Our Lady of Guadalupe was proclaimed patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius X11 in 1946. This devotion dates to 1531 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared as a young Aztec woman to Juan Diego, a convert to Christianity whose Indigenous name was Cuauhtlatoatzin (“Eagle Who Speaks”). Our Lady of Guadalupe brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics from all the Americas. Authentic devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe shows how the Catholic faith finds expression in Indigenous cultures. In 2002 Juan Diego was declared a Saint by the Catholic Church.
In Canada, we celebrate the December 12 feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe by also declaring it as the Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council reflects on this day as a day that identifies areas of commonality found in Traditional Aboriginal spirituality and the Catholic faith, seeking to point out bridges for mutual understanding. These will hopefully lead to a deeper respect and appreciation among all Catholics toward traditional Indigenous spirituality, while also showing how Indigenous Catholics see a relationship between their Catholic faith and their cultural and personal identity.
The belief in a benevolent Creator, a natural world that is good, the need to answer the call to live a life of virtue, and the importance of communication with the Creator are some of the elements that Catholic and Indigenous spiritualities have in common.
May we all remember Our Lady of Guadalupe on Her feast day of December 12 this and every year. May Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Catholics take this time to reflect and respect one another within our common beliefs in the common good and the dignity of every human being. I have been blessed with the personal experiences of sharing, praying and believing with my fellow Canadians, whether First Nations, Inuit or Metis. May non-Indigenous Catholics learn from our errors, build bridges that bring us closer together and may we also teach those of all ages about Indigenous history, culture and faith traditions. Our Creator would ask no more but accept nothing less.
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, PLEASE PRAY FOR US.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.