[Below is a reflection I wrote for Pacific School of Religion‘s campus chapel service dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.]
Good morning and welcome to our chapel service in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I want to specifically thank Fr. Eddie for joining us here today. We are so grateful to get to spend this time with you. I also want to welcome those of you who have never been to a worship service centered around Marian devotion before. As a Catholic and as a feminist Marian devotion is at the center of my spiritual practice, and I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe with my PSR community.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is only one of the many Marian apparitions that Catholics celebrate. Like Jesus born in a manger, Mary first makes herself known not to lords and princes but to young girls, simple peasants and victims of foreign occupation. While Mary’s concern for the poor and oppressed has been shown in all of the Marian apparitions, I find it most powerfully true in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (which was celebrated yesterday) celebrates when Mary, the mother of God, appeared to St. Juan Diego in the 1500’s. As an indigenous Mexican peasant living under Spanish colonization, Juan Diego would have been familiar with the blond-haired, blue-eyed depictions of Mary that can often be found covering our church walls, even today. However, when he encountered Our Lady she came to him as a dark-haired, dark-skinned woman who could have easily been a member of his own family. When Mary asked Juan Diego “am I not your mother?” he could see that of course she was.
Our Lady of Guadalupe entered in to colonized Mexico to tell Juan Diego that he, too, was made in the image of God, and I feel her presence still advocating for the oppressed today. I believe that Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the radical diversity found in the Roman Catholic Church and she encourages me to work for a day when our leadership better reflects that diversity. Like any good mother, she reminds me of my belovedness and assures me of my place in this family.
As we enter into this service, I invite you to reflect on the ways that you may see Mary working in our world today. How is she affirming your place as God’s beloved child, and how is she challenging you to build a world where all are recognized as children of God?
Mujerista theologian and Catholic laywoman Clarissa Pinkola Estes gives us this advice about how to recognize the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our own lives. She says:
You will recognize her on sight,
for She is a woman
who looks just like you
and all that you love.