“But is it true that you lie here on earth? Not for always here! One moment on the earth, if it is jade, it breaks into pieces; if of gold it is destoryed; if feathers of quetzal, it is torn to peices. Not always here. One moment on the earth.” This was written by Netzahualcoyotl, King of Texcoco (1402-1472), and it reveals the great sense of the transcendent that characterized the early people of Mexico.
The United States of Mexico, the country’s official name, is comprised of 31 federal states and a Federal District and extends over a vast area (1,972,550 Km2) to the south of USA and to the north of Guatemala. It is home to seventeen original ethnic groups representing 10% of teh total population: 112 million people. It is a country of contrasts. Modern metropolitan areas stand alongside marginalized regions (15 million of its citizens live in extreme poverty); vast expanses intended for cultivation, while thousands of peasants live on only a hectare of land. After 200 years of independence, Mexico is still in search of its identity, one that is an expression of the encounter of its ancestral cultural values with those values brought by Catholicism.
The so-called “Guadalupe event” marked a decisive moment of reconciliation and merging between these two cultures, that forged a new people, the Mexican people. This unique event took place five centuries ago between the 9th and 12th of December 1531. According to tradition, a “sweet Lady” with a mestizo face, appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego and introduced herself as the “Mother of Everyone.” In his 1999 visit there, John Paul II would underscore the importance of that fact which “had determining repercussions for the new evangelization, an influence that goes beyond the Mexican nation and reaches the whole continent. America, which has been a crucible of peoples, has seen in this appearance of Our Lady a strong example of evangelization, perfectly inculturated.”
Chiara Lubich, when visiting Mexico in 1997, took up the theme of this encounter between the two cultures, which was brought about by the Guadalupe event. “Inculturation,” she said during that visit, “is not merely making yourself spiritually one with another culture, perhaps uncovering and strengthening the seeds of the Word that are present in it, but it is also humbly and gratefully assuming that something true that is offered by the culture of our brothers and sisters. Inculturation involves an exchange of gifts. This is what Our Lady of Guadalupe wants to tell us.”
The Focolare Movement has been present in Mexico since 1980, even though it was visited in 1975 by focolarini from Colombia. Today there are centers of the Movement in Mexico City, Netzahualocoyotl, Guadalajara and Acatzingo (Puebla) where there is a Mariapois Center and a Mariapolis town, El Diamante, which was founded in 1990. The Mariapolis is the heart fo the Movement in Mexico and is a place of Christian witness for the more than 20,000 visitors who go to it each year, showing that in a nation so rich in cultural, social and ethnic contrasts, inculturation of the Gospel life is possible if founded on dialogue and mutual giving and receiving of the gifts of the various cultures.
The communities of the Movement, including some 15,000 people who have embraced the spirituality of unity, are scattered throughout the Mexican territory, from Mexicali (on the border with the USA) to Merida (in the southeast). They pursue an open dialogue with several sectors of society, trying to bring a contribution of unity. They have already been involved for years in building relationships among ecclesial movements and new associations in the Catholic Church. In August 2011 the first “Juntos por México” (Together for Mexico) gathering was held, which involved 350 leaders and representatives of the some 8 million lay Catholics in the whole country. And many foresee this to herald the opening of new paths of communion in the Mexican Church that could lead to major involvement by lay people in the various fields of society.
In the civil society, in collaboration with the Mora Institute of the City of Mexico, one highlight has been the monthly lecture series on “Brotherhood in Politics” with the involvement of politicians who adhere to the Spirituality of Communion, and people engaged in civil service. This was an important event in the formation of a civic conscience.
Finally there were the Bioethic Seminara (Seminar on bioethics) held in several cities, which were the initiative of the “Netemachilizpan AC” Association of Bioethics and Human Rights together with the “New Humanity Movement” of the Focolare. Hundreds of people attended, drawn by the topics that were discussed. The presentations that were given in line with the thinking of the Church and supported from a medical and scientific point of view, were a light for all who attended. There was a large crowd of young people from the La Salle di Neza University who say that the seminar helped them find answers to their uncertainties.
The group of experts who run the bioethic courses, work at the Chamber of Deputies to support and write laws that favor life.
Focolare Mexico website: www.focolaremex.org