Looking at the Stars

Homily by Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe 

We hear today in our first reading about “a great sign appearing in heaven,  a woman clothed with the son, the moon underneath her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars.”

Well if we look at our Lady’s mantle in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we notice her mantle is covered with stars.  The interesting thing is that scientist have studied this mantle and came to realize that the stars on her mantle match exactly how the stars were aligned in the sky the day of one of the apparitions Dec. 12, 1531.   But the stars are aligned not from an earthly or geocentric point of view like how we see the stars from earth, but from a heavenly or heliocentric point of view as she was looking at them from the sun or the heavens.Virgen_de_guadalupe1

So, this sign challenges us to ask ourselves, how do we see things, from an earthly or heavenly point of view? We will look at three more parts of the image to help us examine this.

First, in the image our Lady’s head is tilted the same degree of the earth.  Why?  Perhaps so we can remember that like the earth we must tilt so we can absorb the warmth of the Sun (Son).   We should look at this sign and ask, “Do we tilt towards absorbing worldly fame or heavenly gain?”

Secondly, we see in the image that the Virgin of Guadalupe’s eyes are looking down or in the right direction.  This represents humility, but also, we know that through the ribbon around her hands that Our Lady of Guadalupe is pregnant.  Thus, when Mary is looking down; she is looking down to heaven, the place where God is dwelling and that is her focus.   We often lose focus and take our eyes off our Lord and that’s when we start to focus on the darkness and lose sight of what’s important.  What’s important is God’s will, this is what we must bow our head’s to in humility and in this we stay on the right path.   So, the Virgin of Guadalupe teaches us to keep our eyes on the right things, to have a heliocentric or heavenly view, not simply a geocentric or worldly view.

Lastly, we see Mary’s smile represents the joy of being in the presence of God.  We hear in Mary’s Magnificat (the Gospel), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit exalts in God my savior” (Lk. 1: 47).   We can understand the joy in dwelling in the greatness of God , but that means we must learn how to let God be the savior, not us

Remember our Lady comes as both virgin (single or consecrated) and mother (raising biological/adopted families) and so this lesson applies to all states of life.   When we try to fix things and “save the day even when we are not called to do so” (this is important because sometimes God is calling us to His instrument in solving problems) we look at life from an earthly point of view.  But when we allow God “to be God” we find joy because we allow Him into the situation, and thus into our hearts.  And Aquinas tells us that joy is the result of when we willingly think about/contemplate experiencing the good.   Sometimes we don’t experience joy because we try to be God and fix everything, but also sometimes we don’t experience joy simply because we don’t take time to contemplate the experience of God, to pray and thank God for the good.

So let us experience joy, the ultimate good by taking in the sign of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Let us look at her mantle and challenge ourselves to see the stars, to see success or shining in life, not simply from a worldly or geocentric point of view, but from a heavenly Son-centered point of view.  If we do this, we will hear in a loud voice the Kingdom of God and the great blessings that God has in store for us.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

(Based on the Readings: Rev. 11:19-12:1-6, 10; Judith 13: 18-19; Gospel: Lk. 1:39-47)
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Salvador del Mundo

Written by: Daniel Rice, Seminarian

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On August 6, I went to Holy Family Parish in Dale City for Mass. While the Mass itself was for the feast of the Transfiguration (as in the rest of the diocese), the liturgy was also commemorating the feast of Salvador del Mundo, the Savior of the World. The Hispanic congregation there at Mass was almost entirely El Salvadorian, for this is their patronal feast, as is evident from the name. The Mass was even celebrated by an El Salvadorian bishop!

I had the privilege of serving at the Mass, and afterward there was a small festival behind the church. I saw several of my coworkers from the Apostolado Hispano Office, who took me around to different food stands to give me hefty samplings of authentic El Salvadorean food: pupusas, tacos, empanadas, yucca, and a special fruit drink of which I forget the name–but not the taste!

20170806_154130.jpgAt this festival, there was a small tournament as well. One by one, young men on bicycles rode as fast as they could underneath a rope that hung across the street. Each one held a small wooden pike, which he would attempt to pike through a small, metal ring above his head as he rode by. Each successful spearing was rewarded with a small amount of cash. This whole competition was reminiscent of Medieval tournaments in which gallant knights in full suits of armor would use their jousting lances to accomplish similar feats, for rewards of various kinds, but most especially for glory. They rode not on bicycles, but on what the bicycles were meant to imitate: caballos, horses.

Let every man imitate the virtues of noble knights, among them valor, chivalry, honor, selflessness, sacrifice, loyalty, and piety, always fighting to protect the well-being and dignity of all, especially the poor and the the weak. Let every woman imitate the virtues of noble ladies, among them gentleness, inspiration, love, true and interior beauty, dignity, inner strength, and devotion, always caring for those in need. All those old, made up stories we heard as children may contain more truth, virtue, and goodness then they at first seemed to possess.

¡Salvador del Mundo, ten piedad de nosotros! Savior of the World, have mercy on us!