The Fifth Glorious Mystery:
The Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth
(A Meditation Upon the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe)
“Glory be to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
It is probably the tendency for most of us who pray the Rosary to rattle off the “Glory Be” rather quickly and without much thought. If so, we miss something most profound.
That God is eternally changeless, that what “He was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be”, and that all that has ever existed or will exist is within His infinite knowledge, will, power, and causation for all eternity, is an extraordinary concept. To those who approach this truth with minds and hearts immersed in this world, it calls forth images of that which is static, rigid, restricting to our free will, uninteresting, un-stimulating, and banal. To those who see it with a Catholic heart and mind, however, it reverberates with all that is perfect intelligence and love, immersed in a never-ending and inexhaustible richness of freedom, delight, and peace.
To see reality with the Heart of Christ is, if we may be permitted to use the expression, to begin with eternity. There never was a time when God did not know that He was going to create man “in His Image”; that man, in the full freedom of his will, would sin and fall from grace; that as a result of this first sin, the earth would for millennia be polluted with a vast array and quantity of sins; that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, in order to atone for all this evil and merit the salvation of all men, would incarnate as man, suffer crucifixion, and rise again; and that for the fulfillment of Our Lord’s Incarnation He would create a Woman who would be His perfect Mother, and whose Immaculate Heart would be the portal through which God desires each one of us to pass in order to be able to see and love as does He.
All of this requires that we virtually acquire another dimension to our thinking. I remember as a boy staring at the stars with my mind caught up in what seemed then to be an unsolvable puzzle. Since this starry cosmos, despite its apparent immensity, was composed entirely of finite things, there had to be an end somewhere out there. And yet there could be no end, because there surely had to be something beyond. It took me until I was sixty years old to solve this riddle – to figure out the simple fact that all that has been created is truly finite and has no independent existence outside of the creative action and power of God, and that therefore outside or beyond this starry universe and all that it contains is simply the Infinite Being of God. And further, and most important, none of it is in reality outside or beyond God at all. As St. Paul wrote:
“For in him [Christ] were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him.
The world is now drowning in an ocean of thought and action which views everything in terms of evolutionary Becoming. It is immersed in a philosophical and pseudo-scientific conceit which, with messianic fervor, is at total war with the concepts of the unchangeable Being of God and the substantial being and “fixed” nature of man (see The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns). Nowhere is this worldview more succinctly expressed than in Joseph Ratzinger’s statement that “Being is time; it does not merely have” time. Only in becoming does it exist and unfold into itself.” And, of course, it is also aptly expressed in Pope Francis formula, which he has often used, that “Time is greater than space” (Francis clearly uses the word “space” to refer to fixed dogma and moral truths). In such a world, all that is truly human is subjected to the violence and viciousness of endless evolutionary “progress”. There is no absolute certainty, no peace, no God Who is “in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end”. And because of this poison which has penetrated everywhere, the world now descends into violence, chaos, the darkness of ignorance, and satanic moral depravity.
But the world possesses a completely miraculous Image in which all of this darkness is refuted – an Icon reflecting the Eternal Plan and Being of God, and containing, for those who have the good will to see, all the essential Truths necessary for the conversion and peace of the human heart. It was impressed by God upon the tilma of a humble native in Mexico in the year 1531. It is the sacred Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In eight years it accomplished the conversion of seven million pagan souls to the Beauty and Truth of Christianity, and it now radiates out to the modern world as a vision of Final Truth and Hope.
Our Lady of Guadalupe and The Immaculate Conception
Our Lady’s first appearance to Juan Diego occurred on December 9 (1531), the original date on which the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was informally celebrated within the Church (now celebrated officially on Dec 8). All of Our Lady’s appearances occurred during the octave of this Feast. What is surprising in all this is that the image imprinted on the tilma of Juan Diego by God’s miraculous power does not at first sight appear to have much to do with the Immaculate Conception. Mary appears as a young woman wearing a black sash around her waist, a custom which immediately revealed to the Indians that she was with child. She also identified herself to Juan Diego as “the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the true God from Whom all life has come.” The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the day on which Mary was conceived without sin in the womb of her mother Anne, which according to Catholic tradition would have been 14-15 years previous to the conception of Jesus. At first sight, therefore, it does not appear to make much sense that she should make her appearance as the Mother of God on this date.
Three hundred and twenty seven years later, at Lourdes, France, Our Lady did something which would seem almost a perfect inversion of the above. In the year 1858, on March 24 (the day which anticipated the Feast of the Annunciation – the day on which Mary became the Mother of God), Our Lady announced to Bernadette Soubrious, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This statement posed a dilemma for theologians. They certainly would have understood if she had said, “I was immaculately conceived” – Pope Pius IX had only four years earlier defined this as a dogma of the faith, and had set the date for universal celebration of this Feast on December 8. They could not, however, understand her definition of herself as The Immaculate Conception.
So, we are left with a double mystery. On the one hand, Mary identified herself to Juan Diego as the Mother of God on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. On the other hand, at Lourdes, she defines herself as The Immaculate Conception on the day which anticipated the Feast dedicated to that moment when Mary became the Mother of God
The clue to unraveling this double mystery lies in understanding that to say that Mary was immaculately conceived is not the same as saying that she is The Immaculate Conception. We know that there is a very profound connection, on the one hand, between the fact that Mary was immaculately conceived, and, on the other, the eternal choice of God by which she became the Mother of God. Simply put, Mary was immaculately conceived on December 8 (or the 9th, according to the older tradition) in order that she, in union with the Holy Spirit, might become the Mother of God approximately 15 years later on March 25. In becoming the Mother of God, however, she also became the Mother of all the Members of His Mystical Body, and therefore also Mother of the Church. In other words, when Mary said, “I am the Immaculate Conception”, she was identifying herself both as the Mother of Christ (immaculately conceived) and the Mother of all those who are immaculately conceived (“born again”) through the saving and regenerating waters of baptism. Mary is therefore properly called The Immaculate Conception because she is, in union with the Holy Spirit, and through Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, the source of all immaculate conception in the Church: “Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.”(Mt. 5: 8). This is simply to say that she truly is both Mother of Christ and Mother of all the redeemed.
The other half of this mystery, however, is that Mary, has been present in the mind and will of God as the Mother of God and the Mother of all men for all eternity, and that all of this became “incarnate” on this earth from the first moment of her own Immaculate Conception within the womb of her mother Anne. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (in the Old Missal), The Church applies to Mary the following verses from Proverbs: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything, from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived….I was with Him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world: and my delight was to be with the children of men (Prov. 8:23-35).” God’s time, in other words, is not our time. Just as for all eternity Mary was “pre-redeemed” from original sin approximately 45 years before the redemptive sacrifice of Her Son, so Our Lord’s Incarnation and all that followed was present in the Mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
Our Lady appears “clothed with the sun.” The Indians worshipped the sun, and this would certainly show them that her dignity was far superior to that of the physical sun. However, the rays of this sun do not radiate outwardly as do those of the physical sun. Rather, they project and expand inwardly, touching, enfolding and embracing Mary. It would therefore seem much more appropriate to view this “sun” as an image of the Holy Spirit (the “Ray of Heavenly Light”, as in the Litany of the Holy Ghost) overshadowing and surrounding Mary at the very moment of the Incarnation. We may see in this, in other words, the fulfillment of the Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy One which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Further, this Ray of Heavenly Light gives forth the powerful image of fruitfulness. It has the appearance of the pith of a fruit which surrounds, sustains, and nourishes the growth of what is within. And within this “space” are both Mary who was Immaculately Conceived, and the child Jesus who has been conceived within her womb. The Image therefore shows forth both mysteries at once: of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and Mary conceiving – both through the power and spousal love of the Holy Spirit.
Equally significant is the fact that the mantle which enshrouds Mary is covered with stars. As was the case in my boyhood imagination, this starry cloak can best be seen as a symbol for the entire universe which, in the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is no longer seen as a vast and impersonal place, but as a beautiful garment of God’s immense love clothing the manifold mysteries of His plan for our salvation and final union with Him.
Most astounding to all who gaze on this image is the face of Mary. There is no image in the world that is as beautiful as this, for there is none other that so captures the soul’s intimate and total union with God in interior prayer and communion. The Indians, of course, immediately knew that she was not God. Her hands are pressed in profound prayer, and gods or goddesses do not pray. It was her face, however, which showed everything and attracted everyone. It was the face of an infinitely tender Mother, as expressed in her own words: “Listen and understand well my son, smallest of all, that you have no cause to be frightened and worried. Let your heart be troubled no longer, have no fear of that sickness, nor of any other sickness or sorrow. Is this not your mother here next to you? Are you not here in the shelter of my loving shadow? Am I not your health? Are you not safe here within my loving bosom? What else has thou need of?” This face showed that, despite recent appearances and history, the universe in which these people lived was one of light and not darkness, love rather than hate, beauty and not chaos – a world in which an Infinitely Good God and His Mother were the victors over the Evil Serpent (Our Lady is, in fact, pictured standing triumphantly on a burnt-out crescent moon – an image of the Serpent). Most important, it was a world in which man was not called just to witness, adore, and sacrifice to this God and His Goodness, but to be drawn into and fully participate in this abundant Life. This was a face of love, of tenderness, of fullness of life, of rest and peace, of Divine participation and knowledge. It was, in other words, the face of Wisdom:
“Wisdom shall praise her own self, and shall be honoured in God, and shall glory in the midst of her people…..
Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle” (Ecclus 24:1, 12 – Douay-Rheims).
We are now in a position to understand with great simplicity and clarity Mary’s role as Mediatrix of All Graces. In the spiritual marriage between Mary and the Holy Spirit, which has existed in the mind of God for all eternity, we must recognize that whatever graces and life come through the Holy Spirit must also come through Mary. And since, as Maximillian Kolbe said, “all graces come from the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit,” they must also therefore come by way of Mary, and attain to fruition only through her motherly care.
Consequently, the purpose of Mary’s becoming The Immaculate Conception is twofold: the humanization of God (“the Word became flesh”) and the divinization of man. In gazing upon the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we are pre-eminently made aware of the transcendent destiny of the human person: we see, as St. Louis De Montfort says, “the divine Mary.” The divinization of all the predestined therefore comes about through a full sharing, as spiritual children within Her Immaculate Heart, of the spousal love between God and Mary which has existed for all eternity.
The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe also presents us with an image of the Triumph of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth over Satan. When we think about Our Lady’s Triumph we are tempted to picture this in terms of star-war like battles on a cosmic scale. The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe offers a very different view. The burnt-out crescent moon upon which Our Lady stands in Triumph is a pathetic thing. Satan, with all his rage and rebellion, and all the rebellion and blasphemies of all men down through the ages, are nothing before the infinite power and majesty of God. The true Triumph and Crowning of Mary is most aptly depicted, therefore, not in grandiose battles, but in the smallness of a human soul which, in the depths of its humility and poverty, has surrendered itself in Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. It is this which is the final message and call of Our Lady.
Finally, we must realize that the message and Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe calls us to intense love of the Church for the realization of Her Triumph over the hearts of all her children. Immediately after identifying herself to Juan Diego as the “Mother of the True God through Whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, Master of heaven and earth”, she declares, “I wish and intensely desire that in this place my sanctuary be erected. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help, and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother”. Juan Diego became the custodian of this chapel which Bishop Zumárraga ordered to be constructed, and this became the source from which radiated the conversion of millions of souls during the following few years. The aftermath of the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe represents the greatest and most “intense” (in terms of the shortness of time involved) mass conversion of souls in the history of the Church – and this among a people who just 10 years previously had lived under the yoke of a regime and culture which was arguably the most Satanic, and the most given to human sacrifice, of any civilization in the history of the world. We therefore have no excuse now for despair, or for cowering in the caves of a private and bitter faith in fear of the apostasy and degradation which surrounds us.
Our Lord guaranteed that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. And yet Satan now appears to be hammering away at every door and window of that Church, and seeking the ruin of every soul within. It is amply clear that the purification of the Church has been entrusted by Christ to His Mother, and it would seem equally clear that she awaits our militant response in cooperation with the graces which Christ has entrusted to her care for the accomplishment of Her Triumph. It would also seem that the Feast most appropriate for this purification is the double Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple on February 2. As explained in our Original Proposal, it is this Feast which most aptly embodies the mystery of the spiritual life that the Light of Christ can only be made to radiate from the Church for the mass conversion of souls through the suffering love of Mary and the interior purification of all her children.
We therefore ask all those who are Mary’s children to join us on February 2, 2019 in praying the Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church. We ask you, with the humility and perseverance of Juan Diego, to contact your priest and bishop in order to persuade them to implement this event in their churches (see our homepage for links to resources). We suggest that if your church is locked on this date that you pray outside, or that you pray it at home. We ask that this be done in all nations throughout the world. And finally, we ask that you print off copies of the one-page Handout concerning this event, and distribute them at all Catholic events and venues between now and February 2. We especially recommend this be done in the United States at the March for Life in Washington, D.C, and in other Pro-Life Marches throughout the country.
If we do not unite, we will almost certainly be driven back into the caves of our own private faith. We will descend further into our own personal and partial agendas, and into the desperation, failure, and bitterness which is the usual fruit of such isolation. In unity there is hope. In unity there are extraordinary graces. In unity there is the seamless and pure Heart of Mary which seeks that we be One in Her Love, Protection, and Power for the conversion of souls.