St. Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant and Catholic convert, "heard her voice and carried out the will of God," Archbishop Gomez recalled. Nine million Mexicans are said to have become Catholic in the seven years that followed the apparition.
Present-day believers, in Mexico and elsewhere, "received the gift of faith because our ancestors kept our faith alive and passed it on to us – through generations and generations, even in the darkest times," Archbishop Gomez observed.
To illustrate this devotion to the faith, and the international nature of the Guadalupe message, he told the story of Blessed Maria Ines Teresa Arias.
Beatified last April in Mexico City, the 20th century blessed fled Mexico during the time of the Cristero War – "when it was a crime to believe in Jesus Christ and to want to worship him," Archbishop Gomez noted.
Having joined the Poor Clare sisters in Mexico City, Maria Ines came to the U.S. in 1929, receiving her habit as a novice in Los Angeles. On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1930, she had a mystical experience in which she heard the Virgin Mary promise to accompany her in doing God's work.
Though she returned to Mexico in 1931, "she heard her missionary calling here," the L.A. archbishop recalled.
Bl. Maria Ines founded the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, sending women to proclaim the Gospel through consecrated life in 14 countries.
She charged her sisters "to carry the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so that she – through her maternal tenderness – would bring her Divine Son to live in the hearts of those who hunger for God without knowing it."
Archbishop Gomez addressed that same advice to the crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, encouraging Guadalupe Celebration participants to deepen their faith and pass it on to others.
"Jesus Christ wants to make use of us. Just as he made use of St. Juan Diego. Just as he made use of Blessed María Ines," he reflected. "He wants us to be apostles and missionaries. And Our Lady of Guadalupe will accompany us in all our endeavors."
"My brothers and sisters, now it is our turn. The mission of Tepeyac continues today. It continues in you and me! Our Lady of Guadalupe is counting on us now!"
(Story continues below)
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