Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Our Lady of Guadalupe offers promise of peace
Bishop from New Mexico explains power and beauty of patron saint of the Americas, the underemployed, the exploited, the elderly
BY RAMON GONZALEZ
“She is accepted by the indigenous as one of them and she is accepted by the Europeans as the mother of Christ.
“In modern times, she can still unite all the people of all America.”
Our Lady is the patron saint of the people of America, including the indigenous people of African origin, the unemployed and underemployed, the exploited women and children, the elderly and all who suffer injustice and exploitation, said the bishop, a member of the Basilian order.
“She is the hope of all these people.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe connects us with those who have handed on the heritage of our faith and reminds us that we are not alone, either in good or bad times, Ramirez added.
“And she reminds us that in spite of differences of race, culture and economic levels, it is possible to be one human family.”
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mother of the new evangelization, is celebrated Dec. 12 throughout North America, South America and the Caribbean.
“She was there at the threshold of the first evangelization of America in the 16th century,” the bishop noted.
“Because of her place in the history of salvation, she can be called the mother of the new creation.”
In his lecture, Ramirez also spoke about the effects of the arrival of the conquistadors in Mexico in 1531.
“It wasn’t a harmonious encounter but a horrible, bloody, cruel clash of cultures,” he said.
“There was a lot of bloodshed and there was a lot of disease because the Spaniards, the Europeans, brought with them diseases for which there was no immune system in the Americas.”
This marked the birth of the Mestizo people and culture and the arrival of the first evangelization.
“In the middle of this bloodshed, in the middle of this chaos and pain the Gospel arrives,” Ramirez noted.
“It must have been difficult because the conquistadors were killing and were full of hate.
“And (right behind them) come the missionaries from the same culture preaching a gospel of love. I’m sure they saw a horrible contradiction. So they needed help and help came from heaven” in the person of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Virgin of Guadalupe holds a special place in Mexican culture because of her appearances in December 1531 to the Indian peasant Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City.
Speaking in the Indian language Nahuatl, Our Lady asked the peasant to build a church in her honour.
“She did not speak Spanish or Latin but Nahuatl, a language he could understand,” Ramirez noted.
When the local Spanish bishop refused to believe Juan Diego, she appeared a second time telling Juan Diego to go to a barren place where he would find roses growing.
He wrapped the roses in his tilma, a peasant robe of woven cactus fibre, and took them to the skeptical bishop. When he unwrapped the roses in front of the bishop, Our Lady’s image was on the tilma.
“Our Lady entered Juan Diego’s world with flowers and song and that’s important because whenever there were flowers and song that combination meant that this was from heaven,” Ramirez observed.
“Only through poetic language and natural beauty could the Aztecs enter into communion and communication with the divine.”
Juan Diego’s tilma, stamped with a large image of the olive-skinned Virgin, is the centrepiece of the Mexico City basilica.
Mexicans, especially those of Indian descent, revere Our Lady because, among others things, she has a Mestizo face, the look of a listening and understanding mother and wears the colours of divinity, Ramirez said.
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