More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections


Our Lady of Guadalupe

Sr. Donna Korba, IHM
December 12, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The year is 1521. Mexico City (the capital of the Aztec Empire) is conquered. An entire culture is annihilated, a people is stripped of her dignity and a nation is destroyed. It is one of the darkest moments in the history of America. The conquerors: the Spanish. The conquered: the Aztec Indigenous.

Over the next ten years, Franciscan missionaries arrive and would begin the conversion of a conquered nation to Spanish Catholicism. Among the first converts is an indigenous man "Singing Eagle" and his wife. They take their baptismal names of Juan Diego and Maria Lucia.

After a few years, Juan Diego is left childless and a widower and moves into another village to live with and care for his aged uncle. The move puts him closer to Mexico City where he frequently travels to attend Mass and for catechetical instruction. This foot journey takes him past the hillside of Tepeyac.

On one of his journeys Juan encounters a woman. She has a mestizo face; partly indigenous and partly European. She is dressed in a blue mantle with the star of heaven on it. She is surrounded by the sun's rays and wears a dark ribbon above her swollen belly. The woman bows her head and looks at Juan. In the most accurate account of the apparitions at Tepeyac, the sixteenth century narrative poem "Nica Mopohua," the woman calls to Juan Diego; "Digno Juan, digno Juan Diego." (Dignified Juan).

She says to him: "Know and be certain in your heart, that I am the ever Virgin holy Mary, Mother of the God of Great Truth (Teolt), of the One through whom we live, the Creator of all persons, the Lord of Heaven and Earth. I very much desire that my heritage be erected in this place. In it I will show and give to all people all my love, my compassion, my help, and my protection, because I am your merciful Mother and the Mother of all the nations that live on this earth who would love me and who would place their confidence in me. I will hear their laments and cure-all their miseries, misfortunes, and sorrows."

The woman (Teotl) the Mother of God sent Juan Diego as messenger. Not so unlike other messengers of history, Moses, the prophets, and Mary Magdalene, Juan was neither received nor believed. In fact, it was not until his third visit to the Bishop of Mexico City that he was believed and only for the sign that was given him by the woman. Juan carried the roses with which the woman had entrusted him to the Bishop as a sign of her presence. Juan opens his cloak and the roses fall out, and there appears the image of the same woman that Juan had seen on the hill of Tepeyac; the woman with the mestizo face, the blue cloak with the stars of heaven, the dark ribbon above her swollen belly, and the rays of the sun around her person.

The message she wanted delivered: Build me a home at Tepeyac in America where pilgrims can come and know themselves as my children and know me as their mother. Build me a home at Tepeyac in America where there are no conquerors and no conquered, only the possibility of a New World and a New Humanity. Build me a home at Tepeyac in America where the powerful will be brought low, and the lowly will be raised up and where all my children will live as brothers and sisters.

And so Juan Diego went to the mighty. And the mighty were brought low, and the lowly were raised up, and the shrine was built. Under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe,

John Paul II says, "Mary has become the historical beginning of a New Humanity."

John Paul II also says, "Our Lady of Guadalupe is God's special gift to America at the beginning of Christianity in America." Guadalupe scholar Virgilio Elizando says, " God would not allow the Gospel to become an instrument of colonization, as the conquerors and the missionaries thought. God would choose this time in history, one of America's darkest moments, to send Mary (Teotl) to show us that the Gospel is a means to heal, to liberate, and to unite a people."

Mary came to teach the conquerors, to heal the conquered, to give birth to new life.

The new life would be Christianity, Christ incarnate in America, the Christ of peace, love, and dignity.

What the missionaries tried to destroy (the native culture and the dignity of a people),

Mary affirms. What the natives did not understand (Christ incarnate in America), Mary explains. What neither could grasp (a New World and a New Church where all can live as brothers and sisters), Mary reveals.

Mary invites the Church to conversion through love and compassion instead of through enslavement and oppression. She calls forth neither a continuation of a European Church nor a Christian veneer over native practices but a birth of a New Church and a New Humanity.

On his 1999 visit to Mexico City, John Paul II declared Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, "Patroness of America." John Paul II intentionally used America in her singular form to designate one continent of many peoples. One continent of many peoples.

Our Lady of Guadalupe of Tepeyac, the Mountain of the Beatitudes in America, the place of the Incarnation in America.

Our Lady of Guadalupe of Tepeyac, the place where the lowly, the poor, the meek, and the persecuted are raised up and the mighty are brought low

Our Lady of Guadalupe of Tepeyac, woman of mestizo face, symbol of America, symbol of a New World and a New Church where there are no oppressors and no oppressed, only sisters and brothers in Christ.

Five hundred years ago, in 1531, you appeared to Juan Diego in the darkest moments of American history. In 2007 you come to us in difficult times as well. You come expecting, pregnant with hope as you came to your cousin Elizabeth in Luke's Gospel.

You come requesting a home in our hearts and a place in our lives as you requested a home in the time of Juan Diego. We have lost a sense of the dignity of life. We have lost a sense of the dignity of the lives of those who are different from us and those yet to be born.

Touch our hearts. Teach us once again the message of peace, love, life, and unity.

Give us the courage once again to be a New Church, to be brothers and sisters to all

The Juan Diegos of our times --- to all of the Juan Diegos of our day. Teach us to live as your children, as brothers and sisters to each other with you as our Mother, Sister, Example, and Friend.

Mary of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Maria de Guadalupe, ruega por nosotros.
Mary of Guadalupe, pray for us.