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Header - Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the unborn

 

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Why “Patroness of the Unborn”?

Virgin of Guadalupe ImageOf all the many manifestations of Mary’s loving presence among us throughout the centuries, in this apparition alone does she appear to us in the manner of a pregnant mother. She holds within her the unborn Christ, proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb. Her reverence and tenderness communicate to us the joy and awe with which we must approach each embryonic life.

Since 1973, with the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade which gave legal protection to the monstrous sin of abortion, a parallel shedding of innocent blood has taken place. The unborn innocent victim is brutally tortured in that very place he was placed by God for his protection and development.

Today we find ourselves in the midst of an even more enormous and dramatic conflict between good and evil, the "culture of life" and the "culture of death." Just as Our Lady of Guadalupe freed the indigenous peoples of Mexico from their savage customs, so can she “crush the serpent’s head” here in America under the title of “Protectress of the Unborn.”

Let us not cease in crying out for her protection on behalf of our pre-born brothers and sisters. Only by imitating Our Lady’s respect for life from the moment of conception can we hope to inherit Life itself. Under her gentle direction we find not only shelter and rest, but confidence and strength to go forth to battle the evil of abortion in our land. Full of confidence in her power to obtain great victories from God, let us turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

 

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A Brief Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe

On December 12, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary spoke to a humble native in his own Nahuatl tongue. The exact sound that met the Mexican’s ears was “Juanito, Juan Diegito.” It was an endearing expression that a fond mother would use for her child. English would render it: “Dear little Juan.”

Image of Our Lady of GuadalupeShe motioned Juan to come closer. Advancing a step or two he sank to his knees, overwhelmed by the loveliness of the vision. The beautiful lady requested that a shrine be built and dedicated to her on the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking to him in the native language, Our Lady called herself “of Guadalupe,” a Spanish name meaning the one "who crushes the serpent."

Sadly, the bishop refused to believe that the Mother of God would appear to a poor, illiterate Mexican like Juan. Juan returned to the place of the apparition where Our Lady again appeared. She told him to return the next morning when she would give him a sign that would convince the bishop of the truth of her appearance and her request.

The following morning Our Lady told Juan to go to the top of the hill and gather Castilian roses that he would find there. Although he knew that only cactus grew there, he obeyed, and his simple faith was rewarded by the sight of beautiful roses growing where she had told him they would be.

He gathered them and showed them to Our Lady who rearranged them for him, placing them in his cloak or “tilma.” Juan returned to the bishop. As he opened his tilma, the roses fell to the floor. All who were present were startled to see an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe clearly imprinted on the tilma.

Today this image is still preserved on Juan Diego's tilma, which hangs over the main altar in the basilica at the foot of Tepeyac Hill just outside of Mexico City.

In the image, Our Lady is pregnant, carrying the Son of God in her womb. Her head is bowed in homage, indicating that she is not a goddess, but rather the one who bears and at the same time worships the one true God.

 

The Serpent’s Head Is Crushed

When Mary first appeared to Blessed Juan Diego, Mexico had been in the hands of Christian leaders for only a short time. Human sacrifice, where the blood of innocents was often spilled to appease the thirsty demons of the old rite, was still practiced. The Aztec priests executed annually at least 50,000 inhabitants of the land — men, women and children — in human sacrifices to their gods. In 1487, just in a single four-day ceremony for the dedication of a new temple in Tenochtitlan, some 80,000 captives were killed in human sacrifice. The same practices, which in most cases included the cannibalism of the victims’ limbs, were common also in earlier Mesoamerican cultures, with widespread Olmec, Toltec and Mayan human sacrificing rituals.

Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled. The early Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl estimated that one out of every five children in Mexico were sacrificed. Into this cavern of darkness and ignorance, our Lady of Guadalupe brought a message of maternal compassion:

“I am the merciful Mother, the Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities, and misfortunes.”

By 1541, just ten years after the apparitions, there were ten million Indians who had been converted from paganism. Before Our Lady’s coming the missionaries were able to pour the saving waters of Baptism upon the heads of only one million natives, and most of these were orphaned children, victims of war, whom the loving missionaries had adopted and educated. Such a mass conversion was an unprecedented phenomenon, the likes of which had never been witnessed in any country of the world.

How much our nation still needs her message of compassion! Let us together pray for the assistance and protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her face radiates the very light of God, while her example reveals authentic femininity. She shows unparalleled compassion to the poor and defenseless, but unyielding power and triumph over the evil one and his cohorts.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 23, 2020

The purer are your words and your glances, the more pleasing...

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November 23

 

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Columban

He struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself...

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St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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