12 December – Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe
Guadalupe is, strictly speaking, the name of a picture, but the name was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town which grew up around the church. It makes the shrine, it occasions the devotion, it illustrates Our Lady. It is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of a woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign with a supporting angel under the crescent. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico it may represent certain Aztec sounds.
Its tradition is long-standing and constant, and in sources both oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. The Blessed Virgin appeared on Saturday, 9 December 1531 to a 55-year-old neophyte named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac Hill to hear Mass in Mexico City. She sent him to Bishop Zumarraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop’s answer.
The bishop did not immediately believe the messenger, had him cross-examined and watched, and he finally told him to ask the lady who said she was the mother of the true God for a sign. The neophyte agreed readily to ask for the sign desired, and the bishop released him.
Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle who was dying of fever. Indian medicine had failed and Bernardino seemed at death’s door. At daybreak on Tuesday 12 December 1531, Juan ran to nearby St. James’ convent to ask for a priest. To avoid the apparition and the untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said, “What road is this thou takest son?”
A tender dialogue ensued. She reassured Juan about his uncle, to whom she also briefly appeared and instantly cured. Calling herself “Holy Mary of Guadalupe”, she told Juan to return to the bishop. He asked for the sign he required. Mary told him to go to the rocks and gather roses. Juan knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma (a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians), he came back. The Holy Mother rearranged the roses, and told him to keep them untouched and unseen until he reached the bishop.
When Juan met with Zumarraga, Juan offered the sign to the bishop. As he unfolded his cloak, the roses, fresh and wet with dew, fell out. Juan was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him. The life-size figure of the Virgin Mary, just as Juan had described her, was glowing on the tilma. The picture was venerated, guarded in the bishop’s chapel, and soon after, carried in procession to the preliminary shrine.
Painters have not understood the laying on of the colours. They have deposed that the “canvas” was not only unfit but unprepared, and they have marvelled at the apparent oil, water, distemper, etc. colouring in the same figure. They are left in equal admiration for the flower-like tints and the abundant gold. They and other artists find the proportions perfect for a maiden of fifteen. The figure and the attitude are of one advancing. There is flight and rest in the eager supporting angel. The chief colours are deep gold in the rays and stars, blue green in the mantle, and rose in the flowered tunic.
The clergy, secular and regular, has been remarkably faithful to the devotion towards Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops fostering it, even to the extent of making a protestation of faith in the miracle a matter of occasional obligation. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the national patron, and made 12 December a holiday of obligation with an octave, and ordered a special Mass and Office.
– Patron Saint Index
‘To whom could you liken me
and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look.
Who made these stars
if not he who drills them like an army,
calling each one by name?
So mighty is his power, so great his strength,
that not one fails to answer.
How can you say, Jacob,
how can you insist, Israel,
‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord,
my rights are ignored by my God’?
Did you not know?
Had you not heard?
The Lord is an everlasting God,
he created the boundaries of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary,
his understanding is beyond fathoming.
He gives strength to the wearied,
he strengthens the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary,
youths may stumble,
but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,
they put out wings like eagles.
They run and do not grow weary,
walk and never tire.
Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
Grow tired and weary
When you are reading Oxygen, I am assuming you are taking a break form all the busyness around you. You are probably on the train, or the bus, or lying in bed on an annual leave looking out the window, chilling in a coffee joint catching up on overdue reflections, or simply taking a ten minutes break just for God. Whichever it is, I must commend you on taking a time off just for God. Perhaps today’s reflection is not so much about what the reading and gospel is trying to remind us, or a teaching of the Church that has to be emphasized again. Perhaps, you do not want to read about what you already know. Or maybe you are hoping I will tell you a story?
Today is very much about you, giving yourself that very short moment just to think back on the busy month or week and just to slow down with a short reflection telling you that you are just as important as anyone else. Do not tire yourself and be weary of problems unsolved, there is always a solution to it. Relationships can be renewed, can be mended. Work will be done at the end of it all. Jesus did not tell us to be a sloth and not work hard or be lazy, in this real world. He did not ask us to abandon the yoke, but instead to carry His yoke. I do recommend a retreat, getting away from the bustle to rid of all tiredness and weariness.
Do not be afraid just to stop all that is weighing you down. Take them off from your schedule, take charge of your priorities. Being tired and weary gets you no where. It is mid-week in the first week of December, perhaps you can think of something outside of work this weekend? Do something that is about you, we are children of God, and our Father will always love to see us as a happy child, not a stressed up kid. Get messy in the kitchen perhaps, baking a cake or figuring out an interesting recipe you just received, do anything which does not remind you of work at all. Take your kids, nephews, and nieces out on an eating spree maybe? Which means, catching up with an old friend is not an option because; you will have to relate your office woes to your friend. It will mean a lot at the end of it all, to pick up the yoke God has readied for us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)
Prayer: I am tired of many things O Lord. Build my spirit back up so that I may have the drive to move along with You, for You and not stumble.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for Today.