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Our Lady of Guadalupe: ‘Am I Not Here?’

The following story appeared in the December 16 Idaho Catholic Register.

Parishioners at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist participated in a procession of Our Lady of Guadalupe through downtown Boise. Parroquianos de la Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist participaron en una procesión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe alrededor del centro de Boise. (Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)


By Kathleen Beckman

Catholic Exchange


In 1519, when the Spanish explorer Cortes came ashore near present day Vera Cruz, Mexico, he discovered volcanoes reaching into the clouds, armies that stretched beyond sight and rituals of bloody human sacrifice. Pagan worship was the central elements of Aztec life and there were many deities that were worshipped. Human sacrifice was one of the main religious duties and expressions of the Aztecs. The killings sometimes reached thousands in a single day.


The almost universal symbol of the Mexican religion was the serpent. As Warren H. Carroll said in his book Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness: “Nowhere in history has Satan so formalized and institutionalized his worship with so many of his own actual titles and symbols.” The mightiest god was Quetzelcoatl, the stone serpent, and the temple of the great mother god Tonantzin stood on the summit of a small hill called Tepeyac. It is recorded that 20,000 people lost their hearts to the war god Hultzilopochtli in 1487 according to the library records of Mexico.


Cortes had two banner standards made for his expedition to Mexico, one displayed the royal arms of Spain and the other displayed the Cross. After many violent battles, the Mexican empire began to fall to the Spanish conquerors in 1521. In 1531, a team of Franciscan friars traveled from Spain to found a Christian mission in Mexico. The deeply rooted pagan traditions made conversions to Christianity difficult and few.


Enter the Virgin Mary! The year was 1531, some 12 years after Cortes landed in Mexico.


“Know for certain, dearest of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God, through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things who is Master of heaven and earth. I ardently desire a temple to be built here for me where I will show and offer all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who live united in this land, and of all mankind, and of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Here, I will hear their weeping and their sorrows and will remedy and alleviate their sufferings, necessities and misfortunes. Therefore, in order to realize my intentions, go to the house of the Bishop of Mexico City and tell him that I sent you and that it is my desire to have a temple built here. Tell him all that you have seen and heard.” (Professor Courtney Bartholomew, M.D., “A Scientist Researches Mary”)


On Tepeyac Hill, the Virgin Mary spoke these words to a humble Aztec Indian, Juan Diego, newly converted to Christianity by the Franciscan evangelists. It is recorded that Juan Diego saw a most beautiful young woman clothed in a light brighter than the sun, and dressed in the robes of a royal Aztec princess.


This was the start of the most extraordinary events of Marian apparitions in Mexico between Dec. 7 and Dec. 12, 1531.


Juan Diego nervously but obediently relayed the message to Bishop Zumarraga who was incredulous of the story and requested him to ask the apparition for a sign to prove her authenticity.


On Dec. 12, the Virgin said to 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?


The Virgin then told Diego to climb to the summit of Tepeyac where she appeared previously, and there he would find a profusion of Castillian roses, which were not grown or known in Mexico at the time. Also, it would be quite impossible for the roses to grow on such stony terrain. Diego spread out his Tilma like an apron and filled it with the roses, and he showed them to the Virgin Mary who waited for him. The Lady sent him back to the bishop with the flowers.


The bishop was more than awe-struck not only by the flowers, but also by the miraculous phenomena that he saw: inside the tilma of Juan Diego appeared (painted) the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was the beginning of the greatest mass conversion in religious history. Nine million Aztec Indians were converted to Christianity in a few years time!


The miraculous image on the tilma of St. Juan Diego remains one of the greatest Marian miracles in history. The Aztec Indians were able to read and understand the miraculous pictograph. The Lady stood in front of the sun and this signified to them that she was greater than the dreaded sun-god Huitzilopochtli. Her foot rested on the crescent moon, which signified one of their foremost deities, Coyolxauhqui, the goddess of the moon. This was a sign that God had given her power over all of nature. The hue of her mantle was the blue-green color worn by Aztec royalty signifying that she was a Queen. The stars on her mantle told them that she was greater than the stars of heaven, which they also worshipped as gods. Because her hands were folded in prayer, and her head was bowed in reverence, she could not be a god since her posture revered One greater than herself. The sash around her waist with tassels signified that she was pregnant, and her right foot stood on the head of the serpent. She was mightier than the dreaded serpent god!


In 2012 in Rome, the Knights of Columbus sponsored an international congress on “Ecclesia in America” wherein clergy, laity and Vatican representatives discussed the indispensable role of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the new evangelization. On the eve of the congress, the Feast of St. Juan Diego, Pope Benedict XVI said to participants, “Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to proclaim His name throughout America.”


A year later, when hundreds of clergy and lay leaders from across the Americas meet in Mexico City for a meeting titled, “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent,” Pope Francis greeted participants in a video message that urged them to make “missionary outreach the paradigm of all pastoral activity.” In reference to the miraculous roses that filled Juan Diego’s tilma, Pope Francis added, “If you do this, do not be surprised if roses bloom in the middle of winter. Because, you know, both Jesus, and we have the same mother!”


The heart of the message of Mary in 1531 was “Yahweh is God, not Baal.” She called people to return to the one true God. In Francis Johnston’s book, The Wonder of Guadalupe published in 1981, 450 years after the apparitions, he writes, “There is a striking parallel between our age and that of the Aztec civilization, immediately before the apparitions of 1531. Now, as then, society is dominated by godlessness, pagan excesses and immorality. Countless innocents are sacrificed on the altar of abortion, false deities abound everywhere, and Aztec polygamy and depravity are more than matched by today’s moral collapse. A decisive collision seems inevitable and imminent, as it was in 1531. But all is not lost. The darkest hour will inevitably melt away in the radiant dawn of Our Lady’s triumph over the serpent.”


In September 2014, for the first time in my life, I was about to set foot into the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City when my cell phone rang. Seeing that it was my physician brother calling, I took the call. He reported that our mother appeared to have suffered a heart attack and would need a heart procedure. I offered to return home immediately. He put my mother on the phone and she said, “You can do more for me there, stay and pray for me before the Tilma please.”


I was conflicted, but I entered the Shrine to pray as mother had asked. A few days later when I arrived home, I was informed that my mother did not need the heart procedure; she was well and could go home.


O Virgin of Guadalupe, please help us to worship and serve only your Son, Jesus Christ. We implore your help to defeat the work of the evil one in our lives and to crush any false idol that we may have erected. We, your children, long to hear your words spoken to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here?”


 

Kathleen Beckman, who originally wrote this for Catholic Exchange at catholicexchange.com, has served in the Church through radio and television, writing and speaking. Sophia Institute Press has published her four books including the newest, “A Family Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Strategies for Deliverance and Healing.” For 16 years, Beckman has served in the Church’s ministry of exorcism and deliverance. In 2013, with encouragement from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, she co-founded the “Foundation of Prayer for Priests” a ministry of intercessory prayer for the holiness and protection of clergy. For more information, go to foundationforpriests.org.


The miraculous image on the tilma of St. Juan Diego remains one of the greatest Marian miracles in history. The Aztec Indians were able to read and understand the miraculous pictograph. The Lady stood in front of the sun and this signified to them that she was greater than the dreaded sun-god Huitzilopochtli. Her foot rested on the crescent moon, which signified one of their foremost deities, Coyolxauhqui, the goddess of the moon. This was a sign that God had given her power over all of nature. The hue of her mantle was the blue-green color worn by Aztec royalty signifying that she was a Queen. The stars on her mantle told them that she was greater than the stars of heaven, which they also worshipped as gods. Because her hands were folded in prayer, and her head was bowed in reverence, she could not be a god since her posture revered One greater than herself. The sash around her waist with tassels signified that she was pregnant, and her right foot stood on the head of the serpent. She was mightier than the dreaded serpent god!

 

La imagen milagrosa de la tilma de San Juan Diego sigue siendo uno de los mayores milagros marianos de la historia. Los indios aztecas pudieron leer y comprender el pictograma milagroso. La Señora se paró frente al sol y esto significaba para ellos que era más grande que el temido dios-sol Huitzilopochtli. Su pie descansaba sobre la luna creciente, que signifi-caba una de sus principales deidades, Coyolxauhqui, la diosa de la luna. Esta era una señal de que Dios le había dado poder sobre toda la naturaleza. El tono de su manto era el color azul verdoso que usaba la realeza azteca, lo que significa que ella era una reina. Las estrellas de su manto les decían que ella era más grande que las estrellas del cielo, a las que también adoraban como dioses. Debido a que sus manos estaban juntas en oración y su cabeza inclinada en reverencia, no podía ser un dios ya que su postura reverenciaba a Uno más grande que ella. La faja alre-dedor de su cintura con borlas significaba que estaba embarazada, y su pie derecho estaba sobre la cabeza de la serpiente. ¡Era más poderosa que el temido dios

serpiente!


Horse riders joined musical bands, dancers and hundreds of parishioners and guests were part of the procession honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 11, the day before the Dec. 12 Feast Day. The deacon pictured is Deacon Derrick O’Neill. Jinetes, bandas de música, danzantes y cientos de parroquianos y visitantes formaron parte de la procesión en honor a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe este 11 de Dic.,un día antes del 12 de Dic. (Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)


The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is held up by a parishioner at St. Paul’s in Nampa for a blessing. La imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe es sostenida por una parroquiana de St. Paul’s Nampa para su bendición. (Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)



Students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Boise partici-pate in the bringing up of the gifts with an offering of flowers to the Virgin of Guadalupe during a Mass at the church. Estudiantes de St. Mary’s escuela católica en Boise, participaron en el ofertorio con una ofrenda de flores a la Virgen de Guadalupe durante la Misa celebrada en la parroquia. (Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)


The Tonatiuh dance group performs at St. Mary’s School. El grupo de danza Tonatiuh se presentó en la escuela St. Mary’s. (Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)


Father Jesús Camacho, parochial vicar at St. Mary’s, shows his chasuble with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which he wore during two days of celebration at St. Mary’s, which has one of the largest Hispanic congregations in the Treasure Valley. Padre Jesús Camacho, vicario parroquial en St. Mary’s muestra su casulla con la imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe, la cuál, vistió durante los dos días de la celebración en St. Mary’s donde se congrega uno de los grupos Hispanos más grandes del Valle del Tesoro.

(Idaho Catholic Register photos, Verónica Gutiérrez)


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