Somewhere in the 25-year period between the time I was ordained a priest here in 1984 and 2009, when I was assigned to live and work at Notre Dame, the Guadalupe Mass at Notre Dame came into being and grew up. I remember hearing about it while I was a pastor. People raved about what a great Mass it was.
To be honest, I remember thinking, "Oh yeah, a bunch of Anglos singing 'Pan de Vida' thinking that it's really a song that would actually be sung in Mexico." And at first I thought that Pan de Vida was another fast food restaurant competing with Panda Bear. I remember thinking, "this is Notre Dame's nod to the growing Latino population in the United States, but that's about it."
Then in July of 2009 I was assigned to live and work at Notre Dame. And a few months later I was asked to preside and preach at this Mass. While it is quite different than the Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe that I knew in Arizona and in Oregon, it was nonetheless very beautiful.
Now in my fifth year at Notre Dame, I see this Mass as a hope and a promise of all that we can become here at Notre Dame and in the Church.
I love the Guadalupe Mass (as it has come to be known) for a couple of reasons. All Marian feasts celebrated at this beloved university named in honor of Our Lady take on a special meaning. I really love this Mass because it attempts to bring together people of different races, languages, and ways of life to share in the one Eucharist of Christ the Lord.
A buzz word for our day is diversity and inclusion. Every organization from the Church to Intel to Notre Dame and to the banking world talks about diversity and inclusion. That discussion is very much alive at Notre Dame today, which is a wonderful thing. Often our conversation about diversity, however, uses words like integration, assimilation, and mainstreaming. I want to suggest to you that these are not the correct words, concepts, or ideas to guide our thinking about diversity and inclusion. Integration does not necessarily honor what each culture brings. It wants to make us come out looking the same, which would not only be an unfortunate outcome, but one that is really impossible. And we'd all be so boring.
The question that we should be asking is not "How can we integrate Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, or any other culture into Notre Dame?" The questions that we should be asking are "How can the Hispanic culture enrich life at Notre Dame; How can the African-American, Asian-American, and European cultures enrich life at Notre Dame; How can the various cultures that make up Notre Dame all enrich one another?"
It's clear which is better for the Church. Understanding and celebrating other cultures makes the Church that much richer. And from a Christological point of view, what more reveals the face of Our Lord? One culture and one language or many cultures, languages, and ways of life seeking the one face of God. I think that this liturgy is a splendid example of how several cultures at Notre Dame can enrich one another and walk with one another in our common search for God.
Think for a moment of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her very appearance brought different cultures together in an enriching way. In 1531, Juan Diego, a poor, uneducated Aztec Indian from modern day Mexico City shows his tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the wealthy, educated Bishop Juan de Zumarraga of Spain. Together they fall on their knees in prayer to Mary. She brought them together. Her very person invited the conquering Spaniards and the conquered native peoples to come together in brotherhood and sisterhood. It wasn't easy or quick, but that was her message.
Hundreds of years later, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the mother of one America, from the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost regions of Canada.
Look at how our Blessed Mother is honored all over the world: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Carmel of the Maipú, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Lavang, Our Lady of Africa, Our Lady of the Angels, Our Lady of Luján, Our Lady of Charity, Our Lady of Altagracia, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, and dozens and dozens more.
These titles – some geographical, others that reveal her essence, and others that do both – speak of the various ways and cultures in which Our Lady is loved by people all over the world. All of these cultures love and show devotion to Mary, but in different ways, forms, and languages. Mary draws all people to Her Son, and she does so through different cultures and ways of life and languages.
Mary can be our guide as we go forward so that all the races, languages and ways of life that make up Notre Dame – and the Church – may enrich one another; and through her powerful intercession, may draw us all closer to the heart of Her Son.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Fr. Joseph V. Corpora C.S.C.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12, 2013