March 14, Saturday
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Our reflection contributors have drawn our attention to the “call to action” inherent in the service of faith and the promotion of justice. We’ve been reminded that ours is a call to institutional as well as personal transformation. It is, in fact, Christ’s own call to build the Kingdom of Heaven.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
By 1531, the European devastation of Aztec society was nearly total, although thousands were still to die of smallpox and typhus. Our Lady chose this historical moment, reverberating with meaning when she appeared — in the form of a brown haired, brown skinned girl — to a self-described “nobody,” the Nahua tribesman Juan Diego. Filling his arms with winter roses, she called him "Juanito,” “Juan Dieguito" and “dearest.” Our Lady’s appearance as one of the lowly resonates with echoes of the Incarnation, and her identification with the poor and marginalized is an unmistakable indication of the Kingdom of God.
Cece Aguilar Ortiz, who serves as program coordinator for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Arizona and New Mexico, uses her reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe to share valuable insights about the “insider-outsider” nature of border culture.
Our Lady of Guadalupe in Light of the Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice
by Cece Aguilar Ortiz
“Do not let your heart be perturbed. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?"
These are the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, an indigenous man, burdened by the immediate illness of his uncle and weighed down by the post-conquest devastation of the Nahuatl people and their culture. These same words comfort generations of indigenous people across the Americas, including those of us who call the borderlands our home.
As a Latina growing up in the deserts of southern Arizona, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was always there. Yet I never really had a personal devotion to Our Lady. That was the piety of my nanas’ and tías’ generation or the pageantry of school kids offering flowers every December. It wasn’t until my experience in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, encountering migrant families along the Texas/Mexico border, that I began to understand the power of Our Lady’s presence in the lives of the Mexican people. As I came to know people who left home every summer to pick fruit and vegetables in the U.S. heartland, the image of a mother who protects and comforts those on the margins began to speak to me. I began to see myself in La Morena, the brown-eyed, dark-skinned mother of “the One True God.” It took immersing my college-educated self into a new and slightly different borderland to recognize the beauty and struggles of my own border culture and appreciate my unique position as both a cultural insider and outsider — a process that Fr. Virgilio Elizondo calls the “Mestizaje.”
My Jesuit education planted the seeds of faith and service, which continue to slowly blossom into a deeper sense of solidarity with each new phase in life. From my early years with JVC, to crossing new borders of culture and religion as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Thailand, to becoming a wife and now a mother, Our Lady bears witness and teaches me how to love, show compassion and give hope by joining my life to those in need and building bridges of unity and understanding.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en el contexto del servicio de fe y la promoción de justicia
Por: Cece Aguilar Ortíz
“No dejes que tu corazón se perturbe. Acaso ¿no estoy aquí, yo, que soy tu Madre?”
Estas son las palabras de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe a Juan Diego, un hombre indígena, agobiado por la enfermedad inmediata de su tío y sintiendo el peso de la devastación del pueblo Nahuatl y su cultura, posterior a la conquista. Estas mismas palabras consuelan generaciones de pueblos indígenas a través de las Américas, incluyéndonos a los que consideramos las fronteras, nuestro hogar.
Como Latina que creció en los desiertos del sur de Arizona, la imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, estuvo siempre presente. Sin embargo, nunca tuve, realmente, una devoción personal por Nuestra Señora. Esa fue la piedad de la generación de mis nanas y tías, o los desfiles de los niños escolares, ofrendando flores cada diciembre. No fue sino hasta mi experiencia en el Cuerpo de Voluntarios Jesuita, en el encuentro con familias migrantes, a lo largo de la frontera entreTexas y México, que comencé a entender el poder de la presencia de Nuestra Señora, en las vidas del pueblo Mexicano. A partir de conocer gente que dejaba sus hogares cada verano, para trabajar recogiendo frutas y verduras en el corazón de los Estados Unidos, la imagen de la madre que protege y anima a aquellos en las márgenes, comenzó a hablarme. Comencé a verme a mí misma en La Morena, la madre de ojos marrones y piel oscura del “Único Dios Verdadero”. Fue necesario sumergir mi educada persona dentro de una nueva y apenas diferente frontera, para reconocer la belleza y las luchas de mi propia cultura de frontera y apreciar mi posición única, que es ser culturalmente extranjera y a la vez culturalmente local — un proceso que P. Virgilio Elizondo llama el “mestizaje.”
Mi educación jesuita sembró las semillas de fe y de servicio, que continúan floreciendo en un sentido de solidaridad más profundo, en cada nueva fase en la vida. Desde mis primeros años en el Cuerpo de Voluntarios Jesuita, cruzando nuevas fronteras de cultura y religión como Misionera Laica de Maryknoll en Tailandia, hasta convertirme en esposa y ahora en madre, Nuestra Señora atestigua y me enseña a amar, a ser compasiva, a dar esperanza al unir mi vida a la de los necesitados y a construir puentes de unidad y comprensión.
Cece Aguilar Ortiz was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Her introduction to all things Jesuit began at Loyola Marymount University where she majored in psychology. She served as a Jesuit Volunteer in McAllen, Texas (1992-93) and then on JVC staff in the Houston office for five years. After working in the area of non-formal education and interreligious dialogue in Thailand for ten years, she returned to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Tucson, Arizona, where she now serves as the program coordinator for Jesuit communities in Arizona and New Mexico.
in and beyond all cultures,
open our eyes to the richness of traditions.
Help us to begin to value the life-sustaining experience of
our nanas and our tías in faith
so that we too will allow ourselves to follow Jesus
into the arms of his mother.
Give us the experience of being so loved
that we can begin to love the world as you do —
completely and into fullness.
Before you became a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadow of a cloud crossing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a man who cried into a plaid handkerchief. You were a sky without a hat. Your heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.
And when you were a tree, you listened to trees and the tree things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a red bicycle. You were the spidery Maria tattooed on the hairless arm of a boy in downtown Houston. You were the rain rolling off the waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock of straw-colored hair wedged between the mottled pages of a Victor Hugo novel. A crescent of soap. A spider the color of a finger nail. The black nets beneath the sea of olive trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer wrapped in newspaper. An empty cracker tin. A bowl of blueberries in heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.
And when you opened your wings to wind, across the punched-tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to death and those condemned to life watched how smooth and sweet a white cloud glides.
: Sandra Cisneros
At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes.
: Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Scene from MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
Serenata a La Virgen de Guadalupe (Bronco)
Learn more about
Virgilio Elizondo and Mestizaje Theology
Devotional Prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe
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