I still can’t get past the hugeness of Mexico City. You can go to the top of a hill in the center of town and see glittery lights stretching in every direction as far as you can see. Or you can just close your eyes and smell it. Exhaust, spices, incense, and typical huge-city smell speaks as much as a panoramic view stretching for miles.
The team took a “pilgrimage” to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Watched pilgrims and devotees praying through their rosaries, climbing dozens of stairsteps on their knees, sprinkling themselves with water flowing beneath the feet of a fading statue of the Virgin.
Somehow this basilica was different than any of the dozens I visited in Europe. In Rome, Assissi, Pisa, Venice, Lucca, France, and London, the vast majority of the people in each place of worship wasn’t there to worship, but to take photos, buy entrance to the cupola for a view of the city, and maybe pray a haphazard prayer for some sick loved one.
But the people in Mexico City are for real. There are few tourists, but tons of worshipers. They wait in real confession lines and murmur their prayers in the chapels and sacred spaces. Hoping to have their sins pardoned, their time in purgatory reduced, extra blessings to counteract their own sins. What a mission field.
At one point when we were visiting, I had to turn away from the mobs of the faithful, feeling sick to my stomach at the hopelessness of these millions of people. Shutting out the only real hope of salvation–faith and trust in Jesus Christ–in favor of a whole lot of works that they’re still not sure will save them. In disgust, I walked away and bought a liter-sized styrofoam sup of horchata for 18 pesos.
I found myself humming “Rock of Ages” as I walked away from the church, a place that can never provide any kind of security. How blessed I am to know the truth.
Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to the cross I cling; Naked, come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die. –Augustus M. Toplady