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What I Learned About the Blessed Mother—”La Morenita”—When I Made a Pilgrimage to Mexico City

Marisol Apostol / WinkArtisans

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk - published on 12/15/14


par excellence, there is no rejecting the Church without rejecting her.

Thinking back to our Protestant culture, what would we expect to see in people without a mother? Perhaps, I should think, we would see anxiety, depression, poor health, and lack of energy. Failure to thrive. Now this is true of us as human beings—but I also mean it in reference to the spiritual life of the Church. When we look around our parishes and communities and see spiritual fatigue and impoverishment in the presence of so many blessings—the culprit is surely a disordered attachment to our Mother. Not too much, but too little attachment.

It is an interesting thought about mothers that we do not get to choose them. In a sense, they choose us. And in the frailty of human nature, some of us have great mothers, and others of us spend a lifetime attempting to reconcile what our mothers could not be for us. But this lottery of our birth has been righted already—the most excellent Mother of all has chosen us. And how much more will she tenderly pour out her affections upon those of her children who lacked for even the smallest sweetnesses of a mother’s love?

How can I be so sure she has chosen us? Consider what she said to Juan Diego:



Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you. 

And if this is not enough for us, we have John Paul II’s solemn dedication of the Americas to the Virgin of Guadalupe on January 22, 1999:

America, which historically has been, and still is, a melting-pot of peoples, has recognized in the mestiza face of the Virgin of Tepeyac, “in Blessed Mary of Guadalupe, an impressive example of a perfectly inculturated evangelization.” Consequently, not only in Central and South America, but in North America as well, the Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated as Queen of all America. (
Ecclesia in America, No. 11)

Truly, for American Catholics, North and South, La Morenita is our mother. Why have we taken notice so late? Make this the year, then, if you have not, to make a pilgrimage to her, and learn as much as you can about her sweetness. Sit in her shrine. Weep in her arms. Ask her for all that you need and all that you want. See how her Mexican children crawl up to her on their knees sometimes, like little children. That’s what mammas are for. She will kiss what hurts and make you thrive.

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk
is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University, a Faculty Research Fellow at the Stein Center for Social Research, and a Senior Fellow in Economics at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. Her research is focused in the areas of demography, gender, family studies, and the economics of education and religion. She also works on the interpretation and history of Catholic social thought. Dr. Pakaluk earned her doctorate in economics at Harvard University (2010).  She lives in Ave Maria, Florida with her husband Michael and seven children.

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