During the week between Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, I had the privilege of visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the second time in my life and the Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City–the namesake of Tepeyac OB/GYN.
The first time I visited the Basilica was nearly 35 years ago. At that time, I was not open to God’s will for my life and dismissed a very important message he had for me.
The summer of 1987, just before beginning my residency in Virginia, I went on a spur of the moment trip with two buddies to Mexico. We were going to help one of my friend’s priest friends repair a water irrigation system near his parish, but the trip turned into much more than a volunteer trip.
While we were there, we visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At the time, I had been performing abortions in my training, and there I was, staring at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe–patroness of the unborn.
Here is an excerpt from my book, Two Patients, about what happens next:
What I was seeing before my eyes: an ancient relic, somehow youthful in its luster, yet nearly 400 years old, with colors so crisp that they challenged every preconceived notion I’d carried with me that morning. How could a poor native’s tilma made of hemp fibers—one that would
have usually deteriorated completely in 30 years—still be here hundreds of years later? And with such a meaningful and radiant image? I was trying to retain my historical perspective, still holding faith at arm’s length. […]
The moving sidewalk and the area surrounding the altar were crammed with people quietly observing the image on the tilma. I stepped off the sidewalk for the last time and headed for an empty pew off to the right of the altar as far back as I could go, away from the crowds. I sat
down, still puzzled by what I had seen, and for the first time in a long time, I found myself truly alone. Tunnel vision blocked the hustle and bustle all around me. I no longer heard the whispers. Where 500 people gathered in curiosity and worship, I sat alone with the image of
the woman I’d known about my whole life but couldn’t understand. The silence brought an unwelcome emptiness, and it made me uncomfortable.
I buried my head in my hands. Then something happened that I can hardly explain. Inwardly I heard clear and strong: “Why are you hurting me?”
What the hell was that? […]
I nervously scanned the faces in the pews around me, searching for the owner of the voice or any indication that someone else had heard the booming question as well. The young woman in front of me knelt silently, head bowed, her lips moving slightly as she clasped her rosary. A man several rows behind me sat in a prayerful, undisturbed posture. Two elderly women slowly approached the pew behind me, making the sign of the cross as they genuflected by the pew. These were certainly not the faces of people who had heard this striking question, let alone pose it in the first place.
I pondered the question “Why are you hurting me? What does that even mean? I’m studying to be a doctor. I don’t hurt people. I heal people.
I dismissed whatever voice I thought I’d heard. It must have been the heat, or the cerveza I’d had at lunch. Either way, my faith life was lousy, and I knew it. I couldn’t possibly have heard a voice from God.
I regret dismissing that divine voice that spoke to my heart in the Basilica nearly 35 years ago. I later went on to create our life-affirming OB/GYN practice in 1994 and named it Tepeyac so I would never forget that moment Our Lady first called me to conversion.
When my wife Carolyn, Kathy Doherty, Fr. Gerald Weymes, and I made plans to return on pilgrimage to Mexico, I felt very blessed to have a second chance to visit The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a man who had been transformed by the mercy of a loving father and was more willing to listen. I also had the opportunity to climb Tepeyac Hill for the first time. Tears, gratitude, stories, prayers, burros, and blessings filled the time.
The Resurrection and Divine Mercy and la Morenita reminded me about spreading medicine as mercy. Here are a few takeaways:
First, this world of sickness and death does not have the final say. Is God up to something if He rose from the dead and really gave us all the Holy Spirit?
Second, tyrants know their time is short. Risen Jesus is an inspiration for resistance movements in medicine. La Virgin is an inspiration for maternal-foetal, two-patient movements in medicine. Divine Mercy is an inspiration for mercy movements in medicine.
Finally, I ran from Abba and ran into the lacerated side of Jesus. Running into this Divine Life allowed me free access to Divine Mercy. Leaving the abortive, contraceptive, sterilized, manipulated life (for whatever reason) allows me to begin Tepeyac OBGYN and Divine Mercy Care. It is open to all…
My recent pilgrimage to Mexico also reminded me that we must not domesticate the message of the Resurrection. Let it unnerve us and unsettle us, change us, and set us on fire to help the Spirit renew the face of medicine. The crucified and risen Lord and the Woman of Genesis and Revelation with her Son there and now on the Tilma brings us all into the saving mystery of Divine Mercy.
Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 3:15).