Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Philippines, and therefore an obligatory memorial throughout the country, as we have been discussing the past couple of days.
Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe began in Mexico 1531 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared four times to a native convert, Juan Diego Quauhtlatoatzin, with a request for a church to be built upon Tepeyac hill: "so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows." The initial response to the Virgin's request was cold and unfavorable until she herself gave a sure sign of her presence: splendid roses blooming in the harsh cold of winter. And as if these were not yet enough, she left a trace for people of future generations to see and venerate: an image of herself appearing on the coarse cloak of Juan Diego right before the Bishops' eyes.
From Mexico, her message has since spread throughout the world: her word of love and compassion for all people and her motherly care especially for the marginalized and suffering. She comes to us as an advocate of social justice and human solidarity-and knowing that the struggle will be difficult-imparts to us the same assuring words she spoke then to Juan Diego: “Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is 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?"
Our Lady of Guadalupe is titular patroness of the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Manila where I had my early years of seminary formation. Under the shadow of Mary's motherly mantle, I joyfully discovered the warmth of the love of her Son. Just as Jesus was formed by the Holy Spirit in her most pure womb, so were we moulded by Spirit of Love in her most pure womb after the heart of her Son.