Year of Mercy

Logo for Holy Year of MercyPope Francis has announced a Year of Mercy that began last Tuesday, December 8th . The Holy Father has asked that it be a church-wide celebration and reflection on God’s mercy, so that we can intentionally be sources of that Mercy in the world.

The logo of the celebration comes from Luke 6:36, “Be merciful as the Father is merciful,” that appears alongside an image that deserves some inspection and reflection. The logo is oddly shaped – rather looking like an almond. The almond shape, called a mandorla, was a feature of early and medieval iconography. When used with the image of Christ, it invites the viewer to reflect on the two natures of Christ, divine and human. The differing color bands of blue, increasingly darker as one moves inward is also a recurring theme in these icons. It reflects what is called the “apophatic way” on reflecting on God. In the apophatic way, it acknowledges that there is mystery at the center of the way – a mystery that is, in the end, impenetrable, but nonetheless calls us ever inward in reflection. At the center of the darkest color, where Jesus’ feet are positioned, is the great mystery of the Incarnation – that in the person of Jesus, humanity and divinity are joined: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Continue reading

Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading