Wednesday, December 12, 2012


December 12, 2012 is a day of rejoicing for North American Catholic Christians. This feast day marks the day in December 1531 that a Mexican Indian Christian gathered a cloak full of roses and brought it to the Bishop of Mexico City. As the Indian, Juan Diego opened his tilma (cloak) the Bishop fell to his knees. Juan Diego was amazed too, for imprinted on his tilma was the image of the beautiful woman who had appeared to him a few days before. She told him she was the Mother of God and she wanted a church built in Tepeyec near Mexico City. The Bishop had asked for a sign to prove that the Virgin Mary was real, and not a result of Juan Diego's faith. Frost had already killed most of the flowers where Juan Diego passed on his way to the Bishop's house. That day when the Lady asked him to gather the roses, he found many fresh and beautiful Castillian roses to present to the Bishop as his sign. He was not aware that an image of a woman with native American complexion, and dressed in the finery of an Aztec royalty, but wearing a cross, the symbol of Christianity with her head slightly bowed in humility was imprinted on his cloak. Today that cloak still survives, enshrined in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many symbols in Mary's clothing and other details of the mysterious painting reinforce the fact that the lady who appeared to Juan Diego was and is Mary, the Mother of God.
When I was assigned to the convent we had in San Antonio, Texas I was impressed by the devotion of the people to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Almost every Catholic home had the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I remember the last time I was in San Antonio for this Feast, we woke up early to sing "Las Mananitas" to Mary (a song to awaken a person) and we processed around the block near the Cathedral of San Fernando where a young man dressed as Juan Diego acted out the apparitions and the visits to the Bishop's residence. Then we filed into the Cathedral for a festive Mass.
Both men and women are named Guadalupe or Lupe especially in Mexico and among Mexican Americans. However devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe is not limited to those of Hispanic origin. She is the Mother of all the members of her Son's Mystical Body--all of us.
In the image a ribbon tied at Mary's waist symbolized her pregnancy. She told her messenger that she was Mary, the Mother of God. She wanted a church built--the church would honor her Son Jesus.
Before Juan Diego encountered the Lady of Tepeyec, missionaries had minimal success in converting the local people in Mexico to embraced Christianity. Word soon spread that this Mary was a "Virgen Morena" (a dark skinned Virgin Mary) like them. Within a few years nine million native Americans accepted Baptism and became fervent believers.
Our Lady of Guadalupe  is also the Patroness of the Unborn.
Tonight our community will enjoy a festive Mexican meal prepared by one of our Sisters who is Mexican American. As I write the aroma is wafting into my room and giving me an appetite!
May Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Patroness of all the Americas intercede for all of us, especially you my readers.

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