Apparitions, Tattoos, and St. Juan Diego

If tattoos are a good barometer of Marian piety, then Our Lady of Guadalupe has got to be one of the most popular Marian feast days of them all.St Juan Diego Statue

Lots of people know that in 1531, Our Lady appeared to a peasant man named Juan Diego in Mexico City. And every year, millions of people visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see Mary’s image on Juan Diego’s famous tilma.

(Apparently many then head to the ink parlor.)

I actually visited the Basilica as a Protestant missionary to Mexico in the 90s, but obviously didn’t appreciate what I saw back then. I certainly didn’t head to the tattoo parlor. If I had, it probably would have been a Billy Graham tat, and not Our Lady.

While most of the attention of this great feast is rightly focused upon Mary, there’s another aspect to the story that isn’t often considered. Namely, Juan Diego.

What most people don’t realize is that Juan Diego was in his fifties, which made him an old man for that time in history. (Fifty was the new eighty, back then.)

But because of Mary, his evangelistic life was just beginning.

And look what he was able to accomplish. Look what God was able to accomplish through him. Look what his mother inspired him to do.

St. Juan Diego, not to mention Our Lady, is a great reminder that God can use us no matter where we are in life. All we have to be is willing. We have to ask for God’s grace to stop coming up with excuses or allowing distractions to take our focus off of what’s really important.

So ask yourself, are you willing? Are you willing to do whatever God wants? To conform yourself completely and totally to his perfect will like Our Lady? Are you willing to say “yes” (or “si” in Juan Diego’s case), and let God do wonders through you regardless of where you are in life?

Because if you are, he can use you to help change the world, too.

I pray you continue to have a Blessed Advent!


020: The Most Important Church Council You’ve Never Heard Of

catholic_FINAL_150Okay. I’m about to ask you a question. Be honest…Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the Fourth Lateran Council. Okay…How about Pope Innocent III?

For those of you with your hands still up, how many of you can give me any details on either?…Anyone? Bueller? (That never gets old.)

Believe it or not, not knowing is a giant hole in our education. Everyone should know something about both because they played a pivotal role in the history of the Church. Lateran Four is every bit as big as Nicea, Trent, and Vatican II. In fact, it continues to heavily influence how we live today.a_jones

(Full disclosure…I didn’t know “jack” about it until this interview. So don’t feel bad if you didn’t either.)

To plug the information hole in my head and yours, I’ve brought in Dr. Andrew Jones, an expert on the High Middle Ages (which doesn’t refer to people in their late 50s.) He knows all about the Church in the 11th to 13th centuries. Andrew has spent years researching this incredibly rich and fascinating time period and is going to share with us why it was so important.

Medieval Templar Castle of year 1178 in Ponferrada, SpainWhat I think you’re going to find is that much of what took place back then is incredibly applicable to our present circumstances. So go put on your suit of armor, grab an ale, and enjoy.


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018: The Bible & the Church Fathers (Part 2)

catholic_FINAL_150Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is both all God and all man at the same time – consubstantial with the Father? Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Most of you are nodding your internal head, saying “Yes, Matt, of course we do.”

These are issues most Christians take for granted. We believe them because they are fundamental to our faith. We believe them because they are what have been taught to us, handed down from generation to generation.

But why?

The quick answer is very simple: Because of Christ. He founded the Catholic Church and gave the Apostles authority. But then what? Acts 1:20 tells us: “His office let another take.” In other words, their authority was passed on.

And many to whom they passed the torch were the men who, through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, formulated many of the doctrines and beliefs we now take for granted. The belief system of Christianity didn’t drop down out of the sky in a catechism. The truth that existed in its fullness in Jesus Christ was unpacked over the centuries.Ikone_Athanasius_von_Alexandria

And many of the guys that did that unpacking were the Fathers of the Church.

In this episode of “The Art of Catholic”, we’re going to finish what we started in Episode 17. (This is part 2 of “Introduction to the Fathers”, which is the first lesson in the Journey Through Scripture Bible study titled “The Bible and the Church Fathers.”)

We’ll discuss the development of doctrine and start to get to know a few of these towering figures of the faith. What you’re going to start to realize is that these men are not just historical figures. We call them “Fathers” because that’s what they are. They “father” us in the faith, leading us to Our Father in heaven.



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  • The Fathers were huge on prayer. Much of what I put in my FREE pdf 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life, originates with them. Grab it and watch your prayer life take off!8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life Cover Image