JUAN DIEGO AND 'THE MAIDEN'
Then [Juan Diego] dared to go to where the voice was coming from, his heart was not disturbed and he felt extremely happy and contented, he started to climb to the top of the little hill to go see where they were calling him from. And when he reached the top of the hill, where a Maiden was standing, who spoke to him, and who called to him to come hither.
And when he reached where she was, he was filled with admiration for the way her perfect grandeur exceeded all imagination: her clothing was shining like the sun, as if it were sending out waves of light, and the stone, the crag on which she stood, seemed to be giving out rays; her radiance was like precious stones, it seemed like an exquisite bracelet; the earth seemed to shine with the brilliance of a rainbow in the mist.
And the mesquites and nopals and the other little plants that are generally up there seemed like emeralds. Their leaves seemed like turquoise. And their trunks, their thorns, their prickles, were shining like gold. He prostrated himself in her presence. He listened to her voice, her words, which give great, great glory, which were extremely kind, as if she were drawing him toward her and esteemed him highly.
She said to him, "Listen, my dearest-and-youngest son Juan: where are you going?"
And he answered her: "My Lady, my Queen, my Beloved Maiden! I am going as far as your little house in Mexico-Tlatelolco, to follow the things of God that are given to us, that are taught to us by the ones who are the images of Our Lord: our priests."
Then she talks with him, she reveals her precious will, and she says to him: "Know, be sure, my dearest-and-youngest son, that I am the Ever Virgin Holy Mary, mother of the one great God of truth who gives us life, the inventor and creator of people, the owner and Lord of what is around us and what is touching us or very close to us, the owner and Lord of the sky, the Lord of the earth. I want very much that they build my sacred little house here, in which I will show him, I will exalt him on making him manifest; I will give him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassionate gaze, in my help, in my salvation, because I am truly your compassionate mother, yours and of all the people who live together in this land, and of all the other people of different ancestries, those who love me, those who cry to me, those who seek me, those who trust in me, because there I will listen to their weeping, their sadness, to remedy, to cleanse and nurse all their different troubles, their miseries, their suffering. And to bring about what my compassionate and merciful gaze is trying to do, go to the residence of the bishop of Mexico, and you will tell him how I am sending you, so that you may reveal to him that I very much want him to build me a house here, to erect my temple for me on the plain; you will tell him everything, all that you have seen and marveled at, and what you have heard. And know for sure that I will appreciate it very much and reward it, that because of it I will enrich you, I will glorify you; and because of it you will deserve very much the way that I reward your fatigue, your service in going to request the matter that I am sending you for. Now, my dearest son, you have heard my voice, my word: go, do what you must do."
And immediately he prostrated himself in her presence; he said to her: "My Lady, my Beloved Maiden, now I am going to make your venerable voice, your venerable word, a reality. I, your poor Indian, am leaving you for a while." – from NICAN MOPOHUA ("HERE IS TOLD"), the Narrative of Juan Diego’s encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe.
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O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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IMMACULATE CONCEPTION SOLEMNITY
AT NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
On Saturday, December 8, priests, religious, seminarians and lay faithful gathered at the Cathedral of Notre Dame of the Immaculate Comception, for the patronal feast (it is also the patronal feast of the Ottawa ecclesiastical province, which includes the dioceses of Hearst, Pembroke and Timmins.
Some photos courtesy of Paul Lauzon.
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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: A Model for Loving and Following Jesus
This year, through the miracles of God and the prayers of the Church, we are celebrating the solemn declaration that Kateri Tekakwitha is a saint and model for all Christians. What meaning does her life and death have today? Her message is the same that Jesus the Christ proclaimed 2000 years ago, and which he continues to teach us today.
The heart of Our Lord’s teaching is found in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-11; Luke 6.20-23). Their light shines brightly in the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. It is this light that the Church also recognizes in Kateri. This message of Jesus is daily and eternal, inviting us to decide how to respond to the deepest desire for happiness which God has placed in our heart.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Kateri lived simply and austerely, searching how to love Jesus and at the same time be faithful to the traditions of her people. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. All her life, she was weak, scarred and partially blind because of the smallpox which had killed her parents and a younger brother when she was between four and six years old.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Already as a young girl, Kateri learned to carry firewood and fetch water, to make soup and bread. Later, she used sticks to make crosses, a sign of Christ’s mercy, and place these in the woods. Her prayer at death was as simple as her life itself: “Jesus, I love you.” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Kateri participated in the winter hunts, and worshipped God in the woods and forest. She is recorded as saying, “My body is served most luxuriously in the forest, but the soul languishes there, and is not able to satisfy its hunger.”
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Kateri taught the young, and assisted the sick and elderly. She refused to speak ill of others. Although infirm, she was always the first to work. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. She insisted on making a promise of perpetual virginity, and wanted to form a community of Sisters who would all be Aboriginal women. “I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary,” she said.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Kateri is described as joyful, patient and always wanting to help others. She would ask, “Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?”Blessed are they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. After her baptism, she was derided for becoming a Christian, outcast from her native village, and so ended her years at a mission. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. Ridiculed because of her baptism, she sought refuge over 300 kilometres away, walking through woods, rivers and swamps.
When she was beatified in 1980, Blessed John Paul II described Kateri as “a kind, gentle and hardworking person, spending her time working, praying, and meditating”. In the last months of her life, he said, we continue to see a woman of “solid faith, straight-forward humility, calm resignation and radiant joy, even in the midst of terrible sufferings.”
This past October, when Kateri was canonized, Pope Benedict XVI said she had led a simple life, remaining faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. “Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God,” the Pope continued. “She lived a life radiant with faith and purity. Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life, in spite of the absence of external help, and by the courage of her vocation.”
Pope Benedict has entrusted the renewal of faith in the First Nations and of all North America to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, “Protectress of Canada”. In the words of the Holy Father, may she, with all the saints, be a witness to us of lives “generously spent for love of Christ,” strengthening and sustaining the whole Church and each of us in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel. For as Jesus said when concluding his teaching on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.13,14), we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.