HERE HAVE BEEN many recognized visitations of Mary in the life of the Church. Few have had the impact of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared roughly ten years after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. The Aztecs and their clients were deeply spiritual people. That spirituality — and its foundation — was shattered by the Conquest, which was seen as the overturning and impotence of the Aztec gods and world order. Yet they could not bring themselves to trust the faith of the conquerors. They were a lost people and did not know where to go.
Our Lady of Guadeloupe changed that. With a few brief appearances to one poor illiterate peasant, one request for a church to be built, one miraculous healing and two relatively minor miracles, Mary made it possible for a lost people to trust her Son, Jesus. That in turn allowed them to believe in Him, and through Him approach the Father and trust in His Love. The methods and manner of her brief visitation were such that they communicated reassurance and hope to the indigenous peoples of South America on all levels. Literally millions turned to Our Father, and millions more have continued to do so to this day.
That is an astounding result for such a relatively small scale visitation.
She appeared in 1531, close to 500 years ago. Consider all that has changed in the following centuries. The Spanish Empire which was raised on the wealth of the New World? Gone to dust. The British Empire, on which ‘the sun never set’? Come and gone. The rise of North America, the present rise of South America and the decline of the European order. The incredible growth in technology and resulting overturning of society.
We live in a much different world from what even our grandparents could conceive. Earlier generations would be completely lost in most of today’s societies. Imagine a conquistador or Aztec noble trying to grapple with a cellular phone. There’s a good chance that they both would have the identical reaction: “It’s the devil’s work!”
Yet Our Lady of Guadalupe continues. Her message is, if anything, stronger.
Her message is just as needed today as it was in 1531.
Human societies and cultures change, technology changes. But basic human nature does not change. We all want to be loved, to be fulfilled and to have dignity. We experience a longing to belong, to be part of something that is larger than ourselves. We also experience a sense of being out of control, of things not being what they should be. Our Lady of Guadalupe has an answer for that:
“Trust My Son. He loves you. He will help you.”
- Colin Riley