‘Am I Not Here?’ on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe?

December 11, 2020

By Sister María Elena Anto

The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe of the Americas in Mexico in 1531, at the start of the era of evangelization, changed the course of our history and has had a lasting impact on our hearts. She comes to our aid, remains at our side, accompanies us and guides us to our encounter with Christ. She appeared as one of the people, accepting us as we accept her. “La Morenita” is one of us.

Colorful artwork of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Virgin Mary has always had a very special relationship with the people throughout Our America. We have all experienced this advocacy of Mary in our pilgrimage as faithful followers of Jesus.

The Virgin Mary agreed to accompany a new group of people, helping them cleave to her son’s heart and to instill in their hearts a faith in Christ. Her approach and apparition before Juan Diego motivated him to accept the mission she asked of him; he felt in his heart that something great had been bestowed on his people.

This is the encounter that led our ancestors to accept the message of Jesus, from which a new culture emerged, one that continues to accept the message of faith that our “Virgen Morena” brought to these lands.

The Virgin said to Juan Diego: “Listen and understand, my littlest son, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart … Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow? Am I not your health? Are you not by chance held in my mantle?” Today, these words are even more relevant because of this life-threatening global pandemic we are facing.

The pandemic reminds us how fragile we are. This virus is capable of taking our lives, and it is showing us that, because of immense inequalities, healthcare does not reach everyone, increasing the risk of those in greatest need. We feel vulnerable and frightened. “Am I not here, I, who am your mother?” These words help us to have hope, faith and strength. God hears the cry of his people; he is present with the Virgin of Guadalupe, sustaining us and giving us his unconditional love in the person of Christ. And just as the Virgin stays with us and sustains us, we have to do the same for each other.

“I am the mother of the inhabitants of these lands and of all those who come to me,” she reminds us. She walks with us, but also reaches out to all those who need her most. She continues to ask us to do the same: to love each person—the immigrant, the disabled, the poor, the orphan, the widow, the unemployed, those who are different, with faces reflecting stories of pain, joys and hopes, those who we see during our daily routines. Our response to this situation, how we approach it, will depend on how we express ourselves as Christians, followers of Christ.

By her image appearing on Juan Diego’s poncho, she linked her life, her heart, her soul to our simple and humble people, demonstrating her presence among us, so that when we contemplate her, we hear her message: “Am I not here, I, who am your mother?”

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  1. Victoria Incrivaglia RSM

    Thank you Maria Elena, for sharing this story and reminding us of the comforting words “Am I not here?”

  2. Catherine Walsh

    What a beautiful, hopeful story!! Thank you so much!

  3. Renee Yann,RSM

    Dear Maria Elena,
    Your beautiful, loving reflection on Mary conveyed such a deep reverence and trust in her, and a sharing in her preferential tenderness for those who are humble and poor. Thank you so much.
    Con cariño,

  4. Patricia Pora, RSM

    ¡Gracias, Mary! Linda reflexión que comparto con otros hoy.

  5. Maureen Mulcrone, RSM

    Thank you, Maria Elena, for fleshing out for us the beauty of this feast. I feel tremendous gratitude that we share our Foundation Day with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    Advent blessings to all,

  6. Nancy donovan

    Thank you Mari. You have made Mary more present to me.

  7. Carolyn Reinhart

    A beautiful story and reminder. Thank you.

  8. Joan Sherry RSM

    “Listen and understand, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart.” Thanks Maria Elena, for reminding us of Mary’s words to Juan Diego. Good to think about today. Beautiful meditation for this our Foundation Day.

  9. Mary Daly RSM

    A beautiful and timely reflection, Maria Elena. Thank you.

  10. Janet Rozzano, RSM

    Thanks so much, Maria Elena. I have always loved the way Mary spoke to Juan Diego in such a loving, personal, and encouraging way.

  11. Mary Ann Clifford

    Gracias Mari, por esta reflexion tan profunda. Nos desafia a recordar aconfiar en las palabrasa y promesas de Maria y Jesus.

  12. Jimmy Zepeda

    “Poncho?” Tilma please.

  13. Margaret Downing

    A beautiful story, beautifully expressed for our day. Thank you, Maria Elena.
    Happy Foundation day.

  14. Karen Scheer, RSM

    Gracias Mari Anto por tu hermosa reflexión sobre Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Qué reconfortante saber que ella está presente para todos, especialmente para los más pequeños y marginados, trayendo esperanza y fuerza.

    Thank you Mari Anto for your beautiful reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe. How comforting to know that she is present for everyone, especially the smallest and most marginalized, bringing hope and strength.

  15. Mary Ann Clarahan RSM

    Maria Elena,

    Many thanks for this beautiful and profound reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe. I will remember your words now whenever we celebrate this feast each year. How wonderful to be joined with you on this feast!

  16. Deborah Watson

    Muchas gracias, Mary, por una reflexión tan profunda y sabia sale de tu propia fe.
    Un abrazo.



    I am honored to celebrate with her people yesterday and today.
    WE are singing and dancing before her image and loving her Son.
    I was so honored to visit you in Mexico City twice.