Last week one of my friends who is a religious brother told me his vocation story. He described the many graces and providential happenings that led him there and at one point said, “Our Lady was ‘mantling’ me.” I had never thought of there being a verb for Our Lady’s mantle but it stuck with me the rest of the week.
One of the most striking parts of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is her mantle. The whole image is filled with symbolism, and there are many books on the meaning of every square inch of the tilma, but what I think is most important is how she relates to us personally, how she loves us as our mother.
She also teaches us how to approach God in our humanity. Her peace and tranquility is the perfect balm to our anxious hearts, that often question whether we are “doing things right.” Sometimes it is hard to know if we are doing the will of God. We don’t have enough to offer yet, but maybe once we get figure things out, then we will be sure?
But then again, to whom did Our Lady appear? Did she appear to a Bishop? To a priest or religious? To a person of high nobility?
No, God ordained that she should come to a poor lay man, Juan Diego, to help her Catholicize all of Mexico. And so we see clearly:
Lie #1: I’m not good enough yet.
Truth #1: God doesn’t need us to be “good enough” in worldly standards to accomplish His Will. He accepts us as we are, so we should too!
Another temptation for many in the spiritual life, especially for those who have left the convent, is to think we have somehow failed the will of God, and therefore are unworthy of serving Him. But let’s look again to Juan Diego, who downright avoided Our Lady.
Did she (and the God who sent her) abandon Him and find someone else? No, she hunted him down! This brings us to:
Lie #2: I have failed God, His Will, my vocation, etc.
Truth #2 Part 1: God is bigger than all of those! He can work in and through our biggest mistakes and glorifies Himself most in our greatest weaknesses and failures.
Truth #2 Part 2: Our Lady reaches out to the poor and lonely, as Christ the Good Shepherd tended those who had fallen astray. Both are attracted to the outcast, and do not consider it a burden to rescue us and carry us back to the fold.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, by being one of us, being lowly and poor herself, encourages us to accept our own limitations, confident that God can work in and through them. Her apparitions prove to us that her love and protection, which come from God Himself, is extended regardless of where we are and what we have done. The first step is to accept that TLC from our Heavenly Mother unashamedly, as it has its origin in the Love of God, Our Heavenly Father.
All of life is a gift from God and we can never repay Him. One of his greatest gifts is His own Mother that he sends to guide and comfort us in our earthly pilgrimage so that we can persevere, unafraid of where His Will leads us. Today, on this beautiful Feast Day, let yourself be mantled! Recognize that your prayer, your daily work, everything that you do is protected in the shelter of her mantle, close to her Immaculate Heart, which beats- in unison with the Sacred Heart of Jesus- with love for each of you.