12 December, Monday — Opening Our Eyes & Hearts

Dec 12 – Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Guadalupe is, strictly speaking, the name of a picture, but the name was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town which grew up around the church. It makes the shrine, it occasions the devotion, it illustrates Our Lady. It is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of a woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign with a supporting angel under the crescent. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico, it may represent certain Aztec sounds.

Its tradition is long-standing and constant, and in sources both oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. The Blessed Virgin appeared on Saturday, 9 December 1531 to a 55-year-old neophyte named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac Hill to hear Mass in Mexico City. She sent him to Bishop Zumarraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop’s answer.

The bishop did not immediately believe the messenger, had him cross-examined and watched, and he finally told him to ask the lady who said she was the mother of the true God for a sign. The neophyte agreed readily to ask for the sign desired, and the bishop released him.

Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle who was dying of fever. Indian medicine had failed and Bernardino seemed at death’s door. At daybreak on Tuesday 12 December 1531, Juan ran to nearby St. James’ convent to ask for a priest. To avoid the apparition and the untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said, “What road is this thou takest son?”

A tender dialogue ensued. She reassured Juan about his uncle, to whom she also briefly appeared and instantly cured. Calling herself “Holy Mary of Guadalupe”, she told Juan to return to the bishop. He asked for the sign he required. Mary told him to go to the rocks and gather roses. Juan knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma (a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians), he came back. The Holy Mother rearranged the roses, and told him to keep them untouched and unseen until he reached the bishop.

When Juan met with Zumarraga, Juan offered the sign to the bishop. As he unfolded his cloak, the roses, fresh and wet with dew, fell out. Juan was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him. The life-size figure of the Virgin Mary, just as Juan had described her, was glowing on the tilma. The picture was venerated, guarded in the bishop’s chapel, and soon after, carried in procession to the preliminary shrine.

Painters have not understood the laying on of the colours. They have deposed that the ‘canvas’ was not only unfit but unprepared, and they have marvelled at the apparent oil, water, distemper, etc. colouring in the same figure. They are left in equal admiration for the flower-like tints and the abundant gold. They and other artists find the proportions perfect for a maiden of fifteen. The figure and the attitude are of one advancing. There is flight and rest in the eager, supporting angel. The chief colours are deep gold in the rays and stars, blue green in the mantle, and rose in the flowered tunic.

The clergy, secular and regular, have been remarkably faithful to the devotion towards Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops fostering it, even to the extent of making a protestation of faith in the miracle a matter of occasional obligation. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the national patron, and made 12 December a holiday of obligation with an octave, and ordered a special Mass and Office.

  • Patron Saint Index

Nm 24:2-7,15-17
Mt 21:23-27

‘And who gave you this authority?’

Today, we read of Jesus’ wisdom in action, where He put the question to the chief priests and the elders of the people, “John’s baptism: where did it come from: heaven or man?” to answer their question.

Many times we find ourselves looking for answers and solutions, but have we wondered if we are asking the right questions to begin with?

As we prepare for Christmas and this week being the theme of Joy — What is our question? Have we received Joy? Have we brought Joy to others? What is Joy? Have we actually experienced true Joy?

As I ask myself these questions, I will never be certain of any of the answers; but what I am certain of is when I live in Christ and for Christ.

This is explained in the first reading where “He sees what Shaddai makes him see, receives the divine answer, and his eyes are opened. I see him – but not in the present, I behold him – but not close at hand: a star from Jacob takes the leadership, a sceptre arises from Israel.”

My eyes and my heart are opened, I am able to see as He sees, to forgive as He forgives, to love as He loves.

It is then that I have the found the answer that I really need to know — my meaning of life, the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we may be a reflection of your love and mercy always. We pray that we will experience the full extent of the joy you desire for us. May we continue to be faithful, obedient and always be grateful that you are our God, our Father.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for adopting us as your children. Thank you for helping us to learn and understand through the life you had to go through. May we cherish and hold your teachings ever close to our hearts.

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