A Rose in Winter: An Invitation to Grace

 

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A big part of the story is the roses in winter – Juan Diego brought the roses to the bishop as the miraculous sign that it was Mary who appeared to him. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patronness of the Americas, her miraculous image on the tilma can still be seen today, and there is much rich symbolism in that image.

I don’t feel much of a connection with Our Lady of Guadalupe, but I do have a connection to Mary and roses in winter. As I was reading a reflection this morning on the roses, my mind was drawn to the winter I spent studying abroad. Before the semester in Austria began that January, a few of my friends and I travelled to France for a week. One of our stops was to Lourdes. As we were visiting the grotto, I noticed a single rose growing out of the side of the grotto. In January, I found it unusual, so I took a picture of it:

rose in winter 1

Excuse my terrible photography skills, but trust me, it was a rose.

I wrote in my journal on the third and last day we were in Lourdes:
“We prayed at the Grotto and that pink rose was still there on the hill. That spoke volumes to me. A single rose in the winter, alone in the midst of stunted growth and the death of winter. “

For me, it was a rose of hope. That no matter how dead our souls are, or the world seems to be, there is hope. Mary, our star and our guide, leads us to the grace found in her son, Jesus.

I wrote this about the miraculous water at Lourdes: “There are so many spigots of water I could hardly believe it! The millions of people who come by to drink, with no limit on how much, and there’s an abundance!

To me, that’s grace. There is no limit to God’s grace, love, and mercy that he pours out on us each day. “Living in God’s grace, there will be trials, but God’s grace is more than enough. Jesus came for the sick and needy, not for the strong and hearty. I came here to Lourdes for the deeper conversion of my heart, and I placed Mary in charge. Mary, the Grotto, and the spring only point me toward the Mass and the Sacraments. Drink at the fountain and discover where the richness of grace truly lies. It’s a simple call to conversion, a purifying call, a cleansing time here in winter.”

So, maybe I have a connection to Our Lady of Guadalupe after all, as her message to Juan Diego was announcing the love and mercy of God, hearing our weeping and sufferings and loving us as a merciful mother. And in her message at Lourdes that winter, I heard the same thing. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us to receive the grace and mercy of God, especially in this Year of Mercy!

 

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