Thursday, December 22, 2005

Guadalupe: The Dynamics of Obedience; December 12, 2005

Fruit of Obedience: the Incarnation.

1) We have already seen the meaning of sin as conversion to self and therefore the preservation of Our Lady from it as freedom to make the gift, to say “Yes.” Revisit Josef Ratzinger’s on same:

Sin: “We may say that original sin is not an assertion about a natural deficiency in or concerning man, but a statement about a relationship that can be meaningfully formulated only in the context of the God-man relation. The essence of sin can only be understood in an anthropology of relation, not by looking at an isolated human being. Such an anthropology is even more essential in the case of grace. We could therefore describe original sin as a statement about God’s evaluation of man’ evaluation not as something external, but as a revealing of the very depths of his interior being. It is the collapse of what man is, both in his origin from God and in himself, the contradiction between the will of the Creator and man’s empirical being.

Preservation from sin: “This contradiction between God’s `is’ and man’s `is not’ is lacking the case of Mary, and consequently God’s judgment about her is pure `Yes,’ just as she herself stands before him as a pure `Yes.’ This correspondence of God’s `Yes’ with Mary’s being as `Yes’ is the freedom from original sin. Preservation from original sin, therefore, signifies no exceptional proficiency, no exceptional achievement; on the contrary, it signifies that Mary reserves no area of being, life, and will for herself as a private possession: instead, precisely in the total dispossession of self, in giving herself to God, she comes to the true possession of self. Grace as dispossession becomes response as appropriation. Thus from another viewpoint the mystery of barren fruitfulness, the paradox of the barren mother, the mystery of virginity, becomes intelligible once more; dispossession as belonging, as the locus of new life.”[7]

The metaphysical translation of the revelation of the Divine Persons is: to be = to be for the other. Augustine expressed that “In God there are no accidents, only substance and relation.”[1] Ratzinger comments: “Therein lies concealed a revolution in man’s view of the world: the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality.”[2] Therefore, as the relational gift of self in the Father is who the Father is and identically the engendering of the Son, there can never be a Father without there being the Son. If there were no Son, there would be no Father. Hence, God is not a “substance” as an ontological reality standing in itself, but three irreducibly different Persons as relations that cannot be given without each other. They are what we have come to understand to be “communio,” which is not community of individuals united by accidental relations. Rather “communio” means persons that cannot be who they are without being related.

Fruitfulness: And this relation is ontological life-giving. Hence, when Our Lady said “Yes,” it was such a radical and total gift of self that the Spirit engendered the Person of the Son from and in her flesh. The Venerable Bede quotes “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and interprets:

“The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it, and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Savior, whom I have conceived in this world of time.”[3]

All Called To Be the Mother by Obeying

2) We also can engender Jesus Christ and become His Mother: The astounding reality is that anyone who makes a like gift of self in terms of “hearing the word of God and doing it,” like Our Lady, also engenders Jesus Christ and becomes His Mother.

“While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brethren were standing outside, seeking to speak to him. And someone said to him, `Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are standing outside, seeking thee.’ But he answered and said to him who told him, `Who is my mother and who are my brethren?’ And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said, `Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12, 46-50).

John Paul II comments: “Is Jesus thereby distancing himself from his mother according to the flesh? Does he perhaps wish to leave her in the hidden obscurity which she herself has chosen? If this seems to be the case from the tone of those words, one must nevertheless note that the new and different motherhood which Jesus speaks of to his disciples refers precisely to Mary in a very special way. Is not Mary the first of `those who hear the word of God and do it?’” [4] The point being that it was precisely Mary’s self-gift that provoked the divine Maternity and engendered God to be physically present in the flesh within His own creation.

Guadalupe and Now: The Present Dynamic of Obedience

3) An example of this divine power at work in the dynamic of the faith as self-gift is Juan Diego at Tepeyac. He is told by the Virgin: “go to the house of the Bishop of Mexico City and tell him that I sent you and that it is my desire to have a teocali built here. Tell him all that you have see and heard. Be assured that I shall be very grateful and will reward you for doing diligently what I have asked of you. Now that you have heard my words, my son, go and do everything as best as you can.”

Juan Diego fails and returns to Our Lady at Tepeyac, and asks Our Lady to “entrust this message to someone of importance, someone will-known and respected, so that your wish will be accomplished. For I am only a lowly peasant and you, my Lady, have sent me to a place where I have no standing. Forgive me if I have disappointed you for having failed in my mission.

“The Virgin smiled tenderly on him and said, `Listen to me, my dearest son, and understand that I have many servants and messengers whom I could charge with the delivery of my message. But it is altogether necessary that you should be the one to undertake this mission and that it be through your mediation and assistance that my wish should be accomplished. I urge you to go to the Bishop again tomorrow. Tell him in my name and make him fully understand my disposition that he should undertake the erection of the teocalli for which I ask. And repeat to him that it is I in person, the ever Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, who sends you.”

Failing a second time, Juan Diego returns to Our Lady communicating the request of the bishop for a sign that it is really she. She promises it to him, and he, being troubled by the sickness of his uncle, is disturbed. Trying to avoid her on his way to get a priest for his uncle, the Virgin, appearing again, intercepts him and confides to him the now famous phrases intended for all of us: “Listen and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? And am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? Do not let the illness of your uncle worry you because he is not going to die of his sickness. At this very moment, he is cured.”

Juan Diego obeys her indications to climb to the top of Tepeyac and gathers the roses – in December - that are the supposed miracle, but which are only a preview of what is to come. Coming down the hill to her, she herself arranges the Castilian roses in his “overcoat” (tilma) and gives him instructions not to unfold the tilma, nor reveal its contents until he is in the presence of the bishop. Then, to tell him everything.

When he enters into the presence of the bishop, he kneels down and releases the ends of his tilma and the flowers, mingled with Castilian roses, cascade to the floor. “Zumarraga gazed at them, momentarily speechless. It was the sign he had asked of the Blessed Virgin: to show that she had heard his prayer for peace in the country. Fullof wonder, he lifted up his eyes to the tilma and at the instant there appeared on it a glorious image of the Mother of Christ.

“For one electrifying moment, the eyes of every person in that hushed room were riveted on the flowing image as if they were contemplating an apparition. Then slowly they sank to their knees in awe and veneration. Utterly perplexed, Juan glanced down at the object of their gaze to see what it was that had transfixed them, and was overwhelmed to find himself contemplating an exact replica of the celestial Lady he had seen at Tepeyac.”

The Dynamic of Obedience From 1532-1548

Juan Diego converted in 1519 on the occasion of the victory of Cortes over the pagan chieftain of the Aztecs, Montezuma. Our Lady appeared to him in 153i, “Until 1531, the Sacrament of Baptism had been administered mostly to infants. The overwhelming majority of Aztec adults had resisted the advances of the missionaries since embracing Christianity would have entailed the abandonment of polygamy. However, as the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe began to spread throughout the country, great numbers of all ages and classes began to long for the supernatural revelation and conversion." From 1531 to 1548, the total number of baptized Indians in Mexico was approximately nine million (9,000,000).

As Juan Diego, So Us

John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia in America: “The appearance of Mary to the native Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531 had a decisive effect on evangelization. Its influence greatly overflows the boundaries of Mexico, spreading to the whole Continent. America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting-pot of peoples, has recognized I the mestiza face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, `in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of a perfectly inculturated evangelization.’ Consequently, not only in Central and South America, but in North America as well, the Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America” (11).

John Paul expressed the hope that the formation of a new culture in America (singular, not plural) could take place in the Western Hemisphere as it was not taking place in Europe. His hope was the following: “Trusting in the help of Mary, the Church in America desires to lead the men and women of the continent to encounter Christ. This encounter will be the starting-point of authentic conversion and of renewed communion and solidarity. Such an encounter will contribute greatly to strengthening the faith of many Catholics, helping them to nature in strong, lively and active faith” (12).

[1] Augustine, De Trinitate, V, 5, 6 (PL 42, 913 f.): “… In Deo autem Nihil quidem secundum accidens dicitur, quia nihil in eo mutabile est; nec tamen omne quod dicitur, secundum substantiam dicitur… quod tamen relativum non est accidens, quia non est mutabile.” See also on the whole question M. Schmaus, Catholishce Dogmatik 1, 3d ed., Munich, 1948, pp. 425-432.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 132.
[3] From a commentary on Luke by Venerable Bede, priest: Lib. 1, 46-55: CCL 120. 37-39.
[4] John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, #20.
[5] Johnston, The Wonder of Guadalupe, 36.; Cfr. Warren H Carrol, “Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the conquest of Darkness,” Christendom Publications (1983) 107-110.

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