Our Lady of Guadalupe is the model for evangelization, especially in America, according to Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus.
“She is the evangelist par excellence, in part because she enters the world...from the beatific vision, a state of supreme closeness to God,” he said Dec. 10 at the “Ecclesia in America” conference in Rome.
“Her example and continued motherhood of all peoples is a sure path today for the new evangelization.”
The international congress, held Dec. 9-12, commemorates Pope John Paul II's post-synodal apostolic exhortation of the same name. It also focuses on the new evangelization.
Anderson's address reflected on the situation of the Church in America in the light of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He said the situation here is unique because it is home to the first post-Christian societies.
“'Ecclesia in America' is the blueprint for the new evangelization,” he said. Its importance is that it treats the American continents as a unity, and gives not a political vision, but an ecclesial vision for the future.
“Not a vision of systems but a vision of humanity encountering Christ. In other words, it presents a vision of an 'inculturated' evangelization, in which our diversity is sanctified and purified in its communion in the Church by orienting us toward Christ and therefore to our brethren as well.”
Anderson emphasized Pope John Paul II's idea that the core of the new evangelization is proclamation of the person of Christ.
He drew parallels between modern culture and the Aztec culture to which Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, nothing that both are cultures of death.
Anderson pointed out the similarity between human sacrifice in Aztec culture and the abortion of children and euthanasia of the ill or handicapped, who compromise “the well-being or life-style of those who are more favored.”
He said that encounter with the culture of death “is fundamental to the new evangelization and it is fundamental to the future of the Christianity in our hemisphere.”
Mary is the model for Christians because she “teaches us what it means to receive the Word of God, to contemplate him, and to allow him to bear fruit in our lives.”
“Mary is the 'star of the new evangelization' because she is the contemplative, loving, compassionate, ever faithful presence that allowed the Church to come into being not as a work of man, but as the gift of the God who is Love.”
Authentic inculturation is modeled by La Guadalupana because in her, the indigenous people saw “a true reflection of themselves and at the same time a perfect expression of a new inculturation of the Christian faith. She communicated eternal, universal truths in the language and custom of the native peoples.”
Anderson went on to say that the role of the laity and charitable witness are key to the new evangelization.
Living out the promises of baptism and the “recovery of a sacramental understanding of Christian marriage” are necessary conditions to evangelize.
“The holiness of lives formed and strengthened by the sacraments and lived in total faithfulness to the Church and in commitment to Jesus Christ is the only way to reconstitute a Catholic identity.”
“Let charity be our measure of the new evangelization,” Anderson emphasized.
He concluded by emphasizing the unitive function of the Christian message, which transcends “all cultural differences.”
“We must take the opportunity to find cultural unity through a shared religious identity and value system. The truth the Church has to offer the world does not hinder cultural development, it fulfills it.”