Mission of the Laity
By Petronia Laine

The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Americas is more than a picture of symbols to the Aztec Indians and to the world. The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly a great gift to all living on the continent of America. There must be a great purpose as well for this treasure. At the time the image was given, the Aztec Indians recognized that the picture was a writing, or hieroglyphics, as a letter. They did their writings in pictures and not with words of the alphabet. The image contained the true teachings of the Church for the Aztec Indians to read and understand. Millions of pagan were converted to the Roman Catholic faith through a lay member, Juan Diego. The break of beliefs began after the conversion of Juan Diego in the 1520's. His wife died and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary became strong in faith. He attended Holy Mass often and on Saturdays. Saturdays were dedicated to the Blessed Mary. The feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated on December 9th at this time in the Roman Catholic Church. It was this Octave that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception appeared to Juan Diego in the year 1531.

Juan Diego was a Roman Catholic of virtuous character. He was a member of the laity and felt unworthy to be of service to Our Lady. Our Lady called Juan Diego as her "little son" when asking him to give her message to the Bishop. She had Juan Diego, a laity member, take her message and did not go to the Bishop herself. Our Lady of Medjugorje also addresses us as "Dear little children" or Dear children". Clearly the laity has a role to play in God's plans and are important to the Blessed Mary for conversion of society and our nation of America.

Partially, the message was to have a temple built by the newly consecrated Bishop in the location of the apparition site. More may be learned of this in the writing of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Michael K. Jones indicated on the homepage of Medjugorje USA.

Our Lady spoke to Juan Diego, an Indian, in the language of Nahuatl, a Spanish tongue and used the words "te coatlaxopeuh" which may have sounded like the Spanish word "Guadalupe". Thence, Our Lady of Guadalupe was named. In translation the correct meaning of her words are as follows, "Te" means 'stone'; "coa" means 'serpent'; "Tla" is for 'the'; "xopeuh" means 'crush' or 'stamp-out'. Herein Our Lady's message, Her Precious Image will be known: 'The Entirely Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary, and it will crush the stone serpent.'

After the appearance of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the precious tilma of Juan Diego, came the conversions of the Aztec Indians. So complete in writing was the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in meaning to the Aztec Indians that in 7 years, eight million pagans joined the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico.

It is apparent the Aztec Indians had similar civilization compared to the Egyptians, with the pyramids, the sphinx and the hieroglyphics. The origin of Mexicans is not clear. The Aztec pagans had offered 20,000 bloody human sacrifices to the god Quetzalcoatl-Venus each year. The image of this pagan god was carved out of stone, as seen in ancient pyramids of Mexico. The Aztecs learned through the instruction of Juan Diego and the 'writing of the tilma' Image that no human sacrifice could equal Jesus Christ offered on the Cross. In their conversion the Aztecs also turned to the Holy Eucharist as Juan Diego knew well the Christian doctrine of the Church. Shortly after this miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Spaniards replaced the Aztec's hieroglyphics to teaching of the alphabet.

Thence, on the new continent of America 8 million Aztec pagans were added and grew to millions more in a short time span. The Protestant Revolt was taking place in Europe about this time, in the year 1541. Many Roman Catholics were leaving the faith in the old world. Approximately 5 million separated from the Catholic faith in the Protestant Revolt, if not more.

Like all Marian shrines, the center of devotion is the Holy Eucharist. In 1895 Pope Leo XIII ordered the sacred image to be crowned in his name. In 1945 Pope Pius XII renewed her coronation and declared, "We are certain that so long as you (Our Lady of Guadalupe) are recognized as Queen and Mother, America and Mexico will have been saved."

In 1962 three images were discovered in the eye of the sacred image and one image was of Juan Diego. This was the time of Vatican Council II in session. The message of Juan Diego was to 'Pray and work for the salvation of souls'. Pope Paul VI wrote that Vatican Council II had said of the Apostolate of the Laity: "The apostolate of the social milieu, that is, the effort to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which a person lives, is so much the duty and responsibility of the laity, that it can never be properly performed by others" (chap. 3, sec. 13). In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, the Vatican Council II says that the lay apostolate is to be incorporated into the apostolate of the whole church according to a right system of relationship.

Thus, along with Blessed Mary, Juan Diego was chosen to work for the conversion of sinners in the proper Church authority. Juan Diego sought no prestige or no power for himself. All was for Jesus and Mary and for the salvation of souls. This gives witness that Juan Diego may be a powerful intercessor in heaven to all the laity engaged in the working of the Church for the salvation of souls. When the lay people pray God may fit them with special revelations. A previous revelation in 1515 was given to the Aztec King Montezuma that he would lose his throne to invaders (H. Cortez of Spain) who were going to bring the true religion. Cortez came to Mexico in 1521, a land containing about 9 million in population.

St. Teresa of Avila was born in the year 1515. In conjunction with her teaching of the church doctrine she writes, "Whoever makes a habit of prayer should think only of doing everything to conform his will to God's. Be assured that in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain, and those who practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God's greatest gift and will make the quickest progress in the interior life. Do not imagine there are other secrets. All our good consists in this."

It is not enough to pray or overcome the will and live with serenity in the heart. Christians must work for the reign of Christ by spreading good so that evil is not in power. The Gospel message and its true doctrine must be lived to lead to eternal salvation. All things and the sacraments and prayers when offered in union with the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, are for doing God's will for His glory on earth as in heaven. Living the truth in the new world of freedom in America will produce good fruits.

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