Our Lady Aparecida

(principal Patroness of Brazil since 1930)

Dear April,

I know how difficult it must be for someone like yourself to still be wondering what you will be doing after graduation.  I also know that if I tell you it’s only October and you have plenty of time to work things out, it won’t reassure you in the least.  So I won’t waste bytes with such prattle. I think you may find a lesson from today’s feast somewhat encouraging, however.

It’s a rather odd story.  It seems that an important nobleman was passing through a village called Guarantinqueta in the year 1717, located in the Paraiba river valley in the easternmost province of Brazil.  The local people wanted to honor the visitor with a worthy celebration. As they decorated the town, the fishermen went out for a catch, even though it wasn’t fishing season. One group of three fisherman prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception for a generous catch.  Nevertheless, hours passed without finding anything. Just as they were about to give up, their net pulled up a little statue about three feet high. A second throw brought up the head of the same statue, later recognized to be the work of a famous sculptor (who also happened to be a monk) from the previous century.  Once they cleaned off the statue they found that it was a sculpture of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. They named it “Our Lady Aparecida”, or “Our Lady who appeared”. No one knows how the sculpture ended up in the river, or how it ended up in the fishermen’s net, but once they pulled it in, they also started pulling in some fish – a lot of fish.  And the celebration went off without a hitch. The image has been a rallying point for the Brazilian faithful ever since.

So, what’s the lesson?  Pretty clear, I think. Keep casting out your nets, and don’t be afraid to ask Our Lady for some help.  She’s not just Queen of Heaven, you know, she is also Help of Christians and the Blessed Mother – Jesus likes when she gets involved in our lives, just as she got involved in his.

In the meantime, keep me posted.

Your devoted uncle, Eddy

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