December 12, 2010
Day 12 of 12
|Our Lady of Guadalupe stands in the snow at LaCrosse, WI|
Today is the last day of this fabulous Meme Project entitled A Virgin a Day. It is a tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It started on December first and will end in commemoration of today's Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Of course I continue to dedicate all of these posts to my Mother, Carmelina Rosa Caruso Spado. A memorial to her love and devotion to her family, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hope you liked it, Mom. I love you.
To participate, see Rebecca’s recuerdo mi corazon blog. There, you will get more definition and instructions as well as see other’s submissions, which, If I may add, are quite fascinating, artistic, poetic and bold.
From December 9 through 12, the Church in America commemorates the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe in present-day Mexico City. It was during these days in December of 1531 that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to the Native American, Saint Juan Diego. He was made a Saint after he received this image of Our Lady. Back then, he was just Juan Diego. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared five times as a sign of the infinite mercy and love of God the Father for all His children. On December 12, she appeared to the local Bishop, Juan de Zumarrága, by leaving her image miraculously depicted on the mantle (tilma) of Saint Juan Diego. The tilma of Saint Juan Diego continues to be venerated today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Many spiritual favors have been received by those who have come to honor the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
|Saint Juan Diego with the Guadalupe image on his tilma|
We are fortunate to have a beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe close by to where I live. At first, that seems strange. The Patron Saint of Latin America here in the Northland, but then again, she is considered Our Lady of the Americas as well. So using that moniker, it makes perfect sense to honor Her everywhere and anywhere on the continenet.
The shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe was a thought back in 1999. Groundbreaking took place in June of 2001. The grounds are continuously being upgraded and added to. Scroll around the website and see all this magnificent facility has to offer. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is faithful to the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary through her appearances to Juan Diego in 1531. She serves the spiritual needs of those who suffer poverty in body and soul. It is a place of unending prayer for the spiritual welfare of those in most need.
|Sunrise over the Mississippi River, close to the Shrine.|
I feel this special sunrise with its towering light plume was to be a beacon to guide me there that day
I happened upon this place just last Summer. Mrs. Spadoman and I were on a weekend motorcycle outing that had us staying in Prairie du Chien, WI overnight. As we traveled North towards home on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River, I saw the sign announcing the shrine of Our Lady. I gestured to Barb and she nodded in the affirmative. I swept through the Easterly turn and made our way to the parking lot.
That first visit was short. We didn’t know a shrine like this was close to home. People from all over the world make pilgrimages to places like this all the time. My mother used to go down to the Saint Louis area from her home near Chicago to a shrine called Our Lady of the Snows.
Shrines like these are meant to provide a place for people of any denomination to get a closer contact with God and grow in their own spirituality. The message is produced by the Catholic Church, but anyone that wants to listen to it is welcome. People who seek learning and spiritual guidance are called Pilgrims.
|The Votive Chapel at the Shrine|
When I stopped back at Guadalupe's Shrine just last week as I drove home from Washington DC, I walked up the long path to the Votive Candle Chapel. It was a bright sunny day and the glow from the stunning stained glass just grabbed a hold of me. I stood there in awe. Many depictions of Our Lady were there, each with their own stain glass image.
|Stained Glass image of Our Mother of Good Counsel|
Our Blessed Mother under her titles of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Knock, Our Mother of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Loretto, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal each had a glass panel. The photo I am posting is Our Mother of Good Counsel. The tower of candles in the center of the chapel had its own glow. People, or pilgrims, can pay a fee and have a candle lit for a period of time. The candle represents their personal prayer to Our Lady for whatever reason.
|A close-up of this beautiful art|
My fascination with Our Lady of Guadalupe stems from my exposure to her image in statues and paintings, hammered tin and colorful trinkets from a small charm to a larger than life likeness that stands on a hillside near Silver City, NM. I am drawn to this image. I don’t have all the reasons as to why I am so drawn, but this week, in writing, researching and reading about The Blessed Virgin Mary, I have more of an idea for my interest.
|I love the way the light cascades over Our Lady|
I've also feature two photos of prints that I have from Francesca I Garcia C, the women I met in Mesilla, NM. I have written about her and shown some of her art previously in this series. I purchased one of these small portaraits. When Francesca and I started to talk and she found out I loved Guadalupe, she sent me the other one along with some Macaw feathers from her pet. I use the colorful feathers on the borders of her paintings as they hang in my home.
|Portarit by Francesca I. Garcia C. of El Paso|
For arts sake, I’ll take that tack. I love the way she is depicted. I’m not so thrilled to see the old renaissance era paintings, although I do find beauty in some of them. Guadalupe seems more contemporary, even though the image was sent to Juan Diego in 1531 and the words spoken by Our Lady herself:
Am I not here. I, who am your Mother?
|The second print sent to me by Francesca|
I also love the stories of the miracles that the people are said to have witnessed. Tears from a statue, an image of of The Blessed Virgin Mary that is seen in a rock, bleeding. A piece of chicken or on some other every day object. I cannot and will not say they are true or untrue. I have had what would appear to be miracles and visions happen to me. None with Mary, but more than one with Eagles and Bears.
As I have tried to do throughout this Virgin Business is tell a story, give an example from my own life’s experiences, of what I have seen or what I have thought. I’ll leave you with this reflection.
My Brother-In-Law’s Mother had passed away some years ago and I attended the funeral mass at a Catholic Church in suburban Chicago. I hadn’t been to mass in years and really didn’t consider myself a Catholic any longer. I always thought that organized religion with all their man-made rules and regulations turned me off and that a direct connection with a Higher Power served me better for growth in body mind and spirit.
Since I left regular church attendance and stopped saying the pat worded prayers many years before, I followed other paths. I was mostly involved with the Native American spirituality that had me talking directly to God and skipping the middle man.
As I walked through the doors of the church, God spoke to me. I heard his voice clear as a bright sunny day. He told me that I had a lot of nerve coming there and thinking that this house of God was any different from any other. He was talking about my attendance at the Sweat Lodge ceremonies that I went to on the Indian Reservation. He was okay with how I chose to pray, but didn’t want me to come to a church, this church, any church, and not give the same respect as I did anywhere else, namely that Sweat Lodge.
I understood immediately and for the first time in my life I realized that the Great Spirit, not a man, guides the real idea of religion and church attendance. The rules and regulations, the labels and interpretations used by man muddle the picture. It is the spirit of God that is there if we seek it.
This is where I am today. It’s one Supreme Being, Higher Power, Great Spirit, Creator, God, and I know him. I am satisfied with that and I believe God has told me he is too. That’s my story, and that’s all I need right now.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole Virgin a Day project. I have learned some and have thought about quite a lot of things, including the art. I want to thank each and every one of you that participated, whether it was for a day or the entire series. And I especially want to thank Rebecca for her idea. It was well worth every bit of effort. I am comforted by the idea that people have been drawn together, new friendships were made and somehow, some sense of Peace has erupted among us.
Enjoy this Feast Day. There is nothing that you need to believe in if you don't want to. It can just be a day when we remember a great story like the one about Juan Diego seeing Guadalupe. Who doesn’t appreciate a great story?
Have a wonderful peaceful day, today and every day of your life.