9: The Significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe


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Show Notes: patticc.com/9 Notas del Programa: patticc.com/s9

Introduction to the apparitions and devotion of Our Lady of Guadalupe & ideas for sharing her with others in your area.

Resources Recommended in Today’s Episode:

Blog post with a list of the main Hispanic traditions and celebrations during December.

Nican Mopohua in English Spanish

Summary of the Apparition from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI – English Spanish

Summary of the Apparition from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City – Spanish

Detailed description of the apparition – English

Documentary by the Knights of Columbus: Guadalupe: The Miracle and the Message
Buy the DVD Or you can watch it on Amazon Prime (get a discount with this link)

Guadalupe: A Living Image Buy the DVD Or you can watch it on Amazon Prime (get a discount with this link)

Movie Guadalupe (Jose Carlos Ruiz)

Children’s Cartoon – Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe

Book: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love: buy the book or you can listen to it on Audible (get two free books with an Audible trial with this link)

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my audience.

Transcript of the Episode:

Greetings Gente Puente! This episode is the first in a series focused on Hispanic traditions during December. Today I will be focusing on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the centrality of her feast day particularly for people of Mexican descent and the importance she has for all of us in the Americas and beyond.

Si prefieres español, puedes leer un resumen del episodio en las notas del programa en patticc.com/s9. Hoy es una introducción al tema de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y su importancia para todas las Américas y más allá.

I’m Patti Gutierrez from Patti’s Catholic Corner. Our team serves ministries like yours from behind the scenes. We provide best practices & encouragement through this podcast and our Facebook group, as well as Spanish translation services from a team experienced in Catholic ministry.

You can find all the resources mentioned in today’s episode and a summary of the episode in English and Spanish, in the show notes found at patticc.com/9.

If you want to be part of our online community, just look for Gente Puente on Facebook and join the group.

Before we dive into our topic for today let us pray. Lord we come before you so grateful for all the many blessings you have given us, especially for the gift of serving in your Church. We know we are not perfect and so we thank you for your mercy and for choosing to work through our broken humanity. Lord Jesus you prayed that we would be one as you and the Father are one, pour out your Spirit as we strive to be gente puente, uniting the Body of Christ. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in us the fire of your love. In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today I want to give a brief overview of the apparitions and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe for any of you who may be unfamiliar with them. I know many of you already know the basics, so I will be brief. But I do want to give an introduction for those who are new to ministry with Hispanics or who minister in areas where Our Lady of Guadalupe is not well known. I will also be sharing about some quality resources you can use in your ministry to spread the message about Our Lady of Guadalupe in your community in preparation for her feast day on December 12th. Next week’s episode will be all about the different ways the Hispanic/Latino community celebrates her in the United States. In that episode we will share lots of concrete ideas and resources for you to use to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe in your ministry. If you’d like a concise run-down of the main traditions and celebrations you can read my blog post from last year linked in the Show Notes.

This podcast is called Gente Puente because it is for people who want to build bridges, between God and his people and between different languages and cultures in our Catholic Church. As I mentioned in a previous episode, Christ is the ultimate example of gente puente since he came to earth to become our bridge to heaven, to open a path for us to eternal life. But Mary is definitely a close second. She became the bridge between God and his people through her fiat, allowing God to use her humanity and the Word became flesh. And she continues bringing people to a closer relationship with her Son. When she appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico, Mary came to unite her children of many cultures and languages. She became a bridge between the old and the new world, between the ancient traditions of the native people and the Christian religion of the missionaries from the west. She chose Juan Diego as gente puente too, the bridge between her and the institutional church and the native people. He is a perfect example to all of us of what God can do through us when we allow him to use us despite our insecurities or doubts. I would encourage you to reflect on the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe from this perspective of being gente puente, ministers who strive to be a bridge to unite the Body of Christ.

When I first began my ministry with Hispanics in the U.S. in 2003, I had recently returned from living in Ecuador and I had not been exposed to the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had the chance to learn about her apparitions and quickly understood why there was such a strong devotion to her, especially for those coming from Mexico. Let’s first take a look at the historical context of the apparitions. In Europe, the Protestant Reformation had begun and large groups were leaving the Catholic Church. The Spanish conquistadores arrived in Mexico in 1517 and after a bloody war and nearly half the native population dying from smallpox, they conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521. Shortly after, Franciscan missionaries followed by Dominicans came to evangelize “New Spain.” Despite their efforts, these early years of evangelization were not very fruitful. The oppression of the Spanish military continued and in 1530 the first Bishop of Mexico, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, left Mexico City for a time, along with all the Catholic priests, in protest. He wrote back to the King, “if God does not provide a solution from his own hand, this land is about to be completely lost.” The native peoples of Mexico, having been conquered and now oppressed, felt their world was dying and now even their gods were coming into question.

This is the context in which the blessed Virgen appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. On December 9th Juan Diego was walking to Mass and when he passed Tepeyac hill a beautiful girl, dressed as an Aztec princess appeared to him, speaking in his native tongue of Náhuatl. You can read the entire account of the apparitions written in 1540 in a document called the Nican Mopohua. She presented herself as the “Virgin Mary, Mother of the one true God” and asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop that she wanted a temple built there. She said as their Mother she wanted a place where she would listen to their sorrows.

Juan Diego did as she asked. The Bishop listened but was hesitant and asked Juan Diego to return another day. On his way home Mary appeared to him again and Juan Diego insisted that she find someone more important and respected to take her message to the Bishop. She assured him that she had chosen him and that he should return the next day and repeat her message to the Bishop.

On Sunday, Dec. 10th Juan Diego returned to bring the message to Bishop Zumárraga who in turn asked for a sign that what he was saying was true. When Juan Diego told this to Mary she asked him to return the next day for the sign. But when he returned home he found that his uncle Juan Bernardino was gravely ill. He stayed with him on Dec. 11th. Early the next day his uncle asked Juan Diego to go fetch a priest to administer the last rites. Juan Diego did as he was asked and decided to go around Tepeyac hill to avoid seeing Mary. She intercepted him and appeared to him for the 4th time. He explained why he had not returned and she told him not to worry, that his uncle would be fine and he had nothing to worry about. She assured him that he was under her protection, his Mother. At that moment she appeared to his uncle and he was healed. She asked Juan Diego to go to the top of the hill to cut the flowers he would find there to bring to the Bishop. Juan Diego miraculously found Castilian roses which were not native to Mexico and could not be growing in the cold and arid environment. He gathered them in his tilma – a long, cloth cape. She arranged the flowers in his tilma and sent him back to the Bishop. Once he told the Bishop what had happened, Juan Diego opened his tilma to let the flowers drop and the Bishop fell to his knees in adoration before the image that had been miraculously imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma.

None of them could have been prepared for what happened next. Over the next 7 years, eight million natives of Mexico converted to Catholicism. At times priests were baptizing thousands of people a day! The image that Our Lady of Guadalupe had left on Juan Diego’s tilma was a codex that spoke to the Aztec people in a way that they could understand. They could see through these symbols that she was greater than the sun god and superior to the moon god, and yet she is dancing in prayer and looking down in reverence so there is someone greater than her. The black belt shows she is pregnant and the four-petaled flower over her womb, is the symbol of the divine. Yet her hair without braids shows that she is a virgin. There are many sources for detailed information about the image and the symbols which I will include in the Show Notes. The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought hope to the Aztec people who had believed that the Sun god had to be sustained by human sacrifice. In the message of the Gospel they were hearing that Jesus was the one, eternal sacrifice and his body and blood bring them life. Mary brought the people to her son, but in a way that respected their culture and traditions. They quickly took on this new, Christian perspective and in 1544 instead of a massive sacrifice of children as a response to a devastating drought, there was a massive pilgrimage of children to Our Lady of Guadalupe to ask for her intercession.

The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to grow today. I had the opportunity to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City during December 2006. Between December 11th and 12th each year, 6 to 8 million pilgrims visit the Shrine! It is the most visited Marian Shrine in the entire world. I had the privilege to take place in this tradition and spent the entire night of Dec. 11th in prayer with the millions of other pilgrims. One pilgrim group after another processed through the Basilica all night long, while thousands filled the church for the many masses throughout the night. At midnight famous artists come from all over to sing mañanitas, hymns to “La Morenita.” Indigenous groups from all over Mexico dance and play music throughout the giant Plaza. It was such an incredible experience for me, not only to witness the zeal and devotion of those present, but to also feel Mary’s hand on my life through that pilgrimage. I was discerning my vocation and so confused about what God had planned for me and I remember begging Our Lady of Guadalupe to make my path clear. Within a couple of weeks after returning from that trip is when my friend Chris, got back in touch with me, ended up moving to Owensboro and working in a parish and we started dating. A little over a year later I returned to the Basilica with my husband Chris at the beginning of our honeymoon in thanksgiving.

There are millions and millions of stories of conversions and miracles related to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The image itself has been studied in depth and continues to amaze scientists around the world. For example, a research biophysicist used infra-red technology in 1979 to study the image and concluded the image could not be the work of human hands, because for example there was no preparation of the cloth, no varnish, no brush strokes or preliminary drawings. Other studies have shown such detail as images reflected in the cornea of her eyes of 13 people. The fact that the fabric has survived at all is a miracle. Besides a bomb explosion and spilling nitric acid, just the natural deterioration should have destroyed it centuries ago. Two identical cloths were created and painted and lasted only 10 years in the Basilica. The original tilma however has lasted 487 years, 117 of which it was completely unprotected.

Is it any wonder that Our Lady of Guadalupe has had such a central role in the Evangelization of Mexico and has been named the Empress of the Americas? The Knights of Columbus have put together a phenomenal documentary called Guadalupe: The Miracle and the Message. You can watch it for free with Amazon Prime or get it on DVD – there is a link in the Show Notes. In this documentary experts explain how the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has spread and the way that she can be a model to all of us of inculturation and unity in diversity. As Supreme Knight Carl Anderson says in the film: “In the U.S., the country is a great melting pot of many immigrant groups, many ethnicities, many religious traditions coming together to forge a new society. This is primarily the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that regardless of differences, there is a basic unity of human dignity and a respect for different cultures and if we maintain that we can actually create something new.”

A mother unites her children. I would encourage you to take some time to meditate on Mary’s words to Juan Diego where she assures him of her care and protection. She is our mother as well. For me as a mother there is nothing that warms my heart more than seeing my children working together, helping one another or caring for each other. Likewise, it hurts my heart like nothing else in the world to see them being cruel to each other. I would suggest that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the perfect intercessor at time when there seems to be so much division in our Church and in our country. At a time when so many people are demonized and discriminated against and when so many feel disenfranchised and threatened. I think that those of us who consider ourselves Gente Puente have a responsibility to share this message. Will you consider spreading the message about Our Lady of Guadalupe in your parish, in your community and in your Diocese? There are people in your parishes and dioceses of all different cultures who have maybe never heard the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and would be touched by her message.

Right now is the perfect time of year to raise awareness about this devotion and encourage people to participate in Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations in December in your area. One way would be to host a screening or even just a small discussion group based on one of the excellent films that have been made about Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of my favorites is a movie called Guadalupe starring Jose Carlos Ruiz in which an unbelieving archaeologist travels to Mexico to study the image and is touched by her message and the devotion. It’s a perfect mix of entertainment and information. Another is a documentary called Guadalupe: A Living Image which focuses on the historical and scientific studies related to the apparitions and the image. And of course, the film produced by the Knights of Columbus I mentioned earlier which covers the basic information but takes it a step further to apply the message to the Church in the U.S. Lastly, for a younger audience there is the cartoon called Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe.

If you’d like to learn more, Carl Anderson and Eduardo Chavez also wrote a book Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love on which the Guadalupe film was based. There you can find more details about the history, her message, and its impact on the Church across the Americas.

In the next episode we will dive into the more practical, concrete ideas and resources for celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe in your parish or diocese. So don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast Gente Puente on Apple Podcasts , Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast application so you don’t miss it!

Also don’t forget to join the Gente Puente Facebook group to be part of our growing family of Catholic leaders who share their experiences and encourage each other! We’d love for you to come on over and share how you have celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe, Posadas, and Christmas in your Hispanic ministry. Maybe your ideas & resources will even be featured on one of the next episodes! You can find us at http://www.facebook.com/groups/gentepuente or simply look for Gente Puente on Facebook.

Before we close today, let’s pray together for Mary’s intercession: Hail Mary. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Thanks for listening today. May God bless you and your ministry as gente puente!

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