Today is the feast day of the Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Philippines. In 1935 Pope Pius IX declared as such to Filipino people. There was an anecdote about Our Lady of Guadalupe. That on the cold of December 9, 1531, ten years after the coming of Magellan to the Philippines, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepayac Hill near Mexico City to ask the construction of a church there in her honor. According to the book, Message Marial, by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, that one of the most beautiful series of apparitions of the Queen of Heaven occurred on the American continent on a December day of 1531, only ten years after the Spanish conquest. A fervent Christian Indian in his fifties, Juan Diego, a widower, was on his way to Mass in Mexico City from his home eight miles distant, a practice he and his wife had followed since their conversion, in honor of Our Lady on Her day, Saturday. He had to pass near the hill of Tepeyac, and was struck there by the joyous song of birds, rising up in the most melodious of concerts; he stopped to listen. Looking up to the hilltop, he perceived a brilliant cloud, surrounded by a light brighter than a fiery sun, and a gentle voice called him by name, saying, “Juan, come.” His first fear was transformed into a sweet happiness by this voice, and he mounted the slope. There he beheld the One he had intended to honor by hearing Her Mass. She was surrounded by a radiance so brilliant it sent out rays that seemed to transform the very rocks into scintillating jewels.
This is the beautiful dialogue between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Juan Diego: “Where are you going, My child?” She asked him. “To Saint James to hear the Mass sung by the minister of the Most High in honor of the Mother of the Savior.” “That is good, My son; your devotion is agreeable to Me, as is also the humility of your heart. Know then that I am that Virgin Mother of God, Author of Life and Protector of the weak. I desire that a temple be built here, where I will show Myself to be your tender Mother, the Mother of your fellow citizens and of all who invoke My name with confidence. Go to the bishop and tell him faithfully all you have seen and heard.”
After the miraculous cure of his uncle, this Indian peasant brought to his bishop some roses that he received from the Blessed Virgin Mary as a sign of her request. In the beginning the bishop and priests remained sceptical. And so Juan Diego went back to the Blessed Virgin Mary and reported what had happened. And so he was instructed to spread out his tilma, a native cape, on which the Blessed Virgin Mary placed several rosas de Castilla: flowers relatively rare in those hills and most of the vegetation were dead due to the freezing cold of December. The Virgin instructed Juan to present these flowers to the bishop with a promise that his uncle who is ill would get well. As the flowers fell from his cloak to the ground before the astonished bishop, the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is venerated in the Basilica of Guadalupe up to this day, was miraculously impressed on the simple garment before their eyes.
The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Diego is so consoling to us and encouraging. It is because she says to him: “I am your merciful mother, the Mother of all….those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me….Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother?” With this message what are we afraid of?
Mary is the highly favored woman of God. Her fiat is our excellent model. Her life is an example on how to remain favored with God. In this sense, through our baptism we are favored with God. We become God’s children and created in His image and likeness. The problem is after our baptism, we don’t remain pleasing to God. This is our struggle and challenge since the beginning of our lives. And so therefore, Mary is here to be the living reminder of ours on how to become favored ones and pleasing to God again.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patroness of the Americas. And up to this day, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the humble servant of God continues to spread heavenly things by doing good works in the world. For us as followers of her Son, Jesus, we can remain favored ones of God by putting into practice His word in our daily living.
See Today’s Readings: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
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