Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is quickly recognized as a national celebration for those of Mexican descent, as she is the patroness of Mexico. However, Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the patroness of all the Americas (North and South).
When Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego, the Mexican nation was divided among the Spaniards who had colonized the land: the mestizos (mixed blood) and the natives. There was a mistrust and non-acceptance of the basic humanity of the indigenous group. When Mary appeared, she declared herself to be the mother of all.
Mary’s words to Juan Diego: “I am truly your compassionate mother, yours, and all the people who live together in this land and of all the other people of different ancestries, those who love me, those who cry to me, those who seek me, those who trust in me.”
She is depicted as a native woman on the cloak of Juan Diego, which now hangs in the Shrine in Mexico. How could one ever exercise prejudice against a native, if Mary herself was seen as a native?
Is it little wonder that the Church, in her wisdom, should declare Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Americas, calling us to be mindful of our common dignity forged through the blood of Christ? It doesn’t matter what nation we’re from or the color of our skin; we are all Mary’s children. She is our mother because she is His mother.
When I was pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Chicago, we put on a short presentation on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, reenacting the events of the apparitions to Juan Diego and his confrontation with the bishop. When a review of the reenactment was published in the following week’s bulletin, it was reported that everyone was credible in acting his or her assigned parts except the role of the bishop, which was tragically weak. Of course, I played the part of the bishop (it seems everyone’s a critic).
Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparitions at Mount Tepeyac unified a nation. Today, she continues to inspire her children to care for the oppressed and the poor of the world, in the name of her Son, to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the December 11, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.