4/14/15 Raymundo about 40
“I don’t believe in an afterlife, I think this life is all there is” a man named Raymundo, a Mexican immigrant, told me in Spanish. “Is that what you were raised to believe?” I asked. “No. I was taught to believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe” he said. I know he was referring to “Our Lady of Guadalupe” – an appearance in the 1500’s supposedly of Mary in the form of an Aztec Indian woman to Aztec peasant Juan Diego which is said to have led to the mass conversion of Mexican natives to Christianity. Devotion to “the Virgin” or one of her appearances might be justified by Catholic teachings as appropriate because belief in the Virgin led people to Jesus, but in my experience with people like Raymundo it only serves to keep him placated with a false belief in a human tradition not worth living for, not to mention dying for. Although Raymundo said he doesn’t believe in an afterlife, he nonetheless holds on to his belief in the Virgin, and said he prays interchangeably either to God or to Mary as “the Mother of God”. He prays for blessings, for good health, for loved ones – in short, Mary has become his good luck charm! Many who feel more comfortable praying to saints or, in their thinking, asking various saints to pray for them, are really denying what the Bible teaches – that only Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7) Why wouldn’t the only One who is able to save us – Jesus - also intercede for us? Why do people choose to pray to Mary instead? For Raymundo, who doesn’t believe in eternal life, his concern is for temporal blessings, and in his mind Mary is just as capable as Jesus in answering his prayers – and maybe more approachable. Is the Virgin of Guadalupe really leading people to Jesus? I think just the opposite.