Lord, endow us with discernment so that we might recognize the seeds of harshness in our lives. Help us to overcome this harshness with the heart of compassion, like that of your Mother, our Mother, seeing then your presence in all human beings. Amen.
“Mary, the Projected Symbol of Providence” by Orlando Espin
Under different names, in different locations, with different external appearance, the veneration of Mary is so pervasive in Hispanic popular religion and daily life that it would be practically impossible to understand U.S. Latino cultures without the Marian symbol…I believe that [Mary] is also an important projected symbol of providence…The history of Mexico has not been the same since Guadalupe. It is very difficult to imagine the Mexican people without their awareness of Guadalupe. It is even more difficult to interpret them without understanding the role that the apparitions and subsequent devotion of Our Lady of Guadalupe have played in their development and identity as a people. And it must be remembered that almost half of present-day American territory was Mexican (and inhabited by Mexicans) up to the middle of last century. These people did not go away after the 1848 war of conquest, nor did their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Constant immigration from Mexico to its former territories has maintained the link of U.S. Hispanic devotion with the Marian shrine at Tepeyac.
Though it is very true that the symbol of Guadalupe played an important role in the beginnings of the Mexican process of independence, and though Mary’s banner has been raised several times since then in order to call the people to action, these seem to me to be exceptions in Mexican and Mexican-American histories. Our Lady of Guadalupe certainly was and is a most important element in Mexican and Mexican-American national self-identity. But her preeminent role remains one of consoling and comforting the communities and the individuals in their hours of suffering and loss, giving meaning and identity to the vanquished. The Virgin of Guadalupe is, first and foremost, the mother of her people.
What does this Marian devotion have to do with U.S. Hispanic experiences of providence? I believe that in Latino surroundings, Mary is the prime symbol of God’s providence. If this is true, the…devotion I have presented…[is an example] of how the people have taken their experience and used religious symbols available to them (specially during the formation periods of ethnic and cultural identity) to communicate what they believe providence is….For the Latino population…the Marian expressions do reflect felt encounters with providence.
(On Keeping Providence, 1991).
- How is compassion an expression of providence?
- What compulsions or fears limit my compassion to those who are more vulnerable?
- Reflect on the events and issues of today. What evoked compassion in me? Why?
Side 1: O Holy Virgin, in the midst of all your glory,
All: we ask you not to forget the sorrows of this world.
Side 2: Cast a look of pity upon all who struggle against life’s difficulties,
All: and who cease not to feel all its bitterness.
Side 1: Have pity on all who have been separated from those they love.
All: Have pity on the lonely and friendless.
Side 2: Pardon the weakness of our faith.
All: Have pity on those whom we love.
Side 1: O Holy Mother, show a mother’s compassion toward the sorrowful and those who tremble under life’s afflictions.
All: Give them hope and peace.
Together: God of compassion, you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as sisters and brothers. Through your justice present in our hearts may your peace reign in the world.
Our Lady of Guadalupe,
O dark Madonna of the Americas,
Come again to bring us the roses of compassion, justice, and peace.
In the midst of our winter,
Bestow your love on all those marginalized in these lands, and give us your gift to see dignity in the least of those among us.
Bless all who suffer from injustice.
Shelter them in the warmth of your love and safeguard them from evil that rages around them.
Turn our eyes and hearts to their needs and give us courage to act for their good.
We ask this, relying on your compassion and confident of your love. Amen.
(Education for Justice)