God set a precedent for presenting this special woman conceived without sin as His extraordinary messenger before He ever assumed her into Heaven. This is documented by Our Lady's very first appearance in Zaragoza, Spain after her Son's Ascension into Heaven. She was carried there on a pillar by angels to appear to Saint James the Apostlewho had gone to Spain under Our Lord's directive to "Go, make disciples of all nations." Mary's request was for James to return to Jerusalem and there, die a martyr for Jesus Christ. The feast of Our Lady of Pilar of Zaragoza is observed October 12 and highly celebrated in Spanish countries.
There are other reports of apparitions after Mary's Assumption into Heaven from the fourth century on but not until the thirteenth century did Our Lady, Comforter of the afflicted, begin her messages to her children. This motherly advice, admonition and aid were first given to Saint Dominic in 1208 when she presented him the Rosary and bade him go forth and preach. Amidst the Albigensian heresy, which denied the Holy Trinity and attacked the Catholic Church, Our Lady came over 30 times to the Church's rescue through Dominic who established the Order of Preachers - the Dominicans - to fend off this heresy diametrically opposed to Divine Revelation.
In 1251 Our Lady revealed more of her plan to Saint Simon Stock in England when she appeared to him twenty or so times as Our Lady of Mount Carmel and bestowed on him the Scapular to be handed down through the centuries as a protection for her faithful children. About the time of the all-out revolt brought about by those who instilled their will over God's will - better known as the Protestant reformation - Our Lady appeared to Blessed Juan Diego at Guadalupe, Mexico in 1531 and, through the miracle of roses presented to his bishop, left her children the miraculous tilma with the image of her as the woman depicted in Genesis 3: 15 but in the style of the culture of the Aztecs. Her specific intention was to stop human sacrifice in the western hemisphere. Ironically, while at the same time in Europe the Protestant revolt was taking tens of thousands of Catholics away from the One, True Church, Our Lady was instrumental in adding millions of new converts in the new world. God does indeed have a way of balancing the evil one's efforts!
This Friday we celebrate her feast of Guadalupe and it is a special time in history. First of all, word has just come down this week that the Holy Father has all but assured that Juan Diego will be canonized next year in Mexico City when he officially closes the Synod of the Americas there. Secondly, the notion that she belongs only to Mexicans as Our Lady of Guadalupe is fast diminishing as the emphasis both by her and Church officials has focused on her being Our Lady of the Americas incorporating the entire western hemisphere. Thirdly, the point has been re-emphasized and confirmed that her original purpose to stop human sacrifice remains stronger than ever in stopping the human sacrifice of unborn babies through the abominable sin of abortion. To reaffirm the tie-in, a Son-a-gram was taken two years ago three times of Our Lady's womb in the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (permission could not be obtained to perform the ultrasound on the original tilma at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe) by Father Walter Winrich, M.M. who has been the foremost promoter of Our Lady's call at Guadalupe. The results were astonishing, for when the Son-a-gram was performed of the image in which Our Lady is pregnant, what they discovered was not an infant child within her womb but the image of Jesus of Mercy for these, indeed, are the times of Mercy before the great Justice!
NEXT WEEK: The Queen of Prophets presents a lasting blueprint for true conversion