The Church in America

Blessed John Paul II Named Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Mother of Hope and Mother and Evangelizer of America

In contrast to the culture of death with its loss of hope, Pope John Paul II called Our Lady of Guadalupe the Mother of Hope and the Mother and Evangelizer of America. He did this at the historical First Synod of all of the Bishops of America in Rome in December 1998 that closed on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe and in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Church in America, his summary of the Synod. He delivered this at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on January 23, 1999.

The New Evangelization of America

The Holy Father likened the Synod to the upper room where Mary and the apostles prayed before Pentecost. The Synod began the year 1998 dedicated by the Holy Father to the Holy Spirit towards the joyful celebration of the Great Jubilee Year 2000. He announced a new mission “to undertake the New Evangelization of the American continent”. He sees America as one continent “from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from the Pacific to the Atlantic…, a continent called in its various sectors to integration and solidarity.”

He proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Mother of All America. “Now is the time”, he said, “of the New Evangelization to lead the People of God in America to cross the threshold of the third millennium with renewed hope.” He entrusted to her, as the Star of the New Evangelization, the “future path of the Church on the great continent of America.” He referred to America in the singular to emphasize the call to all Americans to unity and solidarity.

As he looked at an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Holy Father said, “Now, as we prepare for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, I ask her to visit as a pilgrim of faith each and every diocese, parish and family in America. May she cross this continent bringing it life, sweetness and hope! May she enliven and protect the work of the New Evangelization!” (This wish of the Pope can be satisfied by Visitations of the Missionary Image. Please contact us if you would like to host a Visitation.)

At the Synod, the Holy Father mentioned the challenges of the New Evangelization such as the authentic teaching of the Church’s doctrine and the need for society’s laws to harmonize with it; the defense of human life; the role of the family and the value of human work. He said that the solution to these challenges is to spread the civilization of love through apostolic action rooted in the Gospel and “courageously proclaiming Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the whole man and of every man.” This is the New Evangelization!

Holy Father Entrusts the Future of the American Continent to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Declares December 12 Her Feast Day Throughout America

In 1979 Pope John Paul II made his first pilgrimage to Mexico and consecrated his papacy to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1999, he made his fourth pilgrimage there and consecrated the entire Continent to her. He delivered a summary of the historic first All-American Bishops’ Synod at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This was perhaps the most significant event in the history of America since Our Lady’s visit there in 1531!

The Holy Father was invited to come to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to deliver the Summary of the Bishops’ Synod. Providentially, he arrived in Mexico on January 22, 1999, the anniversary of the legalization of abortion. He signed the Summary, his Apostolic Exhortation, The Church in America, and laid it at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Exhortation states that the solution of the problems of America lies not with the ideas of politicians or academics but with a personal encounter with the Living, Risen Jesus Christ – present in Scripture, the sacraments and in each other. “Everyone should keep in mind”, the Pope said, “that the vital core of the New Evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of His name, His teaching, His life, His promises and the Kingdom which He has gained for us by His Paschal Mystery.” The Living, Risen, Jesus Christ is “the definitive answer to the question of the meaning of life, and to those fundamental questions which still trouble so many men and women on the American continent.”

The Holy Father referred to America as one continent and said that Americans are called to unity. “Open to the unity which comes from true communion with the Risen Lord, the particular Churches, and all who belong to them, will discover through their own spiritual experience that the encounter with the Living Jesus Christ is the path to conversion, communion and solidarity. To the extent that these goals are reached, there will emerge an ever increasing dedication to the New Evangelization of America.”

He placed the New Evangelization under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “It is my heartfelt hope that she, whose intercession was responsible for strengthening the faith of the first disciples, will by her maternal intercession guide the Church in America, obtaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as she once did for the early Church so that the New Evangelization may yield a splendid flowering of Christian life.”

The key to our encounter with Jesus Christ is in the family. The Exhortation contains a prayer for families: “May families always be united, as you and the Father are one, and may they be living witnesses to love, justice, and solidarity; make them schools of respect, forgiveness, and mutual help, so that the world may believe.”

The Holy Father’s Exhortation concludes with a prophecy. “Through Our Lady of Guadalupe’s powerful intercession, the Gospel will penetrate the hearts of the men and women of America and permeate their cultures, transforming them from within…I therefore invite all the Catholics of America to take an active part in the evangelizing initiatives which the Holy Spirit is stirring in every part of this immense continent, so full of resources and hopes for the future.”

The day after he signed his Exhortation, the Holy Father concelebrated Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe with 500 Bishops and 5000 priests. He entrusted the future of the Continent to her and declared that the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, be celebrated throughout the Continent on December 12.

He virtually declared the end of the culture of death and preached at the Basilica. “The Church must proclaim the Gospel of Life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death. This is our cry: life with dignity for all…The time has come to banish once and for all from the Continent every attack against life…As a matter of urgency, we must stir up a new springtime of holiness on the Continent so that action and contemplation will go hand in hand.”

He concluded his homily with a prayer, “Oh, Sweet Lady of Tepeyac, Mother of Guadalupe! We present to you this countless multitude of faithful who pray to God in America. You who have come into their hearts visit and comfort all homes, parishes and dioceses of all the Continent.” (You can respond to the Holy Father’s call by hosting a Visitation of the Missionary Image.)

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