St Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin

(entered heaven May 30th, 1548)

Dear John,

I am sorry to hear that yesterday didn’t go too well.  It’s frustrating enough to miss Mass on a Day of Obligation because of traveling to your game, but then to lose the game… Well, that’s even tougher.  I am doubly sorry because I know this semester has been bad for you all around.  Nothing has gone right at school, and things at home keep getting worse.  If I told you not to worry, but simply keep praying and fighting to do your daily duty with faith and determination, you might just roll your eyes and say, “yah, right – easier said than done, dude.”  So I won’t tell you that.  Rather I’ll let someone whom you can trust more than me tell you – the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The words that she spoke to today’s saint, to whom she appeared during these days back in 1531, apply equally well to you.

St Juan Diego was a poor Mexican Indian, but a free one (the law didn’t allow the Indians to be enslaved, but the Spanish King who made the law was far enough away that the laws weren’t always followed).  That’s why some surmise that he was actually some kind of native aristocrat.  He was a married layman, but never had any children, and he was widowed as he reached middle age.  He studied the Christian faith under the Spanish missionaries, and was baptized at age 50.  We don’t know much more about his life or his habits; he was a humble man whose only ambition was to grow closer to God.

One day, around the time he was to be baptized, he was hurrying across Tepeyac Hill near present-day Mexico City, when a beautiful lady appeared to him, claimed to be the Mother of the True God, and told him to go ask the bishop to build a basilica on the hill in her honor. The bishop doubted.  He asked for a sign.  St Juan agreed to ask the lady for a sign, but when he returned home he discovered that his sick uncle had gotten worse.  He rushed off to find a doctor, bypassing the hill of apparitions in order to avoid another encounter with the beautiful lady that could delay his urgent trip.  But she crossed the hill to meet him.  They spoke, and these were her words:

“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”

He took them to heart; the Basilica to Our Lady of Guadalupe was built, and he spent the remaining 17 years of his life as a hermit nearby, taking care of the shrine and the streams of pilgrims who started coming, and who haven’t stopped yet.

Those words apply to you too.  They show how tenderly the Blessed Virgin watches over every Christian.  In this dark moment of your life, this difficult period, stay close to her, as St Juan Diego did, and I am sure you will find that you won’t need to wait till summer to see the sun come out again.

Your devoted uncle, Eddy


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