Our Blessed Lady understands all her children; she knows what is in their hearts, and how to reach out to each and every one of them. Through her words to Juan Diego, and by the miraculous image that she left imprinted on his tilma, she "speaks" to her children; a message that is still as relevant today as it was to the Indian people almost 500 years ago. For this reason she was declared Patroness of the New Evangelization for the Americas by Pope John Paul II in 1999:
"Now Our Lady accompanies each one of her daughters and sons with her motherly presence. I ask her to ‘visit’ as a ‘pilgrim of faith’ – each and every diocese, parish and family in America, repeating to her children what she said at Cana, ‘Do whatever He tells you’ (Jn 2:5). May she cross this continent bringing it ‘life, sweetness and hope’! May she enliven and protect work of the New Evangelization, so that Christians may live their faith with consistency and fervor, and that those who have abandoned it may return. May she promote the unity of the Church, reuniting as in a new Pentecost those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who need to be renewed by the Spirit." (Ecclesia in America)
Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, a simple indigenous peasant, saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on December 9, 1531, while he was on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City. He told the local bishop, who asked for some proof. Three days later, the image of Mary appeared miraculously on his cloak when he was showing it to the bishop. (See article in our August/Sept. 2010 issue.) Today the icon is displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe nearby, one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world.
In this image of Our Lady, the word of God is proclaimed in a manner that the Aztec people could relate to. The "symbols" of the image imprinted on the tilma gave a distinct message to them. The young Virgin, dressed as Aztec Royalty, is wearing a black sash at her waist – a sign that she is with child. Her head is bowed and Her eyes are lowered, indicating that She is not a goddess: She is instead, in prayerful adoration before the Incarnate Word made Flesh whom She carries within Her womb. She is standing in front of the sun with 12 of the rays encircling her head, and the moon under her feet ..."A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Revelation 12:1)
By this it could be clearly understood that she was greater than both the sun and the moon which they worshipped. She is held up by an angel, a celestial being, signifying Her Heavenly origin. The constellations of stars imprinted on her robes seem to encircle her womb. There is also a jasmine flower, the only four-petal flower depicted on the tilma, that appears directly over her womb. The jasmine is the Aztec symbol for divinity and the "center of the cosmic order." This left them to understand that the child, Jesus Christ, was the One True God, "Center of the Universe." The words of love that she spoke to her humble servant Juan Diego comforted them:
"...I am the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God, for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all My love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love Me, invoke and confide in Me, to listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what My clemency pretends..."
All these signs prompted them to place themselves under the protection of her maternal mantle. They began coming from far and wide to see this miraculous image and, in a very short period of time, more than nine million souls were baptized. These same people who had up until then been worshipping the serpent god, sacrificing their own people to these gods, were now coming in large numbers to confess their sins and to receive, for the first time, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
Our Lady continues to manifest herself through her holy image, and millions of people come in pilgrimage to her shrine in Mexico annually to implore her motherly intercession. Exact replicas of this image have been reproduced and touched to the original tilma. These missionary images now travel throughout the world. They are carried in processions in churches and even through the streets, enabling millions more to experience her maternal love and compassion. There have been thousands of conversions, healings and miracles that have happened. Just from having the image present, or by touching it, many young mothers contemplating an abortion have had a change of heart and have not gone through with their abortion. There have even been abortion clinics that have closed through her intercession.
When the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in 1531, she had her children of the 20th Century in mind. Some of the signs on the tilma have only been discovered because of the modern technology of today. Recently, it was discovered that there are at least 13 people reflected in the eyes of the Virgin. Among them is a mother carrying her baby on her back. In these times today, where the family is under such attack from so many different dimensions, and babies are being destroyed by millions in their mother’s wombs in abortion mills, this is a very significant find!
John Paul II in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1999, with the miraculous picture behind him.
Our Lady of Guadalupe makes no distinctions as to who her children are. She invites us all to come to her, and she offers to each of us her motherly care. She invites us to renounce sin and to turn to her Son Jesus. It is her promise that she will "crush the head of the Serpent". The new idols of our day: power, money, pleasure, consumerism...degrade and dehumanize the world. The Church does not remain idle. She has identified these demons in the present social, financial, and political spheres, and it is through the Catholic Social Teaching that she proposes a remedy in order to build a civilization of love.
In his encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI states that the Catholic Social Teaching "... is an expression of the prophetic task of the Supreme Pontiffs to give apostolic guidance to the Church of Christ and to discern the new demands of evangelization." This is illustrated by the four pillars: The Dignity of the Human Person, the Common Good, Subsidiarity and Solidarity. These pillars of the Social Doctrine confirm that the human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has a right to life from the moment of conception. Each person is unique, and should be permitted to develop to his full potential in the family of God throughout his entire life, until natural death. We all have God as our Father, with Christ as our brother and Mary as our Mother.
Presently, we are faced with many different ideologies such as: Communism, Socialism, secular humanism, unbridled capitalism, globalization... these contain many errors that the Church must address and which are contrary to the dignity of man.
"The Church does not have a technical solution to offer...She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation...Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason, the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly, and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church’s social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations." (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate)
According to the Second Vatican Council, it is the role of the laity to bring Christ to the contemporary world. As laity, we all need to find concrete solutions for the application of the Church’s Social teaching and to apply the Gospel in every aspect of today’s society; economic as well as political. As Pilgrims of St. Michael, we take the Popes’ request seriously to renew the whole of society. Twice a year we have seminars that are attended by numerous bishops, priests and laity from all over the world. They come to learn about the Social Credit proposals as taught by our founder Louis Even and presented in the light of the Church’s Social Teaching.
In closing, let us recognize that this is a spiritual as well as a temporal battle that we are engaged in. Let us ask the Virgin of Guadalupe to enlighten us, uniting us as "one body in Christ." St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans (12:9-10), entreats us to: "Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor."