Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica a little more than a decade ago, when he canonized Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the peasant who had a vision of Mary at the spot that her church would be built on. “(A)s he knelt and prayed awhile before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chavez recall in “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love,” “it was clear that he did not want to leave; when he rose to leave, he entrusted all people to the intercession of the newest saint in the Church. He had not only canonized a man of the past, but also given our continent a saint for the future.”
Perhaps it has taken an Argentinean pope to wake us up to what JPII was onto. Even as the great pontiff helped change the face of Europe, “he recognized the Americas as a hemisphere with a unique, rich Catholic history, and thus as a hemisphere with a unique, rich place in the future of the Church,” Anderson and Msgr. Chavez write.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe’s only words of spiritual guidance are her gentle but persistent reminders to Juan Diego about love: a love that can be trusted, a love that gives dignity, a love that is personal ... The Guadalupan message is, in its originality, a spiritual education, an education in love,” Anderson and Msgr. Chavez add.
Here in Guadalupe, we are on equal ground -- the cardinal and the poverty-stricken Mexican woman with her children. We are all children of a merciful Father. Here, the mother of God, who will soon adorn our Christmas celebrations, seems to embrace us with a soft, magnetic whisper of “mercy.” It’s exactly the message and the approach that has intrigued, if not mesmerized, even hardened hearts since Pope Francis was elected pope this March. It’s exactly the message that can get us somewhere.