By Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M.

In September 1968 the Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim the National Week of the Hispanic Heritage. Some years later, in 1988, the festivities were extended to a month (from Sept. 15 to Oct.15). During this time the United States celebrates the culture and traditions of those people with cultural roots originating in Spain who are living in the country. The date of Sept. 15 was chosen because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence on this date: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico and Chile commemorate their independence on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively. This year Chile and Mexico are honoring the bicentennial of their independence. {{more}}

Besides their independence, Mexico is also celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. To acknowledge the relevance of these anniversaries, the Mexican Bishops have published a pastoral letter, “Commemorating our history in the faith, so we can make a commitment with our country today.” Throughout the letter, the bishops “look back to the past with gratitude to live the present responsibly and move toward the future with hope.”

In solidarity with the Mexican people, the Mexican Church makes a commitment to walk side by side with them as together they become protagonists of a future with hope for all. The Church has organized various events to pray and reflect upon the gift of liberty and continue looking for justice in the country. Thus, under the light of faith, the people can recognize their identity and vocation as sons and daughters of God.

The Mexican Church recognizes the faults of the past and commits to the present and looks with hope to the future, even in the midst of the current challenges. Together, as God’s people, they acknowledge the spanine action throughout their history and trusting in the “Patroness of Liberty” (Our Lady of Guadalupe) they continue the journey “toward their own development, in fraternal collaboration with the other American nations and the whole world.”

God reveals his plan of salvation through our own histories – both our countries’ as well as our own. As believers, we discover in the events of history God’s design, even at times of conflict and human weaknesses. Each one of us has his or her own “history of salvation.” It is only when we embrace our past that we can discover God’s fidelity and follow God’s will in the present and future. In our histories many of us have crossed frontiers that we never imagined – geographic, cultural, academic – which have brought us to the “now” of our lives. Maybe in the midst of so many activities, we may not have had the time or energy to stop and recognize how God has intervened in our lives and how we have influenced the lives of others. In the same way that the Catholic Church in Mexico is meditating and celebrating their history in the light of our faith, we are invited to do the same in our history of salvation here in the United States. Wherever we are, God exhorts us to be protagonists in the building of the kingdom of God – a kingdom of love and justice for all.

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.