Posted by: fvbcdm | December 5, 2011

Feast of Saint Gerald (5 Dec 2011)

Next Monday will be December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and because of the great devotion to her under that title by the Hispanic people of our hemisphere, we here in Houston and Texas are already hearing a lot about the apparitions of Our Lady just outside Mexico City in the year 1531, very briefly after the coming of the Spanish to Mexico and the beginnings of our holy faith in that part of the world.  

There are a number of delightful elements to the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  For example, in order to provide for the bishop of Mexico a sign of her authenticity, she instructed Saint Juan Diego, the Indian catechumen to whom she was appearing, to go to the top of the hill of Tepeyac and gather roses that he would find there.  The simple and practical man replied, “No, Dear Lady; there are no roses in Mexico in December.” The beautiful lady listened smilingly to his little lecture on Mexican horticulture and his attempt to correct her instructions.  When he had finished, she said very tenderly but firmly, “My dear son, go get the roses.”  To humor this lovely but mistaken lady, he climbed to the top of the hill and there, of course, was a profusion of white roses!  We know the rest of that story: he gathered them in his apron, brought them to the beautiful lady who arranged them in his apron with her own hands, and then, following her directions, he brought them to the bishop.  But the bishop was much less impressed by the beautiful and unseasonal roses than by the image of the lovely lady which was now imprinted on the apron.  The moral of the story: when the Mother of Jesus promises roses, expect roses—no matter when, no matter where.  When she appeared to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes more than three hundred years later, she was barefooted.  But there was a beautiful yellow rose on each of her feet.

Back to Mexico and Our Lady of Guadalupe: from the time of the Mexican revolution until our own time, there has been bitter persecution of the Church by the Mexican government, although it has abated greatly in the past few years.  During the worst days of it, all religious imagery was strictly forbidden in public.  Then, a brand new and very efficient subway system was installed in Mexico City, and each of the stops along the subway routes and in the cars was identified not only by written names but also by pictures for the sake of the passengers who could not read.  So suddenly, the beloved image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which the government had tried for years to suppress completely was now displayed all over the Mexican subway system since the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is always one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations not only in Mexico but in our entire hemisphere.  And this is paid for and supported by the government!  In 1531, she provided roses in December; in 1980 or so, she flooded Mexico City with her illuminated pictures!  

So as we continue our celebration of the holy season of Advent, preparing for the great festival of Christmas when our Divine Lord was “born of the Virgin Mary,” we have just next door to us in Mexico these striking manifestations of the power of the little Virgin Mary of Nazareth who assures us in her Magnificat that “all generations will call me blessed.”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P. 

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