I think about all of those things as I look at the details of the statue and reflect on the woman that it represents. She looks like me. Guadalupe exhibits ambiguous ethnic features so that we may all find some way to identify with her, just as she has chosen to identify with us. Often my eyes go to the cinta, the ribbon that she wears tied around her waist, which signifies that she is with child; pregnant with the Incarnate Word but—in simple terms for my simple faith—she carries the Child Jesus to us.
It is in that simple statue, just some finely painted wood, that I see her message clearly; Mary wants to draw me ever-closer to her Son, in whom all Life resides. As I say the prayer that is both simple and deep, I recognize that in the expectant Guadalupe we see our salvation history delivered before us:
Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God.
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
María Morera Johnson teaches composition and literature at a technical college in Georgia, and consults and writes about trends in post-secondary education. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Star Quest Production Network (sqpn.com) and co-hosts Catholic Weekend, a weekly current events podcast.