‘The Only Truth on Earth’
Since Last Friday, we’ve had a remarkable string of feasts: the Immaculate Conception, St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, Pope St. Damasus I (who reshaped the Western Church by asking St. Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin and by turning the liturgical language to Latin from Greek), St. Lucy (today), St. John of the Cross (tomorrow, one of the greatest mystics the world has ever seen). But above all, yesterday, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Guadalupe, of course, has great significance for us in the Americas; not least because it had the unprecedented effect of converting, with astounding speed, virtually a whole continent.
It’s never happened elsewhere in Christian history. In the end, it’s a mystery of God’s grace. But Sophia Institute Press has just published an illuminating account by Joseph Julián González and Monique González, Guadalupe and the Flower World Prophecy: How God Prepared the Americas for Conversion Before the Lady Appeared. In short, as the subtitle indicates, there was a kind of preparatio evangelica going on in Meso-American cultures for thousands of years before the arrival of the missionaries who accompanied the Spanish explorers.
Guiding native peoples into Catholicism was difficult, as the missionaries quickly discovered. At first contact, there was enough cultural material present on both sides to put the two cultures at least on reasonable speaking terms. But there were few converts. It took a divine spark to jump the gap between very different peoples and bring what seemed impossible divisions into fruitful harmony.