Wednesday, December 30, 2015


1) Examination of Conscience

An examination of conscience consists in making a review of the faults committed (i.e thoughts, words, deeds and omissions), principally the grave ones (mortal sins) since your last good confession. You can examine your life in the light of the Ten Commandments, the commandment of ‘love of neighbor’, the Precepts of the Church, the deadly sins and/or the duties of one’s state in life (i.e. family, occupation, etc.). A practical piece of advice is to examine one’s faults mainly in the light of the Ten Commandments. You can find examinations of conscience (click here) in missals, devotional books, manuals, etc. that are very useful in making a good confession.

2) Sorrow for sins committed (also known as ‘heart-felt sorrow’)

Upon finishing the examination of conscience, you should ask Our Lord to grant you the grace of experiencing a profound contrition of all the sins committed, especially for those mortal sins that have offended Him. Immediately after that you should make an act of sincere repentance. In order to do so, it is advisable to recite the “Act of Contrition” along with the following prayer/poem:

To Christ Crucified

My God, it does not move me to befriend Thee
that Thou hast promised heavenly salvation,
and terror of eternal condemnation
is not what moves my ceasing to offend Thee.
To see Thee moves me, Lord, as nails suspend Thee
upon the Cross, in great humiliation;
Thy wounded body shows Thy tribulation
as we to cruel disgrace and death do send Thee!
Thy love so moves me naught to prize above Thee
that were there not a Hell I yet would fear Thee
and were there not a Heaven I would love Thee.
Thou needst not give me more to have me love Thee,
for, had I not such hope of being near Thee,
I yet would love Thee just as now I love Thee.

Types of sorrow (repentance)

a) “Perfect contrition” consists of feeling a deep sorrow for sins committed, motivated by the love of God, and the realization that these sins offend Him. The sinner regrets having offended God and firmly resolves to sin no more. The grief that arises due to love to God, together with a firm determination to go to confession at the earliest opportunity, gives the sinner justification (i.e. where the sinner is free from the penalty of sin) and grants him sanctifying grace; however, he is obligated to confess his mortal sins to a priest as soon as possible (Luke, 7:47). Nevertheless, if death should overtake him, even before the sacramental confession takes place, he is saved. It is therefore advisable to recite an act of perfect contrition every day, just before going to bed. In addition, when a person’s sins are mortal, an act of perfect contrition never sanctions a person to receive Holy Communion without first going to confession (there is no obligation to confess venial sins in order to be able to receive Communion).

b) “Imperfect contrition” or ‘attrition’ is the sorrow that one feels due to fear of divine punishments (eternal or temporary) fairly deserved for our sins. This kind of sorrow is sufficient for remission of sin through Confession but not for obtaining divine grace without it. This means that, by itself, attrition does not wipe away sins but rather only after first confessing to a priest.

3) Firm Purpose of Amendment (not to sin again)

A purpose of amendment is a firm resolution of the sinner to not offend God anymore. This intent needs to be made before going to Confession. Jesus said to the sinner: “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11) and the sinner must make this purpose of amendment (i.e. ‘I don’t want to sin ever again’). If there is not a real purpose of amendment, the confession is deemed invalid.

Moreover, this purpose must be coupled with repentance (or heart-felt sorrow). It also has to be firm, effective and universal (specifically embracing all mortal sins). It must rise from true repentance and it can be achieved by awareness of all types of evil caused by sin.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the sinner will never sin again, but it does signify that he is determined to do everything possible to avoid sinning. It’s not a matter of certainty but of determination not to fall again, with God’s grace. It’s about being sure of not wanting to sin from that moment on. This is similar to what happens when leaving the house: you don’t know if you’re going to trip over something, but you’re certain you don’t want to.

This purpose must not be only negative: not to do this, not to say that… We should also make positive purposes: pray more attentively, be nicer to everybody, to speak well of others, not to speak when angry, to be thankful, to watch only good TV shows, to speak to the person I don’t like, etc.

4) Confession (to list all committed sins to a priest)

Confession compels us to tell to the priest ALL mortal sins committed since our last good confession. Additionally, one must say the number of times a specific kind of mortal sin was committed and any aggravating factors (i.e. the circumstances that increase the gravity of a mortal sin); for example, stealing from a poor man is worse than stealing from a rich one. It is convenient to say venial sins, too, though the latter is not compulsory.

5) Satisfaction (To do penance)

The satisfaction is the penance imposed by the priest to the penitent in order to redress, make amends and give satisfaction for the debt contracted by offending God. There must be willingness to accept and fulfill the penance (however, if it can’t be done due to forgetfulness without fault of negligence, etc., the sacrament is still valid).

There are some sins where restitution is required, too. Thus, we must restore stolen money. Or if we have libeled someone, we need to tell the truth about that person in order to restore their honor. Restitution obliges as far as it’s really possible, so if someone has stolen but does not have the means to return what was stolen, this obligation remains in abeyance until he has the means, since nobody is expected to do the impossible. It is licit to make restitution without exposing ourselves as thieves or slanderers, provided we don’t lie or let someone else (an innocent person) take the blame for our sin. In many cases, it is a matter of exercising discretion and intelligence. If there is not a real intention of restoring what was stolen (to the extent of our ability), confession will be futile, due to it being an essential requirement for it to be valid.


Lastly, it is important to bear in mind that it is God Himself who forgives our sins when we make a good confession. Christ left us this sacrament, which is a tangible sign of a real judgment. The priest, by the power received from Christ, becomes a judge. In that judgment, sins are withheld or forgiven. As an instrument of God, this judge is obliged (under pain of mortal sin and excommunication), to maintain an absolute silence about everything related to the confession. “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” (John 20:21-23). Only heretical arrogance tries to bypass the tribunal established by God Himself for the forgiveness of sins, with those declaring the absurd and worthless claim of “confessing directly and only to God”. Unfortunately, many have been victims of this deceit. Let us pray much for those souls of good faith who have been drawn into such error so they can realize the deception.

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Click here: Examination of Conscience

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Listen to Jesus and talk to Him

It is not necessary, my child, to know much in order to please Me; all that is needed is that you love Me with great fervor. Speak with Me, like you would with your most intimate friends, like you would with your mother or brothers. 

Do you need to ask a favor on someone’s behalf? Tell Me his name. Could it be your parents, your brothers, or your friends? Tell Me what you would want Me to do at the present time for them. Ask for much, very much; do not hesitate to ask; I like generous hearts that forget themselves in order to alleviate the needs of others. Speak to Me then, with simplicity, of all the poor whom you would like to console; of the sick whom you see suffer; of those who have gone astray whom you wish to see on the right path again; of your friends who are far away and whom you would like to see at your side again. Talk to Me, but like a friend, trusting with all your heart. 

Remind Me that I have promised to hear every request that comes from the heart; and should not the plea and requesting favor for those whom your heart most especially loves come from your own heart?

And for you, do you need any graces? Make Me a list, if you wish, of all your needs and come read it in my presence. Tell Me frankly that you are proud, love sensuality and luxuries. Perhaps you are selfish, inconstant, and negligent. . . Then ask Me to come in help of the efforts, few or many, that you make to get rid of such miseries. Do not be embarrassed. Oh! My poor soul! There are many saints and pious souls who hold the highest rank in Heaven and that had the same faults! But they prayed with humility and, little by little, they were freed of their faults. Do not hesitate to ask for spiritual and corporal goods; good health, success in your works, business or studies. I can give you all that, and I will give you everything that is good for you, providing it will not hinder but help your sanctification. What can I do for you today? What do you need? If you only knew how much I desire to grant you these favors! Do you have a project on hand right now? Tell Me every detail. What worries you? What are you thinking of? What do you desire? What do you want Me to do for your brothers or sisters, your friends or superiors? What do you wish for them?

And for Me? Do you not feel a desire for my glory? Do you not wish you could do something good for your neighbors, your friends, those whom you love very much that have perhaps forgotten Me? Tell Me, what particular thing holds your attention today? What do you long for and with what means do you wish to attain it? Tell Me what went wrong with your projects, and I will tell you the cause of your failure. Do you not want to trust Me with something in your favor? My child, I am the owner of all hearts and I gently take them where it pleases Me without prejudice of their liberty. 

Are you feeling sad or in bad humor? Confide, confide in Me disconsolate soul, with all your unhappiness and with all its details. Who hurt you? Who hurt your pride? Who has despised you? Come to My heart, which has effective balm to cure all those wounds of yours. Tell Me everything. In the end, you will find, that because of Me, you can forgive and forget everything, and in return, I will bless and console you. Do you dread something painful? Is there in your soul a vague fear, which seems unreasonable, and yet torments you? Cast yourself in the arms of My loving providence. I am with you; here, you have Me by your side. I see and hear everything. Not for one moment will I abandon you.

Do you feel ignored by persons whom you loved, and have now forgotten you and gone from your side without the least motive? Pray for them and I will return them to your side, only if they are not an obstacle to your sanctification. Do you not perhaps have some good news you wish to share with Me? Tell Me, what consoled you or brought joy to your heart since the last visit we had yesterday? Perhaps you had a nice surprise; maybe an old grudge has disappeared or perhaps you received happy news, a letter, or a sign of love. Have you overcome a difficulty or a sudden predicament? It has all been My work and I have made it possible. Manifest your gratitude for everything and simply tell Me like a child would tell its father “Thank you, my Father, thank you.” Gratitude brings blessings because He who gives likes to be reciprocated. 

Do you have a promise to offer Me? You know, I can read what is deep in your heart. Man can be fooled very easily, but not God. Speak to me with all sincerity. Have you firmly resolved not to expose yourself to that occasion that causes you to sin, and deprive yourself of that object which has harmed you? To not continue reading that book which has excited your imagination? Or to discontinue the relationship with that person who has robbed your soul of peace? Will you be kind, amiable and considerate again towards the people whom you have seen as your enemies because they failed you? Now then, My child, return to your habitual occupation, to your workshops, to your family, to your studies, but do not forget the fifteen minutes of pleasing conversation the two of us have had here in the solitude of the sanctuary. Observe silence, modesty, concentration of thought, resignation, and charity towards your neighbor. Love and honor My Mother, who is also your Mother. Return tomorrow with a more loving and surrendering heart. Each day you will find in My heart new love, new blessings and new consolations.

(It is recommended to read this, preferably, before the tabernacle or when in need of talking with Jesus about our worries and hardships. The aforementioned text is known as “Fifteen Minutes with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament”.)

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Monday, December 21, 2015


“The measure of love is to love without measure.” St. Augustine.

“God does not command the impossible, but in commanding he admonishes you to do what you can and to pray for what you cannot, and he gives his aid to enable you.”  St. Augustine.

If you do not wish to suffer, do not love… But if you do not love why do you want to live?” St. Augustine.

“Holiness does not consist in saying beautiful things, it consists in having such willingness of heart that makes us humble and little in the arms of God, conscious of our nothingness and trusting in the goodness of our Heavenly Father.” St. Therese of Lisieux. 

“Do not intone praises to the Lord only with your voice but with your good works, too. If you sing only with your voice, you will have to stop eventually; sing with your life so you can sing forever. St. Augustine.

“For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards Heaven; it is a cry of recognition and love; embracing both trial and joy.” St. Therese of Lisieux.

“Remember that perfection consists of conforming our lives and actions totally to the sacred virtues of the Heart of Jesus, especially His patience, His meekness, His humility and His charity. As a result, our interior and exterior life becomes a living image of Him.” St. Mary Margaret Alacoque.

“A faithful Christian enlightened by the rays of God’s grace, must enlighten others with his words, actions and the light of good example.” St. Anthony of Padua.

“It is love what gives value to our actions; it is not with greatness or multiplicity how we please God, but with the amount of love with what we carried them out.” St. Francis of Sales.

“Know that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

“Know my daughter that my treasures are surrounded by thorns, you just have to determine yourself to endure the first stings and then everything will be transformed into sweetness.” Revelations of St. Brigid. 

“Be careful in preaching the truth in such a way that, if among the crowd there is a heretic, thy preaching to them be an example of charity and Christian moderation. Do not use harsh words, nor show contempt for their errors.” St. Ignatius Loyola.

“When we do not have love of God within ourselves, we are very poor. We become like a tree without flowers and fruits.” St. John Vianney.

“Let us always try to look at the virtues and good things we see in others, and mantle their defects with our great sins… to think of others as better than ourselves.” St. Teresa of Avila.

“As long as something temporal is the object of love, the fruit of charity is lost.” St. Clare of Assisi.

“Embrace the love of God, and by love embrace God.” Saint Augustine.

“Suffering does not exist when there is love, but even if it did, that same suffering is loved.” St. Augustine.

“He who attends the Holy Mass devotedly and perseveringly, shall not die in mortal sin.” St. Augustine.

“Let us give ourselves to Him! What are fifty or even one hundred years in comparison to an eternity? Sacrifice while we are in this exile, endless glory in Heaven. What is sacrifice and what is the cross but Heaven when Jesus Christ is in them?” Teresa of the Andes.

“Let us always try to live in the friendship of God.” John Bosco.

“The Eucharist and the Virgin Mary are the two columns that must sustain our lives.” St. John Bosco.


“When we hear people talk of riches, honors and amusements of the world, let us remember that all things have an end, and let us then say: 'My God, I wish for You alone and nothing more.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

“When you do a good action, have the intention of first pleasing God, and then of giving good example to your neighbor.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

“The Blessed Virgin Mary obtains salvation for all who have recourse to her. Oh! If all sinners had recourse to her, who would ever be lost?... He who is protected by her will be saved; he who is not will be lost.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

 “Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs.” St. Francis of Sales.

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” St. Francis of Sales.

“Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!” Padre Pio.

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God. If you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” Pope Saint Pius X. 

“Vocal prayer must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don't call prayer, however much the lips may move.” St. Teresa of Avila.

“Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then.” St. Teresa of Avila. 

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Friday, December 18, 2015


You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


By Oscar Méndez Casanueva 

“Rebuilding the life” of divorcing marriages. That is the irrepressible motto and new secular “dogma” that is currently on everyone’s lips, and whoever dares to contradict it becomes the subject of all kinds of sanctions, attacks and condemnatory adjectives. To speak against divorce is to go against progress, modernism and human rights, or so they say.

However, anyone who guided by their own judgment manages to disengage from the materialistic views of a mass society, which ironically deems itself free, will begin to raise these fundamental questions: “Are divorced people really rebuilding their lives?” “What did they do to undo it in the first place?” Later on, he will reflect on the following: “one can only rebuild what has been previously undone”. And they will question if they are really undoing things even more instead of rebuilding them, not only their own lives but others’ too. Yet today very few people raise these questions; and therefore how many get into a dangerous and naive adventure, entering a path of no return!

Certainly, there are thousands of efficient ways to destroy a life. Sometimes these sprout in our minds and judgment when we are children; they develop and take shape during youth, hatching finally in the adult stage. They are composed of multiple factors, such as lack of strong and genuine principles as well as a poor lay vision of existence.


While it is true that the destruction starts with these types of notions that, as we have said, are absorbed during childhood or in early life, this evil formally materializes for the first time during courtship, for these same notions are the ones that will guide the choice of the future spouse.

Without a well-established and hierarchized scale of values, both in the bride and groom, to analyze if there is true compatibility, and without a real assessment of the significant features of both sides, the new possible marriage is definitely off to a bad start. Thus, focusing on physical appearance, ‘chemistry’, as attraction is called today, and ‘being cool’ become main factors for them to embark upon a unfamiliar and dangerous path.

However, there is always something within themselves that alerts them about their building on unsure foundations, and so they enter marriage considering divorce as a resource in case things go wrong, therefore, they walk to the altar full of hopes and illusions but paradoxically thinking of failure and accepting it in advance.


Once married life begins there will be adaptations, adjustments and even confrontations resulting from the different natures, principles, opinions, preferences, and above all, different moral and religious values. In addition, the particular mindsets arising from different upbringings and social class of each one will also emerge, together with the specific strengths or weaknesses of the two sides.

There are two possible outcomes of this process; victory or defeat. It will depend on the background, principles and supernatural outlook on both sides. Sometimes it will be necessary to exercise extreme prudence and an almost heroic practice of virtues, which will result in benefits for the entire family, both parents and children

We can be sure that, as long as there is good will, God will grant his graces to them. Deep and supernatural love will overcome all difficulties and will have as a reward uncountable joys and benefits. It will not be defeated by false self-love, pure selfishness or by hedonistic materialism; this kind of love is only based in convenience and sexuality. The foundation of genuine love will be a real affection between them, together with a sense of eternity and always placing love of God and obedience to Him above all, hence resulting inevitably in the greatest good, for the spouse as well as for the children. True love knows that everything else will be given as well.

On the other hand, there are numerous elements that contribute to destruction of marriage today. All the different media, with its controlling influence for creating mindsets, does not cease to promote infidelity, pornography, “free love”, abortion and small families as role models. On top of that, there is also violence, generation gaps, drug addiction, lack of family communication, secular schools, etc. among other relevant factors that also have a negative influence on the essential cell of society.


There are numerous factors that when combined lead without doubt to a failed marriage, somehow or other: when there is not an adequate preparation to marriage along with a responsible choice of partner, when there is no self-sacrifice for the sake of the other person or for the couple, when there is no willingness to do all the positive things in favor of the spouse and children, when self-love, selfishness and pride prevail, when divorce is a possibility, no matter how small, or when God does not dwell in the household are just a few of them.

Of course, blame will always be attributed to the other side, without acknowledging or, in many cases, without even realizing about one’s own faults. And what can the party that deems itself so good an innocent, that on occasions even come to accept (or cannot fail to acknowledge) some blame, do? In their view, they have the right to: “rebuild their life”, given that they consider themselves as victims. And, indeed, they are victims but only of themselves, and at the same time they are also tormentors, in the proportional part that corresponds to them, of their family, spouse and children with all the resulting consequences that this entails, and without detriment of the responsibility of the other side. (1).


Sadly, they are convinced that through divorce they are breaking the bond that they freely accepted, which was sanctified by God and established upon death of one of the spouses. While it is true that the State has the authority to regulate the civil effects of the institution of marriage, they have to comply with the order stated by their Creator. Therefore, it is invalid to legislate over something that was divinely instituted. The government lacks the power to dissolve a real and legitimate marriage, therefore what God has joined together cannot be separated by man, even when he issues thousands of certificates with official stamps in them, or establishes all the laws he wishes to. Ultimately, these laws and certificates will only be pieces of paper without any real value. Just a meaningless and worthless piece of paper!

And with these aforementioned papers they intend to legalize the subsequent concubinage and bring to fruition the destruction they had started progressively, maybe even before choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend, but at the exact moment when they accepted divorce as a right and solution.

It is the great temptation and the biggest of mistakes. “Rebuilding” gave us the option to destroy, and prevented us from making EVERY effort to make things right. The word “Redoing” leads us to believe that if things go wrong once again, there is a chance to redoing them over and over again. Or is it possible to set a limit to this?

This kind of thought also affects whoever marries with a divorced person, given that by accepting the effect (the new and false marriage) there is also acceptance of the cause (divorce). Now there are two people infected with the same virus. The impact multiplies in them, and it is very likely that it will also affect their existing and future offspring, who will end up considering normal what is an irregular situation and thinking of divorce as a possible option “in case of necessity” for their future lives. However, they will be the first victims. Any school principal or social worker knows, without having to be psychologists, that wherever there is a problematic child or a young delinquent, there is a broken marriage.


Furthermore, this “rebuilding” hinders a genuine reconstruction, since the divorced ones create new family structures that tie and root them. Hence, the legal spouses, the ones that did not “rebuild” their lives, are prevented from trying to reconstruct their marriage, for they will encounter illegal structures or legalized concubinages, which will thwart any possible attempt of rebuilding their legitimate family.

Such structures, by their own nature, tie the partner to their new way of life, which, in addition, alienate them from divine friendship and jeopardize the end for which every man was created, namely to possess God eternally.

Whoever violates the laws provided by Him by living in a state of permanent sin, may deceive everybody, even themselves, but cannot deceive God. Furthermore, they put themselves and their partners at great risk of dying in mortal sin. In such a case, EVERYTHING will be lost for nothing.

Is there anything as folly as this? How much time does life last compared to an ETERNITY of acceptance or rejection from the Creator? Is it worth the risk? If love of God is not enough to act as a deterrent may His fair and final judgment be it.

After analyzing and considering all the previously exposed reasons, we ask again the initial question: Did these failed marriages really rebuild their lives and that of their families… or destroyed them?
    1)  NOTE: It is not our intention to analyze in this article those cases where blame is completely and overwhelmingly attributable to only one spouse, as these are certainly the less common cases, although the more used by those in favor of divorce. Certainly, the Church accepts separation in extreme situations, but not false dissolution of a bond to be able to get married again.
It should be emphasized, to avoid confusion, that the fact of declaring null and void a marriage that never existed in the first place by any impediment, is completely different than divorce.

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD  Translated from Spanish by: Fabiola Lozano.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been the subject of numerous technical studies since 1751 and extensive scientific investigations in recent years, and none of the result offered any sound scientific explanation which, up to this very day, defies science and all human reasoning as it continuous to baffle scientists and even skeptics.

Below are only some of the findings that were drawn from the scientific investigations conducted on the image and the fabric itself which were commissioned by the authorized custodians of the Tilma in the Basilica, and in every case the investigators had direct and unobstructed access to it:

The Fabric

The "Tilma" (a kind of cloak worn by native Mexicans) of Juan Diego that bears the miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a coarse fabric made from the threads of the maguey cactus fiber which usually lasts no more than 20 to 30 years, and yet the fabric has maintained its structural integrity - without cracking or fading, or any sign of deterioration for nearly 500 years. It consists of two pieces of coarse cloth fibers of about 1.70 by 1.05 meters (69.99 by 41.3 inches) held together in the center by a seam of thread made of the same material and is typical of the cloaks used by the Nahuas in the 15th and 16th centuries called "Ayates." The seam is visible up the middle of the figure, turning aside from the face.

For centuries the Tilma was exposed to the rigors of all natural elements without any kind of protection against infrared and ultraviolet radiations from the tens of thousands of candles near it and the humid condition, dusty and salty air around the Basilica. Despite the constant contact of hands and kisses of thousands of pilgrims who venerated the Image and the continuous manual handling of the Tilma including the many different objects that touched it during the countless times it was subjected to scientific examinations, the Tilma remained in a state of perfect condition. No explanation was also offered by scientists as to why the Tilma is repellent to insects and dust.

In 1789, Dr. José Ignácio Bartolache had two copies of the image painted on an identical piece of maguey cloth using the best techniques of that time and placed them in the same salty and humid environment around the Basilica. After several decades, the two replicas disintegrated. An attempt to "embellish" the Tilma was made which also proved futile: a crown was painted on Our Lady’s head and angels in the clouds. However, unlike the Tilma, these additions have faded away and are no longer visible. The rays of the sun, for example, were coated with gold and the moon plated with silver, but these embellishments also worn away. In fact, the silver-plated moon turned black.

In August 7, 2009, researcher and physicist Dr. Aldofo Orozco told participants at the International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe in Glendale, Arizona that there is no scientific explanation for the 478 years of high quality-preservation of the Tilma, or for the miracles of its preservation.

One of the most bizarre characteristics of the cloth is that the back side is rough and coarse, but the front side is as soft as the most pure silk, as was noted by painters and scientists in 1666, and confirmed one century later in 1751 by Mexican painter, Miguel Cabrera. But to the eye, it suggested a coarse weave of palm threads called "pita" or the rough fiber called "cotense", or a hemp and linen mixture: an ixtle - an agave fiber. An analysis of the fibers in 1946 concluded that the fibers came from the Agave plant, however, researchers could not figure out which of the 175 Agave species the Tilma was made from.

The Image of Our Lady

There is no explanation offered by NASA scientists on how the image was imprinted on the Tilma. There are no brush strokes, or sketch marks on it. The image also seems to increase in size and change colors owing to an unknown property of the surface and substance of which it is made. The colors actually float above the surface of the Tilma at a distance of 3/10th of a millimeter (1/100th of an inch), without touching it. When examined less than 10 inches of the image, one can only see the maguey cloth; the colors totally disappear.

In 1936, biochemist Richard Kuhn, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, analyzed a sample of the fabric and ascertained that the pigments used were from no known source; whether natural, animal, mineral, or vegetable.

On May 7, 1979, Americans Dr. Philip Serna Callahan, a biophysicist at the University of Florida and an expert in infrared photography, and Jody B. Smith, a professor of aesthetics and philosophy at the College Pensacola, who are both specializing in painting and members of NASA, photographed the image under infrared light and scanned at very high resolutions. After filtering and processing the digitized images to eliminate "noise" and enhance them, they discovered that portions of the face, hands, robe, and mantle had been painted in one step, with no sketches, or corrections, and no visible brush strokes or sizing used to render the surface smooth, no protective varnish covering the image to protect its surface. The Image changes in color slightly according to the angle of viewing, a phenomenon known as "Iridescence", a technique that cannot be reproduced with human hands. Scientists were unable to find any trace of paint residue or dye of any sort on the Image and yet the the colors maintain their luminosity and brilliance. What produced the colors on Juan Diego's cloak or how they were applied remains a total mystery of science. The quality of the pigments used for the pink dress, the blue veil, the face and the hands, or the permanence of the colors, or the vividness of the colors after several centuries, during which they ordinarily should have deteriorated, defy all scientific reasoning. The Image still retains its original colors, despite being unprotected by any covering during the first 100 years of exposure.

The bluish-green color of Our Lady's mantle is unique. It seems to be made of an unearthly shade that as yet no artist has been able exactly to duplicate. Moreover, scientists argued that a painter would be incredibly foolish to choose an Indian's tilma to work on and even more to paint right over the center seam of the cloak. And had the Virgin not turned ever so slightly to the right, the stitch would have divided her face. Just as astonishing is the fact that only the seam still holds the Tilma together. The law of gravity does not allow a single flimsy cotton thread to bind two heavier materials of cloth for more than ten years, much less four hundred and fifty. In addition, the coarse weave of the Tilma was utilized in such a precise manner as to give depth to the face of the Image.

According to the specialists of Kodak Corporation in Mexico, the Image is smooth and bears more resemblance to a color photograph than anything else. The Image has consistently defied exact reproduction, whether by brush or camera.

All who have scientifically examined the image of Our Lady over the centuries confess that its properties are absolutely unique and so inexplicable in human terms that the image can only be supernatural.

Our Lady's height in the Image measures four feet eight inches tall, from head to toe, and is represented as a young woman of 18 to 20 year old. The face is that of a "mestiza" - a mixture of Spanish and Indians race brought about by intermarriage.

Carlos Fernandez del Castillo, a gynecologist, examined the image and has determined that the gynecological measurements of Our Lady's physical dimensions indicated a woman who is pregnant  entirely consistent with the stage of pregnancy on December 9th for Jesus birth to occur on Christmas day. 

On December 22, 1981, at the Observatory Laplace Mexico City, Father Mario Rojas and Dr. Juan Hernández Illescas, a medical doctor and amateur astronomer, performed an astronomical study of the Image and analyzed the stellar arrangement that appear in the Mantle of Our Lady. They surprisingly discovered that the stars stunningly and accurately map out the various constellations of the Mexican sky. Even more remarkable is the "star map" on the mantle is in the reverse (the cardinal axis rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise): providing a view of the constellations from beyond them, as would be seen looking through them towards the earth. The constellations are consistent with what astronomers believe was in the sky above Mexico City on the day the apparition occurred  - in the winter-morning solstice of December 12, 1531, Saturday, at 10:26AM.

Our Lady's cloak has 46 stars: 22 on her right side, and 24 on her left side. These 46 stars are the most brilliant stars that surround the horizon of the Mexican Valley which have been identified. The main constellations of the Northern sky can be seen on the right of the mantle. On the left, the Southern ones which can be seen from the Tepeyac in winter at dawn. The East is situated in the upper part and the West in the lower part. The Mantle is opened and there are other groups of stars which are not marked in the Image, but they are present in the sky. The Boreal Crown is located above the Virgin's head; Virgo is on her chest, in the region of her hands. Leo on Her womb, precisely above the sign of Nahui Ollin, with his main star Regulo, the small king. Gemini, the twins, is found in the region of the knees and Orion is located where the Angel is.

It has also been found that by imposing a topographical map of central Mexico on the Our Lady's dress, the mountains, rivers, and principal lakes coincide with the decoration on the dress.

Our Lady's Eyes

Scientists from the NASA Research Centre have conducted extensive tests on the fabric and image and have discovered no scientific explanation, since the picture is neither painted, dyed, or woven. Digital enlargements of the Image were made and it was discovered that the reflection of Bishop Juan de  Zumárraga looking in astonishment could clearly be seen in the pupil of Our Lady's eyes. Further study of the photographic enlargements and rigorous investigations of Our Lady's eyes (only about 1/3rd inch in size), have revealed not only the minuscule human image of a bearded man clearly identifiable in the eyes that no artist could have painted, but all the optical imaging qualities of a normal human eye, such as light reflection, image positioning, and distortion on the cornea which are impossible to obtain on a flat surface. When the eye of Our Lady is exposed to light, the retina contracts, and when the light is withdrawn, it returns to a dilated state, just as happens with a living eye.Our Lady's eyes have been ophthalmologically determined to be alive on the Tilma!

In 1929, Alfonso Marcué González, the Basilica's official photographer, took black and white photographs of the Image and after careful examination of the photographic negative, found a clear image of a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin. He immediately informed the authorities of the Basilica who sworn him to complete silence about the discovery, which he complied.

More than 20 years later, on May 29, 1951, Jose Carlos Salinas Chavez, while examining a good photograph of the face, rediscovers the same image of a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin, in the same place which it could be projected in an alive eye. Since then, many people had the opportunity to examine closely the eyes of the Virgin on the Tilma, including more than 20 physicians, ophthalmologists.

The first one was on March 27, 1956, when Dr. Javier Torroella Bueno, MDS, a prestigious ophthalmologist, discovered the presence of the triple reflection (Samson-Purkinje effect) in the eyes of the Virgin - a characteristic of all live human eyes wherein the images are located exactly where they are supposed to be according to such effect, and also that the distortion of the images agree with the curvature of the cornea. In July of the same year, another noted ophthalmologist, Dr. Rafael Torrija Lavoignet, similarly examined the eyes of the Image with an ophthalmoscope in great detail and discovered that the eyes have the three refractive characteristics of a human eye. He also found human figure in the corneas of both eyes, with the location and distortion of a normal human eye and specially noted a unique appearance of the eyes: they look strangely "alive" when examined. By 1976, some twenty doctors had confirmed, orally and in writing, the "unexplainable presence" of a man with a beard in the cornea and lenses of the Virgin's eyes.

An enlarged digital photograph of the image
       in the eye of our Lady on the Tilma

In 1979, Dr. José Aste Tonsmann, PhD, a Peruvian ophthalmologist and an expert at IBM in the digital processing of images, and who for over 20 years studied the Tilma, digitally enlarged the Image of Our Lady's eyes by 2,500 times the actual size under extremely high resolution and had found not only a single figure, but images of all the witnesses present when the Tilma was first revealed before de Zumárraga in 1531, plus a small family group of mother, father, and a group of children, in the center of  Our Lady's eyes, 13 persons in all. The size of that scene is about 1/100th of an inch. The Iris of the eye magnified, and through mathematical and optical procedures, Dr. Tonsmann was able to identify highly detailed images of at least 13 people imprinted in the eyes who are all present in both eyes: "the Indian", "bishop  Zumárraga", the "translator", "Juan Diego showing the tilma" and below said images, "the family", but different in proportions, as would happen when human eyes reflect the objects before them. There are two scenes: the first contains the Bishop Zumárraga gawking at Juan Diego opening his Tilma and discover the image of Mary; the second scene, much smaller than the previous one, is located in the center of the eye and contains a typical family picture of Native Americans: a couple with several children around. The two scenes are repeated in both eyes with amazing accuracy, including the size difference caused by the greater proximity of an eye to the other, against the objects portrayed.

Dr. Tonsmann used digital technology similar to that used in the images received from satellites and space probes in transmitting visual information. The image of Bishop Zumárraga in the eyes of Our Lady was also digitally enlarged 1,000 times than the actual size to be able to see what is reflected in his eyes. The eye of the Bishop contains the image of Juan Diego opening his Tilma before the bishop. The size of this image? A quarter of a micron, which is ¼ of a millionth of a millimeter!

In summary, the Our Lady's eyes bear a kind of instant picture of what actually occurred at the moment the image was unveiled in front of the bishop and other witnesses on December 9, 1531.

The figures are not visible to the human eye, except for one: that of the Spaniard, which is the largest. Nobody could have painted such tiny silhouettes. In the center of the pupils on a much smaller scale you can see another "scene", totally independent of the first. This is an Indian family composed by a woman, a man and some children. In the right eye, there are other people standing behind the woman. Below are the descriptions of each of the 13 figures as found in the eyes of Our Lady:

Figure (1) An full-length Indian seated on the ground with head lightly lifted as if looking up, sign of attention and reverence. He has a kind of hoop in his ear and sandals in his feet.

Figure (2) A white bearded elderly man with a bald patch, prominent straight nose, deep-set eyes that are looking down, believed to be Bishop Zumárraga as he appears at Miguel Cabrera's 18th century painting.

Figure (3) A young man whose features show amazement, seemingly speaking to Bishop Zumárraga. Since the bishop did not speak Nahuatl, it is believed that this young man was an interpreter named Juan Gonzalez, a Spanish born between 1500 and 1510.

Figure (4) Juan Diego, a middle-aged man, with indigenous aspect, with light beard and mustache, hook nose and half-opened lips, and wearing a coned hat - a kind of hat commonly worn by indigenous people working in the fields at that time. He has a Tilma tied around his neck, seemingly extending his right arm and unfolding his own Tilma before the bishop.

Figure (5) A black woman. Behind Saint Juan Diego, appears a woman of dark complexion, possibly a slave who was in the bishop's service. Father Mariano Cuevas wrote in "Church History in Mexico" that Zumárraga said in his will that he released the slave. She was called Maria.

Figure (6) In both corneas, there appears an unknown man with Spanish features who looks on pensively, stroking his beard with his hand. He is looking to the place where Juan Diego is unfolding his Tilma.

Here is a mystery inside the mystery composed by Figures 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. In the center of both eyes, there appears a group of denominated indigenous family. These images (Figures 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and13) have different sizes compared to the other figures. However, these people have the same proportion and are part of a different scene:

Figure (7) A young woman with delicate features seemingly looking down. She has her hair wove with flowers. Over her back is a baby in a "rebozo" Figure(8) - a long woolen or linen scarf covering the head and shoulders (also used as a sling for holding a baby; traditionally worn by Latin-American women).

In a lower level, and to the right, there is a man with a hat Figure (9) and a couple of children, a boy Figure (10) and a girl Figure (11). Two other figures, a middle-aged man Figure (12) and a middle-aged womenFigure (13) who stood behind the young mother Figure (7).

Dr. Tonsmann, in his book, "El Secreto de sus Ojos" (The Secret of Her Eyes), complete with details and photographs of his last studies of the eyes of Our Lady on the Tilma, and perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the studies, concluded that Our Lady of Guadalupe not only left us her miraculous Image as proof of her apparition but some important messages which were hidden in the eyes on the Image until our times, when new technologies have allow them to be discovered, when they are most necessary.

Photo by Jim Creighton

In 1991, an analysis made by outstanding ophthalmologists, identified normal microscopic network of veins and artery circulation in the free edge of Our Lady's eyelids and the cornea. According to the ophthalmologists who examined the eyes, no painter would have been able to humanly reproduce such precise microscopic details.

Miracles Attributed to the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

While the above findings are miracles in itself, the following are some of the recorded miracles attributed to the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Only a few days after the miracle, on December 26, 1531, while the Indians were celebrating the swiftly completed construction of the chapel, and as was the custom of the Chichimecas playing with bows and arrows and dancing. While some celebrants fired arrows into the air in jubilation, one of them shot an arrow, and accidentally pierced the throat of an Indian who was walking with a group carrying the Tilma to the hill of Tepeyac. The Indian was killed instantly when the arrow pierced his neck. The corpse was carried into the chapel and laid beneath the sacred image. The crowd prayed aloud to Our Lady of Guadalupe for a miracle. Minutes later, after having extracted the arrow right in front of the mantle, the man regained consciousness and rose, completely healed. Only the scar remained visible until the day he died. Following this impressive feat, 9 million Indians converted to Christianity. Spaniards and Mexicans who were mortal enemies embraced one another with joyous affection.

In 1785, a worker, while attempting to clean the glass covering of the Tilma, accidentally spilled a 50% nitric acid solvent on the upper right side of the Tilma that did considerable damage. During the period of 30 days, without any special treatment, the affected fabric re-constituted itself miraculously.

Photo of the twisted brass crucifix after the blast of 1921
On November 14, 1921, a bomb with 29 sticks of dynamite was planted by Luciano Perez, a Spanish anarchist, in a flower arrangement on the altar under the Tilma which exploded and broke the marble altar rail, the marble floor and widows 150 meters from the explosion, but unexpectedly, neither the Tilma nor the normal glass that protected the image was damaged or broken. The only damage near the Tilma was a heavy brass crucifix twisted by the blast. Since 1993, the Tilma is protected by a bullet-proof glass in the Basilica of Guadalupe.

Recently on July 31, 1997, Father Xavier Escalada, S.J., presented to the public an extraordinary evidenciary document in a sheet of parchment which contains written records of the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego which occurred on four separate occasions in December 1531 on the hill of Tepeyac north of central Mexico City. The parchment first came to light in 1995, and in 2002 was named "Codex 1548" or "Codex Escalada" in honour of Fr. Xavier Escalada S.J. who brought it to public attention and who published it in 1997.