December 15, 2019

3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday

 “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.”

This week’s Marian image is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this past Thursday, December 12th.  In 1531, Mary appeared to Juan Diego near Mexico City.  She asked him to go to the bishop and ask him to build a church in the place where she had appeared.  At first the bishop did not believe Juan Diego, and he asked for a sign.  Three days later, on December 12th, Mary again appeared to Juan Diego and this time gave him a sign to bring to the bishop.  Despite it being freezing cold, Mary caused roses to grow and told Juan Diego to pick the roses and bring them to the bishop.  When Juan Diego opened his tilma (cloak) to show the bishop the roses, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe suddenly appeared on the tilma.

This tilma should have deteriorated after just a few years or decades, but it has survived for nearly 500 years now and is on display in the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

I have visited this shrine, and it is a very beautiful and special pilgrimage location, and each year millions of people visit this shrine to show their honor for Mary and ask for her prayers.

The symbolism of the image is significant as well.  Mary appears as a native Aztec princess, thus showing her closeness to the native peoples.  She has a black ribbon around her waist, symbolic of her being with child.  She is standing in front of the sun and with the moon under her feet, fulfilling the prophecy from Revelation 12:1.

As a result of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing, millions of native peoples from Mexico and the surrounding region converted to Catholicism.  I ask you to join me in calling upon Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and ask her to help bring about a new conversion in our world today.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke