Of course, I am not wondering about what language Mary spoke with Jesus as she and Joseph guided him through the many stages of “growing in wisdom, age, and grace.” (I am, however, reasonably certain she spoke some Aramaic dialect of the common people.)
The Privileged place of Guadalupe
Actually, I started this reflection by exploring the meaning of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition to a young indigenous man almost 500 years ago on a hill in Mexico. Revealing my ignorance, I wondered whether she spoke Spanish or the native dialect of that time. First some background.
The first apparition of modern times, the first which occasioned the foundation of a sanctuary of permanent influence, national and worldwide, was Guadalupe. Mexicans consider it the greatest place of pilgrimage in the world after Rome (seven million pilgrims annually).
However, the world-renowned Marian Center at the University of Dayton reports that the twentieth century alone has been rich in reported apparitions of the Blessed Mother on every continent on our globe. It records 386 but reminds us the Church has only deemed eight of them as having supernatural character.
The wider context
As I thought of it, I was struck by how many other such appearances there have been over the centuries. It is truly astounding!
The seers have been people from many walks of life: men, women, and children. The locations where Marian Apparitions have occurred are numerous: large cities, remote areas, caves, churches, fields, homes, monasteries, and other places.
But there is another wonder. These apparitions appear in almost every country in the world. In each, Mary speaks the language of the time and place. I am reminded of the passage in the Acts of the Apostle. “They each heard them in their own language.” The languages were different, but the message was clear.
More significantly, the mother of Jesus speaks the universal language of mothers or “mother tongue.”
In each apparition, she speaks the motherly language of comfort, advice, warning, or encouragement.
Mary speaks to our hearts
This Vincentian Mindwalk is not about numbers. It is about the universality of the appearances of the Mother of Jesus. And it is about her continued motherly concern for each of us no matter where we live or how we speak. Mary speaks to our hearts.
Over 50 years ago I read the words of Carl Jung, the influential Swiss thinker and pioneer in the field of psychiatry. He noted how archetypes speak to us in old stories that endure from age to age. Commenting on the proclamation by the Catholic Church in 1950 that Mary was assumed into heaven, he wrote…
“But anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in number over the last few decades… could have known for a long time that there was a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would, at last, take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the ‘Queen of heaven and Bride at the heavenly court.’ For more than a thousand years it has been taken for granted that the Mother of God dwelt there.” (1)
Even this secular psychiatrist acknowledged that Mary speaks the universal language of mothers, the “mother tongue.”
- Give thanks for our mothers who spoke in this language.
- Pray for all mothers today.
- Learn the language of Mary – comfort, advice, warning or encouragement.
- C.G. Jung. Answer to Job, trans. R.F.C. Hull.Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp 99 -100.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Vincentian Mindwalk