Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Martyrs of Latin America, July 10 - 18, 2000

General Intention: The unjust exercise of authority, and the sins and structures of sin against life.

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The 2nd Work of Justice and Peace: Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth -- to power, to the people, and to the Church.

Let us pray together in peace, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, help the helpless, strengthen the fearful, comfort the sorrowful, bring justice to the poor, peace to all nations, and solidarity among all peoples. Open our eyes to see the beauty, joy, redemption, and goodness which comes through obedience to the call of your Son our Lord. Teach us to be a refuge of hope for all who are oppressed by injustice and violence. Give us strength to stand against the demonic powers which prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

O Mary, blessed Lady of Guadalupe, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life:

Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

Pray for us, Martyrs of Latin America. Bring to our remembrance this day all people who are killed in wars, tortured in jails, disappeared in the night, starved for food, subjected to oppression, driven from their homes, unlawfully imprisoned, denied religious liberty, excluded from economic opportunity, marginalized by poverty, targeted by racial and cultural prejudices, silenced by violence and injustice. May we hear and remember the tragedy, joy, despair, and hope of the voices that call to us and to history for justice, reconciliation, and peace. Amen.

Thoughts for the journey during the Jubilee Holy Year 2000. In this Novena we honor Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, patron of all those who are oppressed and persecuted. We also remember the martyrs of Latin America, victims of cruel conflicts between world empires and corrupt ruling classes, martyrs of injustice and oppression.

Throughout history, we have drawn circles around certain groups and said, "These people are not human -- dispose of them as you choose." The holocausts are too many to count. Do we really believe that human life is precious and deserves respect and protection? That depends on where the alleged person is located, socially and physically. Some people simply aren't considered to be real people. Maybe they are too old, and too sick, and too poor, just give them a shot and put them out of our misery. Or perhaps they live on land which is coveted by others more powerful than they. Society has developed many ways to ease this process, starting with the NewSpeak vocabulary that describes these events. Remember, structures of sin always defend themselves vigorously.

There is enough tragedy in this to go around. Abandonment by fathers, violence against women, unjust economics that encourage abortion, mandatory contraception & sterilization, demonization of the poor (especially young single mothers), cartelized and corporatized health care and so on. Here is where we remember that the Lady of Guadalupe took upon herself the image of a young pregnant Aztec maiden in a place of oppression and injustice, demonstrating God's love for everybody.

We find this message also in the mysteries of the Martyrs of Latin America. They were condemned by politicians. The bullets and bombs were paid for by the powerful. They were targeted because they were poor. Their deaths were enabled by structures that dehumanize and depersonalize human beings.. Like unborn children, a circle was drawn around them and they were proclaimed as fair game. Imperial bureaucrats counted their deaths as collateral damage. Their voices call to us & to history for justice & remembrance.

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