When I was 18 years old, a family friend was hosting a gathering where people could venerate a replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had encountered the image before, but never stopped and prayed with it until that point in my life. I found praying with this image to be extremely powerful. Praying before this image as a young woman, I was struck by one thing in particular…Mary was so kind and motherly. She was receiving all my prayers and intentions, and that has struck me ever since.
It was no coincidence that we launched the very first book for Behold, The Joyful Mysteries on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Months of work, zeal, passion, and prayer went into this initiative, and yet, as God continued to open doors for our ministry to grow, I constantly asked Our Lady to intercede for us. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a constant reminder to me of what our ministry is all about.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe isn’t just a piece of artwork, or even a holy image painted by human hands. God himself is the artist of this image. It is an image that was in the mind and heart of God- something He longed to give to us to show us the beauty of the mother we can call our own.
What is God speaking to our hearts with this? What does our Mother want to reveal about herself? I can’t help but feel that this image shows us the beauty of authentic femininity. Within this image is contained a core truth of who we are. Every time we gaze upon her, we are confronted with the truth of the beauty of woman as God’s precious creation.
Openness. Sensitivity. Generosity. Maternity. All these gifts, when received, enabled all of mankind to receive salvation. These gifts all come to a culmination with the black sash around Mary’s waist. This sash signifies that Mary is with Child. She is the God-bearer, bringing the good news of salvation through her Son. We are all created to do the same. We are all meant to receive the love of God, and go forth bearing that love into the world.
In this image, Our Mother speaks to us, just like she did to Juan Diego 500 years, ago, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” I all too often forget that Mary longs to be close to me, that she shares in both my trials and joys. But she has experienced life in its joys and sorrows just like each and every one of us.
In all the stages of life: joyful, sorrowful, glorious, and luminous, Mary was reminded of God. It is by walking that journey of her heart that we can experience the Lord as she did. It is by placing ourselves in her stead that we can then receive and share the Lord with others.
This time last year, I was preparing for a five week prayer group to lead women to understand their femininity in light of Mary’s heart. Little did I know that this would turn into something beyond those 5 weeks, let alone become a vocation for me. As 2017 has come to a close, and a new year is beginning with our Lady’s Feast, I truly cannot put into words the gratitude in my heart to God. Truly, this work brings me so much life, and it brings so much joy to hear from our participants how our program has led them closer to God.
Since launching on Our Lady’s feast day:
- We have already sold through our entire first printing!
- We have at least 5 groups set to start in January: two in New Jersey, one in Kansas, one in Louisiana, and one in Wyoming.
- We also have many more parishes set to do the program later in the year!
The Lord continues to be so gracious, and we are excited to see all the fruits that happen as these new groups start this month!
As we celebrate Our Lady to start the New Year, may you come to a deeper understanding of your value in light of Christ, and share the gift you are to the world! Mary, Mother of Life, pray for us.
For more information about how to purchase Behold: The Joyful Mysteries, go to: www.beholdvisiodivina.com/store
For more information on how to start a Behold group near you, go to: www.beholdvisiodivina.com/facilitate
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe can be found here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe