Friday, March 14, 2014

The Virgin of Coromoto - An Image to Inspire us to Pray for Venezuela

Holy Virgin of Coromoto, pray for faith and freedom for the Venezuelan people. Poor will always be with us and so, it seems, will the oppressed. What was a flourishing modern democracy 15 years ago is descending now into a Cuban nightmare as we speak. My wife is Venezuelan and for two weeks was trapped in her apartment with our daughter and her mother. Making dashes for the local shop where all that was in stock was dried milk, olives and canned tuna. Marauding gangs of motorcyclists, inspired by the government, shot randomly at people in the streets and into houses in middle class suburbs. 

We eventually managed to find flights to get them out of the country praying that on that day she would be able to get to the airport and out of the country. The night before my wife flew out, the National Guard raided the apartment block next to her, battering down the door and firing guns off into the night and dragged three young men off to prison illegally. To our great relief my family made it out safely the next day. Now the reports from those who stayed are that the shops are looted and burnt out.

It is a case study of the effects of ignoring Catholic social teaching - what began as a gradual erosion of freedom and of property rights accelerated in the last year. Throw in gross incompetence and corrupt government officials and the result is a failing state sinking into chaos.

What hope is there for a society in such trouble? The only answer I have at this point is prayer. A spiritual renewal and a deepening of faith. This is a country that needs our prayers so that it might transform. Spiritual and cultural change are needed as much as, perhaps more than, political change.

Hope lies in the Virgin of Coromoto, declared patron of the country by Pius XII in 1947 and I have been praying to her for some time now. In a story similar to Guadelupe, Our Lady appeared to a Coromoto Indian in the town of Guanare in the 16th century, the story is here. The image is very beautiful, and again just like Guadelupe, a revealed image not created by human hands. Coincidentally, like Our Lady of Walsingham the patron of my home country, England, she is seated and facing forward, but in red shawl rather than a blue one.

 Here is her prayer:

Beautiful Lady Mary, Virgin Mother of the Redeemer, with you we praise and glorify the Father in the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. We beseech you that, just as in Coromoto you guided the steps of the Indians towards the baptismal grace, you may now capture the heart of the Venezuelans, and bring them to the renewal of their faith.

Virgin of Coromoto, patron of Venezuela, bless the evangelistic action of the Church  so that Venezuela might be fortress and defense of the faith of your children, and beginning of a renewal of the Christian customs. 

This is a beautiful prayer which places Our Lady in the right place relative to us and our worship of God. When we worship God in the sacred liturgy, we praise and glorify the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. And Our Lady is right there with us a model for our worship.

Our Lady of Coromoto, pray for us and for Venezuela! 


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