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The Greatness of Being "One of the Least"


Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Juan Diego on July 31, 2002 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, north of Mexico City...

Juan Diego Portrait... the very location where our Lady asked that a church be constructed when she appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in December 1531.  At the Mass of canonization, the pope acclaimed Juan Diego as a great model of holiness, especially for our times.  After all, Juan Diego was a layman who humbly accepted the mission entrusted to him and persevered despite many obstacles.  His disposition to charity was boundless as he cared for his dying uncle, Juan Bernardino, who was later healed by the Virgin herself.  Weeks after John Paul II's first visit to the basilica in 1979, the pope reflected during his Angelus address on the importance of humility: "Humility is not identified with humiliation or resignation.  It is not accompanied by faint-heartedness.  On the contrary.  Humility is creative submission to the power of truth and love.  Humility is rejection of appearances and superficiality; it is the expression of the depth of the human spirit; it is the condition of its greatness."

It is this humility that characterized Juan Diego's life.  He had a good indigenous education and was a responsible steward of several possessions inherited from his ancestors.  Nevertheless, he set everything aside after the apparition to live in a small hut next to the Our Lady of Guadalupe hermitage.  He gladly became the humble servant of our Lady, who desires to console us and make us conscious of God's immense love for us, calling us to conversion.  To live in humility demands much fortitude, since it involves fleeing temptation and ridding one's life of sin.  It is an arduous battle to uproot injustices and live honestly, to grow in virtue daily so as to live in true freedom.  Humility is essential and glorifies God precisely because it is only the divine potter who can mold us with sanctity; only God can truly form us to be his chosen people, to be his friends, to be his children.



columbia17Monsignor Eduardo Chávez Sánchez. "The Greatness of Being "One of the Least." Columbia  (June, 2009)

Reprinted with permission of Columbia

Image: a picture of Juan Diego from an early painting.

The Author

chavezzzMsgr. Eduardo Chávez Sánchez holds a doctorate in Church history and served as postulator for the cause for the canonization of  Juan Diego. He was named canon of the National Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2005 and named named the first rector of the Catholic University Lumen Gentium of the Archdiocese of Mexico, where he has served since 2002, and in 2003 he became a founding member and rector of the Institute of Guadalupan Studies. 

Copyright © 2009 Columbia
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