and wonders held any prophetic meaning is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure when it came to 2020. The heavens may indeed be proclaiming the glory of God, but their import was eclipsed by an earthly pandemic. Just not the one you are probably thinking of.
The Real Pandemic of 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic and the presidential election were the two main terrestrial events whose sensationalized “gravity” drew everything from science, religion, politics, and pop culture into their orbits to form a kind of spiral narrative. A narrative that was woven by establishment elites and their mouthpieces in the corporate media, that the Orange-Man was bad and because of him, and only because of him, would hundreds of thousands of people, our nation, and its institutions die a slow and horrible death.
It was a narrative that was devoid of nuance with a one way flow of information that was always negative. In fact it bore all the signs of the kind of simplistic tales of good vs. evil found in contemporary superhero movies, with a world shrouded in darkness for the last four years, and nothing but a grim future ahead. Any attempt to counter this narrative would be met first with mockery and calumney, and then with silencing and censoring. Finally, and most galling of all, would come the gaslighting, where any evidence offered against the narrative was somehow twisted into proving that the narrative was still correct. It was not the narrative that was wrong, but the people who brought forth such complaints, who were both wrong and (like the Orange-Man) bad, and thus were deserving of still more abuse and rejection.
Hence 2020’s real pandemic was not so much some virus cooked up in some Chinese province, but the hysteria and anxiety it caused among Americans who struggled with lockdowns, social isolation, and the economy being driven off the rails. It was a hysteria that the institutional elites and all the others of what Adam Smith called “Men of Systems”, used to treat ordinary Americans like NPC’s in some real-world video game that they were desperately trying to “reset” and reprogram according to their rapacious ideological fantasies. In fact, of all the images of 2020, none were more emblematic of the struggle Americans dealt with on a daily basis as they tried to stay healthy while enduring all the crap that was imposed on them, as the images of all the “Kung-Flu Fighting” over hand sanitizer and toilet paper seen in the early days of the lockdowns. As Jerry Garcia once quipped, “what a long strange journey it’s been”, but all things considered, if I could rerun 2020, I would rather have had the Murder Hornets to deal with.
Nevertheless, while many Americans are disappointed with the outcome of the 2020 election with some viewing it as an utter disaster for our Republic, it is not the worst thing to happen. For while Trump may not have been the messianic figure many had hoped he would be, he was certainly more of a Constantine in character and temperament. And just as Constantine paved the way (with roads that all led to Rome!) for a pagan empire to give way to Christendom, so too has Trump done much to muster Americans to care more about God and country, in a way that has not been seen in a long time.
And even if we are now seeing the ascension of a Julian the Apostate-type character to the office of the president, we have as a country and a culture passed through a portal where there is no going back to the old institutional way of doing things. For one thing the veracity and legitimacy of the pandemic narrative is wearing thin. In light of the accumulated scientific data (not to mention common sense) and the ruined lives and livelihoods of so many Americans in the face of a “rules for thee but not for me” attitude among the institutional elites, Americans will simply not put up with it much longer.
Furthermore, there is one more aspect in all this that could be seen as a sign of hope and of better things to come in 2021. For amid the cacophony of political noise in 2020, there was a little known fact about the timing of the Jupiter-Saturn great conjunction that ended up, as the Psalmist wrote, proclaiming the glory of God.
We Have Seen His Star in the East
Because most people, including a Christians, tend to combine the two infancy narratives from Matthew and Luke’s gospels into one seamless story, it was understandable why the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was referred to as the Christmas star. However, it should really have been called the Epiphany Star, since it was the star that the Magi followed to find the Christ child. Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia which means “manifestation” and the encounter was meant to “manifest” or show forth Christ’s divinity to the gentile world. The word is fitting since the Magi’s visit corroborates and fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy that Christ would be called Emmanuel or “God with us.”
With that in mind, what draws this altogether has to do with the last time the great conjunction was visible in the year 1226. Providentially enough,1226 was also the year that marked the formal beginning of Eucharistic adoration by lay people in Avignon, France. King Louis VII asked the Bishop of Avignon to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross in gratitude for his victory over the Albigensians. Because so many adorers showed up, the bishop decided to have the adoration continue day and night.
Thus, when all is said and done and this year draws to a close, we should do so knowing that at the same time 2020’s great conjunction reminded us of Christmas- Venni, Venni Emmanuel- and the Ephiphany- Adeste Fidelis- it should also have reminded us that some 800 years ago the gift of Eucharistic adoration was made available to us all. Just as Christ told his apostles that “lo I am with you to the end of the age”, his presence (God with us) is manifested in every tabernacle and monstrance in churches throughout the world. It is this fact that we should carry in our hearts and minds as we cross over into a new year. For it is Christ that is the great light who will ultimately chase away the darkness of the nightmare world of the institutional elites and lay bare their lies. So yes, come let us adore Him!
Photo Credit- Getty Images