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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)

December 12
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“Am I Not Your Mother”

In 1531 on December 12 near Tepayac Hill in central Mexico the Mother of Jesus appeared to Juan Diego giving him a beautiful sign of her imprint on his tilma. Mary appeared to Juan as an Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language.

“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard.”

Juan, immediately responded to Mary’s request. The Bishop told Juan he would consider his request. Juan returned to Our Lady disappointed that he was not able to convince the Bishop immediately. He felt that he did not have the ability because he was a poor peasant. Our Lady responded, “My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.” And asked him to return to the Bishop again with her request.

This time the Bishop asked Juan for a sign from Our Lady to which Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told her of the Bishop’s request to which Our Lady responded.

“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign.” Our Lady asked Juan to go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that were grown there and bring them to her. Though the middle of winter, Juan obeyed Our Lady’s request and found beautiful Castilian roses in full bloom. Juan cut the roses and placed them in his tilma and returned to Our Lady.

"My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him."

Juan again went to the bishop and opened his tilma. letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn't the beautiful roses that caused the bishop to fall to his knees, it was the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary imprinted upon his tilma, just as Juan had described her. This native tilma, a poor quality cloth that should have decayed after two decades still defies all scientific explanation 478 years later, as it shows no sign of decomposition and men still drop to their knees in its presence.

The Aztec people of Mesoamerica in the 1500’s were considered an advanced civilization. To this the Spanish conquistadors entered their history. If current history books and contemporary news articles are to be believed, Catholic Spain had anything but high motives in their conqest of Mexico. Revisionist historians hold that the native Americans would have been better off left alone. Regardless of Spain’s motive or of current historical opinion, the Aztec people of this time participated in cannibalism and offered human sacrifice to their voracious gods. Though no one will know how many they scarificed; the law of the Aztec empire required a thousand sacrifices in every town with a temple, every year. I pray that most would find human sacrifice and cannibalism contrary to the natural law, written on the hearts of all men, at all times, everywhere in the world.

It is into this time that Our Lady appeared to Juan, an Aztec convert. Within six years of this apparition, six million Aztecs had converted to Catholicism. What happened that produced such an incredible and historically unprecedented conversion? As far as modern science can discern, it was Our Blessed Mother Herself who “painted” an icon on Juan Diego’s tilma.

She came to the Aztecs as one of their own. They saw her as a beautiful Lady, enveloped by the rays of the sun and standing on the moon, with stars adorning her mantle and clouds dispersing at her approach. Her hands folded in prayer acknowledging One greater than herself. This image spoke to the Aztec Indians, no longer did they have to be servants to the sun and the moon god feeding their inexhaustible appetites, Our Lady pointed then to the True God. Standing on a crescent moon, her long flowing garments held up by the arms of an angel; her eyes looking down with compassion and humility, she stood in front of the sun which glowed around her. A black tassel over her stomach signifies she is pregnant. She came to the Aztec people as the God-bearer, pregnant with her Divine Son, pointing to Him who is greater, and they believed and converted.

Since the time the tilma was first impressed with a picture of the Mother of God, it has been subject to a variety of environmental hazards including smoke from fires and candles, water from floods and torrential downpours and, in 1921, a bomb exploded near the tima. Next to the tilma was an iron Crucifix, when the bomb exploded the Crucifix was twisted out of shape and bent over protecting the tilma from harm. A beautiful gesture of Our Lord Jesus as he cradled His Mother in protection as She had cradled Him as a Child.

Today Our Lady of Guadalupe still points us to Her Son, and still intercedes for us to Her Son as miracles abound.

For devotional gifts related to the Catholic Church please visit Lynn's Timeless Treasures and Gifts 
Last picture - The Guadalupe Miracle of the twisted brass Crucifix

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