12 December 2013
Madre of us all.
Unbeknownst to many, and very much known to others, today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For generations now, since 1531, the celebration has been one that has become a staple of the Mexican culture, and has spread far and wide in honor of the simple girl from so long ago. Even Hong Kong boasts an Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Either way, I find this day to be one of mixed emotion for me. Mixed emotion because every time this day rolls around, I am profoundly touched by the devotion and love that so many have for Our Lady. On a personal note, I am reminded of my Nana who so long ago shared with us her faith and her own devotion to "la morenita." Whether one celebrates this day or not, or whether one is Catholic, Christian, or of any other persuasion, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a Catholic event, in some ways, it is a reminder of our dignity as human beings. It is a day in which I cannot help but recall the power with which Guadalupe helped raise so many people out of a slavery that had been imposed on them by forces beyond their understanding. After ten years of bloodshed and death by the conquering forces, Guadalupe came to a poor peasant in the middle of nowhere on a cold December day, as he trudged along faithfully going to church, he was startled by the pleasant voice of a young maiden, and by the singing of birds. Being a man of the earth, he quickly realized the significance of this event. It wasn't normal for this time of year nor was it ordinary to hear a woman's voice out in the middle of nowhere. He went to her and she spoke to him in his own language, she charged him with a mission to go the bishop and ask him to build a church. Several times, he attempted to gain entrance into the palace of his grace, and several times he was denied entry. Finally, discouraged and disappointed, he tried to avoid the young woman. His attempt was foiled because to his surprise, she met him on his different route. This time, she encouraged him to go again, but instead of sending him alone, she entrusted him with roses, beautiful scented roses (like you get at the flower shop, not the grocery store.) This type of rose, however, was the type that grew in the region of Spain that the Bishop was from. Upon arriving at the Bishop's palace, he was accepted and when asked for proof, Juan Diego, the peasant, unraveled his mantel from which fell the many roses. Aside from the beautiful array of flora, the miraculous image of Our Lady appeared. This event, aside from being miraculous, was significant because shortly after the apparition, millions of people converted to the faith that this young maiden had presented. In only a year after the miracle at Tepeyac, more people converted to the faith than in all the ten years before. While this was of great importance, what was even more miraculous, was the manner in which so many people have seen in the simple exchange between Guadalupe and Juan Diego, a momentous occasion in which the poor and unimportant people of that time were raised to a new level of dignity. Not only were they brought to God who was love, but their difference was overlooked, and embraced by this beautiful maiden who spoke their language. As such, I believe that this celebration is not only one meant for the churches, but one meant for every Christian and person of faith, because in Guadalupe, we are reminded of Christ Himself who took on the vulnerability of flesh, and even more so, placed himself on the margins of society by going to the marginalized. Today, and every day, we as a people of faith and as members of the human race, must turn to those cast aside or forgotten, we must overlook the differences and embrace each other in love, not accepting those things that rob us of our human dignity, but helping each other to grow into the best person God intends us to be. Guadalupe in the light of Christ, is a reminder of this calling to serve, and serve we must, especially in a world that so easily uses the name of God to make people into the very outcasts Christ would tend to. May you be blessed today and always, and as always, know that you are loved. RL Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, ensenanos a amar.