At the cathedral where I live, often I stop to pray at the outdoor chapel to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which overlooks the US 101 freeway.
As I pray to Our Lady and look out on the cars moving by below, my mind goes to St. Junípero Serra and the missionaries. Three centuries ago they walked this same path, devoted to Our Lady, and bringing the faith to people up and down the California coast.
These days, I’ve been praying and thinking a lot about Our Lady of Guadalupe.
She was sent by God to the people of Mexico at a time of great uncertainty and political unrest. Plague and earthquakes were devastating the population, and there was violence and racial conflict, and widespread suffering and injustice.
Into this historical and cultural moment, Our Lady came as a mother bearing a message of hope. “Let not your heart be disturbed,” she told St. Juan Diego.
This has been Mary’s role in history, beginning in the first days of the Church when the mother of Jesus was at the center of the apostles’ community in Jerusalem.
In a fine new book, “History’s Queen” (Ave Maria Press, $17), historian and Angelus contributing editor Mike Aquilina writes: “In every age, she is present, leaving her mark on the great events of the time. She is there because she is our mother — a mother to all Christians, and a mother to all humanity.”
We are living in a moment in our culture when current events are delivered to our little screens immediately and without context. We are tempted in this moment to think that history is only a human project and to see it only through the lens of present-day values and priorities.
To be a believer in this climate, we need to step back, see things in the light of our faith. God made heaven and earth and he is the ruler of nations and the Lord of history. There are not two “histories” that run side by side — the one the history of nations and the other the history of salvation.
History is one because God is one. And history is a love story, the story of God calling his children to him through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are promised that this world will be redeemed, that history is leading to what St. Peter called “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
As believers, we need to see beyond the chaos of current events and seek to find the will of God in the present moment. For this, Mary holds the key because it is through her that Jesus Christ entered into human history. And he is still at work, shaping the world’s course and direction.
So, we need to keep getting closer to Mary, we need to enter more deeply into her way of seeing and her way of living. This is the secret of the saints. Everything that Mary does points us to her Son — to his commandments, to the mysteries of his life, to giving up our own will to follow him and share in his mission.
In every age, Mary’s maternal care is an expression of God’s providence, his plan of love for history and for every soul. And in the troubles of this present moment, we need to entrust ourselves even more to her care.
Earlier this year, I led my brother bishops in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in reconsecrating our great country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Next week, on Oct. 7, my brother bishops and I will again join in asking for Our Lady’s help, praying a virtual Rosary for America.
There will be bishops participating from every part of the country, from north to south and east to west and places in between. Our hope is to unite Catholic people from across the country in a moment of prayer for our nation, at a time when there is so much unrest and uncertainty. For details on the event, please visit our website: lacatholics.org/rosary-for-america.
As we seek our Blessed Mother’s intercession for our nation, I hope that we will also make this a moment to deepen our own commitments to Mary — to dedicate ourselves to her and to let her teach us how to offer our hearts to serve Christ and his beautiful plan of salvation history. Let us live all for Jesus through the heart of Mary!
Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you. And please tell everyone you know to join us in this Rosary for America!
May our Blessed Mother intercede and guide us to see our lives and our world always through her loving gaze and the mysteries of her Son, Jesus Christ.