She is my Mother
As I’m walking through the dump, I spot her. She has been waiting for me here. She knew I would find her here, but this is not where I was expecting to find her. Not in this filth, not in this mess, not in this poverty, but her beauty is radiating. Her colors are bright, and she is glistening in the sun. She is beautiful, and she has always been with me.
I never thought I would find myself in this situation. After all, it was my first mission trip, I was only 19 years old and I was in one of the most infamous places in the world to serve the poorest of the poor, but something about it gave me so much peace. At first, I didn’t know what that something was, but it soon became evident that that something was Our Lady of Guadalupe.
On the first full day of mission in Mexico City, I gathered upstairs in the convent that was hosting my mission group to hear a talk from our host, Craig. Craig is the founder of Hope of the Poor in Mexico City, an organization devoted to loving the poorest of the poor on the streets of Mexico City while encountering Christ in them all in the presence of Our Lady. After telling us all about Saint Juan Diego’s encounter with our lady, he was quick to focus in on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma that Our Lady appeared on, and what he had to say made us all lean in and listen a little closer. These are some of the things he told us:
- The Virgin of Guadalupe’s index finger points upwards to the cross gracing her neck, a reminder that she always points us closer to her Son.
- The stars on her mantle depict the sky on the day she appeared to Saint Juan Diego looking down from heaven.
- She is standing in front of the sun and on the moon, two objects that were believed to rule the Earth at the time. She has dominion over them.
- Her middle part in her hair represents an unmarried virgin.
- She is bearing child, and the child is dancing in her womb.
- The image is made with an unknown substance; it has been scientifically proven that it cannot possibly be paint.
- The image can also be seen on both sides of the tilma.
- The tilma maintains a regular body temperature and has a heartbeat.
As he began to explain all of these details, I found myself at a loss for words. Soon after this explanation, we were told to gather our things and meet at the front door of the convent. We were on our way to see the tilma and hike Tepeyac Hill, the hill she appeared on to Saint Juan Diego.
As I walked into the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the fragrant smell of roses immediately filled the air and danced its way all around me along with an overwhelming amount of joy that I cannot even begin to explain. What a glorious way to spend Easter Sunday! Before I knew it, I found myself standing in front of the tilma; I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. The colors were so bright and vibrant; an overwhelming sense of peace swept over me. It was one of those moments where you mentally take a step back, look around and take in everything that is going on around you, soaking up every moment. I knew right then and there Jesus intended for me to meet to meet the Mother of all creation face to face.
“Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” John 19:27.
While hiking Tepeyac Hill, the smell of roses followed me wherever I went, a constant reminder of her sweetness, and the promise she made to Saint Juan Diego. Being able to stand in the exact spots she appeared to Saint Juan Diego at was an experience I will never forget. You could feel the sacredness in the air. It was almost as if I was in another world walking side by side with Saint Juan Diego. I could feel how confused and scared he was as Our Lady appeared to him, asking him to do such an important task. I could also feel the peace and joy he felt after giving his yes and realizing how important his task at hand was. It was during this hike I was able to see all the places in my life Our Lady was asking me to give my yes, just as Saint Juan Diego did all those years ago.
In Mexico City I also concluded the last few days of my Marian consecration. Sitting in front of the tilma while giving my heart to the Virgin of Guadalupe allowed for me to fully give myself in the service I was doing on mission. It allowed me to love the people I encountered with every fiber of my being. It allowed me to see Jesus in everyone I encounter. It allowed me to truly stop and smell the roses.
As I went about the rest of my mission trip, it soon became clear to me that the Virgin of Guadalupe had been with me every step of the way, interceding for me every day of my life, leading me closer to her Son. Through all my loss, suffering, pain and joy, she was there wrapping her mantle around me, covering me in those heavenly stars. Now, every time I look up at the night sky, I can’t help but wonder what it would look like on her mantle.
“He numbers the stars, and gives to all of them their names.” Psalms 147:4.
My encounter with Our Lady in Mexico City was the beginning of a new joy I found in being more aware of all the beauty that surrounds me every day, from the people God has placed in my life to the night sky He paints full of stars for me every night. She is favored. She is full of grace. She is with you always. She is your mother.
“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 of protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?”