(Last year with our Lady of Guadalupe at the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word, AL)
Today is the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! This is a big feast day in our family, and, well, we love our Lady, and we have been so blessed to be a part of the Latino community wherever we go. When we were only 9 months married, Dan and I moved to Eagle Pass, Texas which is right on the border of Mexico, to serve the Church there. Dan had served a year in Belize and was fluent in Spanish, and the food, and I had quite a lot to learn besides the language and adjusting to the heat, being a city girl from New England. 🙂 In many respects, we settled in quickly. The people were so very kind, and welcoming. We immediately felt part of the family of the parish and school where we worked. We learned that the Mexican people had many beautiful faith traditions, and how strong their faith was. One of those traditions was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The serenading of the mariachi band at dawn, the rosary, the Mass, the pan dulce and hot chocolate, the little children dressing up to dance and re-enact the story of Juan Diego, more music, the homemade Mexican food – the entire day was a feast from morning to night, filled with prayer, food, song… and JOY! Everyone was so joy -filled. And everyone came together, the rich and the poor, the young and the old- everyone came to give honor to this Lady who in one way or another has brought joy and comfort to their hearts.
And every other place God has put us over the years, He introduces us to a community who celebrates this great feast. And, the celebration is similar, and the food so good, and the people – so kind and welcoming. And the JOY! It is everywhere. It is a home. And even though we just moved, we are already finding that home here. I cannot tell you how surprised I was when my husband brought home a Latino faith newsletter from the diocese and told me I needed to look at this one picture. It was a large group of children sitting listening to a speaker. As I looked closer, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The sister with whom at had worked at the parish, my dear friend from Eagle Pass, was right there in the midst of the children! I think I actually screamed in delight – the kids were definitely taken aback. We had lost touch through the years. Now, we were together again, an hour apart! We have since connected and recently brought all the children up to visit her and the other sisters at their convent. It was a beautiful visit – so much joy. I feel home again. God is good.
Most of us know the story of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe (if you don’t, please look it up – such a beautiful story). I grew up knowing her story, and developed a devotion to her as she was the patroness of the Americas, an intercessor for the respect of life and the end to abortion, and her image was always a part of our youth retreats. But, it wasn’t until a certain priest came into our life, that I knew her better. Several years ago, at a parish in Virginia, a new pastor came to town. He had a particular devotion to our Lady, and especially to our Lady of Guadalupe. He loved her, and the rosary so very much. (There will be more on him and the rosary soon). He had such a way of preaching, that you would remember what he would say, and often gave us tangible reminders. He gave us a card with our Lady’s picture on it, and on the back were the words that our Lady spoke to Juan Diego. I had never read them before then, but they were so beautiful. I have continued to keep these words close to me, especially in difficult moments. I will leave them below for you to read and ponder. If there is a cross you are carrying right now, whether it be big or small – give it to our Lady. Ask her to help you. She is our Mother who never leaves us, who will never abandon us, and who loves us so very much. Cling to her; she will always carry you to her Son, in whose Heart you will find great comfort.
“Do not let your heart be disturbed. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”
~ Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego