In a previous posting I shared with you the moving account of how Father Vann, an English Roman Catholic of the Dominican Order, perceived Mary’s agony as she witnessed the crucifixion of her Son Jesus. In this posting I’d like to share another account out of the Catholic repertoire that I found moving, one that Father John Macquarrie recounted in his book Mary for all Christians.

 

Like the posting regarding Father Vann’s portrait of Mary’s heart, I also included Father MacQuarrie’s account in my novel Buddy. As a matter of fact, it follows right on the heels of that other account, where Earl’s wife Joyce has responded to it. Earl continues:

 

“I’m glad you agree. One can easily include the Holy Spirit in that picture. There’s a more famous picture of Mary in Catholic tradition, and it’s also very beautiful. Oddly, I came across it a long time ago, in reading Jacques Vallee’s book Dimensions, in which he speculated on the spiritual side of UFO encounters. But Father Macquarrie mentioned it too. It involves Mary in an appearance in the year 1531 to one Juan Diego, a peasant who lived just outside of Mexico City. According to Vallee, Juan’s uncle was very ill, to the point of near-death. He spent a day trying to relieve his uncle’s sufferings and left him only on Tuesday, to get a priest. An apparition of Mary barred his way. She told him,

 

‘My little son, do not be distressed and afraid. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. This very moment his health is restored. There is no reason now for the errand you set out on, and you can peacefully attend to mine. Go up to the top of the hill: cut the flowers that are growing there and bring them to me.’

 

“As Juan’s uncle was awaiting the priest, his room was filled with light. A luminous figure of a young woman appeared. He was indeed cured, but that’s not the essence of this story. The main event occurs with Juan, who obeys the order to go to the flowers on the hill.

 

“Juan Diego didn’t expect to see flowers on the hill because it was the middle of winter. But he did indeed find flowers there. They were Castilian roses. He cut them as Mary had instructed and carried them back to her in his crudely-woven cape. She spent some time arranging the flowers, and then tied the corners of the cape behind his neck to prevent the roses from falling out. She told him to let only the bishop see the sign that she had given him.

 

“When he reached the bishop’s palace several servants made sport of him, pushing him around and trying to snatch the flowers from his cape. But the flowers dissolved when they reached for them. Amazed, they let him go. When he reached the bishop, Juan Diego untied the corners of the cape and as the ends dropped the flowers fell out in a jumbled heap. The disappointed peasant became confused as to the purpose of his visit. But then he was astonished to see that the bishop had come over to him and was kneeling at his feet. Soon everyone else in the room had come near and were kneeling with the bishop.

 

“Juan Diego’s cape now hangs over the altar in the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Over eight million persons were baptized there in the six years that followed this event. Many millions more of people since that time have knelt before the two-piece cape, coarsely-woven of maguey fibers, for imprinted on it is an intricately detailed, beautiful figure of Mary. In her graceful posture she appears kind and lovable. She is surrounded by golden rays. Fifteen hundred persons a day still visit the shrine. I saw the image myself just by Googling on the Internet. It’s awesome.”

 

“Darn you, Earl Cook. Now my eyes are all puffy. But I want to see it for myself before we go to bed.”

 

You, dear reader, also can see it for yourself. Just Google on “Juan Diego”.

 

I’ll save for another time any speculation on the identity and nature of Juan Diego’s visitor, other than to state my belief that this apparition came from God. To me it displays a quality of the Catholic Church that I love, a child-like awe and adoration of the much greater spiritual world that our Lord inhabits in love, one that reaches beyond our five senses and four dimensions. It puts the material world in its proper place in God’s grand scheme, as Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 2:

 

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

 

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

 

 

 

Published by Art Perkins