La Virgen 'Calls us to Love All,' Anderson Says

by Mike Nelson, The Tidings, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Carl Anderson

The leader of the world’s largest Catholic lay service organization called upon Catholic Angelenos to embrace the message of love embodied by Our Lady of Guadalupe, during the fifth annual Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast Sept. 15.

“As Catholics, we are called to love everyone, especially those at risk in our society - the immigrant, the unborn, the disabled, the poor,” declared Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, in his keynote talk at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to the 1,400 in attendance. “We are all called to build a civilization of love.

“And to do that,” he said, “we must have the courage to embrace the fundamental reality of our lives as Catholics. What unites us is more important than any political, economic or national divisions.”

Anderson’s talk to a record turnout (including numerous Knights of Columbus) followed a recitation of the rosary led by Los Angeles’ auxiliary bishops and a Mass with Cardinal Roger Mahony presiding. Created in 2005, the L.A. Prayer Breakfast is one of two similar local Catholic events; the Orange County Prayer Breakfast will be held Sept. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort, Garden Grove.

Coauthor (with Father Eduardo Chavez) of the recently-published Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love, Anderson repeatedly referred in his talk to “La Virgen’s” universal message of love, especially with respect to those who have immigrated to the United States throughout its history.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe transcends borders,” said Anderson. “She is a mother who we all share. Her presence in parishes is testament to the welcome she has received, and her message today is the same as it was five centuries ago when she appeared to St. Juan Diego.

Mary, said Anderson, “is the perfect model” of the Christian believer. Her yes to God, he said, allowed the birth of Christ and the establishment of his church; her yes at Tepeyac led to the establishment of the church in the Americas. “Our presence here is testimony to the power of the message of love brought to this hemisphere by Our Lady.”

Nowhere in the United States has Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message and impact been more powerful than in Los Angeles, “a city dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Angels,” a city in which communities from all over the world live together, “united by the faith we possess,” said Anderson.

“Los Angeles’ leadership in promoting the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe is unmatched in the U.S., and maybe anywhere in the world outside of Mexico City,” he said. “She is truly the mother of the civilization of love, and we have a great role to play in making that civilization a reality.”

Archbishop John Cantwell of Los Angeles, Anderson added, was instrumental in welcoming the influx of immigrants from Mexico to the Southland in the early to mid-20th century. He recalled that 100,000 Angelenos gathered in June 1937 for the crowning of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where Cantwell presided. Four years later, the archbishop led a delegation of U.S. bishops to Mexico City for a celebration that included the reading of Psalm 133: “How good it is that brothers live in perfect unity.”

“Our Lady of Guadalupe has pointed us to her son, and to unity in her son,” said Anderson. “As citizens of the Western Hemisphere, we share a common history of immigration; we share a common mother whose heart is always present and waiting for us. Five centuries after Tepeyac, we are called to take the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe and bring the hope of a great rebirth of the Catholic Church in the United States.”

But the appearance of Our Lady in 1531, he noted, “was not only an event, but a promise for the future, a promise that is up to you and I to keep.” And the success of the Church’s rebirth in the U.S., he added, will depend on those who are the children of immigrants – “which is all of us” – and how we receive the newcomers in our midst.

That may be seen as a challenge. But, Anderson gently reminded his audience, “We are not called to do anything that Our Lady has not done herself.”