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The REAL miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 12, 2023

The liturgical prayers that the Church offers for our use today, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, speak of our longing for peace and for brotherhood among peoples.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, for example:

God of power and mercy, you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary at Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters. Through your justice present in our hearts may your peace reign in the world.

Or in the Collect from today’s Mass:

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son’s most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace.

Amen. But while we wholeheartedly join in those prayers, can we go a step further, and think about what we need to bring peace and justice and brotherhood to our world? Or, to approach the same question from a different direction, can we think about what makes this feast day unique?

The roses that spilled out of the tilma of St. Juan Diego, the image that was inexplicably left behind—these are only the first signs of a greater miracle: a miracle of evangelization. Within 10 years after Our Lady’s appearance there were an estimated 9 million Christians in Mexico, a land that had previously resisted the efforts of Franciscan missionaries.

Dating from the original Pentecost, the early Church took more than 300 years to build up a membership of 9 million worldwide. How did it happen in Mexico in the space of a decade? That is the great miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

(Had God in his providence planted a longing in the indigenous peoples of Mexico centuries earlier, a longing nourished by deep cultural associations, so that they were ready to recognize the extraordinary signs from Tepeyac as a fulfillment of their people’s deepest desires? That is the thesis of a fascinating new book.)

Six hundred years ago Mexico was a pagan land, a country marred by tribal animosities and bloodshed—a society desperately in need of the peace and brotherhood and justice for which the Church prays today. And today our own society is slipping into a new sort of paganism, marked by some of the same ugly features: the bitter “tribal” divisions, the excesses of sensuality, the willingness to sacrifice innocent children, the threat of war.

So as we pray for peace and justice today, should we not also pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe might once again lead the people of the Americas to experience a profound conversion? A recovery of Christian faith would undoubtedly set us on the path to peace. And Our Lady, who showed her immense power once at Tepeyac, can surely do it again.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: feedback - Dec. 13, 2023 10:57 AM ET USA

    I find the expressions "progress of peoples" and "ways of justice and peace" more suited for a political convention than a Catholic Liturgy. When the Church was losing Catholics in Europe starting with the 1517 Protestant revolt, she gained millions of new Catholics in America following Our Lady's apparition in 1531.

  • Posted by: loumiamo4057 - Dec. 12, 2023 12:47 PM ET USA

    A pet peeve of mine I admit. But I would have preferred seeing the word Catholic used in the fifth and closing paragraphs rather than Christian. And I would say it is especially more appropriate anytime we are speaking of our Blessed Mother, whom non-Catholics wouldn't touch with a 10 foot Pole.