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Roses In Winter

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This is what the Virgin of Guadalupe asks of you today, this fidelity to the gospel, of which she knew how to be the most eminent example.” ~ Saint Paul VI

Eric Sprankle, an Associate Professor at Minnesota State College and apparently a very prominent voice in today’s Atheist Movement, recently made a splash regarding a comment he made on Twitter pertaining to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He remarked:

“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario” going on to wrap up his thoughts with a rather sardonic “Happy Holidays.”

Cue today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) . . . .

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” Mary proclaims, “May it be done to me according to your word,” the word in question of course referring to the Angel Gabriel’s proclamation that she would give birth to the Savior of the World. It is her very response that acknowledges and underlies the fact that the Blessed Mother, like all of us, possessed the gift of free will.

Could Mary have said no? Could God have erroneously chosen the woman he pre-destined from the beginning of time to be the pure and sinless vessel through which the Savior of the world would emerge so as to die for the sins of all humanity? I think the second question is a better one...perhaps because I know the answer to it.

“I will give God to the people, in all my personal love, in my compassion, in my help, in my protection: because I am truly your merciful Mother, yours and all the people who live united in this land and of all other people of different ancestries, my lovers, who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings.” These were the words our Blessed Mother spoke to the humble and astonished peasant Juan Diego on December 12th, 1531 on the hilltop of Tepeyac, which would go on to become part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City.

They are every bit as relevant today as they were on this most blessed of days. They are the words that trumped twenty years of tireless Franciscan Missionary work in that territory prior to the apparition, twenty years that yielded virtually no progress. Within ten years of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, nine million Mexicans had converted to Christianity. It should also be pointed out that with this apparition and the subsequent national conversion that it bore, the barbaric Aztec practice of human sacrifice mercifully became a gruesome memory of their rudderless and stormy past.

As Michael Pakaluk points out in his Essay “Queen of the New Evangelization” when discussing the startlingly beautiful image of our Blessed Mother that was left on Juan Diego’s tilma, “The fabric of a tilma is a bit like burlap; without “sizing” one could not paint any kind of picture on it, and the fabric normally deteriorates quickly in the heat and humidity of the Mexican climate. But the image on display in “La Villa” in Mexico City, now almost 500 years old, is as fresh as ever. There is no sizing, no pigment, and there are no brush strokes – the colors apparently arise by some kind of unexplained iridescent effect. The tilma was not damaged even when acid was mistakenly spilled on it, or when a bomb with twenty-seven sticks of dynamite blew up right next to it.” The indestructible nature of the tilma serves as a metaphor for the undying love that our Eternal Blessed Mother has for we her children. Nothing of this Earth could ever remotely compete with this love. No sin is too great to extinguish it. Certainly no modern day, flavor of the month intellectual movement could ever squelch it.

I leave you with a prayer authored by Saint John Paul II , one he wrote in celebration of this great Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let us all seek to emulate her perfect obedience to God’s call while seeking her intercession for all those we encounter in our lives.

“O Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, 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, Mother of Fair love, protect our families so that they may always be united and bless the upbringing of our children. Our hope, look upon us with pity, teach us to go continually to Jesus, and if we fall help us to rise again and return to him through the confession of our faults and our sins in the sacrament of penance, which gives peace to the soul. We beg you to grant us a great love of 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 consciences, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all others true joy and true peace, which come to us from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.” ~ Amen

++ Artwork for this Hub provided courtesy of my 12 year old niece Catherine. ++