It’s the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
Being from the southwest, growing up in Arizona specifically, I have a special fondness for Our Lady of Guadalupe. And you know, I just like most everything about this feast day and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I love the Mexican culture, the food to celebrate, the miracles, the roses, the prayers, the colors, the music, the textiles. What’s not to love?
The short version of Our Lady of Guadalupe is, of course, that she appeared to St. Juan Diego on his way to Mass. She asked for a church to be built on the spot. She asked him to ask the Bishop. He agreed, the Bishop didn’t want to believe him. So he kind of griped to Mary, saying that he couldn’t get the Bishop to listen and he wanted a sign.. She told Juan to gather flowers from Tepeyac Hill, (ones that weren’t indigenous and it was winter) and so he gathered the roses (that had miraculously bloomed in the winter snow) up in his cloak. When he got to the Bishop, he spilled the roses out in the office and on his tilma (A type of cloak) was the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Full wikipedia version here.
This is one of those times where once again, we see the universality of the Church. Mary is not only our mother if you are of white european ancestry, but of course, she is mother to us all – the world over. And in Mexico, today, you can see the festival celebrating her, complete with all the local cultural trimmings.
Coffeedoc and I went to Mexico City on his fortieth birthday, to go see the tilma for ourselves. And you know, there was a time when part of me just kind of took the ‘folklore’ appreciation route with Our Lady of Guadalupe. My folklore background would kick in and I’d get caught up in all the sensual aspects: the colors, textures, foods, fiestas…the layers and layers that are part of any long historical memorial.
But, going to Mexico City, to the Basilica’s – the old and the new – well, it’s one of those things. You go. You see the pilgrims who have traveled there ON THEIR KNEES. You see the thousands and thousands of milagros pinned up (Small metal tokens of thanksgiving left behind for answered prayers). And you see the tilma. You stand in front of the tilma, and scour it with your own eyes. You pray. And it’s like C.S. Lewis says, to paraphrase: you either believe, or you think they are all lying (Or it’s a big scam), or that they are crazy.
Well, I don’t think they are all lying and I don’t think that it’s a scam. I think Our Lady of Guadalupe has made a huge difference in so many lives. And I don’t think they are all crazy either. Especially not after being there. But I didn’t really ever ascribe to that one either. I believe. I believe Our Lady of Guadalupe is another manifestation of Our Blessed Mother. And that like any mom, she will go to where her children are and where they need her. And so she did.
and on her head a crown of twelve stars”
Revelation 12:1 (Entrance Antiphon for Our Lady of Guadalupe)
I recently helped Miss M, my 5th grader, learn this for a Spanish quiz at school, we prayed a spanish rosary. So, in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Ave María (Hail Mary)
Dios te salve, María. Llena eres de gracia: El Señor es contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres. Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre: Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén.