New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

St. Juan Diego - 9th December 2008

Juan Diego was born in 1474, eighteen years before Columbus discovered America. He was born in the village of Cuautitlan, (Place of the Eagle) Mexico, located fourteen miles north of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City. He was a Chichimeca of the Family of Texcoco. His Indian name was Cuauhtlatoatzin that means “He who speaks like an eagle”.

Juan received an early education according to the pre-Hispanic traditions, including the knowledge of “the one true God for whom one lives.” Later he married his wife, Malintzin, and they had children. He was a landowner, a small farmer and was involved in textile manufacturing. He had a good deal of property, some he inherited, and the rest came from his mat making business. He made mats from the reeds growing along the shores of Lake Texcoco.

Juan lived in Mexico before and after the Spanish Conquest of 1521 and before the establishment of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony, in 1607. The Conquest was an apocalyptic event for the indigenous peoples. They lost their freedom, their land, their religion, their culture, their society and their great city of Tenochtitlan. Juan’s life bridged two cultures from the pre-Conquest worship of false gods and the human sacrifices made to appease them to the post-Conquest worship of the One True God and the end of human sacrifice.

After the Conquest, Juan converted to Christianity between 1524-25 and was baptized, together with his wife by the Franciscan missionary, Fray Toribio de Benavente whom the Indians called “Motolinia” or “the poor one”. He was baptized as Juan Diego (John) and she was baptized as Maria Lucia (Mary). In 1524 they celebrated the sacrament of Matrimony. Shortly later, they heard a sermon regarding how the virtue of chastity is pleasing to God. By mutual consent they decided to live their marriage thereafter as celibates, until Maria Lucia’s death in 1529. After that, Juan lived with his uncle, Juan Bernardino, in the village of Tolpetlac, located nine miles from Tlaltelolco where they attended Mass.

Ten years after the Conquest on Saturday, December 9, 1531, 57-year-old Juan, a recent widower, began his nine-mile walk from his home in Tolpetlac probably to Tlaltelolco near Mexico City “in pursuit of God and His commandments”, according to the Nican Mopohua, the earliest account of the apparitions written in 1545. Juan was walking to attend Mass and catechetical instructions.

Then, from the top of the hill, he heard a sweet feminine voice affectionately call him by name, “Juan, dearest Juan Diego.” He quickly climbed to the top of the hill to see who was there. He saw a beautiful young lady. Her dress shone like the sun and transformed the appearance of the rocks and plants on the barren cactus hill into glittering jewels. The ground glistened like the rays of a rainbow in a dense fog.

She identified herself to him as “the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the one true God for whom one lives . . . .” She entrusted a mission to him to request Bishop Zumarraga to build a church on the hill so that she could manifest her Son to all of the people. She said, “I ardently desire that a little sacred house be built here for me where I will manifest Him, I will exalt Him, I will give Him to the people through my personal love, through my compassionate gaze, through my help and through my protection. Because I am, in truth, your merciful Mother and the mother of all 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 have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping and their sadness and will remedy and alleviate their troubles, their miseries and their suffering.”

(The rest of this Story will continue on the Feat of Our Lady Of Guadalupe on the 12th December 2008)

Juan Diego is a saint not because Our Lady appeared to him, but because he exercised heroic virtues. In his beatification address, Pope John Paul II praised Juan’s virtues, “his simple faith, nourished by catechesis and open to the mysteries; his hope and trust in God and in the Virgin; his love, his moral coherence, his unselfishness and evangelical poverty.

"Living the life of a hermit here near Tepeyac, he was a model of humility. The Virgin chose him from among the most humble as the one to receive that loving and gracious manifestation of hers which is the Guadalupe apparition. Her maternal face and her blessed image which she left us as a priceless gift is a permanent remembrance of this. In this manner she wanted to remain among you as a sign of the communion and unity of all those who were to live together in this land. . . .”

Juan exhibited the Marian virtues of humility, obedience, charity, trust, patience, poverty and chastity.

Like Mary, who saw herself as the lowly handmaid of the Lord, Juan saw himself as a nobody. Like Mary, who obeyed and accepted to be a mother to carry Christ, Juan obeyed and accepted to be carrier of the message of Mary. Like Mary, who in charity cared for her elderly pregnant cousin Elizabeth, Juan cared for his elderly dying uncle, Juan Bernardino. Like Mary, who “trusted that the Lord’s promise to her would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45), Juan trusted Our Lady’s promise that the Bishop would recognize her will and fulfill it through the sign of the roses. Like Mary, who patiently waited for nine months for the Lord’s promise to be fulfilled, Juan patiently waited for days for Our Lady’s promise to be fulfilled. Like Mary, who lived in poverty and chastity as a widow, Juan, the widower, gave up his possessions and lived in poverty and chastity until his death. Finally, like Mary, Juan didn’t argue with God’s will, he didn’t complain and he didn’t doubt. He simply did as he was asked, endured the derision of the Bishop’s servants and persevered in fortitude, as did Mary who endured the derision of her detractors who accused her of adultery.

At Juan’s canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said, “With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, . . . . Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint! …

“In this new saint you have a marvelous example of a just and upright man, a loyal son of the Church, docile to his Pastors, who deeply loved the Virgin and was a faithful disciple of Jesus.”

Before his final blessing, the Holy Father said, “You have now in your new saint a remarkable example of holiness. . . . May he be a model for you and others that you may also be holy.”

Juan’s mission resulted in the largest mass evangelization in the history of the world. Nine million indigenous peoples of Mexico were converted to the one true God in nine years, the practice of human sacrifice ended in Mexico and the indigenous peoples were reconciled to their Spanish conquerors, intermarried with them and formed the new Mexican race.

During his homily at Juan’s canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II remarked on the formation of the Mexican people and said, “In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood that embraces all Mexicans.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in my kitchen. I love her to bits in this image and have turned to her when I miscarried two babies.
St Juan Diego seems to have started the conversion of Mexico with his simple faith. I read 9million converted after Mother came to him. (sounds like an exageration; but God has His little ways)