The day that Mary of Nazareth received the announcement of the angel Gabriel and consented to her divine maternity, the history of the world turned to the abyss of divine grace, while it continued to unfold as a daily series of small and great events.
The Gospel tells us that Mary went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, to visit her cousin Elizabeth who, as she knew by revelation, was expecting a son. From the first moment of their meeting, the Holy Spirit filled the Mothers and babes with joy. Elizabeth exclaimed “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord! Mary responded with her canticle of thanksgiving which has become the daily canticle of faith of the Church: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.”
When God willed to open America to the Gospel, He looked upon Juan Diego, a poor humble peasant who also received a visitation and message from Heaven. Attracted to the mountains by heavenly singing whose source he did not know, he saw a noble Lady, radiant, of unimaginable perfection, clothed in the sun, according to the account of the Nican Mopohua.She introduced herself as the Mother of the true God and asked him to go to the Bishop and tell him to build a Chapel on the hill of Tepeyac. Three attempts and three miracles were necessary to convince the Bishop: the miracle of the roses of Castile, which blossomed in winter on the mountain, utterly out of season; the miracle of the cape, and the miraculous cure of Juan Bernardino, Juan Diego’s uncle. Finally grace prevailed over episcopal prudence and human incredulity, and the Chapel was built with the results we know.
Dear friends, the blessed days we have lived have unfolded between the two mysteries of the Annunciation and the Visitation. We are witnesses that the People of God journeying in America is saying “yes” to the call of this Year of Faith. We have hastened to this meeting to revive the gift of faith which we received 500 years ago, and we want to be witnesses of it in unity, given that this gift is the most precious inheritance that has united South and North America since its origins.
We have come guided by the Star of the first and the new evangelization: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, whose liturgical feast we celebrate today. As “Wise Men of the East,” we thought we knew this noble Lady well, but the events of this Congress, the conferences, the prayers and the testimonies, have helped us to rediscover her. That is why our soul glorifies the Lord with her, because He has looked upon the poor, which we are, and by her maternal intercession, has touched us and renewed us. We are ready to take the message of the Gospel with new ardor, with new methods and in a new language.
We will never repeat sufficiently that the Virgin Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego was determinant for the transmission of the faith to the peoples of America. It marked the moment of the takeoff of evangelization. It made possible the reconciliation of opponents and the penetration of the Gospel in the heart and culture of the natives. It also restrained the appetite of the conquistadors and adventurers. Blessed be God for that face of tenderness and mercy that led the people of America to the adoration of the one Savior Jesus Christ.
The song of praise and thanksgiving that rises from our hearts at the end of this Congress shows us that the Holy Spirit has touched us and urges us to take up again the way of the Mother of Fair Love and Holy Hope. We have received notable graces at the tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul in this Year of Faith; we leave more conscious of our dignity of children of God, which makes us cry out: “Abba! Father! Thy Kingdom come!”
Fortified and confirmed by the blessing of the Successor of Peter, let us go to our brothers and sisters; in the power of the Spirit, let us give witness to the truth of the Gospel and of the unity of the Catholic Church which transcends the borders of all races, cultures and social conditions. The continent that has grown under the sign of Christ the King and under the staff of Peter must transmit and spread its faith to be faithful to itself. The poor anxiously await this witness which must be manifested in sincere charity, fraternity and effective solidarity with the least privileged.
May the baptized of America thus become “Missionary disciples” in the power of the Spirit, Who sends them to a Continental Mission that must embrace the whole continent. May all the baptized rise and proclaim their faith with pride, in respect of others’ liberty but conscious that they must pass the torch of faith to the new generations of the digital culture. Above all, may a new flowering arise of holy men and holy women for the New Evangelization. The vocation to sanctity is for the whole Church and there is no insurmountable obstacle to holiness, regardless of our state in life. It is enough to make an act of faith the size of a mustard seed t move a mountain, the Gospel tells us.
At the end of the 17th century, the Church canonized Saint Rose of Lima, the first native American to be raised to the altar. The story is that when it was suggested to the Pope to beatify her, he answered that even if a rain of roses were to fall on the Vatican, he would not believe in the sanctity of an Indian. Suddenly, rose petals fell on Rome. In 1671, the canonization of Rose of Lima, proclaimed patroness of Peru and later of the whole of South America, of India and of the Philippines, gave way to great solemnities, not only in Lima and Rome, but also in Paris (See History of the Saints and of Christian Sanctity, Volume 8, p. 251).
In mid-October of this Year of Faith, at the height of the Synod on the New Evangelization, we celebrated with great joy the canonization of Kateri Tekakwhita, a young native girl of North America, who died at 24 years of age and had to flee from her family and her tribe to keep her virginal passion for Christ. Loved equally in Canada and the United States, Saint Kateri now belongs to the universal Church and is thus a mediating figure for the reconciliation of peoples and the reception of the Gospel.
May these two privileged daughters of Our Lady of Guadalupe join hands in the highest Heavens , not only to unite the North and South of the American continent, but to radiate the Catholic faith in the whole world. A throng of other men and women saints have preceded us on the path of the Gospel in America; let us invoke them with one heart so that their passion of love, their passion for Christ, may continue to win souls thirsty for hope and liberation.
The many social evils that afflict America exact from Christ’s disciples a treatment that will do away with the mortal virus of egoism, envy and hatred. We must fight against the exploitation of the poor, illicit trade, and unjust laws regarding immigration, urban violence, the disintegration of the family, and many other afflictions. Christ the Redeemer responds to these challenges through our commitment to justice and solidarity founded on the grace of conversion and penance. May we, the Christians of America, therefore, be in the front line of the battle, so that the witness of our faith is not contradicted by our indifference and the lack of coherence in our lives.
Dear friends, let us put in the hands of Holy Mary of Guadalupe, Our Mother, the hopes and projects born from this meeting in Rome, 15 years after of the Synod on America. In face of the immense needs of the New Evangelization, our possibilities are poor, but our faith is great. May that faith increase even more today and in every communion with the Body of the Risen Christ who makes us participants in his victory.
“And I heard a loud voice in Heaven: “Now victory is established, and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.” Amen!