Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Is There Anything Else You Need?": A Conversation Between St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is my favorite Marian apparition. I have always been drawn to her and the story of her appearances to St. Juan Diego.  I love so many things about her:
  • the fact that she is pregnant, as indicated by the Aztec maternity belt that she is wearing
  • the extravagance and beauty of the sign she gave to Bishop Zumarraga : Castilian roses, miraculously picked in full bloom on the hills of Tepayac, Mexico in the middle of December
  • the rich intricacy of her image mysteriously placed on Juan Diego's tilma, which should have long since disintegrated, but remains intact as a sign of contradiction to the wise and learned of the world and an image of hope and joy to the childlike
  • the staggering number of Aztec conversions to Catholicism which occurred in Mexico in the years following her apparition and the continuing steadfastness faith of the Mexican people
Most of all I love the words which she spoke to Juan Diego: words of comfort, solace and hope - words which she speaks to us and to all her children today:

As the Church once again celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I find myself pondering her pointed question to Juan Diego: "Is there anything else you need? Over and over that phrase turns in my mind -- is there anything else I need?  Juan Diego could answer that question and place his complete trust in the Mother of God who was standing directly in front of him. I have not been given such a privilege. I am, however, asked to have the same trust and faith that he did.

I find myself asking her to beg her Son, our Lord Jesus to give me the grace of complete trust in her words. I long to be able to live freely as a child of God, knowing that my heavenly Mother is with me, as she was over 500 years ago with Juan Diego and the embittered, enslaved Aztec people.

How do we come to the full trust and belief that if the Mother of God is with us, then there is nothing else we need? The answer lies in our Lady's own words: "Listen and let it penetrate your heart..." To grow in complete trust and surrender to the will of the Lord, we must listen carefully - to the Word of God in the Scriptures, to the teachings of the Church and to the still, small voice of the Lord that speaks to each and every one of us in the depths of our hearts. We need to soak in those words and let them penetrate every aspect of our lives. The we too, like Juan Diego, will be able to go forth in trust, in peace, and in power to bring the Good News to the hurting world around us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Read related posts here:
Recourse to Thee
The Angelus: Domestic Church Style
31 Ways to Grow In Devotion To Mary
7 Lessons From the Visitation

Friday, December 8, 2017

Recourse to Thee

As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I am reminded of the words given by Mary to St, Catherine Laboure which are inscribed around the edge of the Miraculous Medal: 
"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." 

The words "O Mary conceived without sin" are exactly the reality which we celebrate on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - the fact that our Blessed Mother was preserved from all sin, including that of original sin, by a special grace. It is the second part of the prayer that I have been thinking about recently: "pray for us who have recourse to thee." Those words are not exactly 21st century suburban lexicon. I have come to understand this powerful phrase through the lens of my own motherhood.

As a Mom I have experienced the perplexing phenomenon of having my children run straight past their Dad and directly into my arms sobbing and relaying their latest tale of woe -- anything and everything from "I'm hungry" to "I don't feel well" to the perennial "We have no toilet paper." Often, their needs are not something that I can directly meet - at least on my own. It is my role to take those needs and advocate for my children - with my husband, or the pediatrician, or a teacher, or even another child. As a Mom, I sometimes feel like the majority of my day is spent anticipating my children's needs and seeing that they are met. I do so out of my great love for my children and they, in turn, sense that love and have recourse to me. There is no greater satisfaction for me than knowing that it is my love and help that have brought peace and comfort to one of my children.

The reality is that my children don't analyze this recourse - they don't read books about it; they don't question it or debate it; they don't agonize over whether they should be calling the pediatrician or the piano teacher directly. They seek out and accept my help as naturally as they accept breathing.

From the cross the Lord Jesus gave us the most precious gift of being able to call his Mother, our Mother.  He gave us the ability to have recourse to her - to seek her help and intercession whenever and wherever we need it. In our Blessed Mother, we find those maternal arms open and waiting for us to run to her and tell her our latest tale of woe. In her, we find an Mother who will advocate for the well-being of us, her children. More than that, we find in our Blessed Mother, a mother who is constantly watching for the as yet unnoticed and unspoken needs of her children and asking her Son to meet those needs as she did for the wedding couple who had run out of wine so many years ago.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of Mary as our Mother. Help us to see and recognize
the love she has for us as her children and give us the grace to seek her help and prayers,
knowing that she takes them directly to you!

Read related posts here:
The Angelus: Domestic Church Style
31 Ways to Grow In Devotion To Mary
7 Lessons From the Visitation
"Is There Anything Else You Need": A Dialogue between Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego