New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe – 12 December 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas. Let us read what Dr. Plinio has to teach us about this feast day.

Biographical Section

These are some of the dialogues between Our Lady and Juan Diego, taken from written narrations inspired by the account of Indian scholar Antonio Valeriano around the middle of the 16th century.

In the first apparition, Our Lady addressed Juan Diego, speaking in the Mexican idiom: “Juanito, my son, the humblest of my children, where are you going?"

"Noble lady, I go to the church in Tlatelolco to listen to such divine matters as our priests teach us," he replied.

She said, “Know for certain, dearest of my sons, that I am the perfect and ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, the Lord of all things and Master of Heaven and Earth. I ardently desire a temple to be built here, where I will show and offer all my love, compassion, help, and protection to the people and those who look for me. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who live in this land and of all mankind. I will hear the weeping and sorrows of those who love me, cry to me, and have confidence in me, and I will give them consolation and relief.

“Therefore, so that my designs might be fulfilled, go to the house of the Bishop of Mexico City and tell him that I sent you, and that it is my desire to have a temple built in this place. Tell him all that you have seen and heard. Be assured that I shall be grateful and will reward you for diligently carrying out what I have asked of you.”

Juan Diego bowed low and said, “My holy one, my Lady, I will go now and do all that you ask of me. Thy humble servant bids thee farewell.”

The second apparition: That same afternoon Juan Diego returned to the hilltop from the Bishop’s palace where he had delivered the message. The Holy Virgin was waiting for him. He told her:

“Noble lady and most loved Mistress, I did what you commanded. Even though it was difficult to be admitted to speak with the Bishop, I saw His Excellency and communicated to him your message. He received me kindly and listened with attention. But when he answered me, it seemed as if he did not believe me. …

“So I beg you, noble Lady, entrust this message to someone of importance, someone well-known and respected, so that they might believe in him. For I am a nobody, a piece of straw, a lowly peasant, and you, my Lady, have sent me to a place where I have no standing. Forgive me if my answer has caused you grief or displeasure, my Lady and my Mistress.”

The third apparition: The Holy Virgin insisted that she wanted Juan Diego to give her message to the Bishop. He did so, and this time the Indian returned to Our Lady saying that the Bishop had asked for a sign to prove that what he said was true.

Our Lady told him: “Very well, my dear little one, return here tomorrow and you will take to the Bishop the sign he has requested. With this he will believe you and no longer doubt you or be suspicious of you. Know, my beloved little one, that I will reward your solicitude, effort and fatigue spent on my behalf. Go now. I will await you here tomorrow.”

The fourth apparition: The next day, instead of going to the hilltop, Juan Diego took a different route that bypassed it to find a priest for his uncle who was gravely ill. Juan Diego was certain that Our Lady would not see him.

But she appeared to him along the road he had taken and asked him: “What is this, my little son? Where are you going?”

Juan Diego answered: “My loved Lady, God keep you! How are you this morning? Is your health good, my dearest Lady? It will grieve you to hear what I have to say. My uncle, your poor servant, is sick. He has taken the plague and is near death. I am hurrying to your house in Mexico City to call a priest to hear his confession and give him the last rites. When I have done this, I will return here immediately so I may deliver your message. Forgive me, I beg you, my Lady, be patient with me for now. I will not deceive you and tomorrow I will come in all haste.”

She answered: “Listen to what I am going to tell you, my son, and let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that plague or any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my protection and care? Am I not your life and health? Are you not in the folds of my mantle and the embrace of my arms? What else do you need? Do not be grieved or disturbed by anything.”

She then told him that he should not worry about the sickness of his uncle, for he would not die at this time and that, in fact, he was already cured.

Calling herself Holy Mary of Guadalupe, she told Juan Diego to go up the nearby hilltop where he would find flowers aplenty, even though it was winter. He found Castilian roses and gathered many and placed them in his tilma, a long cloak used by Mexican Indians. He came back to the Virgin, who rearranged them and commanded him to go to the Bishop without opening it until he was in the Prelate’s presence.

After a long wait and much difficulty getting past the servants of the palace, Juan Diego finally stood before the Bishop. He unfolded his tilma, and the roses fell out. The Bishop and his attendants fell on his knees before him, for a life-size figure of the Holy Virgin was printed on the poor tilma of Juan Diego. It was December 12, 1531.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

There are many aspects of these apparitions that have often been the subject of commentaries: that Our Lady chooses simple and pure souls to speak to mankind, that she is pleased to appear to humble peasants, that she challenges the human respect of her emissaries, etc. I think that these are good points, but they have already been stressed

An aspect that receives less attention that I believe is very interesting is the attitude of the Indian Juan Diego before Our Lady and the language he used to address her. His manner and language have an extraordinary tonus that corresponds to Our Lady’s attitude toward him from the beginning of the apparition. Our Lady treated him as a dearly loved son, with an extraordinary kindness, as if he were a child.

There is a marvelous contrast we can see in the general conduct of Our Lady. On one hand, there is the love she has for great souls, the heroic souls who accomplish great things in the lives of peoples and civilizations; on the other hand there is the love she has for small, simple souls entirely turned toward her and forgetful of their own virtue. It is marvelous to see how she speaks to these small souls with love and a particularly touching tenderness.

The attitude of Juan Diego is also interesting. He is a simple man, without any education, but in his simplicity he addresses Our Lady as a truly courteous man. He greets her, he inquires about her well being, he describes how he executed the mission he received as if he were a real diplomat, and he explains to Our Lady the practical cause for his failure.

He had presented himself in the Bishop’s palace to transmit the message of Our Lady and was treated disdainfully by the servants and valets of the palace. So he reasoned thus: If I were a noble and powerful man, I would be well received and my message would have more credibility.

He thought he was doing a good thing by giving this counsel to Our Lady: You should choose someone important to deliver your message; then the Bishop will receive him well and everything will go as you have asked. One sees in him the humble desire to not appear or shine and also, to a certain measure, his desire to avoid trouble. So in his charming simplicity he gave her that advice.

There are many qualities in this response, but here I want to stress his tact. He gives her a fine diplomatic counsel to resolve the situation. He also closes his suggestion in a courteous way: My Lady, I beg you not to be displeased with me. It was not my intention to anger or irritate you.

That is to say, he found a good way to excuse himself while presenting his suggestion. He is a simple peasant, but we can see a certain nobility in this attitude. One can also see that Our Lady liked the way he presented his idea. She probably smiled kindly at his diplomatic advice, but she did not accept it. On the contrary, she asked that he return to speak with the Bishop.

It seems that Juan Diego was willing, but found that he needed to postpone the task. His uncle was sick and seemed close to death, so he went to find a priest for him. He thought that Our Lady could wait until the next day. But she caught him on the different route he took to avoid her. Then she not only cured his uncle, but worked the miracle the Bishop had demanded. So finally, with that miracle, the apparition of Our Lady was approved by the Bishop.

There is a lesson for us in this episode: Wherever true virtue exists, courtesy and noble manners develop as a consequence of it. The opposite is also true: When virtue is no longer present, courtesy and nobility of manners disappear. Juan Diego was from a very simple social level; notwithstanding, he acted as a noble when he dealt with Our Lady.

The Catholic courtesy that bloomed in Europe was, at base, a daughter of the virtue that society practiced in the Middle Ages. When this virtue died away and the Revolution started to be accepted by society, courtesy lost its root and began to move toward the complete brutality of manners that exists in Communist countries or the blatant vulgarity that prevails in the Western countries that adhered to egalitarianism.

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.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Immaculate Conception and the enemies of the Catholic Church

The following is a summary of a lecture given By Dr. Plinio about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One of the truly Counter-Revolutionary acts of Pope Pius IX’s pontificate was the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.

There are three reasons the definition of this dogma was especially Counter-Revolutionary and therefore hateful to the enemies of the Church.

First Reason:An Anti-Egalitarian Dogma
As you know, this dogma teaches that Our Lady was immaculate at her conception, meaning that, at no moment, did she have even the slightest stain of Original Sin. Both she, and naturally Our Lord Jesus Christ, were exempt from that rigid law that subjugates all other descendants of Adam and Eve.

Thus, Our Lady was not subject to the miseries of fallen man. She did not have bad influences, inclinations and tendencies. In her, everything moved harmonically towards truth, goodness and therefore God. In this sense, Our Lady is an example of perfect liberty, meaning that everything her reason, illuminated by Faith, determined as good, her will desired entirely. She had no interior obstacles to impede her practice of virtue.

Being “full of grace” increased these effects. Thus, her will advanced with an unimaginable impetus towards everything that was true and good.

Declaring that a mere human creature had this extraordinary privilege makes this dogma fundamentally anti-egalitarian, because it points out an enormous inequality in the work of God. It demonstrates the total superiority of Our Lady over all other beings. Thus, its proclamation made Revolutionary egalitarian spirits boil with hatred.

Second Reason:The Unsullied Purity of Our Lady
However, there is a more profound reason why the Revolution hates this dogma.

The Revolution loves evil and is in harmony with those who are bad, and thus tries to find evil in everything. On the contrary, those who are irreproachable are a cause of intense hatred. Therefore, the idea that a being could be utterly spotless from the first moment of her existence is abhorrent to Revolutionaries.

For example: Imagine a man who is consumed with impurity. When besieged by impure inclinations, he is ashamed of his consent to them. This leaves him depressed and utterly devastated.

Imagine this man considering Our Lady, who, being the personification of transcendental purity, did not have even the least appetite for lust. He feels hatred and scorn because her virtue smashes his pride.

Furthermore, by declaring Our Lady to be so free from pride, sensuality and the desire for anything Revolutionary, the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception affirmed that she was utterly Counter-Revolutionary. This only inflamed the Revolutionary hatred of the dogma all the more.

Disputing the Doctrine:A Counter-Revolutionary Struggle

For centuries, there were two opposing currents of thought about the Immaculate Conception in the Church. While it would be an exaggeration to suggest that everyone who fought against the doctrine was acting with Revolutionary intentions; it is a fact that all those who were acting with Revolutionary intentions fought against it. On the other hand, all those who favored its proclamation, at least on that point, expressed a Counter-Revolutionary attitude.

Thus, in some way the fight between the Revolution and Counter-Revolution was present in the fight between these two theological currents.

Third Reason:The Exercise of Papal Infallibility
There is still another reason this dogma is hateful to Revolutionaries: it was the first dogma proclaimed through Papal Infallibility.

At that time, the dogma of Papal Infallibility had not yet been defined and there was a current in the Church maintaining that the Pope was only infallible when presiding over a council. Nevertheless, Pius IX invoked Papal Infallibility when he defined the Immaculate Conception after merely consulting some theologians and bishops.

For liberal theologians, this seemed like circular reasoning. If his infallibility had not been defined, how could he use it? On the contrary, by using his infallibility, he affirmed that he had it.

This daring affirmation provoked an explosion of indignation among Revolutionaries, but enormous enthusiasm among Counter-Revolutionaries. In praise of the new dogma, children all over the world were baptized under the name: Conception, Concepcion or Concepta to consecrate them to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

Pius IX:Bringing the Fight to the Enemy
It is not surprising that Pius IX so adamantly affirmed Papal Infallibility. Very different from those who succeeded him, he was ever ready to bring the fight to the enemy. He did this in Geneva, Switzerland, which then was the breeding ground of Calvinism, which is the most radical form of Protestantism.

When Swiss laws changed to allow a Catholic Cathedral in Geneva, Pius IX ordered that a statue of the Immaculate Conception be placed in the middle of the city, to proclaim this dogma in the place where Calvinists, Lutherans and other Protestants denied it more than anywhere else. This is an example of Pius IX’s leadership in the fight against the Revolution.

It is therefore entirely proper that all Catholics entertain a special affection for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which is so detested by the enemies of the Church today.