So many cool things happened earlier , when it was still Dec. 8th. We went to Mass twice, once in the morning for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Mike gave an awesome homily about Our Lady. It made some connections for me regarding Mary that I had not completely made in my mind. The one that most jumped out at me was that the reason Mary was preserved from Original Sin was so she could be "truly free to make the right choice" when Gabriel told her that she would conceive a son. I always thought that since she was without sin (more because she would be the New Ark of the Covenant, this time holding God's word in Flesh) she could only make one choice, the right choice, the choice to say, "Yes" to God. But the way Fr. Mike put it, it was more that being free from sin allowed her the freedom to say yes or no, without external sway. He said that Original Sin (which Adam and Eve committed while without sin...so it was a truly free choice) has put us in a perpetual state of gravitating toward choose the selfish way, the easiest path, the quick lie etc... And that we actually have to think about choosing good...that it doesn't just come naturally. As I sat there listening to Fr. Mike I thought of what I wrote about in a recent post on "true freedom" and it only comes from abiding so completely in God that we are free to do the right thing...even when it's selfless and possibly involves suffering. There were once the two created without sin who chose to sin. And everafter threw mankind violently onto the wrong path away from God. Then there were the two created without sin (the first given that gift by the One she would give to the world) and they chose not to sin. And everafter lovingly guided mankind back to the right path toward God. What symmetry, what SENSE IT ALL MAKES! I was just blown away.
Then later we went to the Vigil Mass (to fulfill our Sunday obligation) and got treated to the Crowning of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We have a large Hispanic community in our parish. One of those parishioners moved her Catholic bookstore into one of the parish's upstairs unused offices. She is Hispanic as well. I can't remember if she is from Mexico or somewhere else in Latin America. Anyway, she felt led to have a crowing of the beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that our parish acquired about 1 year ago. She remembered reading about how the original statue in Mexico was crowned with a crown which was made using gold filigree which was made by melting together gold that had been donated by the faithful of the region. So, she wanted to do that. However, she didn't know how she would go about asking, or getting Monsignor's approval to ask, the parishioners to donate gold items. So, one day in her shop she was thinking about it and in walked a woman (a woman I know, who is a homeschooler, and taught me how to make cord and beaded Rosaries) with a gold necklace (I think it was) with pearls and said, "God said to give this to you." How cool is that? That was the first piece of gold given for the crown. After that people found out what was going on and Msgr. gave the go ahead to tell people what this lady was trying to make happen so that she could receieve donations. Fast forward to today... the gold had been collected, God put a designer for the crown in this sweet woman's path, she found the right devout Catholic man to make it in Mexico (which is where Guadalupana first appeared) and it had arrived to be placed on the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe today at the first Vigil Mass which is the Family Mass (when the kids' choir always sings). There is so much symbolism in the crown, just as there is in the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe (click on the title of this post to read about that). Here is a picture of the crown.
All in all it was a pretty cool day. We got to have Jesus TWICE in one day. And that was good for Robert and I because Ben was not having a good day between the Masses (which is a whole 'nother post!) but, thanks be to God, Ben was good at the two Masses. We got to hear a fabulous homily on the Immaculate Conception and then we got to witness the Crowning of Our Lady. It makes be think about what a Catholic woman, I know, from Africa once said at a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, "God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for the Holy Church, protect the Sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke thee in their necessities, and since thou art the ever Virgin Mary, and Mother of the True God, obtain for us from thy most holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, of burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father...in gratitude for the Miraculous Portrait as a continuing miracle and testimony.