The challenge for Christians today is the mission that Our Lady of Guadalupe gave to Juan Diego in 1531 – to be the messengers of a “perfectly inculturated” evangelization that encompasses all people and reconciles differences, said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in his closing address at the Marian Congress.
The image that the Virgin of Guadalupe left upon Juan Diego’s tilma was the catalyst for millions of the indigenous people in New Spain to convert to the Catholic faith. Before the Virgin’s appearance, there was resistance to the faith, which was seen as the religion of the conquering Europeans, Anderson said. But after she appeared to a humble native man of low station, and left her image on his tilma for all to see, the Aztecs presented themselves for Baptism by the thousands.
The reason, Anderson pointed out, was because the image was a codex that the indigenous people could read as related to their own culture and customs. They recognized in her face, and in the symbolism on her garment, the fulfillment of their own prophecies and the desires of their own hearts, he said.
The Aztec religion did not have it all wrong, Anderson suggested. God does want our hearts – but he does not want the practice of human sacrifice to take the heart. In Mary of Guadalupe, the people of Mexico found a new and better way to worship God, for they saw in her the Virgin who is pregnant with the One True God, who was taking her children to herself.
Commenting on the title of his talk, “A Civilization of Love,” the Supreme Knight asked if maybe the concept is too idealistic, in view of the many conflicts in the world.
He said with man it is impossible to achieve, but that God can do all things.
“Who would have thought that an image on a tilma of Juan Diego would have changed history in such a dramatic fashion?” he said. Because of his obedience to Our Lady of Guadalupe and his humility, Juan Diego was able to give God permission to work a miracle of conversion.
“We too must give God permission,” Anderson said, “and in doing that, we can do great things.”