Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Saturday, June 14th, 2014
Our Lady Wants Success
I wanted to celebrate a votive Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe this morning because she is the patroness of the Order. I would submit that there is no better way to begin your service as State Deputies than to invoke the prayers, the intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe whose image is before us this morning together with the beautiful red roses that also remind us of the apparitions on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City in December 1531.
On that hill the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego several times and asked that a church be built there in her honor. Juan Diego, a simple and pious man, went to the bishop to convey Our Lady’s request.
In response, Bishop Zumarraga asked Juan Diego to return to Tepeyac Hill to ask her for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. When she again appeared to Juan Diego there were roses on the normally barren hill which the Virgin of Guadalupe arranged in his cloak or tilma. On December 12, Juan Diego returned to the bishop and opened his cloak. As the roses fell to the floor, the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary was on his cloak, the image we see before us. Such is the barest outline of the appearance of Our Blessed Lady to Juan Diego.
If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend that you read a book, co-authored by our Worthy Supreme Knight and by Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, entitled Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of a Civilization of Love. It describes in detail the significance of the apparition and its vital importance for the Church’s mission of evangelization.
This morning I would like to focus on two points which I believe are crucial for your work as our New State Deputies.
Our Lady Wouldn’t Take “No”
The first point is this: Don’t avoid the hard stuff; Our Lady will not be deterred. You and I can only imagine how Juan Diego felt when Our Lady appeared to him. He wasn’t looking for notoriety, quite the contrary. He was a pious man, on his way to Mass, concerned about his sick uncle. The last thing he expected was to encounter Our Lady and to become her messenger to the bishop.
Indeed, when his mission became complicated he tried to evade the Blessed Mother by going around the other side of the hill but Our Lady intercepted him, gently chided him with the words, “Am I not here who am your Mother” – “No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?”
No doubt, when you return to your jurisdictions, you will meet up with many different kinds of obstacles. Some of your responsibilities will be enjoyable but some will be difficult. There will be problems that need to be addressed, fraternally yet frankly. There will be opportunities to grow the Order and advance its mission but with the opportunities there will also be complications.
So we should pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe to ask for her help in the mission that the Order and your Brother Knights have entrusted to you. She will help us to resist the temptation simply to enjoy our positions in the Order, to go along to get along, to take a victory lap, not addressing the challenges and the opportunities that are before us.
Our Lady Wants Success: Urgency in Mission
The second point is this: be convinced that Our Lady urgently wants you to succeed. Until the time of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Church’s mission of evangelization was moving slowly. The Gospel was encountering still headwinds in the New World.
I would imagine that Bishop Zumarraga and his fellow missionaries must have discussed frequently the challenges that they were facing. Yet when he encountered the unmistakable evidence of Our Lady’s presence in the roses and in her image on Juan Diego’s cloak – everything changed. There was still caution and opposition from various quarters, but the Church’s mission of evangelization exploded. Because of Mary’s presence and prayers, millions heard the Gospel, encountered Christ, and became members of Christ’s Body, the Church. Her impact was not merely on individuals but on the culture which was transformed from the inside out.
Sometimes we can be like the Spanish missionaries who discussed among themselves the problems they were facing. We too can feel stymied in advancing the mission of the Knights of Columbus. We can think of difficult personalities and situations that came to fore long before we ever assumed leadership positions in the Order.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is our patron for a reason: When we open our hearts to her in prayer, when we sense her presence in our midst as our Mother, she will change everything for us. She will give us new confidence and a new sense of urgency in the mission that is ours.
For the mission you have been given is to share in a special way in the Church’s mission of evangelization. Our Lady of Guadalupe is calling upon you, as she called upon St. Juan Diego and Bishop Zumarraga – to increase membership, to establish new councils, to set new records of charity – in a word to grow the Order because there are so many men and so many families that could find their way to Christ and the Church through us, the Knights of Columbus, and through our witness to the faith.
The Blessed Mother doesn’t want any one of us in this room to return home content to do business as usual, content to be cautious, secure in excuses – rather she wants to touch our lives, deeply and personally, so that as leaders of the Knights we can be intentional disciples of her Son who in turn will advance the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel.
Successive Popes have spoken of Mary as “the Star of Evangelization”. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word became flesh in Mary. Through Mary, the world received its Redeemer. So too, through the Holy Spirit, Christ must be born anew in our hearts and through us, the Gospel must be proclaimed in the world today. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may we dedicate ourselves and our positions in the Order completely at the service of spreading the Gospel far and wide and thus build a true civilization of truth and love.
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