December 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Though it was on a Sunday this year, we celebrated it in many of the ways we usually celebrate this feast. At 5 am, a large group of people and a mariachi band woke Mary up by singing songs to her. There was a procession to the Church where the Knights of Columbus led the group into the Church. White roses decorated the sanctuary and adorned the pews. It looked and smelled beautiful.
During the offertory procession, children in native dress danced with bells attached to their ankles making a joyful noise. They were led by two women holding bowls of incense. While this was very interesting to watch, what moved me the most was a common ritual for many Hispanic people. After the gifts were placed on the Altar, parent came forward with their infants who, one by one, were gently taken from them by our priest and held up above his head as he faced the altar, tabernacle, and crucifix. Then, he kissed them and handed them back. I cried. I thought, in particular, about my daughter, whose name, Elisa, comes from Elizabeth, which means consecrated to God. Father was consecrating these babies to God, reminding all of us that our children do not belong to us at all, but are gifts from God.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was carrying the greatest gift God has ever given us when she appeared to Juan Diego. Let us remember to thank him.