Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the not too distant past, I really didn't know much about Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had seen countless images of her before, but I never took the time to understand the history nor the symbolism of these images. The story is beautiful and definitely worth the time to read. You can find one of the many accounts of Our Lady here. Her appearance to Juan Diego in 1531 is credited to converting millions of Mexicans to Christianity.
This morning I had the privilege of accompanying grades K-6 of my children's school to a neighboring parish to celebrate Mass for today's feast. I had no idea what to expect. The church was beautiful and the children were excited to be visiting someplace new (during a school day). While sitting in the pew and looking with awe at our surroundings, the sound of a drum began to resonate throughout the church. A dozen or so Hispanic youth danced down the aisle, wearing red vests, adorned with sparkling images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A lump formed in my throat, as I watched these young people dance with both reverence and pride. Once all of the dancers and Father Tony were before the altar, they all fell to their knees and the drum went silent. Honey Bunches was sitting next to me, but my other children were sitting with their classes. I desperately tried to find them to see if this was making an impact on them (like it was on me).
During Mass, the story of Juan Diego was told, and the lovely imagery of Our Lady of Guadalupe explained. Father also shared how throughout the evening last night and early this morning, people came to the church to pray and present roses at the foot of the altar. Father shared that he greeted a young man very early this morning, who came with a bouquet of roses. He said that his wife was going to have a baby girl today and they are going to name her Guadalupe. He came to the church to ask Our Lady to pray for his wife and daughter; that all will go well with the delivery and to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for his great blessings.
Mass ended the same way it began, with the drum sounding and the youth dancing.
(I apologize for the poor quality of the video. I took it on my phone and had great difficulty in downloading to my blog).
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to witness such a beautiful celebration today. I am also grateful for a faith tradition that is deep and rich; expanding far beyond the depths of my imagination.
I know many who struggle with the concept of our Mother Mary and even find her as a stumbling block of faith. What was very evident today in participating in this Liturgy, was that it isn't about Mary, so much as it is about her holding our hands and leading us to her son, Jesus. The devotions people have to Mary always lead to Jesus. Juan Diego's experience with the Blessed Mother didn't convert millions to Mary; it converted millions to Jesus Christ. And so it is with great joy that I celebrate these feast days, giving thanks for a spiritual mother who holds our best interests in her heart and helps to pave the way to a better, more loving, and deeper relationship with Jesus.