Vatican City, 13 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, on the liturgical solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, patroness of Latin America, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The celebration was accompanied by hymns from the “Misa Criolla”, by the Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez. Extensive extracts from the homily pronounced by the Pontiff are published below:
“Today, with gratitude and joy, the peoples and nations of our great Latin American homeland commemorate the feast of their 'patroness', Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose devotion extends from Alaska to Patagonia. … On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe … we sing with her the 'Magnificat', we entrust to her the lives of our people and the continental mission of the Church. When she appeared to St. Juan Diego in Tepeyac … this led to a new visitation. She tenderly hastened to embrace the new people of the Americas at the dramatic moment they came into being: 'A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet' that assumed within herself the cultural and religious symbolism of the native people, announcing her Son and giving Him to the new and suffering people of mixed race. … The most perfect disciple of the Lord became the 'great missionary who brings the Gospel to our America'. The Son of Mary most Holy, his Immaculate Mother, reveals himself from the origins of this new peoples’ history, as the 'true God who gives us Life'”.
“The Holy Mother of God not only visited these people, but she chose to remain with them. … By her intercession, the Christian faithful started to become the richest treasure of the soul of the American people, whose precious pearl is Jesus Christ. It is a patrimony which is transmitted and manifest today in the many baptism of multitudes of people, in the faith, hope and charity of many; in precious popular piety; and in that popular ethos that reveals itself in an awareness of human dignity, in the passion for justice, in solidarity with the poorest and suffering, in hope that is sometimes against every hope”.
“That is why, here today, we can continue to praise God for the wonders he has brought to the lives of the Latin American people. … In the wonders which the Lord has achieved in Mary, she recognises her Son's style and way of acting in the story of Salvation. Sweeping away worldly judgements, destroying idols of power, riches, success at any cost, denouncing self-sufficiency, pride and a secularised which distances from God, the Mary’s Magnificat professes that God delights in subverting ideologies and worldly hierarchies. He lifts up the lowly, comes to the aid of the poor and the smallest among us, he fills with goodness, blessings and hope those who trust in his mercy from generation to generation, while he casts down the rich, the powerful, and rulers from their thrones. The 'Magnificat' introduces us to the Beatitudes, the earliest synthesis of the Gospel. In the light of the Beatitudes we feel compelled to ask that the future of Latin America be forged for the poor and those who suffer, for the humble, those who hunger and thirst for justice, for the compassionate, the pure of heart, those who work for peace, and for those who are persecuted because of Christ's name, 'for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven'. May theirs be the grace of being forged by those who today the idolatrous system of the throwaway culture relegates to the category of slaves, objects to be used or simply denied”.
“And we make this request because Latin America is the 'continent of hope'! Because she hopes in new ways of development which combine traditional Christianity and civil progress, justice and equity with reconciliation, scientific development and technology with human wisdom. Fruitful suffering with joyful hope. We can protect this hope only with great amounts of truth and mercy, the basis for all realities and revolutionary engines of an authentically new life”.
“We place these realities and these desires on the altar as a gift pleasing to God. … He is the only Lord, the 'liberator' of all of our slavery and misery derived from sin. He calls us to live the true life, a more human life, to live together as children and brothers, now that the doors to 'the new heaven and the new earth' are open. We implore the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the name 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' – the Mother of God, our Queen, our Lady, the young woman, our Little One (as called St. Juan Diego called her), and with all the loving names which popular piety has given her – that she may continue to accompany, help and protect our people. May she lead by the hand all pilgrim children in these lands to the encounter with her Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, present in the Church, in its holiness, especially in the Eucharist, present in the treasure of his Word and teachings, present in the faithful and holy people of God, in those who suffer and in the humble of heart. So be it. Amen!”.