ZENIT has posted the address given at the International Congress
"Ecclesia in America" by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of
Columbus. Here is the opening:
On December 12, 1531, the last day of the apparitions of Our Lady of
Guadalupe, when St. Juan Diego took a different path in order to find a
priest for his dying uncle, Our Lady met him on his detour and posed
these questions: “My youngest son, what is going on? Where are you
going? Where are you headed?”
Today, during this Congress, we ask the very same questions: What is going on? Where are we going? Where are we headed?
Like New Spain in the early 16th century, we too face in many ways a
great clash of civilizationsin our time made more troubling by the
accelerating process of globalization.
From Chile to Canada, vast majorities still consider themselves
Christian. And yet…the countries and cultures built upon Christian faith
show great failures of charity, dignity and truthfailures inconsistent
with being disciples of the God who is Love. There is simultaneously
both a familiarity with Christ and an ignorance of Christ, which in many
places has resulted in a mischaracterization of Christ and of the
mission of the Church.
The land we are called to evangelize is in an important sense new:
it is neither pre-Christian nor Christianit is for the first time in
history a land facing a horizon that is post-Christian.
The people who once knew Christ and followed him on both a personal
and a cultural level now in too many ways fail to recognize him, either
in the face of his Church or in the face of the poor.
Where are we going?
As we reflect on the situation of the Church in America, something
resonates with us in Juan Diego’s reply to Our Lady: “Though it grieves
me, though I will cause anguish toyour face and your heart, I must tell
you…that one of your servants…is very ill. A terrible sickness has taken
hold of him; he will surely die from it soon.”
Juan Diego spoke of the plague killing his uncle. We confront
another illnessone just as deadly. And like Juan Diego, it is the care
for the human family which brings us here today. Her intervention can
come none too soon. The wisdom of Ecclesia in America is apparent.
Anderson emphasizes the role of Mary in the new evangelization:
What we need now, in this critical moment in history, is a radical
return to the Source, who is the Lord, and this return cannot take place
without something akin to what happened at the earliest beginnings of
the proclamation of the Word and to what Our Lady of Guadalupe points.
In the many iconic representations of Pentecost, we see the Church as
it was, is, and must continually become. We see the Church in its
theological realitythe apostles are gathered around the Mother of God,
awaiting the gift of the Spirit who will allow the Word of God to be
perfectly inculturated not only in one tongue or on one continent, but
in all cultures and for peoples of the earth.
Mary, the holy and immaculate core of the believing Church, teaches
us what it means to receive the Word of God, to contemplate him, and to
allow him to bear fruit in our lives. In her, we see what it means to
beg for and to receive the “intelligent,” transforming and renewing fire
that in the words of our Holy Father allows us to become “light in
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.
Mary leads to Christ, not herself. Blessed John Paul II
described the Wedding at Cana: “the Mother of Christ presents herself as
the spokeswoman of her Son’s will, pointing out those things which must
be done so that the salvific power of the Messiah may be manifested.”
In this she walks in the spirit of the Jewish prophets, as it were, in
that she, like John the Baptist, drew souls to “prepare the way of the
Lord, [and to] make straight his paths.”
He also reflects on the essential role played by the laity:
This evangelization recognizes the vital contribution of the laity.
This does not bestow on the laity a new mission, but rather awakens the
laity to the mission of Baptism the vocation of holiness and the
vocation to evangelize.
It significant that Juan Diego and his uncle were laymen. Their
dedication to the faith is apparent in Juan Diego going often to the far
away chapel for instruction, as well as his insistence on putting the
salvation of his dying uncle first.
The laity also had a greater role in evangelization after the
apparitions of Our Lady. In spreading word of the apparition and of the
faith which gave such a compassionate encounter with God, lay men and
women helped account for the conversion of millions.
In our day, a central aspect of the work of the laity is their role
as stewards of the Christian family and therefore of the domestic
Because of the central important of the family not only to its
individual members but also to society and culture, the new
evangelization must contain at its core the recovery of a sacramental
understanding of Christian marriage. If the new evangelization is to be
an incarnate proclamation of the beauty of God, who is communion, and of
the Church who is the sacrament of this communion, it cannot but have
at its center the domestic church. This is so not only because the
family is the “model place” where the faith is transmitted to new
generations, or where Christian values are lived.
Our faith teaches us that God is a unity in communion, a Trinity,
that he is love. God made an irrevocable gift of himself to us in his
Son Jesus Christ, who is his covenant with his creation. And because man
is made in the image of God, he “is incomprehensible for himself, his
life is senseless” if he does not encounter this love.
Millions of people who have yet to encounter God’s love need the
Christian family to be an icon of the God who is communion. They need to
see all the elements of human life finding fulfillment in the Son of
God made man. They need to see families that are truly human communities, which can thus point their unbelieving brothers and sisters to the beauty of the God who is love.
Read the entire address on the ZENIT site.