The astonishing ‘sad’ and ‘happy’ face of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — I’m a Catholic pro-life reporter who spends lots of his workday online. One day a few years ago I decided to set an image of the face of Our Lady of Guadalupe as my desktop background on my computer. She's the patroness of pre-born children. I wanted her to inspire me in the crafting of my pro-life reports.
Well, one day while moving windows around on my desktop that were covering part of her face, I suddenly noticed something that I’d never noticed before. When the right side of her face was covered, she appeared to be radiating a lovely smile. When the left side of her face was covered, she seemed to be full of sadness, as if she was suffering through a deep and unfathomable sorrow.
I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I moved the windows around a few times, just to make sure I wasn’t imagining this. I wasn’t. One side clearly showed a “happy” Mary. The other, a “sad” Mary.
Looking more closely, I noticed that on the sad side of her face (her right side looking at the image), it is discernible that her pupil on that side is larger, more dilated, as if she were suffering a great emotional distress or even about to cry. Her pupil on the other side, however, is contracted, making her eye look more sparkling, as if she were full of mirth and joy, maybe even about to laugh.
I looked up the account of Our Lady’s appearance to Juan Diego in Mexico almost 500 years ago (1531) to see if there was anything in her message that might explain the two sides of her face. I was fascinated by what I found.
Mary told Juan that she is a “merciful Mother” to those “who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me.”
Specifically, she said: “Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”
This message of a loving caring mother, I thought, must correspond to the “happy” side of her face.
And yes, there was part of her message that corresponded to the “sad” side of her face when she spoke about identifying with those who "weep" and have "sorrow." She tells Juan that she wants a chapel built so she can accompany them through their miseries.
"Here I will hear their weeping, their complaints, and heal all their sorrows, hardships and sufferings. And to bring about what my compassionate and merciful concern is trying to achieve, you must go to the residence of the Bishop of Mexico and tell him that I sent you here to show him how strongly I wish him to build me a temple here on the plain,” she said.
This message comes from a mother who knows how to comfort those in sorrow. She herself has plumbed the depths of sorrow since a “sword” pierced her own heart (Lk. 2:35) with the crucifixion and death of her innocent son Jesus. Her sword of sorrow reveals the “thoughts of many hearts” (Lk. 2:35) inasmuch as someone who comes through an experience of suffering for the better is able to identify with and accompany those who have suffered similarly. Since Mary’s sorrow turned to joy at the resurrection of her son, she can now help people go through their own suffering, reminding them that sorrow and suffering do not have the final word, but with the power of God, can lead to resurrection, joy, happiness.
Thus, there is something for everyone in the face of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One side reveals a loving and tender mother who smiles beneficently on her dear children, the other side a compassionate mother who is sad to see how much her children suffer. It's as if her face reveals her experience of the crucifixion and resurrection of her son Jesus, all in one beautiful expression.
Catholics celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe today because she helps us connect to Jesus. Mary told Juan that her visit and her request were for the sake of bringing people to her Son Jesus.
“I want very much to have a little house built here for me, in which I will show Him, I will exalt Him and make Him manifest,” she told him.
It has always been Mary’s job to point people in the direction of her Son. And she’s doing it here just like she did at the Wedding Feast in Cana when she pointed the servants toward Jesus, saying “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn. 2:5).
May this special heavenly lady inspire all men and women of good will on her feast day (which is today) to open our hearts to receive Jesus at Christmas. May she inspire Christians everywhere to pray together: Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus.