post appeared on the blog The
Next Right Step, linking to the original article at SpiritualDirection.com
is one of the finest pieces I have ever read on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is by Dr. Peter Howard and
appears at Spiritualdirection.com. I have come to think that the titles,
Tepeyac and Guadalupe are equally important, for in this image she is a
profound sign of unity, uniting the Old World and the New World, and
encompassing almost all of Christian history. Dr. Howard marvelously
connects the dots in a concise way here. There is much to ponder in this.
A hat tip to our reader, Jose, for bringing this to my attention. – CJ)
Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Renaissance of Civilization
2015 by Peter Howard
Lady of Guadalupe and the Renaissance of Civilization
level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood.”
words of Venerable Fulton Sheen echoed across the radio waves back in 1947
when he spoke about the effects of communism on modern womanhood and the
decision our age must make whether or not it will accept the gift of
woman, which produces the strongest societies, or reject that gift and
live with the catastrophic consequences that come with that. Who can
better reveal to the world the unique gift of womanhood that will make or
break modern civilization than “the Woman” herself, who in her usual
style of beauty and mystery left the world a timeless revelation at
Tepeyac Hill on 12 December 1531, forever memorialized under her title
“Our Lady of Guadalupe”.
global significance of Mary’s appearances in Guadalupe cannot be
underscored enough. What took place in 1531, and the Marian revolution
which followed for the next eight years, is a message for all the world!
Let’s briefly look at the history of this event in order to appreciate
its more important spiritual significance. It is a history contextualized
between the seemingly endless conflict between Christianity and Islam and,
more broadly, the culture of life versus a culture of death.
reflection takes us back to the 8th century when the Moslems swept through
Spain and the Christians there hid a highly revered statue, given to them
from Pope St. Gregory the Great, of Mary who held the Christ Child. It was
a statue referred to as the Divine Motherhood and to protect it from the
Moslems, it was buried in the ground in the Extremadura mountains. When
the Moslems were driven out six centuries later, the statue was
miraculously recovered by a humble shepherd
and later enshrined in a Franciscan monastery next to a river called
“The Wolf River” (“Guada” = river, “lupe” = wolf) a name
derived from Arabic during the Moslem occupation. So, the statue of the
Divine Motherhood became known according to its Islamic name Our Lady of
Guadalupe. This is an interesting fact considering Our Lady would do this
again centuries later by becoming known as Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 –
a name connected with Mohammed’s daughter.
our secular history books do not include about Christopher Columbus were
the predominantly Catholic roots of his inspiration to discover what was
later called “the new world.” Even less known is that the Franciscan
monastery now located where the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Spain) is
currently enshrined was where both Columbus and Hernán Cortés came to
pray before setting off to the Americas.
forward to 1531 . . . the Church of the “Old World” in Europe is being
torn to pieces by the Protestant Revolution and the impact of the early
Franciscan evangelization into the New World is sparse as they encounter a
diabolically inspired Aztec religion which was characterized by human
sacrifice. From a Catholic point of view, things are a disaster on both
fronts. You also have the growing threat of Islam returning to western
Europe. Is heaven just passively watching the beginning of the end of
Christendom? 9 December 1531 gave us the answer.
are familiar with the story of St. Juan Diego and the visitations he
experienced from a woman whom he learned was the Mother of Jesus Christ.
I’d like to dial in on the deeper significance of the events and
let’s reflect on the significance of the date. The visitations to St.
Juan Diego began on December 9. Some may say, “Oh! just one day off from
the Immaculate Conception date!” Well, historically, the first feast
celebrated in honor of Mary’s conception was in the East and goes back
perhaps as far as the 5th century in Syria . . . and it was celebrated on
December 9. It was called “the Feast of the Conception of the Most Holy
and All Pure Mother of God.” A few centuries later the feast was
celebrated in the West on December 8. Is there any connection here that
Our Lady was trying to make? Do Mary’s visitations beginning on this
date even have any connection with her being the Immaculate Conception?
This is where it really gets interesting, but because we have such limited
space in a blog post, I will attempt to be brief in summarizing it.
During Mary’s apparitions, she appeared to the uncle of St. Juan Diego,
Juan Bernardino, and mediated a miraculous healing of a life-threatening
illness. During her apparition to Juan Bernadino, Our Lady revealed that
she wished to be known as “the ever-virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe”.
Catholic historians believe that Mary would have spoken this in the native
Aztec language of Juan Bernardino, which would have communicated
“Guadalupe” as coataxopeuh, which is pronounced “quatlasupe”
(sounding very much like Guadalupe). This is indeed significant because
the breakdown of the word coatlaxopeuh is the following: oa means
“serpent”, tla means “the”,
xopeuh means “to crush or stamp out.” Putting this all together, you
have the name “Quatlasupe” meaning “the one who crushes the
serpent” (and the Aztecs worshiped a serpent-god Quetzalcoatl). This
allusion to Mary as “the woman” of Genesis 3:15 is remarkable as it is
also used by the Church as one of the Scripture references supporting the
dogma and feast of the Immaculate Conception.
that isn’t already awesome, we fast forward to the miracle celebrated
today of St. Juan Diego’s tilma bearing the miraculous image of what one
can say is Revelation 12 woven, literally, into the very fabric of
civilization’s vestiture. There is the woman of Genesis 3:15 and
Revelation 12 depicted [pregnant with Christ] in all her humility and
glory at the same time: “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman
clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a
crown of twelve stars; she was with child . . .” [Revelation 12:1-2].
this “woman” who revealed herself as Our Lady of Guadalupe amidst one
of the most violent cultures of death came as the Advent of Christ,
pregnant with her Divine Son, ready to bear Him as the Mediatrix of Divine
Mercy, to a civilization lost in darkness and death with the tenderness
and power portrayed in that miraculous image. Historians report that
within eight years, Our Lady of Guadalupe achieved the impossible — that
approximately nine million Aztecs (basically a Pentecost a day for eight
years) were converted to the Christian faith. Some even say that the
number of Aztec conversions equalled those souls lost to the Protestant
Our Lady of Guadalupe accomplished in the heart of the
Americas reveals that she indeed is the bridge-builder
par excellence as she connected and expanded a fractured Church in the Old
World with the budding Church in the New World (since Mexico was known as
the “New Spain”). Mary appeared at the geographic center of all the
Americas as the Immaculate Conception (compare Mary’s appearance on the
tilma with how she is described by St. Bernadette in Lourdes when she said
“I am the Immaculate Conception” — they are basically identical).
So, we have the Church of the East and West being united under Mary’s
Immaculate Conception on 9 December, the Church of the Old World and the
New World being united by the Blessed Mother bringing her Son to New Spain
under the title “Our Lady of Guadalupe”, which also connects Mary with
the Christian-Moslem problem. So, we’ve got North – South, East –
West, Old World – New World, Christianity’s response to Paganism,
Christianity’s response to Islam (In the battle of Lepanto, in 1571
Admiral Doria of the Holy League carried a small image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe into the battle against the Moslems), Christianity’s response
to the culture of death — all these represented in Our Lady of Guadalupe
(aka Our Lady of the Divine Motherhood)! To what does Our Lady of
Guadalupe not relate? Now we begin to see why in 1999, at the dawn of the
new millennium St. John Paul II pointed to Our Lady as the Patroness not
only of the unborn, but as the patroness of the new evangelization . . .
because she is the Advent of Christ in every way. Or, to put it another
way, as Venerable Fulton Sheen did, she is the spiritual Trojan horse who
gets Christ, hidden within her (as we see in the Tilma), behind the most
fortified walls (beginning with the walls of our own soul).
what does this all of this have to do with womanhood? Wherever Mary
enters, she crushes the head of the serpent and recalibrates a disoriented
society according to its worship, its womanhood and its “yes” to life!
When womanhood rediscovers this is their genius, we will have a
renaissance of culture the world has never seen! And we men better be the
ones fighting for this!
we enter the Jubilee of Mercy through the holy “door” of Mary let us
take to heart the tender words that she spoke to her “Juanito” [her
nickname for St. Juan Diego] during her visitations in 1531:
and understand well . . . that I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of
the True God for whom we live . . . I am your merciful mother, to you, and
to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke
and confide in me; [I listen] to their lamentations, and remedy all their
miseries, afflictions and sorrows . . . Hear me and understand well . . .
that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be
disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I
not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you
Lady of Guadalupe, Mediatrix of Mercy and Patroness of the New
Evangelization, pray for us!
Mother and Mediatrix of Mercy, pray for us!
Beginning in 2016, my family will be traveling around the country
bringing to other families this critical message and the mission of Heroic
Families. I would love to speak at your parish, university or event! Reach
out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can make this happen
and work together for the Renaissance and counter-revolution of the