Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

December 12th is celebrated throughout Mexico as it is the great Feast day of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. It is a most beautiful apparition and the reason behind the conversion of so many Aztec Indians to the true God of our Catholic faith. (By 1539, only eight years after the apparition, almost nine million Indians had converted.)At that time in Mexico it was still Aztec and worshipped false gods. These false gods demanded human sacrifice, according to their “priests”. It’s estimated that between 20,000 and 250,000 people – mostly children – were sacrificed to the gods every year. Juan Diego and many of his family members were among the early converts to the faith. He was baptised “Juan Diego” in 1525 along with his wife, Maria Lucia, and his uncle Juan Bernardino.On the morning of 9th December 1531, Juan Diego was walking to Mass as he did everyday. As he walked along Tepeyac Hill, he began to hear beautiful strains of music and birds singing, and he saw a beautiful lady, who called his name: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.” She said, “Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, the true God, through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of Heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honour. Here I will demonstrate, I will manifest, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, and of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities, and misfortunes.”She told Juan Diego to go tell Bishop Zumarraga of her desire for a church to be built at the site. Juan Diego asked our Blessed Mother her name. She responded in his native language of Nahuatl, “Tlecuatlecupe,” which means “the one who crushes the head of the serpent” (a clear reference to Genesis 3:15 and to the main symbol of the Aztec religion). “Tlecuatlecupe” when correctly pronounced, sounds very similar to “Guadalupe.” So when Juan Diego told Bishop Zumarraga her name in his native tongue, the bishop probably confused it with the familiar Spanish name “Guadalupe,” a city with a prominent Marian shrine.

 

Bishop Zumarraga was very just and compassionate. He built the first hospital, library and university in the Americas. He also was the Protector of the Indians, entrusted by Emperor Charles V to enforce his decree issued in August 1530, stating, “No person shall dare to make a single Indian a slave whether in war or in peace. Whether by barter, by purchase, by trade, or on any other pretext or cause whatever.” However, Bishop Zumarraga listened patiently to Juan Diego, and said he would reflect on the matter, probably doubting such a story.

Juan Diego went back to Tepayac and told Mary the bishop’s response. Juan Diego suggested that someone more important than him should be the messenger then maybe the bishop would listen to that person. However, Mary had chosen him and like him, we are all important to Our Lady. She told him to try again. So the next day, he did. Although this time it was more difficult to see the bishop, Juan Diego did not give up, and the bishop once more listened patiently. This time, the bishop asked him to bring back a sign from Mary to prove the story. Again, Juan Diego went back and told our Blessed Mother, who told him to return the next day to receive “the sign” for the bishop.On December 11, Juan Diego spent the day caring for his very sick uncle, Juan Bernardino. As his health was failing fast, he asked Juan Diego to go and bring a priest who would hear his confession and administer the Sacrament of the last rites. On December 12, Juan Diego set out again, but avoided Tepeyac Hill because he was ashamed that he had not returned the previous day as our Blessed Mother had requested. While making his detour, the Blessed Mother stopped him and said, “Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?” Mary reassured Juan Diego that his uncle would not die. In fact Our Lady appeared to his uncle and he was cured from his fever.

For the sign for the bishop, Mary told Juan Diego to go to the top of the mountain and pick some flowers. He went up to the hill which was dry and barren a place for cactus and found roses like those grown in Castille, but foreign to Mexico. Also it was winter. He gathered them in his tilma, a garment like a poncho. He brought them to Mary who arranged them in his tilma and told him to take them to the bishop.

After waiting a long time to speak to the bishop he was finally granted an audience in the presence of others too. Juan Diego repeated the message to the bishop and opened his tilma to present the roses. The bishop saw not only the beautiful flowers but also the beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Bishop Zumarraga wept at the sight of the Blessed Mother and asked forgiveness for doubting. He took the tilma and laid it at the altar in his chapel.

 

This is the image that can be seen on the tilma today in Mexico.By Christmas of that year, a church was built on top Tepeyac Hill in honour of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it was dedicated on December 26, 1531, the feast of St. Stephen the Martyr.

December 9 marks the feast day of Saint Juan Diego and December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One of the facts about the image of Our Lady on the tilma is that the stars on Mary’s cloak are an accurate arrangement of the stars in the sky on 9th December 1531.

Can you find other facts about this miracle?

Sources:lifeteen.com, catholic education resource centre

Have a look at these videos about this beautiful apparition on Youtube.

Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe | Miracles of Mary | Episode 01

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe – December 2015

Our Lady Of Guadalupe HD by Catholic Online

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception December 8th

 

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The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary the Mother of Christ was conceived without original sin and her conception was thus immaculate.

Mary’s sinless conception is the reason why Catholics refer to Mary as “full of grace”.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated by Catholics on December 8th each year.

“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)

In 1854, Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, “Ineffabilis Deus,” clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin.

Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.

Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for Her.

Every person is called to recognise and respond to God’s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.

Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognise with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that s/he and only s/he can fulfill.

Source: Catholic News Agency

Saint Nicholas The Man Behind the Story of Father Christmas/Santa Claus

The Man Behind the Story of Father Christmas/Santa Claus

Thursday 6th December is the feast day of St Nicholas.

St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it.

St Nicholas
Image from the St. Nicholas Center
www.stnicholascenter.org

The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to put presents in first started! It goes like this:

There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.

Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a Saint. St. Nicholas is not only the saint of children but also of sailors! One story tells of him helping some sailors that were caught in a dreadful storm off the coast of Turkey. The storm was raging around them and all the men were terrified that their ship would sink beneath the giant waves. They prayed to St. Nicholas to help them. Suddenly, he was standing on the deck before them. He ordered the sea to be calm, the storm died away, and they were able to sail their ship safely to port.

St. Nicholas was exiled from Myra and later put in prison during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. No one really knows when he died, but it was on 6th December in either 345 or 352. In 1087, his bones were stolen from Turkey by some Italian merchant sailors. The bones are now kept in the Church named after him in the Italian port of Bari. On St. Nicholas feast day (6th December), the sailors of Bari still carry his statue from the Cathedral out to sea, so that he can bless the waters and so give them safe voyages throughout the year.

In many Polish households, the morning of December 6th, in Polish referred to as Mikołajki, is a blissful moment. This is when children find small gifts under their pillows, in their slippers or (nowadays more and more often) in a stocking carefully hung out for that purpose the evening before. The gifts are usually tiny – small toys or sweets are the most popular option, since bigger presents are still yet to be given on Christmas eve, by the very same person – Saint Nicholas.

A Prayer to Saint Nicholas

O good St. Nicholas,

you who are the joy of the children,

put in my heart the spirit of childhood,

which the gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me.

You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas,

open my faith to the mystery of God made man.

You good bishop and shepherd,

help me to find my place in the Church

and inspire the Church to be faithful to the Gospel.

O good Saint Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless,

watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs,

as well as over those who humble themselves before you.

Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem,

when true joy and peace are found. Amen.

Source:

https://www.whychristmas.com

 

Reception Remembrance

We remembered those who have died in the wars. They gave their lives fighting for everything we have inherited and we sometimes take for granted the sacrifice they made. “Lest we forget”

We made our poppies printing with a sponge and adding real poppy seeds for the centre of the flower.DSC03527

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Fireworks!

Reception Class investigated the origins of Bonfire Night. We found out that King James I ordered bonfires to be lit on November 5th to symbolise the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament by Guido Fawkes and fellow conspirators. We made our own fireworks!

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El Dia De Los Muertos

The RE challenge for the October half term was to find out about the Catholic tradition of El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico. It is a time to remember and honour the dead. In Mexico this involves attending Holy Mass and visiting the graves of loved ones. The children of Our Lady’s and their families responded in the usual amazing way. Children from all classes brought in a range of things – information, pictures, sugar skulls, a Lego model of those who have died. Once again, it really is great to see families working together to produce such fantastic work. Estupendo!

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Reception Class made Marigolds the traditional flowers used in Mexico to decorate altars and graves.

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Nuestra Señora De Guadalupe

Deacon Alan told us about Our Lady of Guadalupe and that he had seen the  nearly 500 year old tilma of Juan Diego bearing the miracle image of Our Lady. We decided to make our own images of Our Lady. We discussed the colours of Her clothes and that She appeared as a beautiful Mexican Indian lady. We saw that these colours are on the flag of Mexico and there is an eagle there too killing a snake. Saint Juan Diego was called the ‘talking eagle’ and his part in the apparition squashed the belief in the serpent god of the Aztecs. This apparition helped the Mexican Indians and the Spanish to live alongside each other in peace.

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DSC02602We made the Castilian roses that Juan Diego collected on top of Tepeyac Hill even though it was winter.

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