I can not devote the time I would like to this post, because this week is going to be very crazy. I am graduating soon, so I am running around trying to get 3 million things done at once. I am also beginning RCIA classes with Mr. Serrano. While I’m Confirmed, he is not. My homework is to teach him some prayers- in Spanish! Both of us are going to learn a lot, and I like our priest. However, the next post WILL be Catholic Culture of the Month- and here is a preview.
I have a huge devotion to Our Lady of Guadelupe. For years, this has remained my favorite apparition of Mary. Her message, that Christianity is for all- not just the conqueror but every single person- is extremely comforting. She will always be tied to Mexican culture for that.
Now, I want to make a statement here. A lot of people claim to see the Virgin Mary in toast and what-not. Those aren’t apparitions. I guess if God wanted the Virgin Mary to appear on toast, He would allow that, but I’m guessing that toast is one of those things he wouldn’t use, for obvious reasons.
However, the Tilma of the Virgin Mary, that was brought to the Bishop by Saint Juan Diego, a native son of Mexico, is truly miraculous.
Unlike the claims of super secret sacred undies saving you from hell-fire, home fires, or some other concocted situation, the Tilma has been examined by scientists from all around the world. Not a single one of them, no matter how skeptical they were, were able to determine how the image on the Tilma came to be. Unlike in Mormon circles, where being a Doubting Thomas immediately excludes you from certain archeological studies, with Catholic circles a Doubting Thomas is welcomed (so long as Doubting Thomas doesn’t turn into a dishonest Judas by tampering with things aka burning, defiling, or anything else you see idiots on YouTube attempting to do…) and invited in.
The idea with Catholics is that if it is truly a miracle, any scientist or skeptic will not be able to debunk the miracle. If they can debunk the miracle, then it was not of supernatural origin and will be left alone. If they cannot debunk the miracle, while people are in no way forced to believe in the apparition/miracle it will be allowed to be venerated and treated with respect.
That is what has happened with the image (not painting) of the Virgin Mary on the Tilma of Saint Juan Diego. The few possible explanations of how that image got onto that cloth all state that the technology we have even today would not allow for it to be possible. There are no brush strokes! Even more, the fact that this humble tilma, a cloak made out of rough cactus fiber, managed to make it past 20 years without disintegrating is in itself a miracle. Add to that the mishaps of the centuries to come, and their lack of effect on the image, and you are already in a strong case for a miracle.
Sure, a stubborn skeptic could say that perhaps the image is like that hamster of the family that suspiciously lived 6 times its normal lifespan, except that scientists and skeptics have been periodically allowed access to go ahead and prove or disprove whatever theories they have. If there had been a switch at some point, it would have been reported by someone.
So, as part of my continuing Catholic Culture of the Month, I will do a post on Mexico with a special focus on the Virgin of Guadelupe.
Let’s just say that the next time someone goes and tries to say that the Virgin Mary is “a redone Aztec goddess” you’ll be able to not only give them a lecture on Mexican culture, you’ll be able to interpret the entire image yourself.