Model of Sanctity
Juan Diego was canonized on July 31, 2002, by Pope John Paul II, in the very same church that the Mother of God requested. The Holy Father praised this modest Indian as a great model of sanctity, pointing out that Juan Diego was a layman who humbly pursued the mission entrusted to him. He was able to overcome many obstacles and difficulties because his spirit of charity knew no limits, as when he tended to his dying uncle, Juan Bernardino, who was on the brink of death until the Virgin herself healed him.
Although he had a good indigenous education and a few possessions inherited from his ancestors, Juan Diego eventually abandoned everything to live in a small hut by Our Lady of Guadalupe’s church, humbly to serve the Mother of God. He would tell those who came to see him that God had sent his own Mother to listen to our weeping, to soothe our distress, to remedy our suffering, to give us the Creator’s immense love, so that we may understand that we are all brothers and sisters who are called to sanctity through the conversion of our own hearts.
Shaped by God
In the important document called Nican Motecpana, we are also told that Saint Juan Diego was constantly striving to improve his spiritual life: “He kneeled before the Queen of Heaven and fervently invoked her; he often went to confession, took Communion, fasted, did penance, disciplined himself, fastened his cilice and hid in the shadows to pray on his own and invoke the Queen of Heaven.”
The humble Juan Diego allowed himself to be shaped by God in holy sanctity. A humble person is not fragile or weak; on the contrary, much integrity and courage are necessary to reject sin and grow in virtue, to overcome vice and live in real freedom, to stop injustice and live honestly, and to dedicate oneself fully to the labor of constant improvement.
The humble ones receive God’s favor. As Jesus cries out to his Father, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” God has chosen the humble and the modest to manifest his omnipotence, eternal wisdom, and constant love.
Mary still asks
That is why the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe gave Juan Diego assurance of his dignity in the important mission that as a layman he was asked to perform within the Church. She still lays all her trust in clean hearts asking us – as she asked Juan Diego – not to fear, for she is our Mother. Like a true Mother, she has placed us in the fold of her arms and in the hollow of her mantle; she is our protection and the source of our joy, for she comes to place in the depth of the human heart her own Son, Jesus Christ, the source of our existence and eternal life.
Saint Juan Diego, teach us to have courage and fortitude in faith thanks to the only God by whom we live. Intercede for us to change our selfish and fearful heart into a heart that knows how to love. Make our heart free and joyful like yours so we can really fulfill the mission God has entrusted to us, through our Mother, Saint Mary of Guadalupe. Help us to build within ourselves a sacred little house, a temple of the Holy Spirit, so that we may bear witness to God’s love, and help build a culture of life and a civilization of love.
Thank you, Saint Juan Diego, humble messenger of love.
* Monsignor Eduardo Chávez Sánchez is the postulator of the cause of Saint Juan Diego, canonized in 2002. He is president of the Guadalupe Studies Institute.