Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe - "Our Holy Mary"

One of the most honored titles of the Mother of God is Star of the Sea. Derived from the name of Mary, this title emphasizes her role as a sign of hope and as a guiding star for Christians. The Great Cistercian writer, Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, reflected that, “We ought to lift up our eyes to this Star that has appeared on earth today in order that she may lead us, in order that she may enlighten us, in order that she may show us the steps so that we shall know them, in order that she may help us so that we may be able to ascend” (Sermon 24 on the Nativity of Mary, 20). The Mother of God, who is also our Mother, receives us into her care, leading us to her Son.

While Saint Aelred’s words were written nearly 400 years before the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, on a hill near Mexico City, in December 1531, they capture something of the important role that the Blessed Virgin played in the evangelization of the New World. Since that time, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a mainstay for Catholics in Mexico and throughout the Americas. She has been honored as a patron of the oppressed, a guardian of human life, and a sign of God’s provident care for the least of his children.
A sixteenth century folksong conveys a sense of the joy and vibrancy that characterize the faith and trust of those who place their confidence in La Morenita:
I took delight in all the many-colored flowers, so sweet-smelling
that, startled and magnificent, were scattering,
with petals half-opened, in your presence, O Mother.
Our Holy Mary.
Your spirit, O Holy Mary, is alive in this picture.
We men praised her,
taking after the Great Book, and danced the perfect dance.
And you, Bishop, our father, preached there
by the shore of the lake.
O! I would live securely there.

During these days of Advent-expectation, as we await the coming of the Light, we can take comfort in the words which the Mother of God is said to have addressed to Juan Diego: “Hear me, my littlest one. Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance… Am I not your mother? Are you not under the protection of my mantle?”
Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe +
O God, Father of mercies,
who placed your people under the singular protection
of your Son's most holy Mother,
grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,
may seek with ever more lively faith
the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
For a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe by Saint John XXIII, click here.

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