By Fr. Christopher Foeckler, MJ • Phoenix, AZ

It is so appropriate to continue the personal message of our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego into the month of February, since this month is dedicated to the prayer and care of our sick brothers and sisters. It is her words and the circumstances of this conversation that are so reassuring to Juan Diego and those with sick relatives.

It is now the 12th of December, 1531, and Juan Diego has made one visit to the Bishop of Mexico City with Our Lady’s request. Juan was to rendezvous with our Lady the previous morning, but his uncle Bernardo was deathly ill and he spent the entire day caring for him. Now he has requested a priest to hear Bernardo’s confession. Juan Diego’s concern for his uncle was so great that, on his way to fetch the priest, he skirted the Tepeyac Hill on the opposite side of his previous encounter with the Mother of God in hopes not to be delayed nor to disappoint the Holy Maiden by not doing what she has requested. Yet, the very oft overlooked wonder of the apparitions of Tepeyac, is that in this moment Our Lady comes rushing down the side of the Hill to meet Juan and to reassure him, going out of her way and not simply “appearing”! The message she assures him with are words to remember and share with those in similar straits.

“Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart, or your countenance. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need? Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Let not the illness of your uncle afflict you, because he is not going to die now of what he has in himself. Be sure that he will get well.”

The image Mary uses, of being “in the folds of her mantle and the crossing of her arms”, is something the Aztec mothers did for their smallest children, represents graphically for Juan the meaning of her care for him and, vicariously, for each of us and all those who love her.

Let us each hear these words of our Heavenly Mother again and let them “penetrate our hearts” and those of our loved ones who are ill, incapacitated or burdened with old age and weakness. “Am I not here who am your Mother?!”

Blessing on our readers who are ill or caring for someone who is ill! May Mary our Mother comfort you!

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