“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Star of the New Evangelization’

Last night, I appeared on the Joe Miller Unplugged show featured on the Fiat Ministry Network for my first television interview. Among the many things we discussed, we focused on evangelization, but specifically, the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization, a concept at the core of this blog, is the same thing as the old evangelization, but it’s the renewal of the Gospel message using the tools of social media, film, and technology to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church to places and lands that have already heard it.

Furthermore, the New Evangelization calls baptized Catholics to preach the Gospel to all people we encounter, and to do it with joy. As baptized Christians, it’s at our very core to be missionaries, even to people (our families, coworkers, and social circles) that have heard the Gospel message already. As Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium,

“When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. For ‘here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means.’ Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”

In the interview, we also talked about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the weekly series which this post is now part of, and what the Church teaches about the Annunciation and the Immaculate Conception. So for today’s blog post I am going to unite these two elements – the New Evangelization and Mary, and give you the words of Pope Francis in the aforementioned Apostolic Exhortation.

The "Star of the New Evangelization' is the title given to Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The “Star of the New Evangelization’ is the title given to Pope St. John Paul II to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Focusing on Mary’s title as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’, the Holy Father says,

“We ask the Mother of the living Gospel to intercede that this invitation to a new phase of evangelization will be accepted by the entire ecclesial community. Mary is the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith, and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church. Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn. Along this journey of evangelization we will have our moments of aridity, darkness and even fatigue. Mary herself experienced these things during the years of Jesus’ childhood in Nazareth: “This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful good news. However, it is not difficult to see in that beginning a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of night of faith – to use the words of Saint John of the Cross – a kind of ‘veil’ through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. And this is the way that Mary, for many years, lived in intimacy with the mystery of her Son, and went forward in her pilgrimage of faith”.

There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves. Contemplating Mary, we realize that she who praised God for “bringing down the mighty from their thrones” and “sending the rich away empty” (Lk 1:52-53) is also the one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice. She is also the one who carefully keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization. We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world. It is the Risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).”

So as we begin our workweek this Monday, let us ask for the intercession of Mary as the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’ to help us bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to all those we encounter with joy, enthusiasm, and passion. Let us build relationships with people so they may see our relationship with Christ and have the desire to develop and form a relationship with Him as well.

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness

St. Juan Diego #1Since yesterday was the feast day of Saint Juan Diego and Wednesday is the feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe, I thought I would write about this fantastic book that my friends Michael and Laura shared with me some months ago. The title of the book is – Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of the Darkness. The link will bring you to a website where you can purchase it. If you don’t purchase it, you will regret it. This book is SOOOO good! Once I began to read it, it was not put down (well okay it was, but I read it quickly).

It is an objective account based on historical records written by Dr. Warren H. Carroll. If you are not aware of whom he is, check out the link above. For those of you that live in the United States, he is the founder of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. Where many texts about the Physical Conquest of Mexico and the person of Hernan Cortes are often politically driven or written to change the course of history, Dr. Carroll writes a superb book without a hidden agenda. It’s simply a great book that will grab your attention from the first few paragraphs. Read it! You won’t regret it.

Many people know the story of how Our Blessed Mother appeared as a Aztec (Mexican) woman to Saint Juan Diego, but so many don’t know about the years leading up to the visions on Tepeyac Hill. Many don’t know about the horrific sacrifices the Aztecs performed to their demonic gods. This book gives a detailed account of the events that happen from 1487-1548. It not only explains the physical Conquest of Mexico, but more importantly, the spiritual Conquest of Mexico, which is often never told in history books written by secular scholars.

St. Juan Diego #2

Instead of going into my own detailed account of the book, I am going to leave you with some teasers from the book in the hopes that you will purchase the book and read it for yourself. You will not regret it. It’s a fantastic read and one that will more than likely be read again.

“His name was Cuauhtlatohuac, “he who talks like an eagle.” (An eagle perched on a cactus growing out of a rock, with a snack in its beak, was the symbol of Aztec Tenochtitlan, Cactus Rock.) Approximately forty years later, Cuauhtlatohuac was to be baptized with the Christian name of Juan Diego; and it was to him that the Mother of God, who crushes the Serpent, was to appear on the nearby hill of Tepeyac as Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

 “When they were ready to go inland, Martin of Valencia and his eleven Franciscan apostles set out on the 200-mile journey to Mexico City, across the mountains and deserts, in thin brown robes, barefoot. For the next two hundred and fifty years, every Franciscan missionary entering Mexico for the first time walked the 200 miles from Veracruz to Mexico City barefoot. It was done when Fray Junipero Serra, the apostle of California, arrived in the eighteenth century.”

“As the people of England went out of the Church Christ founded, the people of Mexico came into it. The consequences to the Church of the loss of England reverberate down the centuries; she has suffered few greater losses in the whole of the Christian era. The consequences to the Church of the conversion of the majority of the population of the New World who live south of the United States still lie mostly in the future. But no part of the world is more Catholic, and few equally so –and that is, above all, the gift of the Virgin of Guadalupe.”

Two other books on Our Lady of Guadalupe worth reading:

  1. The Wonder of Guadalupe by Francis Johnston
  2. Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mother of the Civilization of Love by Carl Anderson & Msgr. Eduardo Chavez

If you know of other books, please list them in the comment box below.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas…PRAY FOR US!

“Mondays With Mary” – Our Lady of the Americas and the New Evangelization

In 1999, Blessed John Paul II wrote the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America (The Church in America).  This document was to unite the particular (local dioceses) churches in the America’s – North, Central, and South. It is a call to encounter the living Christ who in turns brings conversion, communion and solidarity to the Church in America. At the heart of this document is the new evangelization. “As I have said…the new and unique situation in which the world and the Church find themselves at the threshold of the Third Millennium…the mission of evangelization today calls for a new program which can be defined overall as a “new evangelization””(Christifideles Laici). 

An important component of the new evangelization in America lies with the Virgin of Guadalupe. She is the fundamental piece that helps us all, not only on this continent, but also in all the Church. It is through Mary that we encounter Christ. Mary, as a good and faithful Queen Mother, leads us always to her Son and Our King, Jesus Christ. She never seeks her own glory, but is always pointing to Jesus. When she appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531, she comes as an Aztec woman who is pregnant with child. That child is Jesus Christ. It is through the power and grace of Christ that the country of Mexico converts to Catholicism for it was Mary who led Mexico and pagan Aztecs to her Son.

Below are the words of Blessed John Paul II from Ecclesia en America 11 –

How can we fail to emphasize the role which belongs to the Virgin Mary in relation to the pilgrim Church in America journeying toward its encounter with the Lord? Indeed, the Most Blessed Virgin “is linked in a special way to the birth of the Church in the history…of the peoples of America; through Mary they came to encounter the Lord.”

Throughout the continent, from the time of the first evangelization, the presence of the Mother of God has been strongly felt, thanks to the efforts of the missionaries. In their preaching, “the Gospel was proclaimed by presenting the Virgin Mary as its highest realization. From the beginning – invoked as Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mary, by her motherly and merciful figure, was a great sign of the closeness of the Father and of Jesus Christ, with whom she invites us to enter into communion.”

The appearance of Mary to the native Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531 had a decisive effect on evangelization. Its influence greatly overflows the boundaries of Mexico, spreading to the whole continent. America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the Virgin Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America.

With the passage of time, pastors and faithful alike have grown increasingly conscious of the role of the Virgin Mary in the evangelization of America. In the prayer composed for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, Holy Mary of Guadalupe is invoked as “Patroness of all America and Star of the new evangelization.” In view of this, I welcome with joy the proposal of the Synod Fathers that the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, be celebrated through the continent on December 12. It is my heartfelt hope that she, whose intercession was responsible for strengthening the faith of the first disciples (cf. Jn 2:11), will by her maternal intercession guide the Church in America, obtaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as once did for the early Church (cf. Acts 1:14), so that the new evangelization may yield a splendid flowering of Christian life.

The Virgin of Guadalupe has been important in my own life since I was 17 years old when I visited the shrine in Mexico City. As one who has lived in the Southwestern United States for most my life, I have seen the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe many times. In my high school theology classroom, I have an image of her that is always in a prominent place.

 

 

 

 

I urge you to learn more about Our Lady of Guadalupe and pray for her intercession during this Fortnight for Freedom (June 21-July 4). She was called upon many times during the Cristeros War in Mexico and I have no doubt she come and aid us as well at this time.