S. John Paul II Homil. 36


Puebla de Los Angeles (Mexico), Palafox Major Seminary, Sunday, 28 January 1979

Beloved Sons and Daughters,

Puebla de los Angeles: today the sonorous and expressive name of your city is on millions of lips throughout Latin America and all over the world. Your city becomes a symbol and sign for the Latin-American Church. It is here, in fact, that from today the Bishops of the whole Continent, convened by the Successor of Peter, gather to reflect on the mission of Pastors in this part of the world, in this extraordinary hour of history.

The Pope has desired to come up to this high place from where the whole of Latin America seems to open up. And it is with the impression of contemplating the picture of each one of the nations that the Pope has wished to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice on this altar erected on the mountains, to invoke on this Conference, on its participants and on its work, the light, the warmth and all the gifts of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

37 There is nothing more natural and necessary than to invoke him on this occasion. The great Assembly which is opening is, in fact, an ecclesial meeting in its deepest essence: ecclesial because of those who meet here, the Pastors of the Church of God in Latin America; ecclesial because of the subject it studies, the mission of the Church in the continent; ecclesial because of its aims: to make more living and effective the original contribution that the Church has the duty of making to the welfare, the harmony, the justice and peace of these peoples. Well, there is no ecclesial Assembly if the Spirit of God is not there in the fullness of his mysterious action.

The Pope invokes him with all the fervour of his heart. May the place where the Bishops meet be a new Upper Room, much larger than the one in Jerusalem, where the Apostles were only eleven in number that morning, but, like that in Jerusalem, open to the call of the Paraclete and to the strength of a renewed Pentecost. May the Spirit accomplish in you Bishops, gathered here, the multiform mission that the Lord Jesus entrusted to him: as interpreter of God to make understood his plan and his word, which are inaccessible to mere human reason (cf. Jn
Jn 14,26), may he open the understanding of these Pastors and introduce them to the Truth (cf. Jn Jn 16,13); as witness of Jesus Christ, may he give witness in their conscience and heart and transform them in turn into consistent, credible, and efficacious witnesses during their work (cf. Jn Jn 15,26); as Counsellor or Comforter, may he instil courage against the sin of the world (cf. Jn Jn 16,8) and put on their lips what they must say, particularly at the moment when testimony costs suffering and fatigue.

So I ask you, beloved sons and daughters, to unite with me in this Eucharist, in this invocation to the Spirit. It is not for their own sake or out of personal interest that the Bishops, from all parts of the continent, are meeting here; it is for you, People of God in these lands, and for your good. So take part in this third Conference also in this way: by asking every day for the abundance of the Holy Spirit for one and all of them.

It has been said, in a beautiful and profound way, that our God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since he has in himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love. This subject of the family is not, therefore, extraneous to the subject of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Pope to say some words to you on this subject of the family—which will certainly occupy the Bishops during these days.

You know that the Conference of Medellin spoke of the family in pithy and urgent terms. In that year 1968, the Bishops saw, in your profound sentiment for the family, a fundamental feature of your Latin-American culture. They showed that, for the good of your countries, Latin-American families should always have three dimensions: education in the faith formation of persons, promotion of development. They also emphasized the serious obstacles that families meet with in carrying out this threefold task. "For this reason" they recommended pastoral attention for families, as one of the prior considerations of the Church in the continent.

Ten years later, the Church in Latin America feels happy at everything it has been able to do in favour of the family. But it humbly recognizes how much still remains to be done, while it perceives that the family apostolate, far from having lost its character of priority, is more urgent than ever today, as a very important element in evangelization.

The Church is aware, in fact, that the family is up against serious problems in Latin America in these times. Recently some countries have introduced divorce into their legislation, which brings a new threat to the integrity of the family. In most of your countries it is a lamentable fact that an alarming number of children, the future of these nations and the hope for the future, are born in homes without any stability or, as they are called, in "incomplete families". Moreover, in certain places of the "Continent of Hope", this same hope runs the risk of vanishing, since it grows within families many of which cannot live normally owing to the particular impact upon them of the most negative effects of development: really depressing indices of unhealthiness, poverty and even want, ignorance and illiteracy, inhuman housing conditions, chronic malnutrition and so many other realities that are no less sad.

In defence of the family against these evils, the Church undertakes to give her help, and calls upon governments to take as the key point of their action an intelligent policy with regard to society and the family, a bold and persevering one, recognizing that the future—the hope—of the continent certainly lies here. It should be added that this family policy must not be understood as an indiscriminate effort to reduce the birth rate at all costs—which my predecessor Paul VI called "reducing the number of guests at the banquet of life"—when it is well known that a balanced birth rate is indispensable even for development. It is a question of uniting efforts to create conditions favourable to the existence of healthy and balanced families: "to increase the food on the table", to use again an expression of Paul VI.

As well as of defence of the family, we must also speak of advancement of the family. Many organisms have to contribute to this promotion: governments and governmental organisms, the school, the trade unions, the media of social communication, groups in poor districts, the various voluntary or spontaneous associations which flourish everywhere today.

The Church must also offer her contribution in the line of her spiritual mission of proclaiming the Gospel and leading men to salvation, which also has an enormous repercussion on the welfare of the family. And what can the Church do, uniting her efforts with those of others? I am certain that your bishops will endeavour to give this question adequate, just, and efficacious answers. I point out to you how valuable is what the Church is already doing in Latin America for the family; for example: to prepare fiancés for marriage; to help families when, in the course of their existence, they go through normal crises which, if wisely guided, may even be fruitful and enriching; to make each Christian family a real "domestic church", with all the rich content of this expression; to prepare many families for the mission of evangelizing other families; to emphasize all values of family life; to help incomplete families; to stimulate the rulers to bring forth in their countries that family social policy of which we were just speaking. The Puebla Conference will certainly support these initiatives and perhaps suggest others. We are happy to think that the history of Latin America will thus have reasons to thank the Church for all that it has done, is doing, and will do for the family in this vast continent.

Beloved sons and daughters: now, beside this altar, the Successor of Peter feels particularly close to all Latin-American families. It is as if every home were to open and the Pope were able to enter into each of them; houses where there is no lack of bread or prosperity but where, perhaps, harmony and joy are lacking; houses where families live far more modestly and uncertain of the morrow, helping one another to lead a hard but dignified existence; poor houses in the suburbs of your cities, where there is much hidden suffering although there exists in the midst of them the simple gaiety of the poor; humble huts of peasants, natives, emigrants, etc. For each family in particular the Pope would like to be able to say a word of encouragement and hope. You families that can enjoy prosperity, do not shut yourselves up in your happiness; open to others to distribute what is superfluous for you and what others lack. Families oppressed by poverty, do not lose heart, and, without taking luxury as your ideal, or riches as the principle of happiness, seek with the help of all to overcome difficult moments while waiting for better days. Families visited and tormented by physical or moral pain, sorely tried by sickness or want, do not add to these sufferings bitterness or despair, but temper sorrow with hope. All families of Latin America, be sure that the Pope knows you and wishes to know you even better because he loves you with a father's tenderness.

This is, in the framework of the Pope's visit to Mexico, the Day of the Family. Receive then, Latin-American families, with your presence here, round the altar, by means of radio or television, receive the visit that the Pope wishes to make to each one. And give the Pope the joy of seeing you grow in the Christian values that are yours, in order that Latin America may find in its millions of families reasons to trust, to hope, to struggle and to build.


Mexico, Oaxaca Cathedral, Monday, 29 January 1979


Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

This ceremony, in which, with immense joy, I confer some sacred ministries on descendants of the ancient races of this land of America, confirms the truth of a saying of a high personality of your country to my venerated predecessor Paul VI: from the beginning of the history of the American nations it was above all the Church that protected the most humble, their dignity and value as human persons.

Today the truth of this affirmation receives a new confirmation, now that the Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church will call some of them to collaborate with his pastors in service of the ecclesial community, for its greater growth and vitality (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi
EN 73).

1. It is well known that these ministries do not change laymen into ecclesiastics: those who receive them continue to be laymen, that is, they do not leave the state in which they were living when they were called (cf. 1Co 7,20). And even when they cooperate, as substitutes or helpers, with consecrated ministers, these laymen are, above all, collaborators of God (cf. 1Co 3,9), who avails himself also of them to carry out his will to save all men (cf. 1Tm 2,4).

What is more, precisely because these laymen commit themselves deliberately to this plan of salvation, to such an extent that this commitment is for them the ultimate reason of their presence in the world (cf. St John Chrysostom, In Act. Ap. Ap 20,4), they must be considered as archetypes of the participation of all the faithful in the Church's mission of salvation.

2. Actually, all the faithful, by virtue of their baptism and of the sacrament of confirmation, must profess publicly the faith received from God by means of the Church, spread it and defend it as true witnesses of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 11). That is, they are called to evangelization, which is a fundamental duty of all the members of the people of God (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 35), whether or not they have special functions more closely connected with the duties of Pastors (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 24).

In this connection let the successor of Peter make a fervent appeal to one and all to assimilate and practise the teachings and directions of the Second Vatican Council, which dedicated to the laity chapter 4 of the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, and the decree Apostolicam Actuositatem.

I also wish, as a memory of my passing in your midst, though also with my eyes fixed on the faithful of the whole world, to refer briefly to what is peculiar to the cooperation of the laity in the one apostolate of the Church, its expressions, both individual and associated, its determinant characteristic. To do so, I will take inspiration from the invocation to Christ which we read in the prayer of Lauds of this Monday of the fourth week of ordinary liturgical time: "You who operate with the Father in the history of humanity, renew men and things with the force of your Spirit".

In fact, the laity, who by divine vocation participate in the entire reality of the world, instilling into it their faith, which has become a reality in their own public and private life (cf. James Jc 2,17), are the most immediate protagonists of the renewal of men and of things. With their active presence as believers, they work at the progressive consecration of the world to God (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 34). This presence is linked with the whole economy of the Christian religion, which is, indeed, a doctrine, but is above all an event: the event of the Incarnation, Jesus, the God-man who recapitulated in himself the universe (cf. Eph Ep 1,10). It corresponds to the example of Christ, who made physical contact, too, a vehicle of communication of his restoring power (cf. Mk Mc 1,41 and 7:33; Mt 9,29 ff. and 20:34; Lc 7,14 and 8:54). It is inherent in the sacramental nature of the Church, which, having been made a sign and instrument of the union of men with God and of the unity of the whole of mankind (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 1), has been called by God to be in permanent communion with the world in order to be in it the leaven that transforms it from within (cf. Mt Mt 13,33)

The apostolate of the laity, understood and put into practice, in this way, gives to all the events of human history their full meaning, respecting their autonomy and encouraging the progress required by the very nature of each of them. At the same time, it gives us the key to interpret fully the meaning of history, since all temporal realities, like the events that manifest them, take on their deepest meaning in the spiritual dimension that establishes the relationship between the present and the future (He 13,14). Disregard or mutilation of this dimension would become, in fact, an attack on the very essence of man.

3. On leaving this land, I take with me a pleasant memory of you, that of having met generous souls who, from now, will offer their lives for the spreading of the kingdom of God. At the same time I am sure that, like trees planted near rivers, they will yield abundant fruit in due course (cf. Ps Ps 1,3) for the consolidation of the Gospel.

Take heart! Be the leaven in the dough (Mt 13,33), form the Church! May your witness arouse everywhere other heralds of salvation: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" (Rm 10,15). Let us thank God who "began a good work in you (and) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,6).


Mexico, Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopán, Tuesday, 30 January 1979


Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

1. Here we are gathered today in this beautiful sanctuary of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Zapopán, in the great archdiocese of Guadalajara. I did not want to, nor could I, omit this meeting, around the altar of Jesus and at the feet of Most Holy Mary, with the People of God on pilgrimage to this place. This sanctuary of Zapopán is, in fact, another proof, a tangible and consoling one, of the intense devotion that the Mexican people, and with it the whole Latin-American people, has professed to Mary Immaculate for centuries.

Like the Guadalupe sanctuary, this one, too, comes from the colonial age. Like the former, its origins go back to the precious evangelization effort of missionaries (in this case, the sons of St Francis) among the "Indios", so well disposed to receive the message of salvation in Christ and to venerate his holy Mother, conceived without the stain of sin. Thus these peoples perceive the unique and exceptional place of Mary in the fulfilment of God's plan (cf. Lumen Gentium
LG 53 f.), her eminent holiness, and her motherly relationship with us (ibid.61, 66). From that moment onwards, she, Mary Immaculate, represented in this simple little image, is incorporated in the popular piety of the people of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, in that of the Mexican nation and of the whole of Latin America. As Mary herself says prophetically in the canticle of the Magnificat, "All generations will call me blessed" (Lc 1,48).

2. If this is true of the whole of the Catholic world, how much more it is in Mexico and in Latin A merica! It can be said that faith and devotion to Mary and to her mysteries belong to the very identity of these peoples, and characterize their popular piety, of which my predecessor Paul VI spoke in the apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (n. 48). This popular piety is not necessarily a vague sentiment, lacking a solid doctrinal basis, a kind of inferior form of religious manifestation. How often it is, on the contrary, the true expression of the soul of a people, since it is touched by grace and forged by the happy meeting between the work of evangelization and that of local culture, of which the aforesaid Exhortation also spoke (n. 20)! Thus guided and sustained and, if necessary, purified, by the constant action of pastors, and exercised every day in the life of the people, popular piety is really the piety "of the poor and the simple" (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 48). It is the way in which these favourites of the Lord live and express, in their human attitudes and in all the dimensions of life, the mystery of the faith that they have received.

This popular piety, in Mexico and in the whole of Latin America, is indissolubly Marian. In it, Most Holy Mary occupies the same preeminent place that she has in Christian faith as a whole. She is the mother, the queen, the protectress and the model. People come to her to honour her, to ask for her intercession, to learn to imitate her, that is, to learn to be real disciples of Jesus. For, as the Lord himself says, "whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mc 3,35).

40 Far from overshadowing the irreplaceable and unique mediation of Christ, this function of Mary, accepted by popular piety, highlights it and "rather shows its power", as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium LG 60); because everything she is and has "flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation" and leads to him (ibid.). The faithful who come to this sanctuary are well aware of this and put it into practice, always saying with her, looking to God the Father, in the gift of his beloved Son, made present among us by the Spirit: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Lc 1,46).

3. Precisely, when the faithful come to this sanctuary, as I, too, a pilgrim in this Mexican land, wished to come today, what else do they do but praise and honour God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the figure of Mary, who is united by indissoluble ties to the three persons of the Holy Trinity, as the Second Vatican Council also teaches? (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 53). Our visit to the Zapopán sanctuary, mine today, yours so many times, signifies in itself the will and the effort to approach God and to let oneself be submerged by him, by means of the intercession, the aid, and the model of Mary.

In these places of grace, so characteristic of the Mexican and Latin-American religious area, the People of God, convened in the Church, with its Pastors, and on this happy occasion with the one who humbly presides in the Church over charity (cf. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom. prol.), gathers around the altar, under Mary's motherly gaze, to bear witness that what counts in this world and in human life is the opening to the gift of God which is communicated in Jesus, our Saviour, and which comes to us through Mary. It is this that gives our earthly existence its true transcendent dimension, as God willed from the beginning, and as Jesus Christ restored with his death and resurrection, and as shines forth in the Virgin Mary.

She is the refuge of sinners ("refugium peccatorum"). The people of God is aware of its own condition of sin. For this reason, knowing that it needs constant purification, it "follows constantly the path of penance and renewal" (Lumen Gentium LG 8). Each of us is aware of this. Jesus looked for sinners: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lc 5,31-32). Before curing the man who was paralysed, he said to him: "Man, your sins are forgiven you." (Lc 5,20); and to a woman who had sinned: "Go, and do not sin again" (Jn 8,11).

If we are oppressed by awareness of sin, we instinctively seek him who has the power to forgive sins (cf. Lk Lc 5,24), and we seek him through Mary whose sanctuaries are places of conversion, penance, and reconciliation with God.

She awakens in us the hope of mending our ways and persevering in good, even if that may sometimes seem humanly impossible.

She enables us to overcome the multiple "structures of sin" in which our personal, family, and social life is wrapped. She enables us to obtain the grace of true liberation, with that freedom with which Christ liberated every man.

4. From here starts too, as from its true source, the authentic commitment for other men, our brothers, especially for the poorest and neediest ones, and for the necessary transformation of society. For this is what God wants from us, and it is to this that he sends us, with the voice and the strength of his Gospel, on making us responsible for one another. Mary, as my predecessor Paul VI teaches in the apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus (n. 37), is also a model, the faithful accomplisher of God's will, for those who do not accept passively the adverse circumstances of personal and social life, and are not victims of "alienation"—as is said today—but who with her proclaim that God is "the avenger of the humble" and, if necessary, "puts down the mighty from their thrones", to quote the Magnificat again (cf. Lk Lc 1,51-53). For, in this way she is "the type of Christ's perfect disciple who is the architect of the earthly and temporal city, but who, at the same time, aims at the heavenly and eternal city; who promotes justice, liberates the needy, but, above all, bears witness to that active love which constructs Christ in souls" (Marialis Cultus, 37).

This is Mary Immaculate for us in this sanctuary of Zapopán . This is what we have come to learn from her today, in order that she may always be for these faithful of Guadalajara, for the Mexican nation, and for the whole of Latin-America, with its Christian and Catholic being, the real "star of evangelization".

5. But I do not want to end this talk without adding some words which I consider important in the context of that which I have just indicated.

This sanctuary of Zapopán, and so many others scattered all over Mexico and Latin-America, where millions of pilgrims come every year with a deep sense of religiousness, can, and must, be privileged places to find an increasingly purified faith which will lead them to Christ.

41 For this reason, it will be necessary to take great and zealous care over the apostolate in Marian sanctuaries; by means of a suitable and living liturgy; by means of assiduous preaching and sound catechesis; by means of concern for the ministry of the sacrament of Penance; by the prudent purification of any forms of religiousness that present less suitable elements.

It is necessary to take advantage pastorally of these opportunities, sporadic ones, perhaps, of meeting souls that are not always faithful to the whole programme of a Christian life—but who come led by a vision of faith that is sometimes incomplete—in order to try to lead them to the centre of all sound piety, Christ Jesus, the Saviour, Son of God.

In this way popular religiousness will be perfected, when necessary, and Marian devotion will take on its full significance in a Trinitarian, Christocentric and ecclesial direction, as the exhortation Marialis Cultus so opportunely teaches (n. 25-27).

I call upon the priests in charge of the sanctuaries, and those who guide the pilgrims to them, to reflect carefully on the great good they can do the faithful if they succeed in setting up a suitable system of evangelization.

Do not miss any opportunity to preach Christ, to enlighten the faith of the people and to strengthen it; helping the people on its way towards the Holy Trinity. Let Mary be the way. May Mary Immaculate of Zapopán help you to do so. Amen.


Friday, 2 February 1979

1. "Lumen ad revelationem gentium" (A light for revelation to the Gentiles).

The liturgy of today's feast recalls, in the first place, the words of the Prophet Malachi: "the Lord whom you s eek will suddenly come to his temple... behold, he is coming." These words, in fact, come true at this moment: there enters his temple for the first time he who is its Lord. It is a question of the temple of the Old Covenant, which was the preparation for the New Covenant. God makes this New Covenant with his people in him whom "he anointed and sent into the world", that is, in his Son. The temple of the Old Covenant waits for that Anointed one, the Messiah. The reason for its existence, so to speak, is this waiting.

And here he enters. Brought by the hands of Mary and Joseph. He enters as an infant, forty days old, in order to meet the requirements of Mosaic law. He is brought to the temple like so many other Israelite children: the child of poor parents. So be enters unobserved and—almost in contrast with the words of the prophet Malachi—not expected by anyone. "Deus absconditus" (the hidden God; cf. Is
Is 45,15). Hidden in human flesh, born in a stable near the town of Bethlehem. Subject to the law of redemption, as his mother was to the law of purification.

Although everything seems to indicate that here, at this moment, no one is expecting him and no one notices him, actually it is not so. The aged Simeon goes up to Mary and Joseph, takes the child in his arms, and utters the words that are a living echo of the prophecy of Isaiah:

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel" (Lc 2,29-32 cf. Is Is 2,2-5 Is 25,7).

42 These words are a synthesis of the whole expectation, a synthesis of the Old Covenant. The man who utters them, does not speak by himself. He is a prophet: he speaks from the depth of the Revelation and of the faith of Israel. He announces the fulfilment of the Old and the beginning of the New.

2. The light.

Today the Church blesses the candles which give light. These candles are, at the same time, a symbol of the other light, the light that is Christ. He began to be light from the moment of his birth. He was revealed as light to the eyes of Simeon on the fortieth day after his birth. Then he remained as light for thirty years in the hidden life of Nazareth. Subsequently, he began to teach, and the period of his teaching was a short one. He said: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (
Jn 8,12). When he was crucified "there was darkness over all the land" (Mt 27,45 and sim.), but on the third day this darkness made way for the light of the resurrection.

The light is with us!

What does it illumine?

It illumines the darkness of human souls. The darkness of existence. Man makes a perennial and immense effort to open up a way and arrive at light; the light of knowledge and existence. How many years does not man at times dedicate to clarifying some fact for himself, to finding the answer to a given question! And how much personal toil it costs each of us in order that—through everything in us that is "dark", shadowy, through our "worse self", through the man subjugated by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. 1Jn 2,16)—we can reveal what is luminous: the man of simplicity, of humility, of love, of disinterested sacrifice; the new horizons of thought, of the heart, of will, of character. "The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining", St John writes (1Jn 2,8).

If we ask what is illumined by this light, recognized by Simeon in the Child forty days old, the answer is as follows: it is the answer of the interior experience of so many men who have decided to follow this light. It is the answer of your life, my dear Brothers and Sisters, men and women religious who take part today in the Liturgy of this feast, holding a lighted candle in your hands. It is, as it were, a foretaste of the paschal vigil when the Church, that is each of us, holding high the lighted candle, will cross the threshold of the temple, singing "Lumen Christi". It is particularly in depth that Christ illumines the mystery of man. Particularly and deeply, and with what delicacy, he descends into the secret recesses of souls and of human consciences. He is the Master of life, in the deepest sense. Yet just he, he, the only one, has revealed to each of us, and always reveals to so many men, the truth that "man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (cf. Lk Lc 17,33)" (Gaudium et Spes GS 24).

Let us give thanks today for the light that is in the midst of us. Let us give thanks for everything that, by means of Christ, has become light in ourselves; has ceased to be "darkness and the unknown".

3. Finally, Simeon says to Mary, first with regard to her Son: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against." Then with regard to herself: "And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Lc 2,34-35).

This day is his feast; the feast of Jesus Christ, on the fortieth day of his life, in the temple of Jerusalem according to the provisions of the law of Moses (cf. Lk Lc 2,22-24). And it is also her feast: Mary's.

She carries the Child in her aims. He, even in her hands, is the light of our souls, the light that illumines the darkness of knowledge and of human existence, of the intellect and the heart.

43 The thoughts of so many hearts are revealed when her mother's hands carry this great divine Light, when they bring it closer to man.

Hail, you who became Mother of our light at the cost of the great sacrifice of your Son, at the cost of the motherly sacrifice of your heart!

4. And, finally, allow me, today, on the day after my return from Mexico, to thank you, O Lady of Guadalupe, for this Light which your Son is for the sons and daughters of that country and also of the whole of Latin America, The third General Conference of the Episcopate of that Continent, which began solemnly at your feet, O Mary, in the Sanctuary of Guadalupe, has been carrying out its work in Puebla since 28 January on the subject of the evangelization of Latin America in the present and in the future. It is endeavouring to show the ways along which the light of Christ must reach the contemporary generation in that great and promising continent.

Let us recommend this work in prayer, looking today at Christ carried in his Mother's arms, and listening to Simeon's words: "Lumen ad revelationem gentium".

S. John Paul II Homil. 36