As we now pray the Angelus and remember the Annunciation of the Lord, our eyes too turn spiritually towards the hill of Tepeyac, to the place where the Mother of God, under the title of “the Ever-Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe” has been fervently honoured for centuries as a sign of reconciliation and of God’s infinite goodness towards the world.
True devotion to the Virgin Mary always takes us to Jesus, and “consists neither in sterile nor transitory feelings, nor in an empty credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to recognise the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to filial love towards our Mother and to the imitation of her virtues” (Lumen Gentium, 67).
To love her means being committed to listening to her Son, to venerate the Guadalupana means living in accordance with the words of the blessed fruit of her womb.
I place once again this country, all Latin America and the Caribbean before the gentle gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I entrust all their sons and daughters to the Star of both the original and the new evangelisation; she has inspired with her maternal love their Christian history, has given particular expression to their national achievements, to their communal and social initiatives, to family life, to personal devotion and to the Continental Mission which is now taking place across these noble lands.
In times of trial and sorrow she was invoked by many martyrs who, in crying out “Long live Christ the King and Mary of Guadalupe” bore unyielding witness of fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Church. I now ask that her presence in this nation may continue to serve as a summons to defence and respect for human life. May it promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred. May Holy Mary of Guadalupe bless us and obtain for us the abundant graces that, through her intercession, we request from heaven.
Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus reflection at Bicentennial Park, Leon, Mexico
March 25, 2012.
O Mother, how pure you are, you are untouched by sin; yours was the privilege to carry God within you.
Antiphon from Morning Prayer, December 8
The 13th of October, 1917
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.
“What do you want of me?”
I want to tell you that chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
“I have many things to ask you: to cure some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…”
Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask for forgiveness for their sins.
Looking very sad, Our Lady said:
Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.
Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared and blessed the world in the same manner as St Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
Sister Mary Lucia of the Immaculate Heart*
*Lucia was one of the original three seers who witnessed the events and miracles at Fatima in 1917. She later entered religious life. This section from her memoirs accounts the events of the “Miracle of the Sun”.
The Message of Fatima is that of the Gospel which emphasizes the following points:
- permanent conversion
- prayer, namely the Rosary
- the sense of collective responsibility, and the practice of reparation.
Learn more here.
We need reminders.
Because we’re forgetful.
We need reminders of what’s true.
We need reminders that are unmistakeable.
We need reminding that God wants us… that God loves us.
God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants that to be part of our here and now. But we have to want it too. We have to choose to return this Great Love of God.
It’s a plan that means we can be in relationship now. And for eternity.
Today’s feast of the Assumption helps to remind us of this Great Love — for eternity.
The Father sent his Son Jesus to seal the deal, to keep to the promise, that we are destined for glory in heaven. That means one day, by the unfathomable mercy of God, we may live body and soul in heaven, in union with the God of Love. That’s awesome, right?
It is an awesome — as in, full of awe — goal for our lives. It’s a real inspiration for being in relationship with God now, right? Like, why wait?
But it is a long wait (in our minds) to finally get there to heaven.
And even if we are longing for heaven, there are a few things we have to face before we get there.
That’s why we need reminders about how awesome this Great Love of God really is.
We still have to face death, for corruption of the body is one of leftover effects from Original Sin. And even though Jesus rescued us from Eternal death — death is no longer a dead end, but a threshold to the afterlife for our souls — it does not diminish this promise of union with God in our totality, body and soul.
We still have to face judgment. Our love still has to be weighed and measured, face to face by the lover of our souls, Jesus.
We still have to wait for the end of the world to have that total, remarkable re-union of body and soul with Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
That’s a lot of waiting.
In the meantime, we can begin to have this relationship with God now, thanks to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
And today, we have a gracious reminder — a reminder full of grace — about the future glory of heaven.
One Great Woman has already said yes to this Great Love: Mary, the Immaculate Conception.
This is why the Divine Praises of the Church mention Mary’s Glorious Assumption.
Since Mary’s humanity was perfectly blessed, perfectly pure — sinless — her response to the Father’s Great Love was perfect and immediate. Her relationship with God was so perfect that she responded to the Father as an obedient Daughter, a faith-filled Mother to the Son, and an incarnate Spouse to the Holy Spirit.
Mary’s entire life was a complete and total yes — a perfect choice — to the Great Love.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All choices have consequences, right?
When the Father created Mary, He chose to make the future mother of his Son a sinless, perfect human person — the zenith of humanity. Since Mary knew no sin, the future consequence of this was that her body did not undergo corruption and death. Jesus brought Mary directly to heaven at the end of her life.
Mary’s obedient and Immaculate Heart always chooses the Good and the Beautiful. So her personal judgment was always in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Father’s will. In a way, her final judgment at the end of her life by God, was the same as when she was first created: she is perfect and without sin and, consequentially, bound for eternal glory.
God’s creation and redemption of Mary brought the consequence, the result, of the Assumption. Mary, taken into glory — body and soul — is “a gracious reminder”of that promise of future union with Christ — our own relationship — with God, who desired us from the very beginning.
Christ has risen from the dead, we need no further assurance of our faith. Mary assumed into heaven serves rather as a gracious reminder to the Church that our Lord wishes all whom the Father has given Him to be raised with Him. In Mary taken to glory, to union with Christ, the Church sees herself answering the invitation of the heavenly Bridegroom.
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Behold Your Mother” (1973)
Just as Jesus’ Risen Body, is a glorified body in heaven, one day, we too, will have glorified bodies in heaven after the Final Judgment. (See CCC, 1060.)
Mary is our gracious reminder that all Jesus has said and done is true.
Also on the Assumption:
From my archives: My favorite reading and podcasts about the Assumption.
My favorite quote from this apparition:
“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)
Unrelated to Guadalupe, but now my favorite new Mary-related quote from Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation:
She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives.
(See Evangelii Gaudium, par. 286 )
From my Patheos archives, a cool post by Maria Johnson.
From the Among Women archives, going back a few years to Among Women 37: my Blessed are They segment features details about Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the “Among Women” segment features a little Christmas miracle that took place in a little boy’s life… one of my friend’s who will forever be “God’s Will” to me.
Photos and video of the Shrine to Mary in Mexico.
Book on the subject.
Today’s feast day is traditionally celebrated on December 8, but due the Second Sunday of Advent falling on that date, the liturgical calendar moves the solemnity to today. I offer the following for your reflection today.
First: a beautiful prayer to our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, as found in Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, (60):
Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps,
to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love,
especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross,
when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus,
that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us,
until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!
Second: A paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 491):
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803.]
In Mary, Eve discovers the nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity. This discovery must continually reach the heart of every woman and shape her vocation and her life.
-Blessed John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, par 11.
I’ve always been moved by this illustration.
The key to understanding Mary is this: We do not start with Mary.
We start with Christ, the Son of the Living God! The less we think of Him, the less we think of her; the more we think of Him, the more we think of her; the more we adore his Divinity, the more we venerate her Motherhood; the less we adore His Divinity, the less reason we have for respecting her . . .
It is on account of Our Divine Lord that Mary receives special attention, and not on account of herself . . . It is her Son who makes her motherhood different.
A Catholic boy from a parochial school was telling a university professor who lived next door about the Blessed Mother. The professor scoffed at the boy, saying: “But there is no difference between her and my mother.” The boy answered: “That’s what you say, but there’s a heck of a lot of difference between the sons.” *
-Bishop Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God-
Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!!!
*I write about this in Chapter 8 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.
In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.
As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.
-Blessed John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, par 55-
I write about this theme in Chapter 7 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.