A Mother’s Message- a reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe by Fr. Luke, priest-monk of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts.

Image of Our Lady of GuadalupeOn December 12, in the midst of the Advent Season,  we remember Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of our Land. Each year on this day we set up a special shrine in the transept of our church with her image adorned by flowers and two candles that are illumined throughout the day. She is our Mother and our Refuge in all tribulation. We are greatly consoled by her words to Saint Juan Diego in 1531:

Do listen, do be assured of it, my littlest one, that nothing at all should alarm you, should trouble you, nor in any way disturb your countenance, your heart. For am I not here, I, your mother? Are you not in the cool of my shadow? In the breeziness of my shade? Is it not I that am your source of contentment? Are you not cradled in my mantle, cuddled in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?

Mary’s conception, free of original sin, was unique among all created persons. But it is our re-conception in Christ, our rebirth in Christ, our re-creation in Christ, and our vocation to be holy and blameless, without blemish, immaculate before the face of God in love. This is something we all share with Mary. It seems an impossible vocation. Mary, our model, teaches us how to follow it and prays for us as we do.

There is a famous quote: “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” But if we were to ask the Virgin Mother Mary about it, she would perhaps say: “Pray and work knowing that it all depends on God. Everything depends on God.” She would be in agreement with St. Paul in his saying, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” The notion that each of us is called to be “holy and immaculate before the face of God in love” only seems impossible when God is left out of the process. Mary learns from the angel that nothing will be impossible for God: she, a virgin, but she will have a son who is the Son of God.

In the Magnificat, Mary never once uses the pronoun “I”. Her prayer is not a prayer of praise about herself, but about what God has done for her, for Israel, and for all generations of the lowly who know that nothing is impossible for God. Mary prays in praise of him who is her savior, a God who looks not on egocentric accomplishments but rather on our lowliness and poverty and hunger for Him, a God who ever remembers to have mercy upon us to make us blessed and holy and immaculate as we live and pray before his face.