Hello! So much has happened in the past 5 months here at the Saint John Institute, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on how things are going.
In a word - wonderful! We are wrapping up our first semester and it's a little bittersweet. On one hand, I'm so thankful to have a few of these business classes under my belt, and on the other hand, I can't believe how quickly my time at SJI is going by. I can't explain how great of a blessing it is to be surrounded by the people I'm surrounded by daily, and as much as I have hope for the life after SJI, I know I will miss spending just about every waking hour with these people.
And by every waking hour, I do mean, every. waking. hour.
Our normal schedule starts out with 6:15am silent prayer, and ends around 9pm after Theology or Philosophy class taught by one of the Brothers of St. John with about 3 hours of free time in between. Free time, which is often spent doing homework, squeezing in a workout, or in desperate times, napping. I think everyone here can vouch for me when I say that this schedule was nothing short of a struggle to adapt to, but I'm learning to love the rhythm, structure, and peace it brings.
Another thing I'm learning and loving more is my faith. I have always been into my faith, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I really began to dive into it. One thing that brings me great hope is learning about the Saints. Ordinary people with ordinary struggles who lived a very extraordinary Faith on Earth and are now spending eternity in total paradise. What an opportunity we have to learn from their example and emulate in our own lives!
"My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where 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. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard."
Juan Diego was a very simple man, and feared that the Bishop would not believe him saying to the Blessed Virgin Mary, "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf." Despite his feelings of unworthiness, his faith carried him to deliver the message to the Bishop. After the first visit, the Bishop asked for a sign to know that the message be true. So, Juan Diego went back and asked the Blessed Mother for a sign for the Bishop. She then sent him to the top of the hill where they first met where he found Castilian roses growing out of the frozen ground (a type of rose that did not grow in Mexico). He gathered them in his tilma with the roses and went immediately back to the Bishop. When he dropped the roses at the Bishop's feet, the Bishop was amazed, not because of the roses, but because of the image of the Blessed Mother that appeared on his tilma, which can still be seen today - almost 500 years later.
A church was built on the site where Our Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.
To be honest, I never used to find that particular image of Mary to be the most beautiful. It was only after actually learning about the story and learning about all of the ways that the image survived fires, floods, and even a bomb that exploded right under it, that I have been able to find a deep admiration for the image and love for St. Juan Diego in his faith and response to his call.
“Listen and let it penetrate your heart… do not be troubled or weighed
down with grief. 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 you need?”
(Our Lady’s words to Juan Diego)