At 6 pm on Friday, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The Mass was accompanied by songs of the ‘Misa Criolla” of Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s homily:
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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations … Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity (…)” (Psalm 66).
The Psalmist’s prayer, a supplication for the forgiveness and blessing of peoples and nations and, at the same time, a joyful praise, helps to express the spiritual meaning of this celebration. They are the peoples and nations of our Great Homeland, Great Latin American Homeland, who today commemorate with gratitude and joy the feast of their “Patroness,” Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose devotion extends from Alaska to Patagonia. And from the Archangel Gabriel and Saint Elizabeth down to us, our filial prayer is raised: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you …” (Luke 1:28).
On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we remember, first of all with gratitude, her visitation and maternal closeness; with her we sing her “Magnificat” and we entrust to her the life of our peoples and the continental mission of the Church.
When she appeared to Saint Juan Diego on Tepeyac, she presented herself as “the ever perfect Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God” (Nican Mopohua), and gave place to a new visitation. She ran in haste to embrace also the new American peoples in dramatic gestation. It was a “great portent
God’s Holy Mother visited these peoples and wished to stay with them. She left her image mysteriously imprinted on the “tilma” of her messenger, so that we would keep her present, becoming a symbol of Mary’s covenant with these peoples, to whom she confers soul and tenderness. Through her intercession, the Christian faith became the richest treasure of the soul of the American peoples, whose precious pearl is Jesus Christ: a patrimony that was transmitted and is manifested up to today in the Baptism of multitudes of people, in the faith, hope and charity of many, in the loveliness of popular piety and also in that American ethos that is shown in the awareness of the dignity of the human person, in the passion for justice, in solidarity with the poor and the suffering, in hope at times against all hope.
Hence it is that we, here today, can continue praising God for the wonders He has worked in the life of the Latin American peoples. In keeping with his style, God has “hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes,” to the humble, to the simple of heart (cf. Matthew 11:21). In the wonders that the Lord has done in Mary, she recognizes the style and way of acting of her Son in the history of salvation.
Reversing worldly judgments, destroying the idols of power, of wealth, of success at any price, denouncing self-sufficiency, pride and the secularized messianisms that remove one from God, the Marian canticle says that God is happy to subvert ideologies and worldly hierarchies. He exalts the humble and comes to the aid of the poor and the little ones. From generation to generation He fills with good things, blessings and hopes those who trust in His mercy, while He brings down the rich, the powerful and the dominating from their thrones. Thus the “Magnificat” introduces us in the “Beatitudes,” synthesis and primordial law of the evangelical message. In His light we feel moved today to ask for a grace – the very Christian grace that the future of Latin America may be forged by the poor and the suffering, by the humble, by those who hunger and thirst for justice, by the compassionate, by those with a pure heart, by the peacemakers, by the persecuted because of Christ’s name, “because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (cf. Matthew 5:1-11). May grace forge them who, today the idolatrous system of the disposable culture relegates to the category of slaves, of objects to be taken advantage of or simply of waste.
And we make this petition because Latin America is the “Continent of Hope”! Because new models of development are expected from it that combine the Christian tradition and civil progress, justice and equity with reconciliation, scientific and technological development with human wisdom, fruitful suffering with promising joy. It is possible to guard that hope only with great doses of truth and love, foundation of the whole reality, revolutionary engines of authentic new life.
We place these realities and desires on the table of the altar, as a pleasing offering to God. Begging for His forgiveness and trusting in His mercy, we celebrate the sacrifice and paschal victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one Lord, “liberator” of all our slaveries and miseries deriving from sin. He is the cornerstone of history and He was the great discarded One. He calls us to live the true life, a human life, a coexistence of children and brothers, — the doors already open of “a new heaven and a new earth”(Revelation 21:1). We implore the Most Holy Virgin Mary, in her Guadalupan name – the Mother of God, my Queen and Lady, my young girl, my little one, as Saint Juan Diego called her, and with all the affectionate names addressed to her in popular piety — we implore her to continue accompanying, helping and protecting our peoples. And that she take by the hand all her children pilgrimaging in these lands to the encounter with her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, present in the Church, in His Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, present in the treasure of His Word and teachings, present in the holy faithful People of God, present in those who suffer and in the humble of heart. And if this very daring program frightens us or worldly pusillanimity threatens us, may she speak to our heart again and make us hear her Mother’s voice,