I recently uncovered a sliver of positive news buried beneath the stories about celebrity shenanigans, murders and kidnappings, the high unemployment rate and the stagnant economy, and TV shows about serial killers and serial sex – this daily tsunami of sin and misery.
The story told of a mining town in Bolivia that built a statue of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
"The Virgin of Socavon" was constructed from concrete, iron and fiberglass, and at 150 feet was even taller than Rio’s well-known statue of Christ the Redeemer. The statue of the Blessed Mother, which cost $1.2 million and took four years to build, stands on Santa Barbara hill overlooking the mining city of Oruro.
"The Virgin of the Tunnel," as her name is translated, is the city’s patron, venerated by miners and residents. She is also the centerpiece of the annual Carnival, which brings together 30,000 folk dancers and revelers in the Andes.
The statue of the Virgin is a ray of hope in a troubled world so desperately in need of the Blessed Mother’s prayers and intercession. As I looked at the photos of thousands of devout followers holding candles around her in prayer and veneration, I realized that despite the depressing news we regularly read and the religious persecution Catholics are enduring worldwide because of our beliefs, the Holy Spirit is still at work and God is still in control. That’s so easy to forget as we stand on the threshold of the Third Millennium.
Beyond a doubt, we have a lot to do to turn things around – a lot of praying, a lot of evangelizing and a lot of giving witness. These are vitally important at a crucial time in salvation history when God is publicly denounced, the Church is under attack and what was once considered sinful is now deemed perfectly acceptable behavior. However, the efforts of a few united with the Blessed Mother can accomplish great things.
Public expressions of faith by the Bolivian miners, workers and peasants also reminded me that Jesus and the Blessed Mother reveal themselves to the lowly, to children and to simple people, because the proud and arrogant, the intellectuals and the powerful often think of faith as foolishness. Their hearts are hardened. Open any newspaper, and you’ll confront daily evidence of that sad reality.
Now more than ever, the world needs our witness because we live in an age when people scoff at believers, especially believers who refuse to condone political agendas and laws that are immoral. The world needs our prayers, and we have to pray harder than ever for Our Lady’s intercession in 21st-century America, a country that is spiritually bankrupt and wallowing in decadence. Seeing multitudes of worshippers in Bolivia reminded me that there are still many true believers, despite my tendency to despair after reading the daily onslaught of headlines from around the world, not to mention my neighborhood.
At this moment in history, I’m convinced the true hope for America is prayer. The intercession of the Blessed Mother can save this country – certainly something that can’t be done by our political leaders or legislators or educators or commentators or the countless special interest groups that aggressively push their personal agendas.
It’s time for all of us to take a stand and give witness. After reading that story, I placed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the window and a statue of Our Lady of Grace on the front lawn just in case our neighbors had any questions about what we believe.
Place a statue of the Blessed Mother where it can be seen so that others will know how you feel. The time has come for us to be visible and vocal about our beliefs.
Most important, pray the rosary every night as a family because it’s the greatest force for change in the world – real change, not the kind of change that comes from new laws, because many laws only lead us farther down the road to moral ruination.
Our prayers united with the Blessed Mother’s can accomplish great things and cause great change. They can lead to the kind of conversion we need now more than ever before.
J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.