A constant reality during the Season of Advent is Christmas art. Our mailboxes fill with religious cards displaying choirs of announcing angels, the Holy Family, maybe even the Three Wise Men. Admittedly, the avalanche of so many images may most times blur our senses like a heavy blizzard.
Which makes it all the more special when one of them holds your gaze, causes you to stop and take a breath (or two!) in awe, and appreciate deep within the real reason for the season.
“Mother of Life,” illustrated by the hand of wife, mother, and pro-life activist Nellie Edwards, accomplishes that and more. She painted an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe – whose feast day the Church celebrates on December 12 – barefoot, on her knees in prayerful adoration of the Light radiating from the Christ Child within her. Its background contains the North Star shining brightly over Tepeyac Hill, where Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego outside present-day Mexico City in December 1531. Edwards captured, with bold simplicity, an even bolder message: the triumphs of Tepeyac, not only in the past but for our future.
The first triumphs of Tepeyac are found in what Our Lady said, as well as when and to whom she said it. In "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love" (2009), Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez observed that the words spoken by the Blessed Virgin to Juan Diego spoke “a love that can be trusted, a love that gives dignity, a love that is personal” (xvi). The historical significance of such a message can’t be denied. December 9-12, 1531, found Our Lady standing atop Tepeyac with her feet astride two worlds: Juan Diego, a local Native American convert on his way to daily Mass, walking across the ashes of an Aztec Empire destroyed just a decade before by Hernán Cortés of Spain. In just three days she changed the course of both as a messenger literally carrying Love, inspiring the conversion of millions of indigenous people within a few years.
These early triumphs of Tepeyac also usher hope for victories to come. Our Lady of Guadalupe confirms that the love of Christ can conquer a culture of death that attempts throughout history to consume the world. The Aztecs bathed their pyramid temples in the blood of countless human victims until Our Lady appeared with a saving message. It is the very same Love, under the very same mantle bearing Life, which will overcome the abortion temples of our time that have destroyed some 55 million human victims. Human hearts open to Christ also spread Love and Life without bounds. Faced with such odds, and with the Patroness of the Americas leading its charge, the drug violence which plagues our borders doesn’t stand a chance.
This prayer composed by Pope St. Pius X will help in our devotion:
O Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose,
make intercession for the Holy Church,
protect the Sovereign Pontiff,
help all those who invoke thee in their necessities.
Since thou art the ever Virgin Mary, and Mother of the True God,
obtain for us from thy most holy Son:
the grace of keeping our faith,
sweet hope in the midst of the bitter of life,
and the precious gift of final perseverance.
This Advent, may the Mother of Life lead you to the triumphs of Tepeyac.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.