Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe! If you are unfamiliar with the story, here you can read an English translation of the earliest, original account (that was written in the Aztec language!) of the apparitions that took place in 1531. Also, here is another link relating the story.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was the first "title" and apparition of Our Lady that I learned of when I was little. When I say 'apparition,' I mean 'appearance', more or less. That is, one of the many occasions she has visited the world to try and bring us back to her Son. Accounts of these visits date back to the first few centuries A.D. However, the "big" apparitions, the ones beyond a private visit like many saints and mystics received, the ones where she beseeches us to repent, to sin no more, and turn back to God, etc, it would seem all of them have taken place beginning in the late Middle Ages or so and experiencing more with the Renaissance on. The late 19th-20th centuries have been called a "Marian Age" precisely because the world has experienced an unprecedented number in a short space of time; this can be viewed as a blessing, which it is, and also as a sobering reminder of the direction the world is taking. Repentance and prayer, for renewal of faith, are the common themes. We must amend our lives.
Yes, it was Guadalupe first I learned about, through the children's television show Wishbone, no less! I don't recall the "real-life" storyline of the show (they always tied whatever was going on in Wishbone's family's life into whatever story/book/literature/legend they were depicting), but I remember a Hispanic man sat down with Joe (Wishbone's human) and told him the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which then got told to us like a mini movie with Wishbone the dog portraying St. Juan Diego, lol. Thereafter, I would recognize the image, and be happy to see it, usually in Mexican restaurants. :) I don't think I fully grasped the fact that this Mary was also the very same Mary of Christmas songs, Nativity sets, etc...my young mind didn't quite go that far yet. Even though I knew she was "Mary," it just didn't totally click! We didn't talk much about her at the church we went to, and I always wondered about that. I distinctly remember asking my mother one day "Why don't we talk about Mary very much?" I wanted so much to know more. Funny that it never occurred to me to look up books, or even online, once that became common. It wasn't until we were looking into the Catholic faith that I learned more, and suddenly realized the Mother I had long sought was Mary!
Mary was always there in some small way in my life, little "signposts" and hints along the way, if you will, to something more. I should make a list of all the ways... :P
And then at long last she brought me to her Son's Church, the Church He founded on this Earth for the salvation of mankind, for the "keeping of His sheep," and ministering to His flock. <3
Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection, in the folds of my mantle and the crossing of my arms? What more could you need?
Here is a newsletter from Monastery Icons containing lots of fascinating information on the unexplainable-to-science tilma upon which is the miraculous image! It is truly wonderful to learn about, so please do read! :)
~ words of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego
And lastly, here is a beautiful reflection on today and Our Lady from Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi.
And so there was music for the ear and the vision for the eye. The plan of God revealed in the enfleshment of his Word is that all things created should be restored to holiness, and that our physical senses themselves should be graced and opened to the mysteries of God. "The flesh," said Tertullian, "is the hinge of salvation." The Virgin chose two other signs before giving that of her miraculous image. The first involves touch. She touched Juan Diego. With an exquisitely maternal tenderness, she arranged roses, marvelous roses picked on a bare and windy hillside in December, in his cloak. The second sign concerns the roses themselves; they were fragrant. They must have been to Juan Diego like this second great feast of the Virgin in December is to us -- surprising like roses blooming in the snow. The third sign is the image, a portrait that is radiantly beautiful. A piece of heaven printed on the poor cloak of a poor man. It is this image that continues to surprise us, to delight us, to be for us a kind of visitation of the Mother of the Lord.
Blessed feastday to all!