When our faith in God convicts us of unpopular truths, how do we engage with the popular narratives of society? When the tradition of the Church compels us to be uncompromising on what God has revealed, how do we earnestly enter into productive dialogue with those who challenge divine revelation? And as we engage and dialogue, how can we not merely share the “whats,” and “hows,” and “whys” of our Catholic faith, but more importantly, lovingly propose the Good News of Jesus? On May 10, shortly after the SCOTUS leak heightened tensions over abortion access in America, Dr. Marlon De La Torre joined Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio for his monthly segment, “No Bystanders!” to consider some of these challenges, particularly through the lens of Our Lady’s model of evangelization.
Opposition will come
Most of us by now have seen or encountered directly some sort of opposition when it comes to our faith. Maybe it came from a family member who belittled our beliefs. Maybe it was in a classroom discussion that aimed to discredit a position known to be held by Catholics. Or maybe it was just the gradual distance that developed between you and a friend as you sought ways to grow in your faith and your friend did not. Wherever we’ve experienced this, we may have become frustrated—or heartbroken, even—to feel so narrowly defined and opposed.
In his segment, Dr. De La Torre shares from his own experience about the ways we as Catholics can and will be misunderstood or angrily confronted for what we believe. But he challenges us to consider not how our response can silence or stun the opposition, but how our response can be one of authentic love. In moments like the one we’re in right now, when the Church seems to be directly opposed by many, we have an opportunity to evangelize in a unique way—not through well-crafted arguments, louder megaphones, or viral videos, but through real, honest, holy love.
Mary proposes a better response
In Unleash the Gospel, Archbishop Vigneron looks to Our Lady as the “Star of Evangelization,” citing the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe as “one of the most fruitful harvests of evangelization in history” (Marker 10.1). This great “harvest of evangelization” wasn’t powerful because Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in such a way that he and the Aztec people—a group that, in many ways, lived in opposition to the Gospel—had no choice but to believe in her Son’s love. Rather, as Dr. De La Torre notes, Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego as a loving mother, not demanding, but instead asking, or proposing the love that her Son offers freely.
It is because of this approach that St. Juan Diego is free to mimic the Blessed Mother’s fiat, by accepting the good news she shared. Her motherly love for St. Juan Diego and the Aztec people—a love which flowed from her own relationship with God—led her to propose Jesus in this way. Her interests went far beyond changing minds or correcting behavior; she wanted to love these people into a relationship with God. Through her motherly love she brought forth what Dr. De La Torre calls the “offspring of the love:” the reality that millions came home to the Church.
With Our Lady’s model of evangelization in mind, we can consider the ways we’re called to share our faith, especially in moments like this, where many are actively opposed to what we believe:
- Approach others from a place of intimacy with God. Our Lady’s evangelization is powerful because she has been transformed by God’s love. We, too, need to ask for his love to transform us daily, as we seek to share it with others.
- Propose the Good News you’ve received to others, but don’t force it. Our Lady didn’t demand that St. Juan Diego accept her Son’s love; she merely invited him to see what he was missing. In our own lives, we have the chance to do the same.
- Always remember to call your Mom. In natural life and spiritual life, it’s good to stay in touch with mom! Keep up a relationship with Our Lady and, in a particular way, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary approached St. Juan Diego as a mother because her motherhood is powerful and is essential to evangelization. For this reason, Archbishop Vigneron has invited us to call upon Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession, “that the Lord would bring about an unprecedented harvest in the Archdiocese of Detroit” (Marker 10.1).