Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Today, Catholics of the Latin Rite and many Byzantine Catholics (specifically of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church) celebrate the great Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and, once again, I would like to share some reflections on how the encounter between Our Lady and St. Juan Diego and the miraculous creation of her Image on the tilma parallel and bear witness to the original work of creation.
The account of the first encounter between Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego recalls to all who hear it the first perfection of the universe. Just as Adam and Eve were "naked but not ashamed," because, as the Church Fathers tell us, they were clothed in glory; so, when St. Juan Diego first encountered the New Eve, Our Lady of Guadalupe, She radiated light like the sun and was clothed in glory. And, just as, in the first created world, the rocks, plants, and animals shared in the glory that radiated from our first parents, Adam and Eve, so, when Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego, the birds sang with unspeakable beauty, and the glory that radiated from Her penetrated the rocks, the plants, and all of her natural surroundings, so that they shared in her glory.
At that time, the indigenous people had been liberated by Cortes from the diabolical regime of Montezuma with its continual human sacrifice and cannibalism only to be subjugated by a new group of Spanish governors who abused and exploited the natives and brutally retaliated against missionaries who condemned them for their crimes. In view of the desperate condition of the Church and the growing likelihood of a bloody revolution by the natives against the tyrannical regime, Bishop Zumarraga had prayed to Our Lady for help and asked for a sign - Castilian roses which did not grow in Mexico.
At that time, in early December, on the mountains of Mexico, no flowers grew. But at their second encounter Our Lady directed St. Juan Diego to the top of the mountain where they had met, to gather the flowers that he would find there. At the top of the mountain he found not only the roses that Bishop Zumarraga had requested as a sign of Our Lady's intervention on behalf of the beleaguered Church - he found a total of seven different kinds of flowers, none of them native to Mexico, all of them native to the Holy Land, growing in the cold, rocky earth of Tepeyac Mountain. The Mother of God then arranged the flowers in Juan Diego's tilma, or cape, and sent him to the Bishop's residence, warning him not to show the flowers to anyone along the way. No one can explain in natural terms, how on the third day of creation all of the different kinds of plants sprang from the Earth at God's command. And no one can explain in natural terms, how seven different kinds of flowers native to the Holy Land bloomed in the frigid, rocky soil of Tepeyac Mountain. Only the creative power of God could make seven kinds of flowers bloom where they had never grown before, thus identifying the God of the Immaculate Lady as the Creator of heaven and earth, of the seas, and of all they contain.
St. Juan Diego continued on his way to the Bishop's house and arrived there after several hours. The Bishop's servants treated him badly and tried to get a look at whatever it was that Juan Diego held so tightly to his chest in the folds of his tilma. They were amazed to find different kinds of flowers wrapped in the cape, and still more amazed to see them recede two-dimensionally into the fabric of the cape when they tried to handle them. When they reported this strange phenomenon to the Bishop, he gave orders for Juan to be brought to him. Arriving in the Bishop's presence, Juan opened his tilma and allowed the miraculous flowers to fall upon the floor in front of him; but the Bishop and his entourage suddenly beheld something still more wonderful than the miraculous flowers. As soon as Juan Diego opened his cloak, a perfect image of the heavenly Lady appeared - was created! - upon the tilma before their eyes.
No one can describe in human or natural terms the creation of Adam from the virgin Earth or of Eve from Adam's side. And no one can describe in human or natural terms the creation of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the tilma at the virginal St. Juan Diego's side - the widower St. Juan Diego had been married, but he and his wife Lucia had taken a vow of chastity and had lived as brother and sister. Nor can one explain in human terms the Presence of the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ within that image.
As we reflect on the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, let us recognize in her miraculous image a silent witness to the creative power of God; and as we beg Her to rescue us from the present darkness of the anti-culture of death, let us confidently expect a new demonstration of the divine omnipotence in answer to her prayers.
With gratitude for all of your prayers and support during the past year, and with prayers for a blessed Advent and Christmas for all of you, I am
Yours in Christ through Our Lady of Guadalupe, in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. In response to the requests we have received from several of our readers, we will try to post an audio recording of each of our newsletters on the Kolbe website with the printed newsletter within 48 hours of the newsletter's publication. The first recording has been posted at this link.