Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

“What man knows all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ…? Scripture says: Although he was rich he became poor for our sake to enrich us by his poverty. He showed himself poor when he assumed our mortal nature and destroyed death, yet he promised us riches, for he had not been robbed of his wealth but was keeping it in reserve…. The only Son of God became a son of man to make many men sons of God. He instructed slaves by showing himself in the form of a slave, and now he enables free men to see him in the form of God.”

~St.Augustine~

“God, who became present here on earth, truly dwells in Mary. Mary becomes his tent. What all the cultures desire—that God dwell among us—is brought about here. St. Augustine says: “Before conceiving the Lord in her body she had already conceived him in her soul.” She had made room for the Lord in her soul and thus really became the true Temple where God made himself incarnate, where he became present on this earth.”

~Pope Emeritus Benedict~

“Your yearning for the peace of eternity is good and holy, but it needs to be balanced by complete submission to divine wishes. It is better to do God’s will on earth than to have joy in paradise. St. Teresa’s motto was that it was better to suffer than to die. Purgatory is sweet when you suffer out of love for God. The trials that the Lord is giving and will give you are all signs of divine favor and will be jewels for your soul. Dear ones, the winter will pass and eternal spring will arrive, and it will be as rich in beauty as the storms were harsh. The fog that you are experiencing is an indication of God’s proximity to you.”

~St.Padre Pio (To the Ventrella sisters, December 11, 1916)~

“The time of Advent is a time of hope. Jesus wants us to love Him. It is His desire that we be holy, very much His own.”

~St. Josemaria Escriva~

“Since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

~1 CORINTHIANS 1: 21–25~

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; the abode where the jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.”

~Isaiah 35: 5-7~

Reflection

In Advent we celebrate the miraculous transformations Isaiah talks about: the lame leaping and streams of water bursting forth in the desert. We also celebrate seemingly ordinary events, the birth of two babies, John the Baptist and Jesus, that are part of the unfolding of God’s salvation plan. In every event of our lives, God is there, with His mercy and love and purpose. God desires that all should feel His mercy and love just as the desert sands would experience the overflowing spring.

PRAYER

All-knowing God, you desire that all persons on earth reach the fullness of the humanity you have given us through knowing you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. For this purpose, you have placed within us an unquenchable desire for truth and love. Until we realize that you, great God, are truth that has no measure and love that has no bounds, we search in vain, misled by error and self-seeking. Be light in our lives and do not cease

to probe and pursue us until we belong entirely to you. Amen.

Try in a special way today to witness to the truth in a situation that you recognize as a threat to the integrity of a person whose reputation may be at stake.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe ~ Feast Day December 12

The opening of the New World brought with it both fortune-seekers and religious preachers desiring to convert the native populations to the Christian faith. One of the converts was a poor Aztec Indian named Juan Diego. On one of his trips to the chapel, Juan was walking through the Tepayac hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill he encountered a beautiful woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. Speaking in his native tongue, the beautiful lady identified herself:

“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother’s Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard.”

Juan, age 57, and who had never been to Tenochtitlan, nonetheless immediately responded to Mary’s request. He went to the palace of the Bishop-elect Fray Juan de Zumarraga and requested to meet immediately with the bishop. The bishop’s servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop-elect told Juan that he would consider the request of the Lady and told him he could visit him again if he so desired. Juan was disappointed by the bishop’s response and felt himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. He returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Imploring her to send someone else, she responded:

Our Lady of Guadalupe Image”My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen.” She then told him to return the next day to the bishop and repeat the request. On Sunday, after again waiting for hours, Juan met with the bishop who, on re-hearing his story, asked him to ask the Lady to provide a sign as a proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told Mary, who was again waiting for him there, of the bishop’s request. Mary responded:

“My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign. Come back to this place tomorrow. Only peace, my little son.” Unfortunately, Juan was not able to return to the hill the next day. His uncle had become mortally ill and Juan stayed with him to care for him. After two days, with his uncle near death, Juan left his side to find a priest. Juan had to pass Tepayac Hill to get to the priest. As he was passing, he found Mary waiting for him. She spoke:

“Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. There is no reason for you to engage a priest, for his health is restored at this moment. He is quite well. Go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there. Bring them then to me.” While it was freezing on the hillside, Juan obeyed Mary’s instructions and went to the top of the hill where he found a full bloom of Castilian roses. Removing his tilma, a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber, he cut the roses and carried them back to Mary. She rearranged the roses and told him:

“My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him.” At the palace, Juan once again came before the bishop and several of his advisors. He told the bishop his story and opened the tilma letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn’t the beautiful roses that caused the bishop and his advisors to fall to their knees; for there, on the tilma, was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary precisely as Juan had described her. The next day, after showing the Tilma at the Cathedral, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured. His uncle told him he had met a young woman, surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to Tenochtitlan with a picture of herself. She told his uncle:

“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe”.

It’s believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mis-translation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was Coatlallope which means “one who treads on snakes”! Within six years of this apparition, six million Aztecs had converted to Catholicism. The tilma shows Mary as the God-bearer – she is pregnant with her Divine Son. Since the time the tilma was first impressed with a picture of the Mother of God, it has been subject to a variety of environmental hazards including smoke from fires and candles, water from floods and torrential downpours and, in 1921, a bomb which was planted by anti-clerical forces on an altar under it. There was also a cast-iron cross next to the tilma and when the bomb exploded, the cross was twisted out of shape, the marble altar rail was heavily damaged and the tilma was…untouched! Indeed, no one was injured in the Church despite the damage that occurred to a large part of the altar structure.

In 1977, the tilma was examined using infrared photography and digital enhancement techniques. Unlike any painting, the tilma shows no sketching or any sign of outline drawn to permit an artist to produce a painting. Further, the very method used to create the image is still unknown. The image is inexplicable in its longevity and method of production. It can be seen today in a large cathedral built to house up to ten thousand worshipers. It is, by far, the most popular religious pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere.

St. Maria Maravillas de Jesus

María de las Maravillas was born in Madrid, Spain, on 4 November 1891, the daughter of Luis Pidal y Mon, the Marquis of Pidal, and Cristina Chico de Guzmán y Muńoz. At the time her father was the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See, and she grew up in a devout Catholic family.

María made a vow of chastity at the age of five and devoted herself to charitable work. After coming into contact with the writings of St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Jesus, she felt called to become a Discalced Carmelite. Her father, whom she had faithfully assisted when he became ill, died in 1913, and her mother was reluctant to accept her daughter’s decision to enter the Carmelite monastery.

However, on 12 October 1919, María did enter the Discalced Carmelites of El Escorial in Madrid. She made her simple vows on 7 May 1921.

Before her final profession on 30 May 1924, Sr María had already received a special call from God to found the Carmel of Cerro de los Ángeles, and the foundation was inaugurated on 31 October 1926 with three other Carmelites. This was the first of the series of Teresian Carmelite Monasteries that she would establish, according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelites. María was not being called to found a new order or to “branch off” from the Discalced Carmelites – she herself was very careful in pointing this out; she only sought to live deeply and to transmit the spirit and ideals of St Teresa of Jesus and St John of the Cross.

On 28 June 1926, the Bishop of the Diocese of Madrid-Alcalá appointed her prioress of the new monastery. In 1933 she established another foundation in Kottayam, India, and from this Carmel other foundations were started in India.

Her role as prioress would be permanent in the various monasteries she founded throughout her life, notwithstanding the natural aversion and sense of inadequacy she felt in accepting positions of responsibility. María’s spirit of obedience and love for the Church and for her Carmelite sisters, however, gave her the strength and diligence to carry out this duty with love.

Mother Maravillas was often criticized for the poverty of the convents she founded; charges were made that they were “not solid”, small in size and unfurnished, with bare walls on which hung chosen Bible verses or writings of the Carmelite saints. She would reply, however, that “it is not our concern to plant a seed, since the Discalced Carmelites have already been founded. Even if our convents collapse, nothing will happen”.

During the Spanish Civil War, the nuns of Cerro de los Ángeles lived in an apartment in Madrid. In September 1937 another Carmel in the Batuecas, Salamanca, was founded. In 1939 the monastery of Cerro de los Ángeles was restored. Even amid enormous deprivation, Mother Maravillas instilled courage and happiness, always being an admirable example to her daughters.

But she also remained a mystery even to the nuns closest to her, since only her spiritual directors knew the “dark night of the soul” that she lived throughout her life, which kept her in profound spiritual aridity and trials, and made total faith and abandonment to the will of God her guide.

In the following years, foundations were established in other parts of Spain. Mother Maravillas also restored and sent nuns to her original Carmel of El Escorial and to the venerable monastery of the Incarnation in Avila.

In order to unite the monasteries founded by her and others that had the same finality, she founded the Association of St Teresa, which received official approval from the Holy See in 1972.

On 8 December 1974, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Mother Maravillas was anointed and received Holy Communion. On 11 December, surrounded by her community in the Carmel of La Aldehuela, Madrid, she died. At the time of her death, her sisters report that Mother Maravillas kept repeating the phrase: “What happiness to die a Carmelite!”. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 10 May 1998.

Quotes of St.Maria Maravillas of Jesus

I consider myself to be a mere nothing, so incapable of any virtue. But it seems to me as if the Lord wants me to let all this nothingness be lost in him, and for him to live in me. For a while I have had a sort of attraction just to stay loving and adoring the Lord whom I feel in the deepest recesses of my soul, however obscure and hidden he may be. It’s as if I am aware of someone better inside me. It’s like the different dwellings of the soul that St. Teresa speaks about. Father, could it be the case that what the Lord wants of me is to remain like this, loving and adoring him in greater or lesser emptiness, in sorrow or in joy, just observing how he can do whatever he likes in the center of this soul, just letting him work?“

(Letter to Fr. Torres-1932)

“I was drawn to the Carmelites because of my desire to imitate the life of Jesus Christ our God.”

–  St. Maravillas of Jesus

“We only have to live by faith and then everything becomes easy.  Who could see Him acting so kindly towards us, so full of love, so attentive to our needs, and then not live for Him alone and love Him madly?

What does it matter if someone does not feel faith, provided they are living every moment by it?

Always live a life full of faith and trust, letting the Lord steer your boat and even sleep in it if He wants.“

-St.Maravillas of Jesus

Yesterday, Sunday, on climbing the stairs to go to the upper choir for the sung Mass, I was quite recollected, yet without any particular thought, when I heard clearly within me, “My delight is to be with the children of men.” These words, which made a strong impression on me, I understood were not for me this time, but rather in the nature of a request the Lord was making me to offer the whole of myself to give Him these souls He so much desires. It is hard to explain, but I say clearly, that a soul which sanctifies itself becomes fruitful in attracting souls to God. This so moved me that I offered with my whole heart to the Lord all my sufferings of body and soul for this purpose, despite my poverty.

–Saint Maria Maravillas de Jesus (In a letter to her spiritual directors)