“Am I not your mother?” The pressing question of Our Lady of Guadalupe


This photo of Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Today Catholics all over the world celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the appearances of the Blessed Mother to a poor Indian named Juan Diego shortly after the fall of the Aztec capitol city of Tenochtitlan to Cortez in 1521. Four times she appeared to him, dressed as a pregnant Aztec maiden, calling him her “son” and sending him to the bishop in Mexico City, where she wanted a shrine built.

“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion…”

Reluctantly, he eventually went — but the bishop did not immediately believe him. Returning to the hill where he first met the Lady, he found her waiting for him. Her first words ring down to us through the ages …

“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear.”

Instructing him to gather the roses that had suddenly sprung up on the hillside (out of season), she sent him back to the vision. And when the poor man opened his mantle, the roses had imprinted a miraculous image — and the original tilma with the image has survived centuries of devotion, still on display behind the altar, perfectly preserved, at the basilica.

“Am I not your mother?” This question has new meaning for me right now. I recently started caring for my elderly mother, whose mind is burdened with dementia. There are some times when we don’t know how to reach each other, even while looking right into each other’s eyes. It’s a question I find myself repeating, over and over: “Is this not my mother?”

She is. And yet, not the mother I’ve always known. In fact, some days I think that the mantle has passed from her shoulders to mine.

I wonder, Juan Diego, if you ever looked into the eyes of that Lady and wondered yourself. “Who is this person? And what does she want from me that I haven’t already done? When will she be satisfied?” I understand, more than ever, the desire to escape, to go around the other way. Then, in a flash, I see her again, and I feel a little ashamed of myself. How could I NOT see that she is, indeed, my own?

I will not fear. For she is with me. And so, my Lord, are you.

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Happy Feasting!

Ebeth has posted this week’s Catholic Carnival at “A Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars.” We foiled her in her “Valentine’s Day” theme … but it is still well worth reading. Enjoy!

Sunday was a special feastday … although I didn’t get anything posted about it (I don’t think she’ll mind … St. Scholastica perfected the feminine virtue of hiddenness.) Instead, four dear friends and I gathered for our annual “Ladies’ Tea.”
Our friendship goes back more than a decade, when I first moved to Michigan to take the managing editor’s job at Servant Publications. Shortly thereafter, I joined St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor, MI … and started hanging out with Katy, Denise, Lilian, and Patty. At the time, none of us were married or had any children, and so we got together and started praying for our future husbands.
Within a year, three of us (myself included) were married, and a fourth had adopted a child from Ukraine. Fast forward years later, and we still make a point of getting together to pray for one another and catch up on each others’ lives. Usually over pints of tea and plates of treats (good thing I didn’t give up chocolate for Lent this year)!
Each time we get together, I wonder why we don’t make these visits more frequent … and each time, I am grateful for the time we do spend together. I imagine it’s sort of like how Scholastica felt for her twin brother, St. Benedict. (You can read the story here.) Or here.
To be frank, the information we have about St. Scholastica is a bit sketchy … only one story, captured in the hagiography of St. Gregory the Great. Still, I wear her medallion around my neck (along with St. Edith and St. Teresa of Avila) whenever I do any serious writing for one single reason: She understood when it was time to stop arguing, and to step back and let God intervene.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In honor of this feast, I’d like to recommend a little gem of a recording called “Famous Blue Raincoat,” by Jennifer Warnes. “Song of Bernadette” and “Joan of Arc” are both wonderful cuts in this album (you can listen to a snippet by clicking on the link). Well worth getting.
Yesterday at tea, Patty talked about her trip last spring to Medjugorje (I always get this apparition confused with Fatima). I understand from Patty that one of the “children” (now an elderly priest) is visited on the 25th of each month by the Blessed Mother — although no one can see her but him. I wonder why she would do that … have a standing appointment at a specific place and time, but not let anyone else see her but the original “seer.” Does anyone have thoughts on this?

Lourdes is a different story. There are many, many accounts of people receiving healing from the spring where Bernadette once stood … and many more who receive the spiritual graces they need to endure. (Of course, I readily admit that the Blessed Mother can do whatever she wishes, whenever she wants, without it needing to “make sense” to me. I’m just puzzled by it, is all.)
Any thoughts?