Wednesday, July 14, 2010
You Haven't Been to See My Mother!
Last week Sister Maria informed me that she was surprised that I had been here in Mexico more than a week, and still hadn't been to see her mother. Sister Maria's mother lives in California, but she was referring to the woman many Mexican people affectionately refer to as "Mama Lupita", Our Lady of Guadalupe. Usually, one of the first things that I do when I arrive in Mexico is to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This shrine is not known for major miracles like Our Lady of Lourdes in France, but I believe that most people who go there do experience the tenderness of a mother who cares for them. In fact, one of the phrases written on the walls inside and outside of the Basilica contains the words of Mary when she appeared to Juan Diego, "Am I not here as your mother?" The building seats about ten thousand people, and is generally full. One of the miracles for me is that you can be in the midst of so many people and still experience a deep sense of peace. Of course, the other miracle is the authenticity. The tilma on which Our Lady of Guadalupe left her image has survived bombings, scientific investigations, the supression of Catholicism and almost 500 years!
And so it is that after the birth of a child, parents take him or her to the "Villa" as it is known here, for their "Mother" to see. People are often seen approaching the entrance on their knees to complete a "promesa", a promise they have made for a favor received. While there may or may not be many major miracles, perhaps the miracle is that people living in very difficult circumstances find the strength to carry on. Maybe that's what mothers do best, give their children hope and encouragement to continue believing in themselves in spite of many difficulties and obstacles in their lives.
Please know I remembered all of you, family, friends, Community, women discerning their vocation and especially our benefactors who make possible all we do, in this holy place.
The first photo is a view from path pilgrims' walk. The building in the back is the previous shrine. It became too small to hold the crowds and also was sinking from earthquake damage.
The second is the new Basilica (cir 1970). The third is the inside of the Basilica.