We'll still deck the halls, light a few candles, and whisper a few prayers toward the clear night sky, but Christmas reminds us to tend to the fires of friendship, of family, and of community. This Christmas, let your own light shine by taking a moment to acknowledge some special quality in those you love.
-from A Franciscan Christmas
†""Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."— St. Maximilian Kolbe
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "Write: I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin. I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it. My mercy embraces and justifies it. With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths, and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me. I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return. Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart, they will fall into My Just Hands. Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart . . . when will it beat for Me?" — St. Maria Faustina, (1728) AN EXCERPT FROM Diary of St. Maria Faustina
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint of the Day for December 12
The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the 16th century. Chronicles of that period tell us the story.
A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady.
He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it stood a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.
Eventually the bishop told Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego's uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Diego to try to avoid the lady. The lady found Diego, nevertheless, assured him that his uncle would recover and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma.
When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop's presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego's tilma appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531. Reflection
Mary's appearance to Juan Diego as one of his people is a powerful reminder that Mary and the God who sent her accept all peoples. In the context of the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards, the apparition was a rebuke to the Spaniards and an event of vast significance for Native Americans. While a number of them had converted before this incident, they now came in droves. According to a contemporary chronicler, nine million Indians became Catholic in a very short time. In these days when we hear so much about God's preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God's love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of:
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land, and he will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
Or Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed."
Responsorial Psalm Jdt 13:18bcde, 19 R. (15:9d) You are the highest honor of our race. Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the LORD God, the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God. R. You are the highest honor of our race.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise; from you rose the sun of justice, Christ our God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Or Lk 1:39-47 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
Dear Lord, help me each day to seek your presence more and more. Fill my heart with love for you. Conclusion
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 1:26-38
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast)
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. (Luke 1:38)
Imagine the president of the United States walking into a local business unannounced. Customers' eyes widen in disbelief, and cameras start flashing as the owner comes forward to shake his hand. It's exciting to be chosen for an encounter with someone important, isn't it? But isn't everybody important?
The story of Mary is one of somebody hidden and lowly being visited by an even more important dignitary—the angel Gabriel. In our day we may honor Mary above all others, including angels, but in her own day, she was just a simple woman in a small village.
By choosing Mary, God sent the message that everyone is precious in his sight, even those who go unnoticed. If a teenaged girl in a Galilean backwater can become the Mother of God, truly "nothing will be impossible" for him (Luke 1:37).
This is a message that Mary carries on today. On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we recall her appearance to a simple peasant named Juan Diego—an appearance that sparked a powerful outpouring of grace throughout the Americas.
By choosing people like Juan Diego, Mary is asking all of us to pay attention to the lowly and the humble. What does it mean to behold the lowly? It means looking at the "hidden" people around you as your brothers and sisters. It means seeing the homeless woman on the street corner, the private neighbor down the road, or the quiet janitor at work as worthy of your attention. The need is especially urgent during the holiday season, when so many people feel their loneliness more keenly.
Sometimes, you are that hidden person, and that can be a painful feeling. If that's the case, remember how God saw Mary, and loved what he saw. He saw her humility, her holiness, and her readiness to say yes.
He sees you too, and he loves you. In fact, if you stop and think for a moment, you'll be able to see ways that God has given you signs of that love. Remember: God has chosen you to receive his Son. Thank him today, and resolve today to bear that love to other people.
"Father, you have favored me with your gaze of tenderness. Send me to share this gaze with anyone who needs to be lifted up."
The Word of the Lord began with "See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD." and the following Holy Scripture said "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet..." this was a sign and the sign is the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mary. She is depicted in a cloth made of cactus that has been around since the 1500's, and the image is imprinted by a way that no scientist can explain, in a similar fashion perhaps of the shroud of Turin. This image of our Lady, our Mother, has her with the moon under her feet, as an eclipse of divinity coming their way...our way. Darkness shall be over shadowed, and so if you see it, the moon is dark because something more powerful has come, and it is her Son that is coming, and this means the world...salvation has come!
We prayed today "You are the highest honor of our race. Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth" and there are real haters of this angel, I've been told that this whole Mary thing and in Revelation is a guise of the devil, I was being told by an "apostolic brother" that handed me a goofy booklet with cartoon depictions of their beliefs. I say it is goofy, because it is silly. Silly because this is how the devil aims to dismiss her power. In exorcisms, she is most feared by the devil. And so these little attacks are nothing but a spit into the wind. She is the highest of our race, I am no equal to this Child of God. If I could but have a little piece of her loving heart, my attitude would not be as raunchy as it is, no, it would be beautiful, holy, and humble, never spitting in people's faces, much less, cursing them behind their back!
In the Holy Gospel the angel of the Lord said ""Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." These words go beyond human comprehension. Some theologians say that Mary's name was in a way changed, like when we hear Jesus Christ, some that don't know better think that Christ is His last name. But for Mary, Full of Grace was as if a title was given, and therefore...forever changed. Not only was she made immaculate, without sin, but now she was forged with this Heavenly grace, and not some...but FULL. This perhaps is why when I pray the rosary, if prayed with devotion, I feel grace once again. "The Lord is with You". We hear in Scripture Romans 8:31: "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" If He is with Mary, then who could be against her? Surely the Lord is with her.
If you have been reading these reflections, you may recall a moment when I said I was zapped in deep prayer, I was just sincerely praying for help, from the bottom of my heart, and it is as if Mary took me literally to the High Priest...Jesus in a banquet that you cannot fathom, but I was seeing all as a blind person, blurry at best, as if in the womb maybe, a veil, perhaps, a babe. And the Lord granted, as if to have seen all that would have been and changed the course of life by a single nod. Looking back, did I deserve this? Only one other time has this phenomenon happened, it was during a cursillo praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet in front of the Blessed Sacrament, singing, I was zapped to the foot of the cross where Jesus was breathing His last, a dark moment, my Father dying for me. Beyond a human organ donation, it was a complete body donation, so that my body would be restored completely. Did I deserve this? No. Did I imagine it? I doubt it. I was not in this world, because when someone was shaking me, I zapped out of it, and realized I was drenched in tears, I didn't even know I was crying! And so, I look around today, and I see the silliness of people. Even in church. We act like cruel governors, "us verses the people". Mary is not like that at all. She sides with the poor who do not have the Lord in their lives. This is the point of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Siding with the ignorants. Siding with the non-believers, and showing them the way to Christ. It's as if the Lord is telling us, "Look at your cruel hearts....I'm sending my Mother to show you what I mean by seeing, realizing the poor in Spirit". You who claim to have Christ yet lock Him out of others' lives by your mean ways.
This Advent, give the gift of Love. Embrace the hard to love. Embrace those who do not believe. Maybe they will actually see Christ is ALIVE. In the womb He is alive. Out of the womb He is alive. Out of the tomb. I took my family after a Saturday Mass to see a Christmas light show, fully automated and animated, and there was a real Santa in a little shed, and real camels, and sheep, but we missed the live people that were supposed to be standing as the Holy Family. So the place was empty there, in the cold drizzly rain, and the light show didn't really explain the reason for the season, just celebrated rock and roll and patriotism to the country. There was a faint nativity scene, hardly lit. And the same story when "battle of the lights" came on TV, people spending tons of money and time on lighting up their houses, but no nativity, no Jesus, the false lights are on. And so it inspired me to put lights on our farm windmill this weekend. To shine the truth in the dark. This image was the Virgin at Guadalupe, a green outline, and white lines for her hands in prayer and her face in humble disposition, and a shiny white cross about her waist.
The image is on a tarp, about 15 foot tall. I was on my hands and knees for hours, and they still hurt, but it was a labor of love. Simple, cheap $3 sets of lights. But the significance of having this on the side of a highway is to evangelize like no one else. You only have one life on earth, how will you evangelize to the world? By mere nice thoughts? If you see darkness, then be the light. It is not a suggestion, if these are words stemming from the Holy Spirit...and you feel the need to move, then it is time, the time of waiting means the time of doing things, preparations for the life that is coming..........Be Holy. Be a Holy Offering...Understand