The Number 12

Early this afternoon, I went to the publishing house to sign my job offer formally… I was already informed some weeks back that I stand a good chance of getting the job. There were delays, but I eventually got it. I just patiently held out to this offer because I knew deep in my heart of hearts that this is where I am meant to work. This is the final applicant pass that I had to secure from them. From today onwards, I am officially part of the company.

the number 12

Inside the waiting area, I was fidgety and ultra nervous. It felt like I was taking the board exam again. I left the Umberto Eco novel and my notebook so there was nothing to do except stare at the Applicant ID, which happened to bear the number 12. All my fears were gone when I saw that number, because I knew that everything’s settled. It was a sign I did not ask for, but a sign that helped me calm down, nonetheless.

What’s so special about 12?

Our Lady of Guadalupe, the intercessor of the unborn, has a feast day on December 12 (12-12). And I visited her national shrine in Guadalupe, Makati around 2 weeks ago. I prayed to her in particular about this job and my love life. Since I converted to the Catholic faith, I struggled with the concept of the Virgin Mary. But ever since things got clearer for me spiritually, I have this super devotion to this particular apparition of Our Lady.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Ever since I started venerating the Virgin Mary again, I actually say four Hail Marys in front of any Our Lady of Guadalupe image. It has become a habit for me. I pray her Memorare too whenever I feel sad or whenever I feel that one or more of my friends need some motherly love.

Anyway, when I was in the National shrine (that was my first time, by the way), I stood for what seemed like an eternity in front of her giant image there (which was taken from the original cloth of St. Juan Diego himself). Nag-emote lang ako dun, I did not care about the people around me. There were so many people there, but I didn’t care. I just stayed there for as long as I can and I told her everything a child will tell her mother.

What made me love her so much? The story of her four apparitions was the thing that struck me the most about Our Lady of Guadalupe. I may have all the information mixed up or something; I don’t remember all the details from the book verbatim but I hope my story works to give a good backgrounder on why she means this much to me.

There was a certain saint named Juan Diego in Mexico who walks around 64 miles daily in the cold dawn to attend Mass. At the time, Mass was only allowed weekly. Today, we can have Mass everyday, with schedules of 2-4 times a day even in some cathedrals or churches.

This guy happened to be walking around the Mount of Tepeyac when Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to him. It happened again three times after, with him being sent to the Bishop for an instruction to build a church in that very place where she had the apparition.

Apparently, Juan Diego was asked to pick some flowers at the top of that hill. Our Lady arranged it in his tilma (laborer scarf). So Juan Diego carried that scarf with the sweet smelling flowers. But then when Juan Diego reached the Bishop’s office, the flowers fell off and they saw the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Scientists have studied the tilma that continues to be preserved in the Tepeyac shrine in Mexico. There are no earthly colors to describe it. Also, the tilma was very fragile. If not for some stroke of miracle, this image would have been reduced to ashes already. Also, in all of the apparitions of Our Lady, Our Lady of Guadalupe image was the only image that she knitted herself. All the others were artistic depictions; this was an original gift from Heaven.

Of course, it wasn’t all clouds and chocolates for Juan Diego. He was a very poor man and he had a very sick uncle. His uncle happened to be sick somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd apparition. He did not want to follow Our Lady’s instructions anymore. But Our Lady talked to him, comforted him and told him that his uncle will be cured.

True enough, after he delivered the magic tilma to the Bishop, he went back home to see his uncle alive and well. Also, the uncle said that he saw her and healed him personally.

So there. Sounds like a fairy tale but this is supported by the Catholic Church doctrine which I have faith in. And for the many times I prayed to her really huge intentions, I felt her helping me get close to God each time.

I prayed that I be given strength to get out of a toxic relationship. I prayed that I find the job that will not let me give up writing or engineering. I prayed for more consistency in the way I do my work. These were all given and more.

Her and the novena to St. Josemaria Escriva. Plus of course my quiet time with my Bible and mental prayers in the mornings before I do any work.

On with the symbolisms of her appearance. The tie below her bosom is a sign of maternity (ancient Mexican women wore that when they are pregnant). Also, her trampling the snake below her feet represents a certain verse in the book of Revelations. (The woman trampling the serpent). The stars in her cloak made her the woman clothed with the sun (Also from the book of Revelation). The flowers were a typical Marian association.

When one says the rosary, you actually create a garland of flowers that you offer to Our Lady. Among many other things…

I really want to go to Mexico someday to see that place where the apparitions took place.

But for now, I rest happily in this humbly compensating, highly intellectual and stimulating job in QC. Perhaps the first thing I will put in my work desk is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I will definitely need all the motherly reminder I can get to stay strong as I build my career as an assistant editor for engineering books.

Thank you so much God, for helping me find and get my dream job. =)

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