Monday, February 8, 2016

Francis's Pilgrimage to Mexico and Mary

Pope Francis spoke by teleconference with Mexicans preparing for his upcoming trip to their country. There are many important elements of this trip, but I want to focus on just one here. The Pope's desire to meet with the Virgin of Guadalupe is absolutely real.

Jorge Bergoglio is no stranger to Guadalupe. He has been to "Mary's house," but this will be his first visit since his dramatic and unexpected transfer from Latin America to Rome three years ago.

I have no doubt that these words of the Pope, and this great desire of his "to visit the maternal house, and to feel the tenderness of her kind presence," are profoundly rooted in his experience, which is the experience of countless Guadalupan pilgrims (myself included).

Through the inexplicable phenomenon of the image on Saint Juan Diego's tilma, Mary "lives there." The whole miracle of Guadalupe has a purpose, and that purpose is the possibility of encountering Mary personally, with a kind of physical "presence," a tenderness, a hospitality, and eyes that look upon you before you think to look at her.

Pope Francis gets it. He knows this place. He knows that she has asked to see him "as one more son," and that he needs to see her, to bring to her all the suffering of our times.

Let us join him in placing our confidence in her.

"Do you want me to confide in you [one] of my greatest desires?
To be able to visit the Virgin Mary’s house.
As one more son, I will approach our Mother
and place at her feet all that I bear in my heart.
It is lovely to be able to visit the maternal house,
and to feel the tenderness of her kind presence.
There, I will look at her in her eyes
and implore that she not fail to look at us with mercy,
as she is our Heavenly Mother."