Deacon Fournier on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
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Our Lady of Guadalupe has been hailed as the Patroness of the America's. The "New Evangelization" of the America's has been entrusted to her patronage and prayer.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - On this Feast of Our Lady we reflect on what occurred to Juan Diego, the 'Talking Eagle', almost 500 years ago. This humble man never expected it to occur. He was traversing that countryside passing the hill at Tepeyac just outside of Mexico City on December 9, 1531 on his way to Holy Mass as he always did. This day would be quite different. He heard music coming from the hill. Then, he saw a light encased in a cloud and encircled by a glorious and beautiful rainbow.
What happened next was astounding for this simple farmer and weaver of cloth. He heard a woman's voice calling his name from the top of that hill. "What should he do?" he thought to himself. Immediately he knew he had climb the hill. There at the top he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like a Princess. She told Juan that she was the Virgin Mary, the "Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth." His life and the evangelization of the entire American continent were to be forever changed by the encounters which followed.
She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings." She then directed Juan Diego to seek the Bishops permission to construct the Church. He did so, with an interesting result. The Bishop asked for a sign to verify that what Juan claimed had really happened.
Juan returned to that hill where he had met the beautiful Lady from heaven. She would indeed leave a sign for the Bishop, but hut she would also involve Juan Diego in the task. First, she directed Juan to gather roses for him in his cloak or "tilma". Consistent with his humble and obedient spirit, Juan did just as she asked. She then directed him to bring the roses to the Bishop. He returned to the Bishop as the Lady directed with the gift.
When the humble man laid the roses before the Bishop, his eyes, along with the Bishops eyes, beheld a beautiful image of Mary, the Mother of the Lord, miraculously revealed on Juan's tilma. This cloth, like Juan, was lowly in composition. Made from non-durable cloth, it should have deteriorated within twenty or so years. However, almost 500 years later it is still preserved, calling the faithful to come and hear the glorious message of repentance and conversion in Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Lady whose image is preserved upon its miraculous landscape.
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The nature of the image is miraculous in many ways. One example of particular interest is that Mary's encounter with Juan Diego is reflected in the eyes of the Image. Over 20 million pilgrims visit the Basilica built in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe every year. Countless miracles and cures are attributed to her maternal intercession with her Divine Son. Our Lady of Guadalupe has been hailed as the Patroness of the America's. The "New Evangelization" of the America's has been entrusted to her patronage and prayer.
Many Popes have honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. The late Servant of God John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times. Pope Benedict XVI has a deep devotion to her and her message of authentic conversion and liberation in Jesus Christ. On December 12 we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ.
We again entrust the "new Evangelization" of the America's to her intercession. We ask that she, the Mother of Life, would aid all of us who seek to end the culture of death and replace it with a new culture of life. In 1999, Pope John Paul II entrusted the Pro-Life movement and the innocent lives of all children, especially those who are in danger of not being born, to her maternal care.
Upon visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1979, the now Saint John Paul II offered this prayer:
"O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.
"Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.
"Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God's mysteries.
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"Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.
"Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.
"Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Deacon Keith Fournier is a Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia and has been ordained for 23 years. He and his wife Laurine have been married for 43 years. They have five grown children and seven grandchildren.
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