Under the patronage of the Mother of Mercy - Religious Profession of Sr John Mary Baptist

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Under the patronage of the Mother of Mercy - Religious Profession of Sr John Mary Baptist

This day, December 12, is the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe, a Holy Day of Obligation in Mexico, and a feast increasingly honoured in the United States. Devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe is steadily spreading across the world particularly among those involved in the pro-life movement.

The story of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, a 57 year old local Indian convert to Catholicism, is remarkable indeed in so many ways. The year was 1531. Spanish missionaries had been making very little progress in the evangelisation of the local Indian population which held fast to their ancient gods and religious practices.

In the apparition our Lady said, “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 honour. 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."

What is remarkable are the words, “For I am your merciful mother”. The Virgin is inviting the people to discover mercy and compassion in and through her. This description of heavenly care is so markedly different from what was their experience of their own gods who, among other things, demanded human sacrifice. Of course these words have particular significance to us as we are entering the Jubilee Year of Mercy which began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, during the past week.

The story of the apparitions to Juan Diego and the extraordinary miracles that accompanied them, I am sure, is known to many of you. It led to the conversion of the Indians – 8 million converts to the faith in the years that followed. This apparition has been one of greatest acts of evangelisation in the Church's history. Very fittingly Pope Paul VI and St John Paul II in their promotion of evangelizing mission of the Church liked to address our Lady as the "Star of Evangelisation".

Her promises have inspired the people of Mexico and countless other pilgrims who come to pray before the image imprinted on the tilba of Juan Diego. Visiting her shrine is in itself an extraordinary grace. The trust in the virgin, the evident deep devotion to her, the faith of the ordinary people bringing their sorrows and anxieties to their merciful mother is quite tangible.

Sr John Mary today you make religious profession on this feast of our Lady. Today as you make your temporary vows I invite you to unite yourself with our Lady under the title, Guadalupe. To see in her firstly and always a source of merciful maternal love for you. Secondly, let her be an inspiration to your life dedicated to the Lord for the sake of the kingdom of God and the announcement of the message of salvation. 

Our world so greatly needs to re-find God. Now, sadly, countless millions even in our own country have lost sight of the God of mercy and salvation. Our nation which has had such strong Christian foundations is now being cut adrift from sources of spiritual and moral life. We are slipping into a new paganism where those ethical ideals which have Christian origins will be replaced by harsh and cold regulation. Our society is being diminished as its slips from its heritage of Christian faith.

We are entering a period where Christians will come under more and more persecution. Firstly, we will be told to keep our faith private. Then we will be forced to comply to godless regulations particularly on matters of life and sexuality. We will find ourselves having to navigate more and more restrictive regimes of compliance.

However, this new world will be an impetus for us to reach out in love to those who have lost their way and offer them the joy of the Gospel. Our lives, particularly consecrated lives, will not make any sense to the secularised mind, but will be a point of intrigue and fascination. A young woman, like yourself, embracing the evangelical counsels and living a life oriented singularly to God will be a powerful witness. It will be holiness, a search for the transcendent and the joy of living in obedience that will attract and, indeed, inspire. Your very life, the act you take today, will be an instrument of drawing people to God.

Sr John Mary embrace Christ today with a heart open and loving. Let him receive your gift of yourself. Let him love you and watch over you. Let him shine in and through you. Let the grace of this act of dedication refresh your heart and give you a renewed longing for union with Christ and a rekindled fire to bring your Beloved to the people you meet and minister to in the time ahead.

May our Lady of Guadalupe extend her merciful maternal care to you today and always.

Archbishop Julian Porteous.
Saturday, December 12, 2015