In a heartfelt address to the faithful gathered at the Vatican, Pope Francis extended his gratitude to mothers and grandmothers for their pivotal role in passing on the faith to the younger generations.
The Pope, continuing his series of catecheses on “the passion for evangelization,” drew upon the example of Our Lady of Guadalupe to underscore the significance of transmitting faith in one’s native language.
Pope Francis acknowledged the complex history of evangelization in the Americas, noting that the initial attempts at spreading the faith had encountered challenges due to an approach that failed to respect indigenous cultures. He contrasted this with the extraordinary encounter between Mary and Juan Diego, emphasizing that Mary appeared to him dressed in the attire of the native people and spoke their language, showcasing a deep appreciation for their culture.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe serves as a model of embracing and loving local culture,” Pope Francis affirmed. “Her message was delivered in the native language, reminding us that the Gospel is most effectively transmitted through the mother tongue.”
Expressing his gratitude, the Pontiff particularly thanked mothers and grandmothers for their significant contribution to the faith journey of their children and grandchildren. He asserted that faith isn’t merely taught through words but is profoundly woven into the fabric of life itself. “Mothers are the first evangelizers,” the Pope proclaimed, leading the congregation to erupt in a round of applause to honor these maternal figures.
Turning his attention to the life of St. Juan Diego, Pope Francis recounted how he embraced Christianity while already married and how he persisted in fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by Our Lady, despite obstacles and opposition. The Pope remarked, “Even today, the task of inculturating the Gospel and evangelizing cultures demands perseverance, patience, and a willingness to engage with conflict without losing heart.”
Pope Francis drew parallels between the surprise of God’s miracles in Juan Diego’s story and the unexpected ways in which divine intervention continues to shape the world. He emphasized the need for unwavering obedience and a spirit of willingness, noting that the outcome of these virtues can be beyond human foresight.
The message of Our Lady to Juan Diego was affirmed through a miraculous image on his tilma, a symbol that endures as a testament to faith’s transformative power. The Pope marveled at how Marian shrines, pilgrimage sites, and places of proclamation continue to embody the spirit of Juan Diego’s encounter with Mary, welcoming faith in a simple, genuine, and popular manner.
In his concluding remarks, Pope Francis extended an invitation to believers to seek out these “oases of consolation and mercy.” These sanctuaries, he proposed, provide a space where faith can be expressed in the maternal language, where life’s burdens are surrendered into the arms of Our Lady, and where hearts are imbued with tranquility.
Pope Francis’s address not only celebrated the role of mothers and grandmothers in the continuity of faith but also underscored the importance of embracing diverse cultures and languages in the evangelization process. Through the lens of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, he illuminated the enduring power of faith and the vital role of cultural sensitivity in fostering a deeply rooted and vibrant spiritual journey.