12 December 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe

12 DECEMBER 2009. Today the Church in the United States celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.

From the feast day of Saint Juan Diego a few days earlier (9 December) we know the story of how Our Lady came to appear to Saint Juan on Tepeyac Hill.

For today's feast, a passage from Pope Paul VI's address to the Mexican people:
Beloved sons and daughters, we wish to unite our voice to that filial hymn which the Mexican people raise up today to the Mother of God. Devotion to the most holy Virgin of Guadalupe must be for all of you a constant and specific demand for authentic Christian renewal. The crown which she expects from all of you is not so much a material one as a precious spiritual crown, shaped by a profound love of Christ and a sincere love of all: the two commandments which sum up the gospel message. The same most holy Virgin, with her example, guides us on these two paths.

In the first place, she exhorts us to make Christ the center and summit of our whole Christian life. She remains hidden, with supreme humility, so that the image of her Son might appear to humanity with all its incomparable brightness. For this reason, true Marian devotion reaches its fullness and its most rightful expression when it is a path to the Lord and directs all its love toward him, just as Mary knew how to do, so as to intertwine in one and the same impulse the tenderness of a mother and the piety of a creature.
But in addition, and precisely because she loved Christ so dearly, our Mother fulfilled perfectly that second commandment which must be the norm of all human relations: the love of neighbor. How beautiful and delicate was the intervention of Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, when she moved her Son to accomplish the first miracle of turning water into wine solely to help those young spouses! It is a complete sign of the constant love of the Virgin for humanity in need, and ought to be an example for all those who seek to be considered truly her sons and daughters.

Christians can do no less that to show solidarity in seeking a resolution to the situation of those to whom the bread of culture has not yet come nor the opportunity of honorable and justly remunerated work. They cannot remain indifferent while new generations find no path for the realization of their legitimate aspirations, and while part of humanity continues to be placed at the margins of the advantages of civilization and progress. For this reason, on this celebrated feast, we urge you from our heart to give your Christian life a clear social sense--as the Council has asked--that you may always be in the front line in all efforts to attain progress, and in all the initiatives for improving the situation of those who suffer want. See in each person a brother or a sister--a brother or sister in Christ--in such a way that the love of God and the love of the neighbor become united in the same love, alive and operative, which is the only thing that can redeem the miseries of the world, renewing it in its most profound root, the human heart.

The person who has much should be conscious of his or her obligation to serve and contribute with generosity to the good of all. The person who has little or who has nothing should, with the help of a just society, make every effort at self-improvement and of going beyond self, and even in cooperating in the progress of those who suffer the same situation. And, all of you, feel the obligation to unite fraternally so as to help forge this new world for which the human race longs.

This is what the Virgin of Guadalupe asks of you today, this fidelity to the Gospel, of which she knew how to be the most eminent example.

Upon you, dearly beloved sons and daughters, we implore with confidence the maternal benevolence of the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, in order that she may continue to protect your nation and to direct and impel it more and more along the paths of progress, communal love, and a peaceful life together.
 Radio message to Mexico for the 75th anniversary of the Coronation of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12 October 1970).

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