Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Message for Today: Healing Hearts and Ending the Culture of Abuse
The message Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531 echoes through the centuries, bringing hope and comfort to all who hear and trust in her words.
"Listen, my son, to what I am telling you now: Do not be disturbed or afflicted by anything. Do not fear illness or any other harmful accident or pain. Am I not here, I who am your mother? Are you not under my mantle and my protection? Am I not life and health? Are you not on my lap and under my care? Do you need anything else?"
I believe that God sent Our Lady to the country that is now Mexico all those years ago to bring this message of tenderness, as well as many other unspoken messages. Over the centuries, many have forgotten or never even been told of the story of Juan Diego, Our Lady, the Aztecs, and the Spanish missionaries. And the heavenly communication God sent Our Lady to make known has also been forgotten. It is imperative that in our time, these messages be made known again.
To better understand the messages of Guadalupe, we must first know the events that occurred on Tepeyac Hill, December 9-12, 1531.
Juan Diego, an indigenous man, was on his way to attend Mass when he heard the enchanting music of a choir of birds. He had never heard such music on his daily walk to Mass and so he left his typical path to seek out the source. To his wonder and surprise, he encountered a young woman of radiant beauty. She spoke to Juan Diego in his native Nahuatl language. She revealed herself to him as the Mother of God and requested that he visit the local bishop, Fray Juan de Zumárraga, and ask him to build a church at the site in her honor.
Juan Diego complied with Our Lady's request, but initially, the bishop was skeptical and asked for the Lady to provide proof that she was the Blessed Virgin. To seek a sign, Juan Diego returned to the Hill of Tepeyac and Our Lady told Juan Diego to come back the next day and she would provide the sign the bishop needed.
The next day, Juan Diego attempted to avoid the Lady by taking a different path because he was concerned about his uncle, who was gravely ill. Our Lady assured Juan Diego that his uncle would be healed. It was at this time that she spoke her message of tenderness and comfort, "Listen, my son, to what I am telling you now: Do not be disturbed or afflicted by anything. Do not fear illness or any other harmful accident or pain. Am I not here, I who am your mother? Are you not under my mantle and my protection? Am I not life and health? Are you not on my lap and under my care? Do you need anything else?"
Our Lady instructed Juan Diego to not go in search of a priest for his uncle but instead to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill where they had met before. There he discovered Spanish Castilian roses miraculously blooming in the middle of winter. Juan Diego gathered the roses in his tilma (cloak) and returned to Our Lady. She gently rearranged the roses in his tilma, folded it carefully around them, and told Juan Diego to return to the bishop—but not to open the tilma for anyone but the bishop himself.
When he unfolded his tilma before the bishop, the beautiful pink roses fell to the ground and so did all the men present including Bishop Zumárraga.
The Spanish roses, in full bloom, were certainly a miracle—but even more astounding was the image of Our Lady imprinted on the tilma. This image depicts a young indigenous woman with mestiza features, symbolizing a bridge between the indigenous people and the Spanish settlers.
Every feature of the miraculous painting is a codex that was instantly understood by the Aztecs.
For instance, Our Lady’s posture and folded hands told them that she was in prayer, worshiping her God and not a goddess herself. The black ribbon around her waist was a symbol of pregnancy and the flower underneath it was a symbol of divinity.
These two symbols together told them that she was pregnant with a child of God.
Many of the colors and drawings on her dress also relayed the message that in her Divinity had wedded humanity and that she had been sent by a “god” who is more powerful than the sun and moon gods they worshiped.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has become a powerful symbol of unity, faith, and devotion in Mexico and around the world. The tilma is displayed for veneration in the basilica and has defied scientific explanation for centuries due to its miraculous preservation.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th, commemorating the culmination of the apparitions to Juan Diego.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is known as the Patroness of the Americas and of the Unborn. I believe that she is also asking to be a patroness of women who have been victims of marital abuse and sexual assault. Abortion is a form of human sacrifice and because sexual abuse is soul murder, it too is a form of human sacrifice in our time.
It was while to participating in a Theology of the Body Institute pilgrimage to Mexico in October of 2019 that I experienced Our Lady’s sorrow and compassion for victims of sexual abuse and marital abuse. I spent much time in prayer in both the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the chapel on Tepeyac Hill. But the pilgrimage site that had a surprisingly profound impact on me was our visit to the Aztec temples.
The tour guide spoke of the men and women who willingly went to their deaths as sacrifices to the sun god because they believed their lives were the sacrifice required to ensure the god’s kindness to their children. As I pondered how Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego and the codex on his tilma put an end to these human sacrifices, a connection to my own life and the human sacrifice in our time became clear.
Too many women sacrifice themselves—their hearts, bodies, identities, and dignity—because they erroneously believe God asks them to accept abuse, control, and acts of lust and depravity. The desecration of women, who are beautiful temples of the Holy Spirit, by means of pornography, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, is a form of human sacrifice in our age. Marriage is not justification for abuse and the violation of a woman’s dignity. Our God, the God Who Our Lady of Guadalupe revealed to the Aztecs 500 years ago, is a God of love and mercy. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the One True sacrifice. He does not require wives and mothers to sacrifice themselves to the men who vowed to love, cherish, and protect them.
Addressing abuse in all its forms is crucial, for we were created by love, for love, not to harm one another or to be harmed. It is imperative to bring all forms of abuse to the light, including the hidden wounds within abusers themselves. As we strive to address and heal these wounds, we pave the way for the restoration of lives, the beauty of God's Church, and world. With mercy and love as our weapons, we can contribute to ending the prevailing culture of death and rebuilding a civilization rooted in life and love. The healing of hearts, marriages, and families is possible.
Our Lady of Guadalupe serves as a messenger of hope to victims, assuring them that she and Jesus stand with them. Victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence are Mother Mary’s living Roses of Tepeyac. Enfolded in her mantle, they will bloom in unexpected places; redeemed, restored, and transformed into a beautiful bouquet for Christ, their Savior and Bridegroom.
But God's message to abusers is also clear: His Son, born of a Woman, is the only Sacrifice ever needed. As Pope John Paul II said, “It is every man’s duty to uphold the dignity of every woman.” This most certainly is the duty of every husband, first and foremost, towards his wife.
The false gods demanding human sacrifice must be rebuked and overcome. God demands mercy and love as the paths to healing and redemption. In this call to prayer and mercy, we find the transformative power to bring about an end to the culture of abuse and build a world rooted in God's love.
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