Our Lady of Guadalupe

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A few days ago it was the immaculate conception of Mary, today Our Lady of Guadalupe. They are the same Mary, mother of God, but simply different titles. Our Lady of Guadalupe still is immaculately conceived. Today, my thoughts of this feast of the Mexican appearance of Mary does not only revolve around that Mexican Juan Diego, but also is viewed with the perspective of that Spanish priest Juan had dialogue with. My perspective, in fact, comes from that Spanish priest in the New World. I think of him, though not simply from a religious perspective, but from the perspective of an ordinary traveler or tourist. It is the tourist interacting with the native population. More specifically I view that priest, not as any tourist, but as a vacationer descending on any tourist destination. Why such an irreverent view of the priest? It is simply to put into perspective that common relationship between the tourist and those who cater to those folks who visit from afar. I am thinking of trinkets, baubles, souvenir shops, and all of the assorted memorabilia that a local merchant might wish to pawn onto the unsuspecting tourist. From the perspective of the merchant, their goods must cater to the whims of their visitor. Frequently they are nick knacks memorable of a destination, cheaply made and marked specifically to the tastes of a foreign clientele. They are made for the tourist, and are unlikely to be found in the native’s home. They are the disingenuous knockoffs of a culture or destination. Anyone who has traveled to a tourist destination is familiar with these cheap mass produced trinkets. But why view the priest as tourist, and Juan Diego as merchant? That is because, to these eyes, that (in my mind) is how that priest viewed every one of Juan’s early descriptions of Mary. It was, or at least had the potential to be, a cheap knockoff of the priests own vision of the Mother of God. Cheap in that it might have been the superficial resemblance, but was lacking in the details that made it truly original. The priest’s doubts were the fear of trickery and deceit. That is until those roses fell from Juan’s cloak. It was when those roses fell that the Spanish priest recognized a genuine vision of Mary in the new world. Not a cheap knock off, but a genuine, and immaculate appearance of Mary. In those roses, a rose native to Spain, was the Mary of the old world. As they flowed from Juan’s garments, was revealed the same Mary but present in a new World. It was not the Mary of a souvenir shop, poorly crafted to please a travelling clientele, but genuinely Mary Mother of God. An immaculate Mary, free from all flaws, or deceit, or sins. It is the difference between a tourist trinket and the real deal. As I think of Mary and her appearance to Juan Diego, and the people of Mexico, I think of not just that she appeared to Juan, but the conditions necessary for her appearance. Mary did not appear through the force of an invading culture, but revealed herself to a people that began to know and understand her. I think perhaps that is why that priest was so hesitant to accept Juan’s story. His doubt was his fear that Juan’s vision was one of either coercion, or intimidation, or patronage. His realizati0on of the truth of Our Lady of Guadalupe was when all those doubts disappeared, and in their place the Blessed Mother of God appeared. Proof of her appearance? It is those descendants of Juan Diego, which is the people of modern Mexico who are devoted to that same Blessed Lady of Guadalupe today.

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