Today, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was reflecting on Our Lady’s role in bringing us together as a Church, and as a comforter—someone who is with us and reassures us when we are wounded and divided. Today’s rally in Washington, in which many prominent Catholics took part (including Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland), was just another example of a Church and society that appears to be tearing apart at the seams.
In his homily today, Pope Francis reminded us that God’s gifts are abundant. “It is we who – by our nature, due to our limits – know the need for convenient ‘doses.’ But He gives Himself in abundance, totally. And where God is, there is abundance.” And these abundant gifts—which includes the gift of his Blessed Mother always exceed our expectations.
Earlier this week I was thinking back to my conversation with the Mexican Catholic scholar Rodrigo Guerra. In the third part of our podcast interview, he spoke about bridging divisions by building communion, and stated that we need to “kneel before Our Lady of Guadalupe together.”
Here’s a partial transcript of his response after I asked him if he had any advice about healing divisions:
I had a meeting with the president of the American bishops four months ago in Florida in a beautiful place—a kind of house for spiritual exercises. At the end of the meeting, I gave a short lecture about the political situation in Latin America and the situation of the Church in North America. And at the end, there was a very similar question and I tried to answer in this way: We have to be closer. The Latin American and the North American Church.
First, because of political reasons—because we are in the same region. We cannot be away from each other. Second, because John Paul II invited us in Ecclesia in America to understand ourselves as one Church: we are the Church of the Americas. One single church, lived in different contexts, through our beautiful continent called America.
This is a good reason—it’s a pope who is a saint who called us to create all the experiences of unity that we can develop. And we have been a little bit disobedient, because the Church in the States on many occasions walks a very different path from the Church in Latin America, and vice-versa. We need to talk. We need to meet, we need to discover the wealth of each other, and we need to kneel before Our Lady of Guadalupe together.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is not an apparition for Mexicans or for Latin Americans. It’s like any other apparition: it’s a message for all of us. And I would say we need to rediscover our common ground and follow what Our Lady of Guadalupe teaches. I would say we need to be always friends and try to keep faithful. Not only in a merely “intellectual” way, but mainly through communion. We need to talk more, to discuss more, to share our experiences and to help each other, if it’s possible.
Rodrigo then recalled what he suggested to Archbishop Gomez:
Why don’t we think of new projects? Maybe unthinkable a few months ago, but now we are facing new, common challenges. For instance, in the field of populism, in the field of migration, in the field of young generations that are in need of hearing the Gospel. Why don’t we create common projects among the Latin American and the Church in Canada and the States? So I invited him very—well, let’s say passionately—to rethink, and I told him it’s better to run the risk to create new projects of communion than to keep to our comfort zones.
I know that it’s less problematic for everyone. To be in different fish tanks. It’s like we are fish, but in different fish tanks: The fish tank of the United States and the fish tank of Latin America. We say hello through the glass of the fish tank. We smile.
The bishops invited us (to have) some wonderful whiskeys I have never tasted before, but we need to move forward. Come on!
It’s better to commit mistakes while moving us in the direction of closer communion than to stay in the comfort zone without making noise.
I would recommend the same with you. … We can work together in a kind of new brotherhood of persons who try to live faithfully and humbly experience the faith, trying to make an apostolate in favor of communion.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Image: Adobe Stock
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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.