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Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.

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December 16th, 2010

La Virgencita vs. Advent

 
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La-Virgencita-flashSunday was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  In our household, the day came and went without any special celebration.  Honestly, I would have completely forgotten that it was her feast day except that it was also La Lupe’s birthday.  No church in our diocese was allowed to celebrate an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass because this feast day is trumped by the celebration of the third Sunday in Advent.

On a typical feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe there is a whole lot of hoopla and celebration.  You wake up super early and go to church at 5am to hear mariachis sing Las Mañanitas.  Then, later in the day, you arrive at church to see a crowd of children dressed up as San Juan Diego with his tilma carrying roses.  There are matachines dancing and drumming.  There are more mariachis.  The church is usually wall to wall with people.  Lots of colorful banners, lots of music, lots of movement.  It is such a show of love for La Virgen.

The Mass that we went to was pretty much the opposite of this.  Because of our schedule on Sunday, we ended up needing to go to Mass at a random time which meant we went to a Low Mass of the “old Latin form”.  If you’re not sure what kind of Mass this is, that makes two of us.  There were very helpful missals to follow but with a squirmy kid, it was impossible to read along.  There was a lot of silence during the Mass.  A very thin crowd.

Completely lost as to what was going on, I stared at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had been placed at the front of the church.

A lot of different feelings washed over me.  One was guilt about forgetting La Virgencita’s day.  One was resentment that we could not attend a regular Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass with all the bells and whistles.  One was annoyance that I had to sit through a Mass that I couldn’t follow.

As I sat there staring at this very familiar image I thought about how La Virgen’s message is one of humility.  I was annoyed that the third Sunday of Advent trumped her feast day but Mary would be the first person to rejoice over this.  Everything in Mary’s life pointed beyond herself.  Pointed to her Son.  I’m sure she has no problem that one of her major feast days was overshadowed by Gaudete Sunday.  She would not want it any other way.  She always places Jesus above herself.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message was one of humility.  She entrusted her message to Juan Diego, a poor, uneducated, Indian convert.  He was considered nothing by society and yet he was the one who she chose to announce her message.  A message that brought converts to the Church in droves.  A message that literally changed the world.  But it was not a message about herself.  It was a message bringing people to her Son, Jesus.

Ok, ok, Virgencita, I got the message.  I’ll stop pouting.

“Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life, love Him as You loved Him.”

 
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The Author : Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft
Vanessa, a Notre Dame grad, loves the Catholic Worker Movement, Catholic education, and overbearing Mexican mothers, which she may or may not be. She lives in Austin with her husband and three daughters and is a freelance writer. You can find Vanessa at v.kraft.im or follow Vanessa on Twitter @laluped.
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  • Father Tom Anastasia

    As pastor of a 3000 family parish with a strong Mexican tradition of the Mananitas I wasn’t sure how to procede. My bishop made it clear to me that he did not want me to ask him directly, because he didn’t want to have to say no we could not have our annual 5am celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Consequently we did have it but told the “regulars” in advance that to fulfill their Sunday obligation for the Third Sunday of Advent they’d have to celebrate Mass later in the day too. It was truly a beautiful celebration at the stadium in town since we’ve outgrown the church.

  • Carmen

    We were also blessed with a ’2 for one’ liturgy that appealed to our deep joy at this point of Advent as well as devotion to venerate Our Lady of Guadalupe. Love the ‘mexcla’ concept! (from a Guadalupan Cuban!) Blessings!

  • sarah

    So sorry you didn’t get to celebrate Guadalupe. Our parish went with a mexcla. We had a procession, flowers, children Aztec dancers and the story, but read the third Sunday of Advent readings. Even a massive storm couldn’t stop the people from coming in droves. When I marvelled at this, someone simply said, “It’s because we love la Virgen.”

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