Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to you! Nuestra Senora has been such a dear part of my husband and my lives since we first started praying the rosary by her image at our diocesan center when we were dating (…after hours…using the key pad code my husband had learned when he was discerning the priesthood…which was romantic and exciting and Eucharistic—as the tabernacle at that time was off to the side right below her picture—and I’m sure Our Lady wanted to come down from that wall and have a few words with us). But like a good mom, she kept her eyes on the big picture and was there for us when my husband proposed at the same spot…two months later--again, probably wanting to sit us down for a chat—but she stuck with us, beautifully caring for us and tending to smoothing out the details of our early marriage and guiding us through the joys and challenges of the births of our children in an unmistakably gentle way.
Different aspects of the apparitions to St. Juan Diego have fascinated me over the years: the miracle of the image itself on his tilma, the microscopic images in Our Lady’s eyes capturing the moment Juan Diego revealed the image in his tilma to a small group including the local bishop, and the intricacy and deep meaning behind Our Lady’s posture and mantle in the image.
However, this very early morning, perhaps just a tiny bit more experienced in love than when I had just gotten engaged, what strikes me as most miraculous and awe-inspiring is Our Lady’s words to Juan Diego and the message of her tender motherhood that God desired the world to know. During one of their exchanges, Our Lady tells Juan Diego, “Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”
How human! And divine! With what love Our Father in Heaven allowed for His little children to be reminded in such a remarkable way of the very real loving presence of their mother who will carry them back to the Father in her own arms if they’d only let her, guaranteeing a safe return to Him. And further, with what love God has bestowed on motherhood to imbue it with such dignity. To think—it seems outrageous for me to even say it—but that Mary and I are the same noun: we are mothers.
God, in His infinite generosity, mercy, and goodness has entrusted to me little creatures to take care of the same way that Mary cares for us. In my calling to care for them in their littleness, in their fear of the dark, their suspicion of pants, their difficulty with letters and butter knives, their joy over things like snow and treats and animals and the novelty of having a real live decorated tree in our living room, in showing my love and concern, by being their mom, I am sharing in a small but by no means insignificant—thanks to the Passion—part of Mary’s life. I am a mother. Just like Mary.
I think of the image and of the purple sash that Mary is wearing, signifying pregnancy. At the center of it all, Mary has come to bring us Jesus and to bring us to Him. Our Heavenly Father has given us mothers a gift in this feast day, a beautiful opportunity to remember our specialness as His beloved daughters and to ask in a powerful way for His help in our calling, for the grace to pick our children up (and everyone else in our care) and to bring them safely to Him. And isn’t that all that we want? For me, this morning, this is the miracle at the heart of this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
If you should find yourself in Wisconsin, please be sure to visit the gorgeous shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in my home diocese of LaCrosse. Visit http://www.guadalupeshrine.org/ to learn more.