At the end, a plea for intercession to Mary, recognizing our common ground. She, as a pilgrim to Elizabeth. And we, joining with her in that most human of experiences, the journey from shadows to light, drawing closer to God with every step, every breath:
553. We are aided with the company, ever close at hand, full of understanding and tenderness, of Mary Most Holy. May she show us the blessed fruit of her womb and teach us to respond as she did in the mystery of the annunciation and incarnation. She teaches us to go out of ourselves on a journey of sacrifice, love, and service, as she did in the visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, so that as pilgrims on the road, we may sing the wonders that God has done in us as he promised.
The Aparecida bishops leave the last word to Pope Benedict XVI:
554. Guided by Mary, we fix our gaze on Jesus Christ, author and perfecter of faith, and we tell him with the Successor of Peter:
“Stay with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent” (Lk 24:29).
Stay with us, Lord, keep us company, even though we have not always recognized you. Stay with us, because all around us the shadows are deepening, and you are the Light; discouragement is eating its way into our hearts: make them burn with the certainty of Easter. We are tired of the journey, but you comfort us in the breaking of bread, so that we are able to proclaim to our brothers and sisters that you have truly risen and have entrusted us with the mission of being witnesses of your resurrection.
Stay with us, Lord, when mists of doubt, weariness or difficulty rise up around our Catholic faith; you are Truth itself, you are the one who reveals the Father to us: enlighten our minds with your word, and help us to experience the beauty of believing in you.
Remain in our families, enlighten them in their doubts, sustain them in their difficulties, console them in their sufferings and in their daily labors, when around them shadows build up which threaten their unity and their natural identity. You are Life itself: remain in our homes, so that they may continue to be nests where human life is generously born, where life is welcomed, loved and respected from conception to natural death.
Remain, Lord, with those in our societies who are most vulnerable; remain with the poor and the lowly, with indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans, who have not always found space and support to express the richness of their culture and the wisdom of their identity. Remain, Lord, with our children and with our young people, who are the hope and the treasure of our Continent, protect them from so many snares that attack their innocence and their legitimate hopes. O Good Shepherd, remain with our elderly and with our sick. Strengthen them all in faith, so that they may be your disciples and missionaries!(Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 3)
It’s been a long journey. Any final thoughts? Remember that an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.
I confess I basically grew to ignore this (and the other one). So much precatory preaching to the faithful, but in vivid contrast to an increasingly glaring lack of progress on reforms at the institutional level (parochial, diocesan and global) makes the preaching (and liturgical discussions aside from a manageable bone to chew) is more dispiriting than hope-inspiring for me. I may be peculiar that way, I confess.