by Ed Harpring
During Advent Let Us Boldly Unite with Our Lady of Guadalupe – Patroness of the Unborn.
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” – Revelation 12:1
Recently, I was reading an Advent reflection from Bishop Robert Barron about the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe and his surprising depiction of Our Lady as “warrior.” The warrior image seems to fly in the face of the docile meek and mild portrayal of the Virgin Mary that most of call to mind. However, Bishop Barron explains:
“But we should not approach this symbolism in a superficial or merely sentimental way. The woman clothed in the sun and with the moon at her feet is portrayed in Revelation precisely as a warrior. Confronting her is a terrible dragon intent upon devouring her child as soon as it is born. Through God’s grace, the child is in fact delivered from danger, but the dragon is furious, sending a torrent of water from its mouth to sweep the mother and child away. In the wake of the child’s birth, moreover, a war breaks out in heaven between the dragon and Michael and his angels.”
Bishop Barron makes the connection between the woman described in Revelation and Mary who appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill. To Juan Diego she said, “I am the ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God.” In so saying, she was asserting herself and “actively de-throning and de-legitimizing any false claimant to that title.” She said to Juan Diego, “I will give all my protection to the people. I am the merciful mother of all mankind… Am I not your fountain of life?” She came to Tepeyac to replace Tonantzin, the false mother goddess that was worshiped there. Our Lady of Guadalupe is a mother who protects her children, both born and unborn, from death. During this time in Mexico, in 1531, human sacrifice was practiced on a massive scale. According to Aztec scholars, at the height of their empire, the Aztecs sacrificed tens of thousands of victims every single year. Children were routinely among the victims.
Bishop Barron elaborates on the bold contrast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, pregnant with Jesus in her womb, noted by the knotted black sash around her waist—a symbol of pregnancy.
“Standing in front of the sun and upon the moon, with the stars of heaven arrayed on her cloak, the Lady was showing her superiority to the cosmic elements worshipped by the Aztecs. The gods in question were blood-thirsty divinities, sanctioning imperialistic war and demanding human sacrifice. Mary announced herself as the mother of a God who demanded no violence, and who instead took upon himself, as an act of love, all of the violence of the world. She was thereby effectively calling out the false gods in the name of the true God.”
Within just a few years, approximately 11 million were converted, and the practice of human sacrifice stopped. “She had done battle with fallen spirits and had won a culture-changing victory for the God of love.”
Bishop Barron concludes with the challenge to join the modern-day fight for the God-given rights of the unborn by promoting a culture of Life.
“The challenge for us who honor her today is to join the same fight. We do not sufficiently engage this great feast if we simply wonder at a marvelous event from long ago. We must announce to our culture today the truth of the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of non-violence and forgiving love. And we ought, to be bearers of Jesus to a world that needs him more than ever.”
In the Pro-Life Office of the Archdiocese of Louisville, we are preparing our hearts during the Advent Season as we hope and long for the second Coming of Christ and remember the gift of the Incarnation. But, as Bishop Barron suggests, we are called to join with Our Lady of Guadalupe – Protectress of the Unborn to “crush the head of the serpent”- to win the battle for Life.
The battle for Life continues as several hundred students our Catholic High Schools will be attending the pilgrimage to the March for Life in Washington D.C. in January. The pilgrimage experience has been enhanced with increased focus on worship and formation. We begin our journey on the evening of January 16th with a Praise and Worship Holy Hour at St. John Paul II. We then board busses for a long overnight ride to D.C. arriving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the immaculate Conception. From there, students can tour the spectacular Church, and stake out their seat for the Pro-Life Vigil Mass that begins at 5:30 P.M on January 17th. During this time frame, they can visit other area sites including the Holocaust Museum or the St. John Paul II National Shrine. On Friday morning at 9:00 A.M, January 18th, the day of the March for Life, we have Holy Rosary Church reserved for the Archdiocese of Louisville pilgrims (students and adults) to celebrate a Mass for Life with Archbishop Kurtz. Having been fed on the Holy Eucharist, we will be properly disposed to prayerfully and enthusiastically participate in the annual March for Life, attended by over half a million people from all over the U.S. and the world. At the conclusion of the March, we plan to meet with one of our U.S. Senators or Representatives to discuss Pro-Life legislation. Finally, on Saturday, January 19th, all students will attend the Students for Life National Conference to learn about Life issues from a group of well-known national speakers. This educational experience will help ground our students in effective ways to get more involved with building a culture that values all Life.
But Christmas and the upcoming March for Life are not here yet, so we join with our courageous and victorious Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, during this Advent season, under her protective mantle and wait for the coming of Our Lord and recall her words to Juan Diego:
“Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God … here I will show and offer all my love, my compassion and protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping and their sorrows …their necessities and misfortunes. Listen and let it penetrate your heart.
Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and my protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the fold of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”