Rev. Louis Gasparini, MCCJ
100 East Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 421-3131 voice ext. 2663
(513) 421-1582 fax
December in Review
December in Review
While Advent is a time of expectant waiting, it can also be a very productive time of active waiting. Various Catholic Hispanic communities within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati filled their Advent days with numerous celebrations. The major activities centered around Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th and Las Posadas during the days just before Christmas. Both celebrations have been a part of Latino culture for centuries. The photos speak for themselves to those who know the story of these feasts, but for those who need a 101, here is a brief explanation of each.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mary appeared near Mexico City to Juan Diego, a native Mexican, in 1531. She requested that a church be built on the spot where she appeared. When Juan Diego told Bishop Zumarraga , there was understandable skepticism, but Mary was ready. She told Juan Diego to gather a poncho full of roses, which he found blooming on a nearby hillside, and take them to the bishop. Roses didn’t grow in the area, and even if they did, it wasn’t the season for them. Juan took a tilma (poncho) full and presented them to the bishop. The lining of the poncho held a beautiful image of the Blessed Mother, filled with cultural symbols the indigenous people of the are would recognize immediately. This was their Mother, their Princess, who surpassed all the idols of Aztec belief.
The bishop built the church, and the poncho with Mary’s image is preserved and on display in today’s Basilic of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is believed that Guadalupe comes from Tlecuatlecupe, the name Mary gave herself in Juan Diego’s native language when he asked her who she was. It means “the one who crushes the head of the serpent.”
In no uncertain terms, Mary promised to give her love, compassion, and protection to all the native people of the area. Here are many resources that offer more detailed information. Here are two quick reads: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/saint-juan-diego-and-our-lady.html and https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/our-lady-of-guadalupe-feast-day-facts-celebration-ideas/
Active waiting means present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.” ~ Henri Nouwen
During Advent, a traditional time of waiting among Christians, Latino communities become fully present to the moment when they engage in the 400-year-old tradition of Las Posadas,
Las Posadas is a wonderful 400+ year old Advent celebration and are an important part of Mexican Christmas traditions. During the nine evenings before Christmas, people take part in a procession that brings to life Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for an inn. Children act out the parts of Joseph and Mary as they go from house to house, where they and the many people accompanying them stop and sing a song, begging repeatedly for shelter until the “innkeeper” lets them in. Once inside, the crowd prays, sings, and shares food and drinks. Some Posadas are more elaborate, some less so, but all of them help participants move joyfully towards Christmas.
Photos represent activities at St. Susanna in Mason; St. Francis DeSales in Lebanon, St. Julie Billiart in Hamilton; and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Anderson.