Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
We have already arrived at Gaudete (Rejoice) or the 3rd Sunday of Advent! Very soon we will be celebrating Christmas! I encourage you to make the most of the remaining time of Advent to spiritually prepare your soul for the great Grace of Christmas - especially through receiving the Sacrament of Confession. Please see the bulletin for times to celebrate this Sacrament of our good Lord’s Mercy!
This weekend I want to give particular attention to the events of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom we honor each year in the Church on December 12. My hope is that the miraculous events surrounding the Virgin Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego on December, 1531, in what is now Mexico City, will draw us all more close to Jesus through Mary!
The Virgin Mary first appeared to St. Juan Diego December 9, 1531. Our Blessed Mother asked St. Juan to go to the local bishop to ask that a church be built on the barren hill of Tepeyac which is now part of Mexico City. Mary desired to show her merciful and motherly love to the world. The bishop asked St. Juan for a sign that he should build a church. On December 12, the Virgin Mary again appeared to St. Juan and he told her of the bishop’s request for a sign. Our Blessed Mother’s response was to provide St. Juan with Castillian roses (which did not grow in Mexico at that time), the bishop’s favorite flower, and also provided a miraculous image of herself on St. Juan’s tilma. When St. Juan was in the presence of the bishop he opened his tilma to show him the flowers and, along with the flowers, appeared the image of the Virgin! The image of the tilma is miraculous and cannot be explained by science. It was also easily understood by the native peoples of that time. Here are some the amazing facts about the tilma and the image of Our Lady:
1. “The Lady stood in front of the sun - She was greater than their dreaded Aztec sun-god ‘Huitzilopochtli’.
2. Her foot rested on the crescent moon - She had clearly van-quished their foremost Aztec deity, the feather serpent ‘Quetzalcoatl’.
3. The stars strewn across the mantle - She was greater than the stars of heaven which they worshipped. She was a virgin and the Queen of the heavens for Virgo rests over her womb and the northern crown upon her head. She appeared on December 12, 1531, for the stars that she wore are the constellation of stars that appeared in the sky that day!
4. The blue-green hue of her mantle - She was a Queen for she wears the color of royalty.
5. The black Cross on the brooch at her neck - Her God was that of the Spanish Missionaries, Jesus Christ her son.
6. The black belt - She was with child for she wore the Aztec Ma-ternity Belt.
7.The four-petal flower over the Womb - She was the ‘Mother of God.’ The flower was a special symbol of life, movement and deity - the center of the universe.
8. Her hands are joined in prayer - She was not God but clearly there was one greater than Her and she pointed her finger to the cross on her brooch.
9. The design on her rose-colored garment - She is the ‘Queen of the Earth,’ for she is wearing a map of Mexico telling the Indians exactly where the apparition took place. Scientific Study of the Image
1. The image to this date, cannot be explained by science.
2. The image shows no sign of deterioration after 450 years! The tilma or cloak of Juan Diego on which the image of Our Lady has been imprinted, is a coarse fabric made from the threads of the maguey cactus. This fiber disintegrates within 20-60 years!
3. There is no under-sketch, no sizing and no protective over-varnish on the image.
4.Microscopic examination revealed that there were no brush strokes.
5. The image seems to increase in size and change colors due to an unknown property of the surface and substance of which it is made.
6. According to Kodak of Mexico, the image is smooth and feels like a modern-day photograph. (It was produced 300 years before the invention of photography.)
7. The image has consistently defied exact reproduction, whether by brush or camera.
8. Several images can be seen reflected in the eyes of the Virgin. It is believed to be the images of Juan Diego, Bishop Juan de Zummaraga, Juan Gonzales, the interpreter and others.
9. The distortion and place of the images are identical to what is produced in the normal eye which is impossible to obtain on a flat surface.
10. The stars on Our Lady's Mantle coincide with the constellation in the sky on December 12, 1531. All who have scientifically examined the image of Our Lady over the centuries confess that its properties are absolutely unique and so inexplicable in human terms that the image can only be supernatural!” (Facts about the image taken from www.catholiceducation.org)
Truly this image is one for us to learn more about and to show much honor and respect. It is a miraculous image of Our Blessed Mother! Let us all take time on December 12 to thank the Virgin Mary for her motherly love and ask her to continually be a mother for each of us!
Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph and our patrons, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless you, your families and our parishes!
In Christ through Mary,