Praised be Jesus and Mary! We are now more than a week beyond the festivities in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and have turned our eyes toward Christmas and the coming of the baby Jesus: the monument with the image of Our Lady has been replaced with the frame for the Nativity scene in the Church, and the excitement of Christmas is in the air. But I don’t want the 12th of December to get too far away without offering a word of thanksgiving to our (Mexican) Mother.
Our Parish, St. Rocco’s, was founded specifically to serve the Spanish-speaking population of this region, and includes members from Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and especially Mexico. The majority of these immigrants have come because of the work in the “hongueros,” mushroom farms that require a large labor force all throughout the year.
The Church was “puras rosas” and PACKED with people for the mañanitas and the midnight Mass, which consecrated the first of the 24 hours of December 12th. I am sure Our Lady delights in receiving their little sacrifices of love: songs, flowers, sleeplessness; because she knows that she can present these little offerings to her Son.
There were five more Masses at St. Rocco’s that day in Her honor, each one a perfect offering. In between the morning Masses, we were also able to accompany our pastor, Father Frank, to one of the hongueros, owned by a devout Catholic man who has taken measures to provide for the spiritual welfare of his employees. The building includes a simple but beautiful chapel, and in the cafeteria a monument had been set up with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, also overflowing with roses. Many of the workers crammed into the nooks and crannies of the cafeteria or even remained out in the corridor to participate in a short prayer service and to sing to their Mother. We then shared a delicious Mexican breakfast with them before they all returned to work.
It seems that Our Lady of Guadalupe – the Blessed Virgin Mary – is no more a mother to the Mexicans than to any other peoples or nation. It also seems that the Mexican people have been entrusted with the mission to be witnesses to all the world of the divine maternity. When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego, she told him she wanted a church to be built in her honor on top of Tepeyac hill, so that she could receive her children with all their concerns, joys, sufferings. She wanted to give them a place to find refuge in the love of their Mother. Now the Mexican diaspora builds its Tepeyac in different little corners of the world – like Avondale, Pennsylvania – to draw near to Her, to offer their love and to receive it also. In this way they teach us what it is to have such a Mother, and how a faithful child should honor her. I thank Mary for winning for me the grace to know Her and love Her; I thank Her sons and daughters for showing me how to do it better.
¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva la Iglesia Católica! ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ¡Viva México!
Sister Mary Star of Evangelization