Gomez: Our Lady of Guadalupe a key guide, protector for our times

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Kate Capato, Visual Grace

By Valerie Schmalz

Calif. (CNS) — It is in the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to a
poor Indian convert that we can see God’s plan and care for America today, Los
Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a July 27 address that tackled the
“de-Christianization” of U.S. culture.

Guadalupe, the mother of God came to be the mother of the Americas,” Archbishop
Gomez said on the opening day of the Napa Institute Conference.

way forward in this time of cultural crisis is to turn to Mary, Archbishop
Gomez said.

need to consecrate our Christian lives and the church’s mission to the Virgin,”
Archbishop Gomez said. “I think this is the answer to the challenges we face
right now in our culture. The way forward for our church — right now, in this
moment — is to ‘return’ to Guadalupe.

need to follow the path that the Virgin sets before us — the path of building
a new civilization of love and truth in the Americas,” Archbishop Gomez told
the approximately 500 people gathered for the four-day conference in Northern
California’s wine country.

Lady of Guadalupe was given to us by the Lord, and she was given to us in all times,
not just the times of St. Juan Diego, the peasant to whom she appeared and on
whose “tilma,” or cloak, the winter roses she caused to bloom left
her image, said Archbishop Gomez.

Our Lady said to St. Juan Diego, she now says to us: ‘You are my ambassador,
most worthy of my trust,'” Archbishop Gomez said.

Gomez said American culture has become an alien landscape for Christians. “In
the last decade, it is like we all woke up to discover that American society is
being progressively ‘de-Christianized,'” Archbishop Gomez said.

as a Christian nation, America has in many ways never lived up to those values,
with slavery, “the tragic mistreatment of native populations, ongoing
injustices like racism and the million or more abortions performed each year,”
Archbishop Gomez said in his talk titled “The Marian Heart of America: Our Lady
of Guadalupe and Our ‘Post-Christian’ Society.”

Archbishop Gomez told those gathered, “the promise of America — what still
distinguishes this country from all the rest — is our commitment to promoting
human dignity and freedom under the Creator. At the heart, this is a Christian

that is changing, he said. “We face an aggressive, organized agenda by elite
groups who want to eliminate the influence of Christianity from our society,”
Archbishop Gomez said.

friends, we do not have the luxury to choose the times we live in. These are
hard times. There is no denying it. But the saints remind us that all times in
the church are dangerous times,” the Los Angeles archbishop said.

me, the question is not really — how are we going to shape our times?” the
archbishop of the nation’s largest archdiocese said. “The better question is: How
does God want us to shape our times? What is the path that Jesus Christ would
have us follow in this moment in our nation’s history?”

Gomez said that path began in Guadalupe in 1531.

apparition at Guadalupe was not a random occurrence. There are no coincidences
in the providence of God. Our Lady did not appear only for the Mexican people,”
said Archbishop Gomez. Mary told St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, “I am truly your
compassionate mother; your mother and the mother to all who dwell in this land
and to all other nations and peoples.”

a few years after Mary’s appearance, millions were baptized in Mexico and
throughout the Americas.

great wave of holiness swept through the continents — raising up saints and
heroes of the faith in every country,” Archbishop Gomez said, noting St.
Junipero Serra set sail for the New World aboard a ship called Nuestra Senora
de Guadalupe. He arrived at Veracruz and he immediately started walking — 300
miles to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where he spent the
night in prayer and consecrated his American mission to Mary.

is the true ‘founding event’ in American history. And that means it is the true
founding event in the history of our country — and in the history of all the
other countries in North and South America. We are all children of Guadalupe,”
Archbishop Gomez said.

Guadalupe story is “the ‘spiritual dawn’ of the church’s mission in the
Americas,” Archbishop Gomez said. “In God’s plan, this is one continent. It is
meant to begin a new civilization, a new world of faith. This is what Guadalupe
is all about.”

great St. Pope John Paul II called the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe — ‘the
Marian heart of America,'” Archbishop Gomez said.

nations of the Americas all trace their faith to the coming of the Virgin at
Guadalupe. We share a common story of origins. And we are joined in a common
destiny,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Guadalupe is a vision of the world as God
wants it to be. The ‘shrine’ that Our Lady wants us to build in the Americas is
a new civilization — a culture that celebrates life and welcomes life.”

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is assistant editor of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of
San Francisco.

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