By Mercedes De La Torre
ROME, DEC. 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the Church turns its focus to the new evangelization, today’s feast presents a model to follow: the Virgin of Guadalupe is an example of how to evangelize a continent, says Legionary of Christ Father Nicola Tovagliari.
Father Tovagliari participated in a conference on “The Virgin of Guadalupe: Challenge to Science, Call to Faith,” organized by the master’s program in Science and Faith at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum university.
ZENIT spoke with Father Tovagliari about the lessons to learn from Mary.
ZENIT: What is the message that Guadalupe gives the world?
Father Tovagliari: It is a message of tenderness, of the maternal presence of the Mother of God who is also mother of all men. It is a message of protection, of care and also of confidence in the future.
ZENIT: What is the importance of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe?
Father Tovagliari: It is of historical importance in the event that occurred, of great importance for the evangelization of the peoples of Meso-America but also of present importance for all peoples, because it is God who doesn’t forget man and makes Himself present constantly in all cultures and all ages.
ZENIT: Can Mary of Guadalupe be considered a model for the new evangelization, phenomenon of inculturation?
Father Tovagliari: Certainly, just as the first coming of Christ was by Mary’s arms, Jesus’ new coming also, namely, his appearing in all present cultures or in the new cultural phenomena is by Mary’s arms. It’s very easy to fall in love with Christ’s message when it is brought by the heart of his Mother, when it is brought by a serene face, the sweet face of his Mother.
Present-day man — who lacks affection in, let us say, this cold world and, perhaps, within the technique of secularization is somewhat extinguished — finds in the eyes, in the Virgin’s face a door to fall in love with Christ’s message.
ZENIT: What is the global relevance of the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe?
Father Tovagliari: The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe attracts thousands of pilgrims every day who go to greet her, to greet her as children, to praise her and to pray and ask for something, so there are thousands of pilgrims that visit her every day.
At present the shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, is the religious and Marian place of worship most visited in the world. It is estimated that some 20 million pilgrims visit it every year, but I think we could dare to say there are even more, suffice it to think that on Dec. 12, there will probably be more than 1 million pilgrims that go to greet her and sing the mañanitas to her on that day.
ZENIT: This year the Holy Father is marking Dec. 12 with a Mass in Spanish in Rome, a great event for the Church in Latin America. Why?
Father Tovagliari: The Holy Father’s Mass in the Vatican is offered for the whole of Latin America, also in remembrance of the bicentenary, the 200 years of independence of the Latin nations.
In this event, the Holy Father is celebrating the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity among the peoples and I think this is an important message which we also see reflected in the Message of Guadalupe: this Virgin who appears as Mother of all men, so that men are equal in dignity, and all are brothers among themselves.[Translation by ZENIT]