During spiritual direction yesterday, the priest and I talked a lot about Our Lady of Guadalupe. SheÂ kind of popped up out of nowhere into my heart, and when the priest asked me why this particular image of Our Lady speaks to me as she does, I had trouble articulating an explanation. I didn’t even realize I felt such a strong pull toward her. Why does Our Lady of GuadalupeÂ strike a chord with my soul?
I’ve meditated on that question and read a bit more about her today, and I think I’m gaining some insight into why sheÂ suddenlyÂ burst into the scene yesterday. Before I get to that, though, here’s a quickÂ back story on Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In 1531, on four occasions, Our LadyÂ appeared in Guadalupe, Mexico to a poor, native Indian named Juan Diego. Mary asked JuanÂ to takeÂ a message to the local bishop that a new chapel be built in her honor at Tepeyac Hill. Juan went to the bishop twice. BothÂ times Juan’s request was rejected. The bishop was not convinced that Our Lady had actually appeared to Juan Diego, and so he asked for a sign from heaven to confirm Juanâ€™s story. Our Lady told Juan to go a third time, saying, â€œCome here tomorrow so you may take the bishop the sign that he has asked for. Go now. I will be waiting for you tomorrow.â€
Because his uncle was gravely ill, Juan did not do as he was asked. On December 12, he took a different path from the one on which he first saw Our Lady. (He was hoping he wouldnâ€™t see her, so he wouldnâ€™t be delayed in his trip to the village to get a priest for his uncle.) Mary againÂ appeared to Juan on this new path and told him that his uncle was already well, and that he was to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill and gather the flowers he would find there in his cactus fiber cloak (called a â€œtilmaâ€). Juan climbed to the usually barren top of the hill and found beautiful roses there, which he carefully gathered in the fold of his cloak and took to the bishop. When he reached the bishopâ€™s residence and opened the tilma, the bishop and his aides were amazed to see a life-sized image of Our Lady.
The image portrays Mary as aÂ mestiza, a person of both Spanish and Indian blood. This clearly showed that she wanted to transcend the cultural divide between two peoples that had recently been at war: the European colonists of Mexico and the native inhabitants. Instead, they were all to be united in devotion to her Son. Mary appeared therefore as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. The image had such a powerful impact upon the Aztec nation that in the five years after its appearance, approximately 8 million Aztecs and other local natives were converted to the Catholic Faith.
The Blessed Virgin helpedÂ put a stop to the most horrific aspect of Aztec culture: the barbaric practice of human sacrifice. For example, six years before Columbus arrived in the New World, a new temple was built in Mexico by the Aztecs. There were four days of ritual sacrifice to celebrate the occasion, during which 72,344 people were sacrificed to the Aztec gods by having their chests cut open and their hearts pulled out while they were still alive.
Today, 15 million pilgrims come to Guadalupe every year to view the miraculous image.Â Many come to pray for an end to the human sacrifice of abortion and the anti-life mentality of our modern â€œculture of death.â€ As Mary appears in the image as a pregnant woman, carrying the Child Jesus within her, so she is the protectress of all innocent unborn life. Because of the difficult circumstances surrounding her own pregnancy, Mary has great compassion on mothers who have to bring their children into the world amid difficult circumstances. (source)
So here’s at least one connection (I think). I haven’t written much aboutÂ Planned Parenthoodâ€™s sale of baby body parts. Not because I’m not disgusted and heartbroken and outraged and fed up and so very sad. I am. All of those emotions and more. There’s just so much noise about it all on social media that I simply don’t know what to say or do other than pray and maybe retweet a few things on Twitter. But then a friend said something like:Â if everyone who silently deplores Planned Parenthood’s bloody work would simply speak out in any way, the healing would begin.
Convicting. Yes, I must say something. I must. Silence is not an option.
ButÂ first, I’m asking for Our Lady of Guadalupe’sÂ intercession on how to best march forward in defense of life. She has experience ending barbaric practices, and this stuff withÂ Planned Parenthood is about as barbaric as it gets. And maybe that’s why, in part, Our Lady of Guadalupe is reaching out to me, to help me as I begin to do my part toward peace, reconciliation, and protectionÂ of all life.