Today we celebrate the Patroness of all of the Americas. This feast day has become such a great celebration that it can no longer be contained to Mexico alone. Our loving Mother, back in 1531, appeared to Juan Diego as Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is accredited with freeing the Mexican people from idolatry and reconciling the Spanish and indigenous peoples in a common devotion. In other words, she single-handedly united the Mexican people and converted virtually the entire nation to Catholicism.
The miraculous qualities of the image she left on Juan Diego’s cloak are simply amazing. There are several people reflected in her eyes, including Juan Diego himself and the bishop he was asked to approach. The material’s temperature is 98.6 degrees, the same as a living person. No one has been able to replicate the pigments found in the image, neither from mineral, animal or vegetable sources. The image has been preserved for over 500 years, despite fire, a bomb, and an acid spill, not to mention that the fibrous fabric normally deteriorates after just 15 years.
Having lived in Mexico for three and a half years as a missionary, I have witnessed the incredible devotion there. Multiple images of her adorn almost every home. Novenas and rosaries occur at churches and in homes leading up to her feast day. Hundreds of thousands of faithful travel in pilgrimage each year, some are walking on their knees to arrive at her shrine on December 12th. Their devotion to her brings them to communion, to Christ, to the Eucharist.
I had the privilege to visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine several times while I lived there. The whole area has such a holy feel to it. Her presence is palpable. But I think what impacted me the most was the fact that people from all over the world, from diverse political parties, a gamut of social classes, differing colors of skin, ways of dress, from the very rich to the very poor, were found there, and they were all doing the very same thing: Praying. A moving walkway under her image kept “traffic” flowing, but most went back and forth multiple times, lips moving, hands raised, eyes elevated. You could see the faith and perhaps the desperation of each person there, all human beings crying out for intercession from the Mother of God and our Mother. Just as she united the Mexican people in the 1500s, she continues to unite all of us today.
I had many difficult moments as a missionary. Moments of vocational crisis, incomprehension, loneliness, and longing, and what got me through it all were my nightly visits to Our Lady. I would cry out to her, and often I would cry. I would pour out my woes and feel her soothe me, as a mother calms her child.
We are almost halfway through this Advent season. I would invite you, as you prepare your hearts for the coming of the Christ-Child, to do so hand in hand with Our Blessed Mother. She is the person closest to our Lord, the one who knows Him the best, knows His heart, knows your heart. For the remainder of this Advent, allow her to unite your heart to His.
Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.