A Note from our Pastor
A NOTE FROM OUR PASTOR
My dear family of St. Matthew!
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we are in the midst of another novena! It’s been, one could say, the year of the novenas! We prayed a novena in preparation for our patronal feast, this year 2020’s celebration of St. Matthew back in September. We prayed a novena in preparation for our country’s election before November 3rd as was encouraged by our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and our new local ordinary Bishop Ronald Hicks for our Diocese of Joliet, and now we are in the midst of our annual novena in preparation of the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this coming Saturday, December 12th. And we definitely need all of these prayers and novenas, and more!!!
Our Mother Mary revealed herself 489 years ago to Saint Juan Diego — such an amazing story of the love of our Mother Mary for all of her children. Mary left this most miraculous image of herself in honor of this loving care and compassion she has for all of her children, and this image she decided to leave was of herself as a pregnant mother — how appropriate in this season of Advent, a time of preparation for the upcoming feast of the Birth of her Son Jesus!
Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood take a lot of faith! In so many ways, it’s beyond your control. Suddenly, a mother has a new life inside of her. That mother will do her best to nurture that life, but we really never know how everything is going to turn out, right? Mothers, you do what you can to ensure that your child will be loved and supported, but, in the end, you have to trust God for the big picture.
Throughout Advent, Mary is honored and plays a big role in understanding the faith required to be a mother, to be a believer, a follower of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus. In the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we behold Mary, the pregnant Mother of God, a woman of enormous faith in God’s plan, and we honor the deep and trusting faith she had. She didn’t comprehend how she could give birth to the Messiah, but she still said “yes!” to God’s plan. She was told she would suffer greatly because of her child, but she still obeyed. She stayed true to her Son, Jesus, even through His crucifixion, until the very end. And her faith and trust in God paid off. Mary proclaimed the greatness of God, recognizing that He will look after us if we remain open to His word. Mary is not some faraway idealistic unreachable reality — she is a mother. Quite simply, she loves us! We can go to her.
She asked the troubled and worried St. Juan Diego 489 years ago: ¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu Madre? Am I not here who am your Mother? St. Juan Diego witnessed and reported these amazing events, which have been faithfully recorded and believed now by countless people, Aztec, Mexican, American, and numerous others ever since the year 1531 — that on his way to Mass, that year the date was December 9th, early on that Saturday morning, as was his custom, Juan Diego heard birds singing and went up Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City to investigate – he thought he had entered an earthly paradise. Thus began a four-day encounter with a beautiful lady, as she called herself, “la siempre Virgen Santa Maria, Madre del Verdadero Dios por quien se vive” (the ever-Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God, for whom we live) – an adventure that continues to this day.
He was about 55 years of age when he first encountered that beautiful Lady, the birds singing, and, later, the roses blooming in the middle of December. Saint Juan Diego spoke with the Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God. She appeared as a beautiful, young woman, pregnant with life in her womb. She carefully arranged some miraculously-growing flowers on his work-apron (poncho), called a tilma, which was made from maguey fibers that typically disintegrate rapidly, between 10-50 years. She instructed Juan Diego to go to the nearby bishop and show him these beautiful roses. It was December 12, 1531. When he opened his apron so that the roses could fall to the ground in front of the bishop, an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on his tilma. And here’s the amazing miracle: that tilma and that image can be seen still today, 489 years later!, and the tilma has not disintegrated! A number of indications on the image also show she is a pregnant mother! A pregnant mother awaiting the birth of her child! Let us follow Mary’s lead in welcoming the precious gift of life, and like her, protecting the life that God entrusts to us!
Blessings of shalom and joy and good health for all, especially for our dear young people of this current generation who seek the good things that lead to lasting happiness in life and true love and meaning! Let’s pray that Mary will help them, and let’s pray that all of us will help each other as Mary so beautifully shows how!
In in the loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe,