As I was approaching the shrine I would have to be blind and deaf not to recognize that the Basilica was near. The stream of joyful and praying people was flowing up the hill. Their songs, music instruments and fireworks were adding to the festival atmosphere. Even if it was a weekday but how can one describe better a visit to Our Lady than a festival. What touched me most was that at the shrine it is impossible to be a single pilgrim. Once you cross the gate you feel at home with thousands of people who form a family around Jesus and Mary. For a single moment I did not feel alone in my prayer. Even if I couldn’t understand Spanish but I could easily understand faith and love for Jesus and Mary radiating from those in the shrine. I love this place, it is a big compound but I would describe it as a prayer space. That’s what Catholicity means to me you are carried on the faith, love and prayer of others and you do the same for them.
Then the moment came to enter the Basilica. As soon as I saw the miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe I was on my knees. One can find so much prove that it is a divine image but when I felt my heart pounding like crazy as if it wanted to jump out of my chest and to go to the Lady looking from the Image I didn’t need and convincing arguments. I knew that I was in the presence of the Mother of Jesus. I am not very keen on kneeling as I have had problems with my knees but I couldn’t pick myself up. I was saying the Rosary kneeling on the concrete. I don’t know if it hurt or not because being with The Virgin Mary was all that mattered. Once again I could see how much we Oblates are formed in our love for the Immaculate Mary. The long years of formation are not simply studying but it is the time of being exposed to the example of other Oblates and to deep prayer to Mary. The outcome is that the title we bear –Oblates of the Mary immaculate which means Offered to Mary Immaculate, becomes the expression of how we feel in the presence of our Heavenly Mother. We always feel at home with her. In some official prayers we call her our Patroness but it sounds too cold to us. She is our Mother, part of our life, sharing our joys and sorrows. As I was praying once again I experienced that I couldn’t pray for myself. Something similar I had in Bethlehem, Lourdes, Czestochowa or Marseille. Instead, in my mind I saw my family and so many dear people I have met in my life. I just wanted to tell Mary so much about you. I am sure she listened not with curiosity but with love. I placed you before her and believe me that a good place.
I didn’t want to push the patience of my companion so I had to leave earlier that I wanted but I promised myself that in the coming days I will return to spend the whole day with Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I would like to give you for reflection the word which Mary said to St Juan Diego in this place in 1531. Let us treasure these words deep in our hearts:
"Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes."