Fr. Scott A. Haynes
On the Third Sunday of Advent, “Gaudete” Sunday, roses may adorn the altar, the rose candle on the Advent wreath is lit, and today, being also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we venerate Mary who is the mystical rose, the “Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the valley.” (Canticles 2:1). Because Mary is the New Eve, Saint Bernard contrasted her to Eve, like a rose to a thorn, writing:
"Eve was a thorn, wounding, bringing death to all; in Mary we see a rose, soothing everybody's hurts, giving the destiny of salvation back to all. Mary was a rose, white for maidenhood, red for love; white in body, red in soul; white in her seeking after virtue, red in treading down vice; white in cleansing her affections, red in mortifying her flesh; white in her love of God, red in compassion for her neighbor"
As the clergy don the rose-colored vestments on this “Gaudete” Sunday, we think of Saint Juan Diego’s tilma holding those Castilian roses which Our Lady had him pick in the midst of winter.
History shows that the rose is the favorite flower of Our Lady herself. In her apparition at Guadalupe, she made use of roses as a sign of her presence and even arranged them with her own beautiful hands in the tilma of Juan Diego. At La Sallette, she wore a profusion of roses in three garlands and had tiny roses around the rim of her slippers. In the Book of Canticles of Canticles, Mary is spoken of in prophetic terms and is described as the enclosed Garden of God (Canticles 4:12). Saint Bernard remarks on this and writes:
"Our Lord planted all the flowers which adorn the Church in this garden; and amongst others the violet of humility, the lily of purity, and the rose of charity."
In the stately college of King's Chapel, in Cambridge, England, one of the most renowned universities, built by Henry VIII in memory of his father, there can be discerned, hidden in one of the Tudor rose-bosses on the walls, a small image of Our Lady which somehow escaped observation at the destruction of images at the Protestant Reformation. Brother John, a clever carver, was hired to carve all of the roses; knowing of the King's quarrel with the Pope, he secretly carved a tiny head of Mary, half-hidden within the rose petals in the upper tier of decorations, saying,
"There you remain, Our Lady of the Rose, even if wicked men try to drive you and your Son from this Church.”