FEAST OF JUAN DIEGO-CHRISTMAS CARD DAY
Isaiah, Chapter 41, verse 13-14:
For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you,
do not FEAR, I will help you. 14 Do not fear, you worm
Jacob, you maggot Israel; I will help you—oracle of the LORD; the Holy One of
Israel is your redeemer.
I picture Christ saying this to Peter in the Sea of Galilee as He pulls Peter up after he walked on the water and feared the waves and began to drown. We must not waiver when we feel covered over by the waters of fear for, He will help us. When in fear if we cry out for his help, He will grab us by the hand and bring us back in to the boat, which is His church.
Let us not be children of fear but children of faith. In fact, the opposite of Faith is fear. Napoleon Hill author of the bestselling book THINK AND GROW RICH stated in his unpublished manuscript entitled “Outwitting the Devil” that the devil uses fear to manipulate and control us. Hill uses an imaginary conversation with the devil where the devil states: Once I capture the mind of a child, through fear, I weaken that child’s ability to reason and to think for himself, and that weakness goes with the child all through life. According to Hill the secret to freedom and success is to break the chains of fear and realize that failure and defeat are only a temporary experience.
Roosevelt in his first in inaugural address as President of the United States
realizing this stating, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear
itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed
efforts to convert retreat into advance.” As a new President he realized the
power of fear and he also realized the power of courage. Mindful of this let us
go forth manfully to face our fears and change ourselves, our families and our
nation realizing YES, He IS and He grasps our hand—He will help us
St Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548). Little is known about the life of Juan Diego before his conversion, but tradition and archaeological and iconographical sources, along with the most important and oldest indigenous document on the event of Guadalupe, "El Nican Mopohua" (written in Náhuatl with Latin characters, 1556, by the Indigenous writer Antonio Valeriano), give some information on the life of the saint and the apparitions. Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico. He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in the Anáhuac Valley. When he was 50 years old, he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries.
On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true.
On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was wintertime, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac. With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus. Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbor.
He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City. The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant. Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.
Things to Do
· Read Pope John Paul II's homily at the canonization of St. Juan Diego.
· Meditate on Our Lady's beautiful words to St. Juan Diego: "Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son; let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?"
· Cook some Mexican dishes for dinner and bake a Rose Petal Pound Cake or other rose theme for dessert in honor of St. Juan Diego.
· From the Catholic Culture Library:
· For music for Juan Diego's and Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast, see www.savae.org. The San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble have two cds of authentic music by Mexican medieval composers. Very beautiful!
· Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas for detailed accounts on the apparition to Juan Diego.
Way back in 1843, the first commercial Christmas card was created in England by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who was responsible for the idea of sending greetings scribbled into the now familiar cards we get around the season of good cheer. Christmas Card Day honors its inventor on the 9th of December. The first ever commercial Christmas card showed a family raising a toast, and in the following year’s designs showing flowers or depicting the promise of spring were favored. Lithograph firm Prang and Mayer started selling their whimsical Christmas cards, often featuring children or cartoon animals, across the pond to America in 1874. By 1880, Prang and Mayer were producing a massive five million cards a year. With so many designs, shapes and sizes, some Christmas cards have become collector’s items which have been known to shift at a pretty penny at auction. One of the world’s first cards, commissioned by Cole and produced by J. C. Horsley, saw the hammer come down at £22,250 in 2001. Another one of Horsley’s cards sold for almost £9000 in 2005 – and if you want to see a big collection of these coveted cards you can drop by the British Museum to see Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection.
Today, seasonal cards are posted all over the world and can be found in hundreds of thousands of designs. The most popular messages you’ll find inside a Christmas card are ‘seasons greetings’ and ‘merry Christmas, and a happy new year’ – but many also stick to religious roots by featuring a short biblical verse or a religious blessing.
How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day
· If you’ve got time, it’s always nice to make handmade cards to send out. Get hold of some glitter and a dab of glue and see what you can come up with. The recipients are sure to appreciate it – or if you have children, get them involved in making cards for friends and family! With the advent of e-mail, it’s easier than ever to send Christmas wishes to friend and family across the world – e-cards appeared in the 90s and are frequently used in place of physical cards, so you’ve got no excuse nowadays not to send those season’s greetings. But since nothing beats the real thing, perhaps now is the right time to send out those Christmas cards so they all get to your family and friends before the last post on 23rd December! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you could always send out some cheery cards to celebrate the coming of the new year!
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain
December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder
December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes
Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus