May We Be Made As Simple and Trusting
Thomas A. Droleskey
The miracles wrought by Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill on Tuesday, December 12, 1531, effected the conversion of between nine and thirteen million indigenous people in the Americas in a relatively short period of time. As has been noted in many other commentaries on this website, Our Lady has been intent in seeking the conversion of non-Catholics to the Faith. She is an enemy of the false ecumenism proclaimed and practiced by the conciliar "popes" and their "bishops."
The late Father Maximilian Kolbe, the founder of the Knights of the Immaculata whose cause for legitimate canonization will be, I believe, advanced rapidly after the restoration of the Church Militant on earth as he was a militant foe of all forms of naturalism as he promoted total Marian Consecration as the means to build up the City of Mary Immaculate (which he why, after all, the Nazis imprisoned him in Auschwitz), explained the enmity that exists between false ecumenism and the Immaculata:
"Only until all schismatics and Protestants profess the Catholic Creed with conviction, when all Jews voluntarily ask for Holy Baptism – only then will the Immaculata have reached its goals.”
“In other words” Saint Maximilian insisted, “there is no greater enemy of the Immaculata and her Knighthood than today’s ecumenism, which every Knight must not only fight against, but also neutralize through diametrically opposed action and ultimately destroy. We must realize the goal of the Militia Immaculata as quickly as possible: that is, to conquer the whole world, and every individual soul which exists today or will exist until the end of the world, for the Immaculata, and through her for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” (Father Karl Stehlin, Immaculata, Our Ideal, Kansas City, Missouri, Angelus Press, 2007, p. 37.)
Any questions? No one who supports false ecumenism, no less practices it in the form of "inter-religious dialogue" and "inter-religious prayer services" is a friend of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen.
Our Lady wants the conversion of men and their nations to the Catholic Faith, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order.
It was one one hundred seventeen years, four months after the miracles wrought by Our Lady atop Tepeyac Hill to effect the conversion of the Americas to the true Faith that she appeared in France to Catholic who had apostatized by becoming a member of the hideous, demonic sect known as Calvinism. Why did she appear to this man, Pierre Port-Combet? To engage in "dialogue" with him. No! A thousand times no! She came to tell him that he would go to hell if he did not convert back to the Faith of his baptism:
Many years ago in the village of Plantees, France, there lived a farmer named Pierre Port-Combet, who used to work on Sundays and Feast Days. At one time he had been a Catholic, but he had fallen away from the truth Faith and joined a Protestant religion called Calvinism. He had a great dislike for Catholics and anything about the Catholic Faith.
Pierre had married a devout Catholic woman named Jeanne. They had six children and Jeanne tried to raise them as good Catholics. But even though Pierre had made a vow to allow his wife to raise their children as Catholics, he gradually led their six children into the Calvinist religion! Jeanne was broken hearted about this because it meant that her husband and children were in great danger of loosing their souls. And since Pierre would not listen to her pleadings, the best she could do was to go to Mass, pray, and make sacrifices.
This area of France was very Catholic at the time. There was a law that all people should not work on Sundays and on special Holy Days, so that they could go to Mass and spend the rest of the day in prayer and holy reading. But Pierre loved to break this law, especially on Our Lady's Feast Days, because he did not like the Catholic religion!
On March 25, 1649, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pierre showed his dislike for the Catholic Church by working near a road where villagers could see him, as they traveled on their way to Mass. He pretended to work, by using his knife to cut into a willow tree, which grew beside the road. But as soon as he cut into the willow, the tree bled! Pierre was shocked as the blood flowed out of the tree and splashed onto his hands and arms. At first Pierre thought he was wounded, but finding that he was not injured, he stabbed the willow tree another time, and again the tree bled!
Around this time, Pierre's wife passed by on her way to church. Seeing that her husband's arms were covered with blood, she rushed over to help him. While she was looking for the wound, Pierre tried to explain to his wife what had just taken place. Jeanne tried to calm her husband and cut the tree with his knife, but nothing happened. When Pierre noticed that no blood came from the tree, he grabbed the knife from his wife and cut off a willow branch. The blood came gushing out of the tree!
By now Pierre was terribly frightened! He called to Louis, a neighbour who was just passing by, and begged him to come and see what happened. But when Louis took the knife and tried to cut the tree, no blood came out. As the other villagers passed by they began to realize that the blood from the tree was a warning from God to Pierre, so that he would come back to the Catholic Faith and not work on Sundays.
Before long, Pierre was brought to court for working on this special Feast Day and he had to pay a fine. And when the Bishop heard about the miracle of the bleeding willow tree, he ordered some priests to look into the matter. Pierre and others who saw the miracle were questioned. In the end it was decided that this miracle was a stern warning from God to Pierre, so that he would mend his ways!
Pierre had a change of heart and realizing that he was wrong, he would often go to pray near the willow tree. But when some of his Calvinist friends saw him, they threatened to hurt him if he left the Calvinist religion. Because of this Pierre refused to go back to the Catholic Church.
Heaven was watching over Pierre and after seven years, on March 25, 1656, Our Lady appeared to him. On that day, Pierre was working in the field and saw a Lady standing far away on a little hill. The Lady wore a white dress, a blue mantle and had a black veil over her head, which partly covered her face. As the Lady came toward Pierre, she suddenly picked up speed and in a flash, she stood beside him. With her beautiful, sweet voice, the Lady spoke to Pierre, "God be with you my friend!"
For a moment, Pierre stood in amazement. The Lady spoke again, "What is being said about this devotion? Do many people come?"
Pierre replied, "Yes many people come,"
Then the Lady said, "Where does that heretic live who cut the willow tree? Does he not want to be converted?"
Pierre mumbled an answer. The Lady became more serious, "Do you think that I do not know that you are the heretic? Realize that your end is at hand. If you do not return to the True Faith, you will be cast into Hell! But if you change your beliefs, I shall protect you before God. Tell people to pray that they may gain the good graces which, God in His mercy has offered to them."
Pierre was filled with sorrow and shame and moved away from the Lady. Suddenly realizing that he was being rude, Pierre stepped closer to her, but she had moved away and was already near the little hill. He ran after her begging, "Please stop and listen to me. I want to apologize to you and I want you to help me!"
The Lady stopped and turned. By the time Pierre caught up to her, she was floating in the air and was already disappearing from sight. Suddenly, Pierre realized that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary had appeared to him! He fell to his knees and cried buckets of tears, "Jesus and Mary I promise you that I will change my life and become a good Catholic. I am sorry for what I have done and I beg you please, to help me change my life…"
On August 14, 1656, Pierre became very sick. An Augustinian priest came to hear his confession and accepted him back into the Catholic Church. Pierre received Holy Communion the next day on the Feast of the Assumption. After Pierre returned to the Catholic Faith, many others followed him. His son and five daughters came back to the Catholic Church as well as many Calvinists and Protestants. Five weeks later on September 8, 1656, Pierre died and was buried under the miraculous willow tree, just as he had asked.
Fr. Fais, the parish priest from the nearby town of Vinay, helped a lady to buy the field where Pierre had spoken to Our Lady. In time the chapel of Our Lady of Good Meeting was built on the spot where Our Lady had spoken to Pierre. Soon, a large church was built over the spot of the miraculous tree, and named in honour of Our Lady of the Willow. Some good person also carved a statue of Our Lady similar to the way Pierre had described the Blessed Virgin Mary. When this statue was placed in the church, many people came to honour Our Lady of the Willow.
But alas, because of the sinfulness of man, this beautiful shrine did not last and was ruined by members of the horrible French Revolution. These wicked men took the statue of Our Lady of the Willow and chopped it to pieces! Oh, what a terrible way to treat Our Lady's image! However, all was not lost! A good lady gathered up the pieces of the statue and hid them until the French Revolution was over. A piece of the willow tree was also saved from the hands of these wicked men.
After the horrible French Revolution, people came again to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this sacred spot. The statue of Our Lady was repaired and in time the shrine was placed in the hands of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Now some priests were caring for the shrine and could help the many people who came there.
In 1856, two hundred years after the apparition of Our Lady to Pierre, Blessed Pope Pius IX decreed that the statue of Our Lady should be crowned on September 8 of that year. More than 30,000 people were present at the shrine for the crowning of Our Lady of the Willow, and at least four hundred priests were also present at the ceremony. And this same Pope ordered that another crowning should take place in 1873!
On March 17, 1924, Pope Pius XI declared that Our Lady of the Willow Church was now a minor basilica. Here the statue of Our Lady of the Willow is venerated. A box containing a piece of the old willow tree lies under her altar and Pierre's grave is at the foot of the altar.
Many people come to honour Our Lady of the Willow at this shrine and many have left little plaques in thanksgiving to Our Lady, for some special grace which she has given them. Also more than a hundred miracles are reported to have taken place at this shrine. Thank-you Jesus and Mary for your great mercies.
Our Lady of the Willow, Pray for Us! (Our Lady of the Willow Tree)
Our Lady did this for just one soul. One soul, mind you, one soul, that of Pierre Port-Combet, who was privileged to witness no less than two miracles take place within seven years of each other on the Feast of the Annunciation before he did on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just one soul. That's how important one soul is to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Most Blessed Mother.
Our Lady's love of the lost sheep of the Jews, her very own people, is such that she appeared to one soul, Alphonse Ratisbonne, on January 20, 1842, in the Church of San Andrea delle Fratte in Rome, Italy, in the same image that she appears on the Miraculous Medal that this Catholic-hating Jewish man had placed around his neck. Just one soul. One soul, that of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who went on, of course, to become a priest to work amongst his own people for their conversion to the true Faith, something that is now forbidden by the counterfeit church of conciliarism. Sure, Jews can convert to the conciliar church if they want to do so. Any "missionary" activity to seek their conversion, such as that undertaken by Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, is forbidden (see the appendix for proof). Please tell me what is Catholicism and what is but a precursor of Antichrist. (See
In Ways That Baffle the Minds of "Modern" Men, part one .)
The fact that millions of pagans, steeped as they were in the barbaric practices of the Aztecs and Mayans, converted to the Catholic Faith within a short period of time following the miracles that Our Lady wrought atop Tepeyac Hill on Tuesday, December 12, 1531, did not go unnoticed by authorities in Rome:
It is not enough for a great lady that she should be welcome among her friends in their homes and that she should be able to receive them suitably in her own. With proper pride, she desires general recognition of this fact. Her entourage is duly aware of this and sees to it that her will in such a respect is accomplished. She is not obliged to take any initiative herself; she has only to wait until her wishes are fulfilled. Then the acclamation with which she is hailed is not only abundant but also universal.
Thus it is had been in the case of the Great Lady of Guadalupe. By the end of the sixteenth century, the cult of the Miraculous Image had extended beyond Mexico City and environs, and within the next hundred years it had spread so far that it was no longer limited by the boundaries of New Spain. This penetration, and the reasons for it, did not escape the watchful eyes of the alert authorities in Rome. Indeed, we find that Gregory XIII--the brilliant Bolognese reigning between 1572 and 1585, to whom the education of the masses of all nations became a passion, and who is universally immortalized by his reformation of the calendar--extended the benefits derived from indulgences granted in previous years to the Guadalupan Hermitage. The document testifying to this is one of extreme importance, since it proves that within an almost incredibly short time after its foundation the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe had been recognized by the Holy See as the repository of Special Grace. Innocent X--the Roman aristocrat whose great preoccupation was for the poor--was apparently the first to receive a representation of the Sacred Image. In a sermon preached by Vidal de Figueroa in December 1660, he states that "the Supreme Pontiff had a copy of the Sacred Image in the Apostolic Chamber, and today we see medals depicting it." Four years later Alexander VII--the learned Sienese responsible for the condemnation of Jansenism and the canonization of St. Francis de Sales--granted plenary indulgences to all those who visited the Sanctuary on the fourteenth of December, having apparently been slightly misinformed as to the exact date of the apparitions, which as we know, took place between the ninth and the twelfth. Later, however, he received a petition asking that the twelfth might be proclaimed a feast in the Church Calendar, so the original mistake, if one occurred, was promptly rectified. And it was during this same epoch, according to one report, that Guadalupan medals appeared, bearing the inscription, "Non fecit taliter omni nationi" ("This has been grated to no other nation"), which is, incidentally, a quotation from Psalm 107.
It was not until the time of Benedict XIV, who reigned between 1740 and 1758, however, that this was uttered as a pronouncement, which has since spread all over the world, and the masses have always subscribed to the belief that it was spontaneous as well as official. The truth of the matter is that the Pope, while certainly well aware of the source of this saying--since he was one of the most learned of all Saint Peter's successors--was moved to adapt words of the Psalmist to fit the occasion which had so deeply stirred his own sensibilities.
It was certainly dramatic in the extreme: The clergy and laity of Mexico had for some time been clamoring at the gates of Rome, so to speak, for more signal recognition of the Sacred Image than had so far been accorded. They were convinced that the Virgin of Guadalupe alone had saved them from the frightful plague with which their land had recently been ravaged. And their urgency was no longer limited to the desire, long since expressed, that the twelfth of December should be proclaimed an Obligatory Feast, with its proper Mass and Ordinary; they also desired the proclamation of a general Canonical Patronage, in which the Virgin of Guadalupe should be solemnly declared the principal Patroness of New Spain. With extreme care they chose an appropriate envoy and dispatched him to Rome, entrusting to him "the complete documentary process of the nation's demand."
The envoy in question, a Jesuit by the name of Francisco Lopez, was in every way worthy of their confidence. He was a native of Venezuela who at the age of eleven had gone with his father first to Veracruz and then to Jamaica, where they had both been thrown into prison. After extricating themselves from this unpleasant predicament, they had gone one to Mexico, where the boy had received an excellent education in a Jesuit college. When his course of instruction was completed, he had become consecutively Professor of Human Letters at San Louis Potosi and in Veracruz, Professor of Philosophy in Zacatecas and Mexico City, and Professor of Theology in Merida; Prefect of Divine Doctrine at the Mother House in Mexico City; and Provincial Procurator in Madrid and Rome. He fulfilled all these duties with ability and tact and learned how to associate himself on terms of ease and intimacy with the members of the Hierarchy and with other personages of importance. All in all, the Mexicans were justified in assuming that if anyone could meet with success, this was the man.
Lopez was well aware that his task would not be an easy one, for Benedict XIV, a canonist and liturgist of note, was inclined to be cautious and conservative when it came to a question of innovations. With the canniness characteristic of the Order to which he belonged, Father Lopez had supplemented his documents by an offering which was even more appealing and arresting--a copy of the Sacred Image made by Miguel Cabrera, a native Oaxaca, who was one of the greatest painters of his time and the author of a treatise on the technical attributes of the miraculous picture, which, according to him, could not have been given by human hands. Cabrera had achieved innumerable notable paintings, among them several portraits of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the famous Mexican poetess, and scenes from the lives of San Ignacio de Loyola and Santo Domingo, but he had never accomplished anything comparable in beauty to this copy of the Sacred Image which Father Francisco Lopez took with him to Rome.
The manner of its presentation has been graphically described by the historian Davila and admirably translated by Father Lee in Our Lady of America. When Father Lopez had been admitted in audience to the presence of His Holiness, "The Father Procurator, holding a rolled canvas, came before Benedict XIV, and having obtained permission to speak, gave briefly but eloquently the narrative of the Miracle of the Guadalupan Apparition. And while the Pope was listening attentively and wonderingly, the speaker suddenly stopped and cried hold: 'Holy Father, behold the Mother of God who deigned to be also the mother of the Mexicans!' Thereupon taking the canvas in both hands, ad did once the happy Juan Diego before the venerable Bishop Zumarraga, he unrolled it on the platform occupied by His Holiness. Benedict,b who was already moved by the narration, at this unexpected action and at sight of the beauty of the figure, cast himself down before it with the exclamation that has since been the distinctive motto of our amiable and venerable Patroness: Non fecit taliter omni nationi."
The success of the Lopez mission seemed assured at the end of this portentous audience. But at the last moment a technicality threatened the happy outcome of the good Father's endeavor after all. The Congregation of Rites was satisfied in a general way with the evidence he submitted, but was inclined to rule that no distinctive liturgy should be sanctioned for the time being, because the archives of the Congregation lacked specific documents to prove that the Guadalupan cause had already been formally introduced at Rome. Father Lopez knew that documents had been submitted in both 1663 and 1667, which should furnish every required proof, and he also knew that these must be somewhere in Rome. But his every effort to locate them proved fruitless. From the archives he went to the libraries, where his search was equally vain. But at last, though no valuable volumes came to light, he discovered an entry in a catalogue which gave him a clue to what he sought. For this catalogue listed the "Historical Relation of the Admirable Apparition of the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which occurred in Mexico, in the year 1531. Its author, Anastasio Nicoselli; dedicated to the R.P.M.F. Raymundo Capisucchi, Master of the Sacred Palace; printed in the Italian tongue, at Rome in the year 1581."
Father Lopez was well aware that Nicoselli, a Roman prelate of great learning, had transcribed the Mexican documents sent to the Holy See during the seventeenth century in preparing his work on Guadalupe. Therefore, the entry represented the lost treasure which he sought. But the entry, alas, was not the book itself, nor did it even prove conclusively that the book still existed. Given time, Father Lopez believed that he might be able to track this down; but time, unfortunately, was lacking. Limits had been set to the period which he might spend on his mission, and he began to believe that it was doomed to failure, like those of its predecessors. Discouragement overwhelmed him, and in his dejection he began to range the streets, preoccupied by distracted thoughts. It took nothing less than an outcry to rouse him from these, but at last such an outcry arose. An itinerant vendor pursued him relentlessly and Father Lopez turned toward the man, bent only on silencing his noise. Then the unawaited, the unhoped for, the utterly amazing happened: Outstanding among the old books which constituted the vendor's dilapidated wares, its title leaping out toward the Jesuit as if if had been written in flame, was Nicoselli's Relation!
"God moves in a mysterious way. His wonders to perform"--and so does the Mother of God, the Virgin of Guadalupe. There was no question, after this astonishing discovery, of Father Lopez' success. The Congregation of Rites approved both the Special Office and the Mass which he had sought; and in 1754 the Holy Father issued one of his most memorable briefs.
"For the greater glory of Almighty God and the furtherance of His Worship, and for the honor of the Virgin Mary," he wrote, "We by these letters approve and confirm with apostolical authority the election of Most Holy Virgin Mary under the invocation of Guadalupe, whose Sacred Image is venerated in the splendid collegiate and parochial church outside the city of Mexico, as Patroness and Protectress of New Spain, with all and every one of the prerogatives due to principal patrons and protectors according to the rubrics of the Roman Breviary; an election which was made by the desire, as well of Our Venerable Brothers, the bishops of that Kingdom, as of the Clergy secular and regular, and by the suffrages of the people of those States. In the next place We approve and confirm the preinserted Office and Mass with the Octave; and We declare, decree and command that the Mother of God called Holy Mary of Guadalupe be recognized, invoked, and venerated as Patroness and Protectress of New Spain. Likewise, in order that henceforth the solemn commemoration of so great a Patroness and Protectress may be celebrated with the more reverence and devotion, and with due worship of prayer by the faithful of both sexes who are bound to the Canonical Hours, by the same apostolic authority We grant and command that the annual feast of the twelfth of December, in honor of the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, be perpetually celebrated as a day of precept and as a double of the first class with Octave; and that th preinserted Office be recited and the preinserted Mass be celebrated. . . . Given at Rome, in St. Mary Major, under the Fisherman's Ring, twenty-fifth of May, 1754, in the fourteenth years of Our Pontificate."
Besides issuing this brief, Benedict XIV authorized the establishment of Guadalupan Congregations, already widespread in Mexico, outside of that country, and gave to the Guadalupan Sanctuary--already raised to the states of Collegiate Church, with a Special Chapter of Canons, by Benedict XII--the rank of a Lateran Basilica.
"I have done more for the Mexicans in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe than I have done for the Italians in honor of the Holy House of Loreto," Benedict XIV remarked more than once in the days to come. But there is nothing to indicate that he ever regretted the stand he had taken and his successors, one after another, continued along the same lines, which he had begun. But it was not until the time of Leo XIII, however, that the name of another Pope was as closely linked with that of Guadalupe as Benedict XIV had been. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 123-131.)
As we know, of course, Popes Saint Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII each were very devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was Pope Pius XII who, in 1945, proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Queen of Mexico and the Empress of the Americas, declaring her a year later to the Patroness of the Americas. Four hundred fifteen years had passed since the miracles that Our Lady worked atop Tepeyac Hill and the time that Pope Pius XII declared that Our Lady of Guadalupe was the Patroness of the Americas.
Even with that, however, there have been skeptics, especially as the years advanced and some of the clergy in Mexico deemed themselves to be more "sophisticated" than the peasants who believed in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it had been handed down to them. Oh, I am not referring here to the dastardly efforts of Abbot Guillermo Schulenburg, the director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for over three decades, in 1996 to debunk belief in the existence of Juan Diego, mind you, and in the miraculous nature of the image left by Our Lady herself on Juan Diego's tilma. Oh no. I am referring to efforts made by clerics in the Seventeenth Century, just a little over one hundred years after Our Lady's apparitions, to debunk belief in the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe, paralleling efforts in our own day to attempt to discredit or to debunk the messages of Our Lady in La Salette, France, in 1846, and near Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
We know the truth. Our Lady appeared to the simple, humble Indian peasant named Juan Diego, effecting miracles of grace in the Americas that must cause us to redouble our own efforts to spread devotion to her so that the Americas can be reconverted to the Catholic Faith that once permeated the entirety of Latin America and substantial parts of what are now the countries of Canada and the United States of America. We do indeed need to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to ask her to help us to be made as humble and simple and trusting as Juan Diego, who never lost those qualities even though he had been favored by the Queen of Heaven herself:
It had been the Bishop's idea that Juan Diego might find gladness and fulfillment in consecrating the remainder of his life at the service of the Queen of Heaven, and Juan's humble face and trustful eyes had been illumined with gratitude and pride as he accepted the mission.
His home, since the death of Maria Lucia, had been at best a makeshift. The cultivation of the land had lost its meaning. His uncle, for whose sake he had moved to Tolpetlac, would find far more gratification in visiting at the hermitage than in trotting around the corner to see him in his humble house. There was every reason whey he should go and none why he should stay. He disposed of his few possessions and took up his abode in the little hut close beside the hermitage which the faithful built for him.
His primary privilege was one of worship. In an era of infrequent Communion for the laity, he was given special permission from the Bishop to receive this thrice a week. Fortified by this holy food, he undertook his simple duties with quiet zest. The little sanctuary where the Virgin was enshrined shone with the beauty of cleanliness, for it was swept and scoured each day and garnished with fresh flowers. It was merely a small rectangular room--in size and shape probably very like the tiny chapel into which Juan Bernardino's house had been converted--with the altar, approached by a short flight of stone steps, at one end and the basin for holy water at one side. But above the altar was the miraculous picture and above the holy water was the Cross. For Juan, and for the ever-increasing throngs of worshipers, these sufficed. What more did they need to show them the way to salvation?
In giving no thought to the morrow, as tow hat he should eat or what he should drink or wherewithal he should be clothed, Juan had followed a Biblical injunction, never doubting that His Heavenly Father knew that he had need of all these things. The friendly and fecund earth did not fail to furnish food; a spring of water, gushing out of the ground near the hermitage, gave clear and sparkling water, and coarse cotton garments sufficed, as they had always done, for raiment. Nor was it only in such ways as these that all was well with Juan; his craving for companionship, so long unfulfilled, was wholly realized now. Communing as had with the Sacred Image, how could his life be lonely? Moreover, his neighbors loved him and revealed this affection. He was a prophet with honor among his own people. It was their belief that he received instruction as to his way of life from God Himself, and often they came to him, asking that he intercede for them at the throne of Divine Grace. When the spoke of him, they referred to him with respect as the "Pilgrim." More than once, the Bishop, passing through the streets of Tepeyac on his way to visit the hermitage, heard a fond mother exclaiming, as she clasped her child to her breast, "God grant that you may become such a man as Juan Diego!" In that heartfelt cry, Zumarraga could interpret the degree of favor which Juan had found in their sight.
The Bishop also remarked the change which had been wrought in Juan himself. Without losing his essential humility, the Indian's face and form had taken on a new dignity. Because he had been found worthy to serve God and the Mother of God, he had learned to meet his fellow men as an equal. The discipline and frugality of his life were likewise revealed in his person; he had the refinement which marks the ascetic. Contemplation had stood him in the stead of learning and prayer had given him understanding. He had become a man of culture because he was a man of ordered living and lofty thinking.
The Bishop did not fail to dwell on all this thoughtfully and ardently. In the course of the sermon which he had preached at the close of the great procession, he had asked for funds with which to build a great temple, and little by little these were coming in. But while envisioning from afar the glorious sanctuary of the future at Tepeyac, his mind was at rest concerning the immediate custody of the unique treasure enshrined at the hermitage. This was the more fortunate, since he could not, himself, spend as large a portion of his time there as he would have wished. His required journeys took him to many parts of New Spain and sometimes to Old Spain itself. But secure in the knowledge that wherever he himself might be, Juan Diego never left the hermitage, all his travels were tranquil. . . .
But, a the Archbishop had divined, it was his last journey. After that he did not leave his place any more, and his friend, Fray Domingo [a Dominican priest from Spain], did not leave him. And though every day they talked together, according to their old familiar habit, they spoke more and more of celestial things, and less and less of the things of the earth. Although Zumarraga did not disregard what was happening around him, much of which he knew was important, he withdrew from it. It ceased to concern him or to spur him on to fresh action. And, finally, it seemed as if a veil had fallen, so that he saw none of it clearly any more, but only through a heavenly haze, which kept him from being troubled at the sight of anything.
And so it came about that he was not troubled when his people came to him and told him Juan Diego had died. he listened with no change of expression, while they said that far and wide it was being rumored that the Virgin had appeared to Juan again, first to tell him that the hour of his death was approaching, and then, concern or, when the hour came. He did not doubt the the truth of what they were saying in this regard, nor was he doubtful, either, when he was told that in Tepeyac Juan's own friends and neighbors were acclaiming him as a saint. But he felt no grief because Juan had died, for, through the heavenly haze that surrounded him, he was able to see that death was only the beginning of life.
He did not wonder what would happen to the Sacred Image now that Juan was longer in the hermitage watching over it. He knew that somehow it would be safeguarded through the ages, and that in the time to come its sanctuary would be worthy of it. He only revealed how long it would take before he, like Juan, would see the Queen of Heaven, not as an image, but in her own intrinsic glory.
When the Archbishop's people saw that he did not answer while they spoke to him of Juan, they did not understand. It had been very different when they spoke to him about the death of Heran [Hernando] Cortes, which had occurred six months earlier. He had listened with absorbed attention when he had heard that the Conqueror of Mexico died with a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe on his lips. But in speaking of Cortes, they had also spoken of Seville, for it was there that the Conqueror had died. So his people thought it might be more pleasing to the Archbishop if they spoke to him about other places in Spain rather than about people--about the sights he had loved as a young man, like the gate at Avila and the twin towers of the Cathedral at Burgos, or of the deeds he had accomplished in Mexico, such as founding the university and bringing the printing presses to the people. So they tried to rouse his memories and to praise his great deeds and they were discouraged when he only smiled and shook his head and turned away. Only Fray Domingo understood that these things did not matter any more, and that the reason that Archbishop was not interested in them, or concerned about Juan's death and the fate of the sanctuary, was because the veil had been drawn away and many things, not only about Juan, but about all else, were now clear that had never been known before.
Fray Domingo leaned over, folding the beautiful fingers around the crucifix they had so long supported. Then very gently he closed the Archbishop's eyes. Don Fray Juan de Zumarraga had survived Juan Diego by only two days. It had been as if his hold on life had not been strong enough to endure beyond the Indian's, in whose fate his own had become so strangely intertwined and in whose fame his own was to be mysteriously submerged. (Frances Parkinson Keyes, The Grace of Guadalupe, published in 1941 by Julian Messner, Inc., pp. 72-74, 77-80.)
The simple, trusting and humble Juan Diego died on June 1, 1548, two days before Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga, who had indeed accomplished much during the time of his service to Holy Mother Church in Mexico. The simple Indian, who was met with disbelief by a Spanish Basque, and his Archbishop were united for all eternity after having promoted the cult of Our Lad of Guadalupe with unfailing fidelity and joy.
We must not be disturbed by the events of this passing world. Are we not in the crossing of Our Lady's arms and in the very fold of her mantle? How can we let ourselves get agitated by events that God has known would be taking place in our own very lifetimes, events that are meant to serve as a chastisement for us sinful men so that we can better prepare ourselves for the moments of our own Particular Judgment? Why cannot we trust more simply and humble and securely in the knowledge that she who brought forth her Divine Son in the humble abode of a mere stable, surrounded by barn animals, in Bethlehem on Christmas Day will care for us now in the midst of our troubles just as she did for her Son from the very moment of His Incarnation at the Annunciation?
We are just seven days away from Christmas. Let us turn to Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., to draw spiritual wisdom on this day of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appearest to Moses in the fire of the flaming bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai; come and redeem us by thy outstretched arm.
O Sovereign Lord! O Adonai! come and redeem us, not by Thy power, but by Thy humility. Heretofore, Thou didst show Thyself to Moses Thy Servant in the midst of a mysterious flame; Thou didst give Thy law to Thy people amidst thunder and lightning; now, on the contrary, Thou comest not to terrify, but to save us. The chaste Mother having heard the emperor's edict, which obliges her and Joseph her spouse to repair to Bethlehem, prepares everything needed for Thy divine Birth. She prepares for Thee, O Sun of justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover Thy nakedness, and protect Thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold of that midnight hour of Thy Nativity! Thus it is that Thou willest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that Thy divine arm is never stronger than when he thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! Thy swathing-bands are ready for thy infant limbs! Come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands of our enemies.
This feast [the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary], which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore declared that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord's Nativity. In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the world world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady's Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during these days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of 'the Expectation of the blessed Virgin's delivery.'
This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonai, the antiphon of the Advent office), is kept with devotion in Spain. A High mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave. at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady's Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves. It is not to be wondered at that the holy See has approved has approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrate the Office of our Lady's Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Excecptato (for thus the popular expressed had corrupted the word Expectato). But these details belong strictly to the archeology of liturgy, and enter not into the plan of our present work; let us then, return to the feat of Our Lady's Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a new means of exiting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.
Most just it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which, will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough, to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.
(Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Volume I, Advent, pp, 487-490.)
Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego because he was humble and simple. Our Lady, she who was conceived without stain of Original or Actual Sin, the Mirror of Divine Justice and the perfect reflection of the humility exhibited by her Divine Son, He Who humbled Himself to be conceived as a helpless embryo in her Virginal and Immaculate Womb by the power God the Holy Ghost, He Who humbled Himself to be born in a cave filled with barn animals, He Who humbled Himself to live in exile with His Most Blessed Mother and His foster-father, our Good Saint Joseph, He Who humbled Himself to toil anonymously as a carpenter until the beginning of His Public Ministry, He Who humbled Himself to be mistreated by our own cruelty as our sins, having transcended time, caused Him to be delivered over to Pontius Pilate and put to death as a common criminal on the wood of the Holy Cross. May Our Lady, therefore, help us always to be as humble as chosen souls such as Juan Diego so that we may radiate a small part of the purity, humility and fervor with which she cradled the Baby Jesus in her arms after His Birth as we call upon her to send us the graces necessary to be cradled in her arms after death because we were unafraid to be called--and known by one and all--as her children in life.
Isn't time to pray the Joyful Mysteries of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary?
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints
"We Cannot Take the Conversion of Israel Into Our Own Hands"
"Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance - a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel." (Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI: Christmas greetings to the Members of the Roman Curia and Prelature, December 22, 2005.)
"In its work, the Biblical Commission could not ignore the contemporary context, where the shock of the Shoah has put the whole question under a new light. Two main problems are posed: Can Christians, after all that has happened, still claim in good conscience to be the legitimate heirs of Israel's Bible? Have they the right to propose a Christian interpretation of this Bible, or should they not instead, respectfully and humbly, renounce any claim that, in the light of what has happened, must look like a usurpation? The second question follows from the first: In its presentation of the Jews and the Jewish people, has not the New Testament itself contributed to creating a hostility towards the Jewish people that provided a support for the ideology of those who wished to destroy Israel? The Commission set about addressing those two questions. It is clear that a Christian rejection of the Old Testament would not only put an end to Christianity itself as indicated above, but, in addition, would prevent the fostering of positive relations between Christians and Jews, precisely because they would lack common ground. In the light of what has happened, what ought to emerge now is a new respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. On this subject, the Document says two things. First it declares that “the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Scriptures of the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading, which developed in parallel fashion” (no. 22). It adds that Christians can learn a great deal from a Jewish exegesis practised for more than 2000 years; in return, Christians may hope that Jews can profit from Christian exegetical research (ibid.). I think this analysis will prove useful for the pursuit of Judeo-Christian dialogue, as well as for the interior formation of Christian consciousness." (Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger, Preface to: The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, May 24, 2001.)
“It is of course possible to read the Old Testament so that it is not directed toward Christ; it does not point quite unequivocally to Christ. And if Jews cannot see the promises as being fulfilled in him, this is not just ill will on their part, but genuinely because of the obscurity of the texts and the tension in the relationship between these texts and the figure of Jesus. Jesus brings a new meaning to these texts – yet it is he who first gives them their proper coherence and relevance and significance. There are perfectly good reasons, then, for denying that the Old Testament refers to Christ and for saying, No, that is not what he said. And there are also good reasons for referring it to him – that is what the dispute between Jews and Christians is about.” (Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger, God and the World, p. 209.)
"In reformulating the prayer of the now extraordinary liturgy, the Pope wanted to avoid formulations which were perceived by many Jews to be offensive, but he wanted at the same time to remain in line with the intrinsic linguistic and stylistic structure of this liturgy and therefore not simply replace the prayer for the prayer in the ordinary liturgy, which we must not forget is used by the vast majority of Catholic communities.
"The reformulated text no longer speaks about the conversion of the Jews as some Jewish critics wrongly affirm. The text is a prayer inspired by Saint Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 11, which is the very text that speaks also of the unbroken covenant. It takes up Paul's eschatological hope that in the end of time all Israel will be saved. As a prayer the text lays all in the hands of God and not in ours. It says nothing about the how and when. Therefore there is nothing about missionary activities by which we may take Israel's salvation in our hands. ("Cardinal" Kasper's Letter to Rabbi Rosen)
"The real controversial question is: should Christians pray for the conversion of the Jews? Can there be a mission to the Jews?
"The word conversion is not found in the reformulated prayer. But it is indirectly included in the invocation to enlighten the Jews, so that they may recognize Jesus Christ. Moreover, there is the fact that the Missal of 1962 gives titles for each of the individual prayers. The title of the prayer to the Jews has not been modified; it sounds like it did before: "Pro conversione Judæorum," for the conversion of the Jews. Many Jews have read the new formulation in the perspective of this title, and this has raised the reaction already described.
"In response to this, it can be noted that the Catholic Church, unlike some "evangelical" groups, does not have an organized, institutionalized mission to the Jews. With this reminder, however, the problem of the mission to the Jews has not, in fact, been clarified theologically yet. This is precisely the merit of the new formulation of the prayer for Good Friday, which, in its second part, presents an initial indication for a substantial theological response.
"We pick up again from Chapter 11 of the letter to the Romans, which is fundamental also for "Nostra Aetate" (3).
"The salvation of the Jews is, for Paul, a profound mystery of election through divine grace (9:14-29). God gives without regret, and the promises that God makes to his people, in spite of their disobedience, have not been revoked (9:6; 11:1.29). The hardening of Israel's heart produces salvation for the pagans. The wild branches of the pagans have been grafted onto the holy root of Israel (11:16ff.). But God has the power to graft on again the branches that were cut off (11:23). When the fullness of the pagans have found salvation, then all Israel will be saved (11:25ff.). Israel therefore remains the bearer of the promise and of the blessing." ("Oremus pro conversione Judæorum." Cardinal Kasper Takes The Field .)
"5. Many lessons may be learned from our common heritage derived from the Law and the Prophets. I would like to recall some of them: first of all, the solidarity which binds the Church to the Jewish people 'at the level of their spiritual identity', which offers Christians the opportunity to promote ' a renewed respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament' (cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish people and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, 2001, pp.12 and 55); the centrality of the Decalogue as a common ethical message of permanent value for Israel, for the Church, for non-believers and for all of humanity; the task of preparing or ushering in the Kingdom of the Most High in the 'care for creation' entrusted by God to man for him to cultivate and to care for responsibly (cf. Gen 2:15)." (Ratzinger at Rome synagogue: ‘May these wounds be healed forever!’ )
"9. Christians and Jews share to a great extent a common spiritual patrimony, they pray to the same Lord, they have the same roots, and yet they often remain unknown to each other. It is our duty, in response to God’s call, to strive to keep open the space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of our time, which invite us to cooperate for the good of humanity in this world created by God, the Omnipotent and Merciful. (Ratzinger at Rome synagogue: ‘May these wounds be healed forever!’ )
"If Jews one day come (as Paul hopes) to a more positive judgment of Jesus, this must occur through an inner process, as the end of a search of their own (something that in part is occurring). We Christians cannot be the ones who seek to convert them. We have lost the right to do so by the way in which this was done in the past. First the wounds must be healed through dialogue and reconciliation. (Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap, Zenit, September 30, 2005.)
"[We] are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved, if there are insurmountable impediments, of which he is not blameworthy, to preclude it. However...Christian history affects us all, even those who are opposed or cannot encounter Christ. This is a reality that transforms history; it is something important for others, without violating their conscience." (Joseph "Cardinal" Ratzinger, September 5, 2000, as found in The Great Facade, p. 372.)
"With regard to the trial and death of Jesus, the Council recalled that 'what happened in his passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living, without distinction, nor upon the Jews of today' (Nostra Aetate, 4).
- The history of Judaism did not end with the destruction of Jerusalem, but rather went on to develop a religious tradition. And, although we believe that the importance and meaning of that tradition were deeply affected by the coming of Christ, it is still nonetheless rich in religious values. ( “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4)”  )