Tomie dePaola, in his picture book for children about Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, used the intimate native Mexican title for this appearance of Mary, "la morenita," the little brown one. Here on Juan Diego's tilma (cape) she left the image of herself as one of the indigenous people, one of their own.
This morning Father Thomas Deely, CSsR celebrated Mass for us at 8:00am. He asked us to think about how Mary had become real to us; how our relationship with her had been forged. Mary became real for me when I made the connection that she was one of our own, particularly that she was one of our own as a mother. Before I became a mother, I could not appreciate all of the meaning contained in that aspect of her life. Through common Catholic devotion I knew Mary well as the sweet young girl, pure as driven snow, who was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah. I was also familiar with images of the end of her earthly life, especially those conjured by the dogma of the Assumption and her place beside her Son at the throne of God. But what came in between Annunciation and Assumption did not signify for me until I experienced motherhood.
For most of her life Mary was a mother. She had all the concerns that come with the job description. She fed, clothed, nursed, disciplined and educated her child. She worried over her child/teenager, young adult and fully grown son. She wondered about and marveled at his choices, what he thought about and what he said. And she feared for his future. She was sinless, but she was a fully human woman and mother in every other way. When I touched her experience in my own life, the bond between us began to form. It grows even now because once a mother, always a mother.
Mary also lived out the life of wife, mother and daughter while in relationship to her community, her culture and her faith. She was neighbor and friend; listener and sympathizer; helper and support. She was fully integrated into a wide range of relationships and roles.
I feel connected to Mary the mother of Jesus in a very earthy and experiential way. The peoples of Latin America, especially Mexico, also know Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a very earthy and experiential way. She is real to them; one of them.
What is your connection with Mary? How does she speak to you today?