We are currently in the middle of the Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It may be helpful to define “novena” for our younger friends in the parish. A novena is a series of nine successive days of prayer dedicated to a particular saint, now, to Our Lady of Guadalupe. What is the significance of this miracle?

The Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego at Tepeyac Hill, near Mexico City. But the miracle reaches far beyond that specific moment. In fact, countless miracles are associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe. In many churches throughout Chicagoland, including ours, the novena begins on Dec. 3 and concludes on Dec. 12, with the celebration of two feastday masses. Every year hundreds of parishioners and friends of the parish gather in prayer and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, while thousands of pilgrims flock to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to venerate the living image found in the cloak of Saint Juan Diego. This most powerful image has transformed the hearts and minds of millions. We know that the Mother of Christ appears in many forms to many people, regardless of national origin, and unites her children by virtue of her very presence.

This thought is particularly poignant in this time of suffering in our southern border and borders across the world. “Borders” can begin in our own hearts, minds and souls with issues, such as age, gender, way of life, economic privilege, color, national origin, sexual orientation or social status. Prayers to Our Lady are a means for grace and remarkable recorded instances of unexplainable physical healings and spiritual changes of heart, mind and conscience. So, through our common faith, we are united, not separated by “borders.”

As a pilgrim myself, I am forever left with a very moving sight of many people approaching the image of Our Lady on their knees with profound humility, trust, confidence, faith and reliance in her grace. This memory stands in strong contrast to the lack of faith we see throughout our human family, both nationally and internationally. This kind of passionate faith was actually foreign to me. As always, an encounter with foreign realities teaches me more about myself than I ever knew. I personally feel a sense of healing in simply witnessing this faith in others.

I invite everyone in the parish to witness and participate in the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday, Dec. 12 this week. To witness miracles is for everyone, regardless of national origin or any of the other “borders” we find in our hearts. May we see the wonderful miraculous power in the transformation and healing of body, mind and spirit!

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