Rev. Mark Watson/Pastor
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
On Wednesday, December 12 the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The people of Mexico have deep love and devotion for Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is not only the Patroness of Mexico but also the Empress of the Americas. I am hoping that this article will help you better understand the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and help to draw you closer to her.
In 1517 the Spanish explorer Cortez discovered the Yucatan and on Good Friday of 1519, he landed in Mexico. He brought with him Spanish culture which was centered on Catholicism and its call to bring pagans to the faith. War began between the two sides in April of 1521 and the tribes were finally defeated on August 13, 1521. After the defeat, there was a sense of despair among the natives and a lack of interest in converting to Catholicism.
The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place early in the morning on Saturday, December 9, 1531, on the hill of Tepeyac, on the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, a poor Christian Indian of middle age. At the top of the hill, he saw a lady of glowing beauty. She was also a native who spoke a native language. She revealed that she was “the ever holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God” and told Juan Diego to ask the Bishop to build a temple to her below the hill. The bishop told Juan Diego that he would only believe him if Juan Diego would bring a sign from the Lady.
When Juan Diego next saw the Lady she told him to go to the top of the hill, where he would find flowers, which he was to cut and bring to her. He found roses of Castile and brought them to the Lady who rearranged them in his tilma or outer garment. She told him to open the tilma in front of the bishop and afterward, he would agree to her request. Juan Diego opened his tilma and the roses fell to the floor in front of the bishop. The bishop recognized them as roses from his homeland. On the tilma was the exact image of the Lady who had appeared to Juan Diego.
Her dress was of a pale red color. Red symbolized the East, the area from which the Sun arises and thus a sign of a new beginning. The blue-green of her mantle was the royal color of the gods and its use was reserved to the deities and royalty showing that she must be of divine or at least royal origin. The stars on the mantle of the Lady announced, in the native concept of time, the beginning of a new civilization. The Lady is being carried by an angel. Only royalty and the representatives of the gods were carried by others. The Lady hides the sun but does not extinguish it. The sun was the greatest of the gods in the native pantheon. Our Lady is shown to be greater than the greatest god. She stands upon the moon. One of the greatest gods was the moon god. She is shown to be greater than the moon god but she does not do away with it or crush it. Around her waist is a black maternity band which shows that she is with a child.
There is an Indian cross over her navel which shows that the child in her womb marks the center of the universe. She wears a broach close to her neck with a Christian cross showing that she is both a bearer and follower of Christ.
When all seemed lost, Our Lady of Guadalupe brought Christ to the sufferings of the natives of Mexico. Six years after the conquest, nine million Mexicans had converted to Christianity. From her intervention, a whole new civilization was created from two different cultures.
Our parish has a tradition of celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year on December 11 we will begin with the Gran Kermes (Carnival Fundraiser) which will last from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The Mass will be celebrated in Spanish at 7:00 pm. At 9:00 pm we will pray the Rosary in the Church which will be followed at 10:00 pm by a play depicting the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At midnight a mariachi band will sing traditional hymns to Mary called mañanitas. On December 12 we will have a procession from the school to the Church which will begin at 5:30 pm. At 6:00 pm we will celebrate a bilingual Mass. I hope you are able to attend some of these events.
This year may the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe be a part of your Advent observance. Fr. Mark