Like the other months have proven thus far, November in La Luz proved to be full of activity and very enriching for me. Much of the month was a preparation for Advent. Many of the groups in the parish had discussions and talks regarding the meaning of Advent and how to best prepare ourselves to enter into the season. I was very impressed with the efforts and desire of the people to learn more about Advent and take time to ready themselves for it. The largest event in the preparation for Advent was a “musical exchange” of the choirs of the parish. La Luz and its chapels have a combined 18 choirs—a very impressive number for sure. The majority of the choirs participated in this exchange in which each choir shared one Advent hymn with the other choirs. The hymns had to have a central Advent theme that could help people better understand the meaning of Advent. One of the seminarians here also gave a talk regarding the themes of Advent and how to choose music that best brings out these themes. The goal was to share music among the choirs and help them help the parishioners of the parish enter more deeply into Advent through the themes of the music. Everyone really took a lot away from the experience (including me!) and it really propelled us into the Advent season.
The coming of Advent means the coming of the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is a celebration of the apparition of the Blessed Mother to St. Juan Diego in the 16th century in Mexico. To say this celebration is important to the Mexican people is an understatement—it of the utmost importance to the spirituality of the people here. There is a certain pride that the Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico in order to help the spread of Christianity in the country. The preparations for this celebration span two months, and November saw an acceleration in these preparations. The parish had a pilgrimage to a Basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe at the end of November. More than 1000 people participated, walking from the parish to the Basilica, a journey that took just under 2 hours. It was a very beautiful experience and one that really epitomized the deep faith and spirituality of the people here. People were carrying statues of the Virgin of Guadalupe, praying rosaries, singing Marian hymns and showing their love and devotion to their Mother. While I was walking in the procession to the Basilica, many of the people shared with me their love and devotion for Our Lady of Guadalupe and how important this pilgrimage was to offer their respect to the Patroness of the Americas. Once we arrived at the Basilica, Fr. John Herman, the pastor of La Luz, said a mass in honor of Our Lady. The Basilica was full and the mass was very lively—a true celebration of the faith and devotion of the people of Mexico.
Another aspect of the preparation for Guadalupe is a novena of rosaries that various groups of the parish pray in the nine days leading up to the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. Each evening for nine evenings, members of these groups gather to pray a rosary together, commending their needs and intentions to the Virgin of Tepeyac. I have had the blessing to participate in these rosaries and witness once again the deep faith and devotion to Mary that the people have here. Many people come to these rosaries and pray them with great care and love. It is a way to prepare their hearts for this celebration and to increase their devotion to the Blessed Mother so that she can bring them ever closer to her Son. I look forward to experiencing the celebrations of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December and in sharing with the people here in their undying passion to offer their praise and devotion to her.
Mr. Ryan Pietrocarlo, C.S.C., is completing a pastoral year in Monterrey, Mexico, as a seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He and other seminarians post twice each month for the Spes Unica Blog. Ryan graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in biochemistry prior to joining the Holy Cross formation program. He is from East Rochester, New York.