Bulletin (December 12, 2004)

Today, December 12, is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since it falls on a Sunday this year, the prayers and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent take precedence. However, we do want to honor Our Lady today. Pope John Paul II has justly called her the “Evangelizer of the Americas.” The early missionaries – although they were men of great zeal – had little initial success. It was not until the Virgin Mary appeared to a native named Juan Diego that people began to come eagerly to the Christian faith. She continues to draw people to Jesus. For that role the Church has proclaimed her Empress of the Americas and the Philippine Islands. Our 12:30 Mass will particularly focus on the Virgin Mary, who like John the Baptist, is the “messenger” sent before the Lord. All are welcome to attend the procession, Mass and social gathering.

I notice that when people, especially the poor, come to Holy Family, the image of our Lady of Guadalupe attracts them. Her downcast eyes express humility and compassion. She has her hands folded in prayer indicating that she is not a goddess, but rather intercedes before God for all her children. As the book of Revelation (12:1) describes her, she is the “woman clothed with sun with the moon at her feet.” Recent studies of the tilma have revealed that the Virgin’s right eye contains the reflection of a man. Dr. Jose Aste Tonsmann, Ph D, a graduate of Cornell University, has published opthamological studies of the reflections in her eyes. Apparently, the man reflected is Juan Diego, standing next to Bishop Zumarraga and his assistants. In a real sense she is not only looking at St. Juan Diego, but looks with love upon you and me. Draw close to Our Lady this weekend – and to the Savior she bears within her womb.

In January we will have a special visitor. Archbishop Brunett will come to Holy Family for a “kick-off Mass” for our Capital Campaign. Please mark January 16 on your calendar for the 11 a.m. Mass with reception following.

Speaking of calendars, the 2005 parish calendars (courtesy of Yarington’s Funeral Home) have arrived. We will have them available - one per family please – on the Sunday before Christmas.

I want to thank you for your contributions to Holy Family Parish during the current calendar year. As of last weekend, 952 identifiable families donated $381,146 via envelopes. Also, as of December 5, we received $137,707.04 in loose bills and coins in the Sunday collections. That brings our ordinary Sunday income to almost $520 thousand. With this Sunday, the two remaining Sundays, and Christmas, I am hopeful that our ordinary parish income for the calendar year 2004 will exceed $560,000. Holy Family Parish depends on your generosity to continue our ministries and programs.

We also received a beautiful bequest from Palma Aiello. In her will she left ten thousand dollars to Holy Family Parish. According to her instructions, we will be offering a number of Masses for the eternal rest of Palma and her husband. Holy Family Parish remembers her departed members. We ask you to also consider remembering your parish in your will. Your will is the final part of your Stewardship of the gifts which God has given you. We are accountable for every blessing we receive.

I wish to thank all those who brought food items and Christmas gifts for the poor. We have been overwhelmed by requests for aid this year, more families than we have food and toys. Next Saturday morning we will distribute Christmas baskets. It is not too late to make a contribution to enable our St. Vincent de Paul Society to make this Christmas happy for the needy in our area.

Finally, do not forget to make your own Christmas beautiful by attending the School Christmas Concert on Thursday, December 16 at 6:15 p.m. in the church. Also, all parishioners are most cordially invited to participate in the Simbang Gabi novena of Masses which begins this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

En mi columna en inglés, escribía algo sobre el gran acontecimiento de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. La imagen de ella se queda hasta hoy día en la tilma de San Juan Diego.

El Beato Juan Diego, según una tradición bien documentada nació en 1474 en Cuauhtitlán, entonces reino de Texcoco, perteneciente a la etnia de los chichimecas.Se llamaba Cuauhtlatoatzin, que en su lengua materna significaba «Águila que habla», o «El que habla con un águila».

Ya adulto y padre de familia, atraído por la doctrina de los PP. Franciscanos llegados a México en 1524, recibió el bautismo junto con su esposa María Lucía. Celebrado el matrimonio cristiano, vivió castamente hasta la muerte de su esposa, fallecida en 1529. Hombre de fe, fue coherente con sus obligaciones bautismales, nutriendo regularmente su unión con Dios mediante la eucaristía y el estudio del catecismo.

El 9 de diciembre de 1531, mientras se dirigía a pie a Tlatelolco, en un lugar denominado Tepeyac, tuvo una aparición de María Santísima, que se le presentó como «la perfecta siempre Virgen Santa María, Madre del verdadero Dios». La Virgen le encargó que en su nombre pidiese al Obispo capitalino el franciscano Juan de Zumárraga, la construcción de una iglesia en el lugar de la aparición. Y como el Obispo no aceptase la idea, la Virgen le pidió que insistiese. Al día siguiente, domingo, Juan Diego volvió a encontrar al Prelado, quien lo examinó en la doctrina cristiana y le pidió pruebas objetivas en confirmación del prodigio.

El 12 de diciembre, martes, mientras el Beato se dirigía de nuevo a la Ciudad, la Virgen se le volvió a presentar y le consoló, invitándole a subir hasta la cima de la colina de Tepeyac para recoger flores y traérselas a ella. No obstante la fría estación invernal y la aridez del lugar, Juan Diego encontró unas flores muy hermosas. Una vez recogidas las colocó en su «tilma» y se las llevó a la Virgen, que le mandó presentarlas al Sr. Obispo como prueba de veracidad. Una vez ante el obispo el Beato abrió su «tilma» y dejó caer las flores, mientras en el tejido apareció, inexplicablemente impresa, la imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe, que desde aquel momento se convirtió en el corazón espiritual de la Iglesia en México.