ROME — The leader of Roman Catholicism, Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” delivered a homily on Wednesday in recognition of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a day surrounding the claim that Mary appeared to an Aztec Indian in the 1500’s and left her image imprinted on his cloak. The observance is said by Christians to be unbiblical and that such practices should be examined in the light of the Scriptures.
“She walked to Tepeyac to accompany Juan Diego and she continues walking the continent when, by means of an image or holy card, of a candle or a medal, of a rosary or a Hail Mary, she enters a house, a prison cell, a hospital room, an old age home, a school, a rehabilitation clinic, to say: ‘Am I not here, who am your mother?'” Bergoglio stated during evening mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“She more than anyone knows how to draw near. She is a woman who walks with the delicateness and tenderness of a mother; she feels at home in family life; she unties one knot after another of the many wrongs we manage to generate; and she teaches us to remain on our feet in the midst of the storm,” he said, according to a translation from the Catholic News Service.
As previously reported, Roman Catholic legend teaches that in 1531, Mary appeared to a peasant farmer named Juan Diego on Mexico’s Tepeyac Hill and requested that he petition the bishop for a church to be built that “your people may experience my compassion.”
“All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my mother’s heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace,” she is reported as stating.
As the bishop did not believe Diego’s story and asked for a sign, he returned to the spot where he saw Mary and was told to pick the flowers on top of the hill. The tale states that Diego found Castilian roses in bloom when he reached the destination, even though it was December. He gathered the flowers in his tilma, or cloak, and took them to the bishop.
Roman Catholic legend then states that when Diego opened his cloak to present the roses to the bishop, an image of Mary was imprinted upon it. Mary also purportedly appeared to Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino, who was sick, and his illness left him.
“Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe,” she instructed.
The cloak stated to belong to Diego is on display at The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, a location where Roman Catholics make pilgrimages every year. In 1945, Pope Pius XII declared the Lady of Guadalupe the “Patroness of all the Americas,” and a feast day was set on the liturgical calendar for Dec. 12.
“The night before, millions of Catholics across … Mexico, Latin America, the United States, and the globe, will pray to her and for her; they’ll sing to her; they’ll walk on their knees toward her at her Mexico City shrine; they will petition her for her intercession; they will thank her for the blessings that they attribute to her; or they simply will stand or sit in her presence basking in the warmth of their faith during the midnight vigils at churches and homes,” reports Ernesto Portillo, Jr. of the Arizona Daily Star.
On Wednesday, Bergoglio posted a tweet urging Catholics, “Let us beg the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to continue accompanying and protecting the peoples of the American continent. #VirgendeGuadalupe”
He also delivered a homily that evening, in which he stated that many life lessons about attitude and conduct can be learned from “Mary’s school.”
“In Mary, the Lord silenced the temptation to give protagonism the strength of intimidation and power, to those who scream the loudest or who assert themselves on the basis of lies or manipulation,” Bergoglio said. “With Mary, the Lord watches over believers so that their hearts do not harden and that they might constantly know the renewed and renewing power of solidarity, capable of hearing God’s pulse in the hearts of the men and women of our peoples.”
IS IT BIBLICAL?
“Many Catholic feast days and traditions stand opposed to the supreme authority of God’s Word and this one is no different,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network.
“God’s Word warns us not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). Testing the spirits is of utmost importance because apparitions either have a divine origin or a demonic origin. Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14),” he said.
Gendron stated that the story behind the feast day rather directs attention away from Christ to Mary, and such is the aim of the enemy of souls.
“One of his goals is to lead people away from a pure devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). He does this very effectively with ‘another Mary,’ who appears to deceive the world and steal the glory that only God deserves,” he outlined. “Since the Mary of the Bible exalted God her Savior, she would not direct Juan Diego to build a shrine for her. We also know that the end times lyings signs and wonders will be used by Satan to deceive the world (Matt. 24:24).”
When asked about the devotion that is given to Mary during the feast day, such as described in the Arizona Daily Star, Gendron said that it is unbiblical for men to seek intercession from Mary as there is only One who serves as mediator between God and men.
“When millions of Catholics across the globe pray to Mary, we see how effective Satan’s strategy has become. Throughout the Bible we do not see any God fearing man or woman praying to anyone other than God. We also know that May cannot intercede for anyone because they is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5),” he explained.
“I am grieved when I see so many Catholics zealous for their religious traditions and feast days,” Gendron continued. “As a former Catholic, I was never exhorted to test every spirit and to test every man’s teaching with the supreme authority of God’s Word. This is why so many Catholics are easily deceived. The nature of deception is that people do not know they are deceived unless they have an infallible source for truth. God has given us His inspired, authoritative Word to be just that.”
Gendron, who identified as a Roman Catholic for over 30 years, now leads a ministry to help point Roman Catholics to the Word of God and to teach others how to do so.
“It is my prayer that every born again Christian will realize the huge mission field the Roman Catholic Church represents,” he said. “Let us sow the imperishable seed of God’s Word in the hearts of every Catholic we know.”