Today, December 12, marks the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the unborn. It is fitting that her feast falls securely within the observance of Advent.
In 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as a pregnant woman to St. Juan Diego, an Aztec man, in Mexico. The Aztec civilization had a long history of human sacrifice, that at times included even children. Mary, appearing in her pregnant state as a beacon of tangible hope, was then and is today a direct contradiction to the “culture of death” mentality of that civilization and of our current society.
Mary’s Only Apparition as a Pregnant Mother
As Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary brought a message of maternal compassion, love, and prayer to the people of Mexico and the Americas:
I am the merciful Mother, the Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities, and misfortunes.
Throughout the centuries, Mary has made many manifestations of her loving presence among us. In this apparition alone, she appears in the manner of a pregnant mother. She holds within her the unborn Christ, proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb.
Hope for the Americas, Hope in Advent
Our Lady of Guadalupe embodies hope for the Americas, just as in Advent the pregnant Madonna is hope for mankind. Advent guides us in waiting and preparing for the birth of the Christ Child. Every expectant mother knows the excitement and apprehension of waiting and preparing for her precious child. Yet the Madonna’s waiting was unique. Her Son was not just a gift to her family or her small community. Mary’s baby, Jesus, was a gift to the entire human race—those previously born, living, and not yet born—because He was sent by the Father for the salvation of the world.
In commemorating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the Advent season, we can easily see the connection between these two important liturgical observances. Accordingly, we can take time in Advent to ponder the maternity of the Blessed Mother and the value of life from its earliest beginnings in the womb. We can remember anew that, while there was only one Savior of the world in the Divine Christ Child who was both God and man, every person is a gift. Every life has potential, and God does not make mistakes: every child is wanted and loved by Him, even if rejected by its own mother and father.
Commemorating Our Lady of Guadalupe
For Advent and beyond, here are a few suggestions on how we can rededicate ourselves to the eternal truth that all human life has dignity and worth. These activities can help us remember the story and message of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Mary in her maternity, and experience an especially fruitful Advent:
- We can pray. Pray the Rosary, attend Mass, start a novena, or simply ask God to help you grow in love, understanding, and wisdom. You can start with this prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your apparitions on Mount Tepeyac you promised to show pity and compassion to all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and protection.
Accordingly, listen now to our supplications and grant us consolation and relief. We are full of hope that, relying on your help, nothing can trouble or affect us. As you have remained with us through your admirable image, so now obtain for us the graces we need. Amen.
- We can educate ourselves. Subscribe to pro-life newsletters and read pro-life books. One such book is Transfigured: Patricia Sandoval’s Escape from Drugs, Homelessness, and the Back Doors of Planned Parenthood, recently published by Queen of Peace Media. I read this riveting book in one night. It is the autobiography of a young girl who felt abandoned by her parents. After three abortions and work at an abortion clinic, she became a methamphetamine addict living on the streets—until a miracle occurred. Patricia Sandoval is now a renowned international pro-life and chastity speaker who inspires thousands with her exhilarating story of redemption. This true story brings the same healing love, mercy, and hope that God gave to Patricia, directly to the reader’s heart.
- We can reach out to a pregnant mother. Offering help to a mother in your community is one way to support families and follow Mary’s example of serving others. Watch a pregnant mother’s other children for a couple of hours while she goes Christmas shopping. Ask her whether she would like you to pick up a few things for her at the grocery store. Offer to make dinner, or simply bring over a batch of cookies.
- We can remember our local pregnancy center. Can you make a donation to help a pregnant mother in need? Can you post a social media graphic on a Facebook or Instagram account, to raise awareness for the center and its services? Can you help sign up for and man a table for the center at a health fair? Health fairs are perfect places for women and men to learn about a pregnancy center’s services. Can you post the center’s fliers at your church or in the community?
- We can spiritually “adopt” an unborn child. The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen encouraged the “adoption” of a particular unborn child. He composed this prayer, which one may pray for a particular unknown child for nine months or beyond:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.
It is intended that during one’s earthly life, this spiritually adopted child will be known only to God. But it is hoped that in heaven, the one who “adopts” the child spiritually through prayer will know the child and spend eternal happiness in that knowledge.
Living the Advent Message
In these ways, we can mark the Advent season with prayer and good works. We can truly live the message of love, hope, and life that Jesus brought to the world that very first Christmas.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
© 2017 Maria Vickroy-Peralta. Image: Public Domain.