Sunday, December 12, 2010
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today's freezing rain has confined me to the house. It's not as pretty as this freeze we had a few weeks ago.
It has given me time to meditate on Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is today. I have been attracted to these appearances since I read a short story about them many years ago by John Steinbeck.
On December 9, 1531, Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, an Indian peasant, on a hill in what is now the outskirts of Mexico City. What is so winning about her appearance if that she looks like an Indian, same features and olive skin.
She asked Juan Diego to go to the bishop and tell him that she wanted a temple built in her honor on the spot where she appeared. The bishop did not believe him. Once more Our Lady sent him. This time the bishop asked for a sign.
Our Lady appeared a third time on December 12 and told Juan Diego to gather in his cloak the roses of Castile fresh and lovely growing in a place where roses could not grow and blooming in a frosty month when roses do not bloom. She arranged the roses in his cloak and sent him to the bishop.
When he reached the bishop, Juan Diego said, "Here is the sign," and he released the corners of his cloak, and the roses uncrushed and unwilted fell to the floor. And then the bishop saw the cloak of Juan Diego and he got to his knees. On the rough cloak of the Indian Juan Diego was the image of Our Lady.
That cloak with the image on it is kept in the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Under that title Mary is honored as the patroness of the Americas. I have seen pictures and statues of this image not only in Mexico and in our country but all over the Caribbean islands in dive shops and restaurants as well as churches. By having Mary appear as an Amerindian, God has shown his loving care for people of all races and has opened our hearts to share that love with every human being.