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BY Charles Mangan
A WEEK of weeks. Not only is the ever-virgin Mother of God honored this week under the title of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 9), but she is also hailed as our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12).
It is fitting that Mary receives due attention during Advent. After all, her fiat changed the course of human history. The maiden of Nazareth visited Juan Diego (now Blessed) in 1531. As the coming of Christ gave hope to many in Israel (and later, far beyond), so the apparition of the Virgin buoyed many Indians then and millions of disciples of Jesus today.
Pope John Paul II, in summing up the meaning of Mary's appearance at Guadalupe, offers his fervent desire that the spiritual ramifications of her maternity will not be lost on our present generation and that we will ponder often Mary's role in salvation history.
In Prayers and Devotions, John Paul turns to our Lady of Guadalupe with love and anticipation. “O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church! You who from this place show forth your clemency and your compassion for all those who have recourse to your protection, hear the prayer which we address to you with filial confidence and present it to your Son, Jesus, our sole Redeemer.”
Acknowledging Mary's special intercession, Pope John Paul submits a special request: “Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples, for we confide all we have and all we are to your care, our Lady and our Mother. We will to be completely yours and to follow with you the road of full fidelity to Jesus Christ in his Church. Hold us always lovingly by the hand.”
In recent years, our Lady of Guadalupe has been invoked as the patroness of the unborn. Her assistance greatly aided the peoples of Mexico in the 16th century who labored under the pain of infant sacrifice. Currently, Mary is asked to intercede for all preborn children, their parents, and all those involved with abortion: “Grant our homes the grace to love and respect life as it begins, with the same love whereby you conceived the life of the Son of God in your womb. Virgin Saint Mary, Mother of Beautiful Love, protect our families so that they may always remain united and bless the education of our children.”
The Virgin of Guadalupe is close to all those who seek her powerful inter-cession. She teaches us how to be gentle, steadfast and courageous. Her vibrant faith, unwavering hope and dauntless charity provide encouragement to all who reflect on her esteemed place near her Son.
Father Mangan is a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D.