Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this year marking the 125th Anniversary of the Coronation under this title.
If you are unfamiliar with the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego four times, requesting that a church in her honor be built. At the fourth apparition, the Blessed Mother gave Juan Diego directions to find the flowers growing atop of Tepeyac Hill, normally barren. When he arrived there, he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico. The Blessed Mother arranged them in his tunic, and when he revealed the flowers to the Archbishop Zumarraga, the flowers fell to the floor, and the image of Our Lady could be seen on his tunic.
Understanding the great devotion to Mary under this title, and understanding that many cannot make a pilgrimage to pray in front of Juan Diego’s tunic this year, Pope Francis has made it possible to obtain a plenary indulgence tomorrow.
To receive the indulgence, one must: “prepare an altar or place of prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe at home” and “watch a livestream or televised Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on 12 December actively participating with devotion and with exclusive attention to the Eucharist.” In addition, the granting of indulgences are predicated on the internal disposition of the person and by meeting the three other prerequisites: Sacramental Confession, Holy Communion, and Prayer for the Intentions of the Pope. All must be performed within days of each other if not at the same time. Additionally, one must be free from all attachment to sin. What does that mean? Freedom from attachment to sin does not mean freedom from all sin – that would be impossible. Rather, it means there must be no sin the soul is not willing to renounce, possibly the most difficult requirement.
With empathy towards people because of the global pandemic, the last three conditions of the indulgence can be fulfilled when public health guidance allows.
As Catholic men, there are a great deal we can learn from the actions of the saints. Despite questionable evidence that Juan Diego didn’t actually exist, Juan Diego was canonized in 2002. Juan was afraid and ashamed of having failed the Blessed Mother after the first three apparitions, and was actually travelling a different way to avoid her delay when she stopped him. There are times when we don’t hear, or heed the call of God appropriately in our lives, and we try to hide our faults and our actions. We must realize that God will never give up on us, despite our shortcomings. Be persistent in your faith men, and always open to how God is working in your life.