by Father Paul Marx, Founder of Human Life International
Who would have thought that a small one room office in Washington, D.C. would, in just 15 years, develop into the world’s largest pro-life, pro-family organization, Human Life International? Or who could have imagined that in the same amount of time a people once steeped in superstition, pagan ritual, and bloody human sacrifice, experienced such an outpouring of grace that over nine million of them were baptized?
The answer: “What is impossible for man, is possible for God.” He alone imagined it, and He alone accomplished it, through miraculous intervention of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The choice of Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of our apostolate was obvious. Of all the many manifestations of Mary’s loving presence among us throughout the centuries, in this apparition alone does she appear to us as clearly the Patroness of the Unborn, in the manner of a pregnant mother. She holds within her the unborn Christ, proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb. Her reverence and tenderness communicate to us the joy and awe with which we must approach each nascent life. In contemplating her simplicity we find the strength to emulate her faith, and proceed with confidence in the knowledge that God will overcome the seemingly insurmountable barriers looming all around us in the world today.
When Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531, Mexico had been in the hands of Christian leaders for only a short time. Human sacrifice, where blood of infants was often spilled to appease the thirsty demons of the old rite, was still practiced surreptitiously, a gruesome continuation of the country’s long enslavement to pagan fears.
Into this cavern of darkness and ignorance, the Patroness of the Unborn brought a message of maternal compassion. “I am the merciful Mother, the Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities, and misfortunes.” No more did the people need to cower in abject terror before the bloodthirsty gods who demanded the death of their children. They found refuge beneath the gracious protection of a gentle Mother.
As our world is poised at the dawn of the third millennium, how much we need a patroness of the unborn! In every greater numbers society sacrifices our young and aged at demonic altars, hurrying them to destruction through abortion, sex education, prostitution, pornography, infanticide and euthanasia; foolishly believing that just a little more contraception, just one additional population control program, and we will be blessed with the happiness and peace that we so desire.
Against the darkness of this era, we at Human Life International cry out for the assistance and protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her face radiates the very light of God, while her example reveals authentic femininity. Only by imitating Our Lady’s respect for life from the moment of conception can we hope to inherit Life itself.
Under the gentle direction of the Patroness of the Unborn, we find not only shelter and rest, but confidence and strength to go forth to battle the evil. Through her intercession we can expect tremendous miracles. Though they were few in number, the first Franciscan missionaries in Mexico reaped an unprecedented harvest of souls for God in just a few short years, all under the patronage of Mary.
Likewise, at HLI, like David versus Goliath, we stand firm against a vast array of anti-life organizations, imperialistic governments, and literally billions of dollars, yet continue to flourish. Countless children have been rescued from the slaughter, an entire generation that will live to praise God. Thousands of souls have been turned away from fear and death, to embrace life and joy. Families the world over have learned to look to HLI for support and encouragement against what the Holy Father has termed “a culture of death.”
Indeed, our efforts have met with such success that International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world’s largest promoter of abortion, contraception, and sterilization, has named HLI its “number one enemy.” HLI has helped remove hundreds of millions of federal funds for population control programs. “Pill pushers” the world over have learned to loathe the name of Human Life International. HLI currently operates in 87 nations worldwide,* and in all of our affiliates Our Lady of Guadalupe is held in great reverence. She is indeed the “Mother of all mankind,” and we in the pro-life movement cherish a special allegiance and devotion to her banner. Though she is known as the “Queen of the Americas,” she has extended her influence to every continent through her servants in the pro-life cause, bearing the message of love and life to all nations.
In 1996, we placed our World Headquarters under her protection. Located in Front Royal, Virginia, USA, our facility is cruciform in shape, symbolizing Christ’s saving act as the center of our work. At the very heart of the building is the Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel where Our Lady of Guadalupe is prominently featured, and through her intercession develop programs to rescue the pre-born, promote research and training that supports the family, and carry the “Gospel of Life” to every nation.
The miraculous image of Mary carrying within her womb the unborn Jesus, shows us more poignantly than words that the child is literally the future of the family, and the family is the foundation upon which a peaceful society must be built. This is the soul of our mission.
Only through the heart of a Mother so benevolent and powerful can we hope to achieve our ends. If my many years of world travels have taught me anything, it is that we are always the underdog. The opposition is always bigger, better funded, and has the support of the government and the media. We are like a ragged little dog against the bully with the stick. But Mary assures us that we need not worry or be frightened. We need only to ask her intercession and she will see the victory, despite the most overwhelming odds.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appears to us as the Mother of Christ, who is the head of his Church. She directs us to look to her Son, to “do whatever He tells you,” to uphold the teachings of His Body, the Catholic Church. Therefore, we promote and defend the teachings the Church without exception, without compromise. Indeed, it would be the greatest foolishness to do otherwise. Time and again I have seen that once a society has accepted contraception, abortion follows. The ‘slippery slope’ goes down fast from there. Abortion ushers in the greatest disrespect for human life and human sexuality and heralds the inception of innumerable evils: pornography, child abuse, infanticide, and euthanasia. Catholics who were once faithful begin using contraception and suddenly lose all apostolic zeal. The family begins to disintegrate and society starts to self-destruct.
There can only be one solution: to turn in true faithfulness to the teachings of Christ and accept the peace and freedom that He offers us, especially through His emissary, Patroness of the Unborn. She is the model of the obedient virgin, the faithful subject, the loving mother, the gentle spouse, and the charitable woman. Her virtues extol the grace of God, her obedience His wisdom, and her miracles His power. We are in this battle until God wins. We will not be deterred by opposition, government interference, political correctness, and the alliances of the devil. As Saint Paul said: “We will fight the good fight.”
With the help of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we dedicate our lives and work to the protection of all human life and the families which bring new life into the world. The first miracle of Jesus at Cana was on behalf of a family, and undertaken at Mary’s request. That alone tells us that we are in the right business and have her blessing! More than 1500 years later in Mexico, in the midst of seemingly impregnable darkness, she shone forth radiantly as a champion of the family, a pregnant mother standing against the horror of human sacrifice. Beneath the mantle of the Patroness of the Unborn, we shall not only survive, but prosper. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
*Editor’s update: as of January 2019, HLI operates in over 100 countries worldwide.