i studied spanish in mexico for three weeks back in 1989. during that time i visited the basilica of our lady of guadalupe in mexico city for a few hours. it is a holy place. one can feel the Spirit’s energy as soon as you enter.
what i remember best about that day is watching a woman enter the doors. she was elderly– maybe about 75. i imagine that the wrinkles on her face were the price of a hard life. she stood for a moment at the back of the church and looked at the image of mary on the tilma. she then got onto her knees and began moving forward up the middle aisle. inch by inch, inch my inch. all the while looking forward at mary.
i cannot remember how long it took her to get near the front– maybe half an hour? but she eventually got close to the image. i glanced over at her and she had a loving look on her face– still with her eyes fixed on mary. still on her knees
she might have had the toughest knees in the world! mine would have been bleeding twenty feet from the back.
my heart sinks and i tear up every time i think of that woman. i do not know her name, i didn’t even say a word to her. i just remember her devotion. i remember the love she had for mary shown by her actions. did she have a special petition for mary?
what aspect in my faith would inspire me to walk on my knees for half an hour? i am not sure…
what i do know is that our lady of guadalupe has changed, is changing and will continue to change people’s lives in ways we cannot even imagine. it is the Spirit’s work. they say that over 20 million people visit the shrine every year. countless millions will pay their respects, sing and offer flowers at parishes and other guadalupe shrines all over the world– especially on the feast day december 12th.
except today– covid precautions have shut down the gatherings which will alter how we offer devotion.
we need mary’s prayers in a special way during this pandemic
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has composed this prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas,
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate Mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.