Smashing Dragons

The iconography of heaven referenced in my post for the Immaculate Conception, particularly as it relates to the Miraculous Medal, finds an antecedent in the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was painted on St. Juan Diego’s tilma by the Virgin Herself.  She is clothed with the sun and is standing on the moon.  Though the artists rendition above includes the serpentine imagery from Apocalypse 12, the actual image on the tilma has no depiction of the serpent.  One might think that any reference to Genesis 3:15 is only indirect by way of the allusion through the commonality of The Woman.

But not so.  In fact, the heavenly iconography of Guadalupe passes from the prophecy of Genesis and the vision of St. John right into the history that it was intended to address.  The image itself is a miracle that manifests and perpetuates the Virgin’s presence.  We see what Juan Diego saw.  Once Our Lady’s command to build a temple was obeyed, the image came to rest on Tepeyac Hill, where formerly, before the conquest of Mexico by Cortes, there had been a shrine to the Aztec goddess Coatlicue (below).

Yes, she is the mother goddess with two serpent heads who wears a snake skirt and human body parts for a necklace.

There is a sense in which this idol (image) completes the iconography of the Virgin, insofar as image of cactus cloth smashes the stone idol. According to Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, the glyph for a conquered civilization was a burning temple turned on its side.  The building of a new temple, the original of which was completed within two weeks of the apparitions, was the sign of a new beginning, the founding of a civilization of love.  The serpent is not in the icon because the very icon itself is what crushes his head, through the force of Our Lady’s mediation.

Think about this:  Juan Diego was given a mission to be Our Lady’s instrument to crush the serpent’s head in New Spain.  He simply obeyed in trust and total abandonment.  All he really needed to do was take the message to the bishop.  The result was that the image was produced miraculously and then placed where our Lady wanted it, right over the serpent’s head, over the mockery of truth, life, beauty and motherhood.

Devotion to Mary is smashing dragons.

Click here for a homily of mine for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

When Worlds Collide


From a homily of mine for today’s feastday:

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is about the conflict between two worlds, or better between two diametrically opposed visions of the world. When the Immaculate Virgin appeared to St. Juan Diego and spoke the gentlest words of encouragement to him, She was standing, quite literally, on top of the shrine of the mother goddess of the Aztecs. That image of the Woman Clothed with the Sun, standing on Tepeyac Hill upon the ruined idolatrous shrine is little snapshot of the whole of history: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel (Genesis 3:15).

There can be only one ultimate outcome of the struggle between the two visions of the world. The kingdom of darkness will fall and the kingdom of light will prevail. But the outcome remains in play as regards the individual destiny of each person. We have a choice. In fact, we must choose. There is no standing on the side lines in this conflict.

Why would we choose not to be on the winning side, on the side of right, of godliness and virtue? The tragedy and incongruity of human history is that many do in fact choose ultimately to lose their life forever. But the Virgin of Guadalupe has the strongest objections to our being lost.

PDF of the entire homily

Vow of Blood

velazquez-immaculate-conceptionI am off on my last leg of my journey from California to Texas. I will be preaching in a parish in the Houston-Galveston Dallas Archdiocese for a few days in preparation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

St. Maximilian always exhorted those consecrated to the Immaculate to use the novena in preparation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception as a time to do an examination of conscience relative to the standard of holiness required of one who is thus consecrated.

In a particular way, those who consider themselves to be Her “knights” ought to consider the patrocinium or vow that they have made to Her.  In days of old, during the golden age of chivalry, some priests and religious, most notably those among the Franciscans were inspired to take a vow of blood to defend Our Lady in Her prerogative of the Immaculate Conception whenever the opportunity arose, even at the risk of shedding their blood.  I conceive the Marian Vow as it should be lived by the Knights of Lepanto as something along these lines.

While the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is now defined a dogma and know longer needs to be defended in the face of theological opposition among Catholics, the doctrine of Our Lady’s Mediation and Coredemption does.

Furthermore, there are plenty of opportunities to defend Our Lady’s honor in the face of minimalism and error.  Every knight of Our Lady should consider it a great honor to have the opportunity to stand up for the Blessed Mother and a disgrace to fail to do so.  Consider well what true Marian Chivalry is and what the vow truly means.

Smashing Dragons


Since I am in an apocalyptic mood I thought it would be nice to have some more war, but let’s brighten things up a bit at the same time. Don’t worry, I won’t ignore the multi-headed devourer that threatens our existence, I just think that the Woman Clothed with the Sun might shed some light on what we should do in our predicament.  Forgive me for not being quite as lugubrious as usual.

Just read something interesting on Our Lady of Guadalupe:

The Image of Christ in the accidents of bread, and the image of Mary in the accidents of flowers, but with this lovable difference, that in Christ’s sacrament the accidents of bread appear, and not the image, and in Mary’s sacrament the image appears and the accidents of flowers disappear.

Father Juan de San Miguel, SJ preached these words in 1671 during the consecration of a side chapel of the Mexico City Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I can only assume that the context of the remarks would indicate that he is speaking metaphorically.  He certainly is not saying that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a “sacrament” in the proper sense of the term.  Nevertheless, a comparison with the Eucharist is valid.

The whole point of the continuous miracle of the tilma, which is comparable to the perduring miracle of the Real Presence of the Eucharist, is to reassure the members of the Church Militant that the Woman Clothed with the Sun is really with us and is ready to manifest that presence in power and victory.  John Paul the II made the central thought of his Marian encyclical “the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church.” That active and exemplary presence is going to bring the red dragon to the mat.  Just you wait.

Father Juan notes the ostensible difference between sacramental transubstantiation and the miracle of the tilma.  Jesus hides himself under the accidents of bread and wine in order to exercise our faith and to assume a form by which we partake of Him as our food.  Mary sheds the accidents of the flowers in order to manifest herself as the Woman Clothed with the Sun.  In the Eucharist we humble ourselves through faith and reverence.  Through the lesser charismatic grace of the tilma we are given an extraordinary sign of Our Lady’s presence and reason for confidence in the midst of conflict.

This was precisely the case historically when Our Lady appeared in Mexico.  The power of hell had been unleashed in Mexico through a diabolical religion and through the vices of the Conquistadors.  God had his way through the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

Soon the novena in preparation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception will begin and within its octave we will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  These are times in which we need unwavering confidence.  Make or renew an act of consecration to Our Lady.

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe also saw the connection between the Eucharist and the power of the Immaculate Conception:

We want Her to think, to speak and to act through us. We desire to belong to the Immaculate to the extent that nothing will remain in us that is not Her, so that we may be annihilated in Her, transubstantiated into Her, changed into Her, that She alone remains, so that we may be as much Hers as She is God’s. She belongs to God, having become His Mother. And we want to become the mother who would give the life of the Immaculate to every heart that exists and to those that will still come into existence. That is the M.I.–to bring Her into every heart, to give Her life to every heart. Thus entering these hearts and taking full possession of them, She may give birth to sweet Jesus, who is God, that He might grow in them in age and perfection.

If Father Juan looks to an extraordinary sign to find the presence of the Woman Clothed with the Sun. St. Maximilian looks to our own transformation which is a matter of constant effort at purification through prayer and penance (annihilation) and the power of God through Our Lady (transubstantiation).

It’s the consecration, stupid.  Our Lady at Fatima told us this when the whole contemporary mess got started.  When are we going to figure this thing out?

In Transit

I am in La Crosse for the dedication of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is to begin a few hours from now and which will be televised by EWTN.  I will try to get some pictures for AirMaria.

Meanwhile, Bob Fox and his son Gregory drove all the way from Long Island to attend the Encampment.  Bob has written about the experience on his blog.

This non conformity with the present age speaks volumes to young boys and men, and rejects the symbols of the present cultural and moral haziness and laziness! These men draw from the rich past of our civilization when it was at one time informed by Catholic ideals. This community exemplifies the Kingship and absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ in every age… and they indirectly remind us that it is the Church which builds civilization… it’s not the other way around!