Our Lady of Guadalupe – Option 1 – December 12th
Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a feast, not only for Mexicans but also for everyone who lives or is from the Americas, since she is the patroness of the America. In a special way, we celebrate that She, who is the Queen of Heaven and higher than the angels, came down to earth and today, December 12th, left her beloved image to remain with us forever. That image constantly reminds us that, as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said, “Mary is more a mother than a queen.” She is a mother who never abandons us, who always remains with us, no matter where we are, or what difficulties we find ourselves in. Her maternal love can be seen in three elements, or three details, at Tepeyac: first, in her words and her way of speaking, second, in how she cares for us, and, third, in her smile.
It’s easy to recognize a mother by her way of speaking. A true mother speaks so that her children can understand her. We see this in Marian apparitions throughout the centuries. Once Saint Bernadette, a girl who had very little education and who spoke with Our Lady at Lourdes, was asked if Mary spoke to her in French, or in some dialect that the saint understood better. Without hesitation, the saint replied: “In patois [dialect].” To which her questioners replied: “Bah! Do you mean to say that a lady of such lofty rank knows patois?’ ‘Yes. . . [and] it was the Lourdes patois which she spoke.’” The same happened at La Salette in France. Our Lady appeared to two children, and spoke to them in French “in a voice that was like music.” At a certain point, however, they were confused, and so Our Lady said: “Ah, my children, you don’t understand me; I will speak differently,” and began speaking in their local dialect.
This is the way our Lady spoke with Saint Juan Diego. She spoke to him, not in Spanish, which he wasn’t going to understand, but in his language, with words full of love and concern: “Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest-and-dearest son, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing. Do not let it disturb you. Do not fear this sickness nor any other sickness, nor any sharp and hurtful thing. Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you. Do not let your uncle’s illness pressure you with grief, because he will not die of it now. You may be certain that he is already well.”
This is the mother with whom we speak when we pray the Hail Mary, or the Hail Holy Queen. This is the mother who wants to hear our voices, our prayers, our needs; this is our mother who wants to hear, and hear every day, our needs, so that she can help us, and tell us the same, with words that we need to hear, if only we take the time to listen.
Then, we also see clearly how Mary is mother when we think of how she cares for us. We only have to think of her words to Saint Juan Diego. “Know and understand well, you my most humble son, that I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows.” In other words, I come here because I want to be with you, to hear you, to help you. A mother not only listens, but also helps, and all the graces and all the miracles that we have received by means of her are a witness of her maternal love, a love that never leaves us, but in which we must trust and to which we must draw near.
Lastly, Mary is a mother who wants to smile upon us in order to heal us and encourage her children. We can think of how Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was healed when she was a child because our Lady smiled at her, but even more interesting is a story told of Saint Bernadette. Once she was approached by an atheist who asked her about the apparitions, and time and again the saint noted that Mary smiled at her. So, he asked: “‘Lastly, how did she smile, this beautiful Lady?’ The little shepherdess stared at me with wonder; then after a moment’s silence: ‘Oh, sir, you would have to come from Heaven itself to reproduce that smile.’ ‘Could you not repeat it for me? I am an unbeliever and I don’t believe in your Apparitions.’ The child’s face clouded over. ‘Then, sir, you think I am a liar?’ I felt disarmed. No, Bernadette was no liar, and I was on the point of going down on my knees to beg her pardon. Then she went on: ‘As you are a sinner, I shall repeat the Blessed Virgin’s smile for you.’ The child got up very slowly, joined her hands and gave a heavenly smile such as I have never seen on any mortal lips. Her face lit up with a dazzling radiance of light. She smiled again with her eyes raised heavenwards. I remained motionless before her, convinced that I had seen the Virgin’s smile on the face of the visionary. Since then I have treasured this heavenly memory in the depths of my soul. I have lost my wife and my two daughters. Yet it seems to me that I am not alone in the world. I live with the Virgin’s smile.”
There, on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma, we have our Lady’s smile, a heavenly memory preserved there in order to remain with us forever in our minds and in our souls. We must trust in those words given not only to Saint Juan Diego, but also to each one of us: “Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest-and-dearest son, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing. Do not let it disturb you. Do not fear this sickness nor any other sickness, nor any sharp and hurtful thing. Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more?”
Today, as we celebrate this great mother that we have in Our Lady of Guadalupe, we ask, through her intercession, for the grace to live as worthy sons and daughters of so noble a mother, trusting in her goodness and love for us, surrendering ourselves entirely to her and to her Son.