The month of December in the Gutiérrez household is a good example of how ministry is a way of life for our family. It is a whirlwind of activity. A combination of “American” and Hispanic traditions. A time of preparation. A time of prayer. A time of fun and fellowship. It’s exhausting but hopefully fruitful.
This year we started a little early by starting our traditions on the weekend after Thanksgiving. We made a gingerbread train and decorated the Christmas tree. Then we set up the nativity scene except of course without the baby Jesus or the wise men – they come later. Then we decorated Christmas cookies.
Ministry begins on December 3rd with the first of nine nights of the Novena for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each night we gather in a home of a Hispanic family to pray the rosary – Patti in a home in Sebree with parishioners from her church and Chris in a home in Owensboro with parishioners from his church. Gabriel joins as much as possible in whichever city he is in that day. Isaac stays with mommy. (She’s got the milk!)
During the novena we reflect on the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, her words and image she left behind and her role as our spiritual mother. I’m sure I will post in the future about the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, not only for Mexicans, but for all of us! But in the meantime I would encourage everyone to learn more about her and the image that still hangs today in Mexico City after nearly 500 years.
This year, right in the middle we got ice and snow! Gabriel couldn’t wait to get out and play in it!
The culmination of the nine day preparation is one big celebration Mexican style! We begin at St. Michael’s in Sebree at 11:30pm to pray the last rosary. At midnight we sing the mañanitas which are traditional hymns sung to Mary. Following the mañanitas we celebrate mass. This year we also had a little skit about the apparitions in the parish hall followed by a small meal. Then the choir goes with Chris to Owensboro to have their mañanitas at 4am. That evening at his parish there is a special mass with incredible decoration of a giant replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then there is a celebration in the parish hall with a live band and lots of good food.
Then the fun starts again on Dec 16th with the nine days of Posadas. We again gather in different homes every night, Patti in Sebree and Chris in Owensboro. We dress up children as Mary and Joseph and reenact them looking for a place to stay in the inn. Gabriel loves being Joseph!
After those inside the house finally let us in we have prayer and reflection on the different aspects of Jesus’ birth. Then we sing and of course eat great food! The last day (Christmas Eve) is a big celebration in both parishes. This year in Patti’s parish there was a pastorela (a skit about the shepherds trying to go adore Jesus and the Devil trying to keep them from going) and Isaac starred as baby Jesus!
Then Chris and Patti both help with the masses in their parishes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That afternoon we finally all make it home and spend the day trying to recover! We open our Christmas presents and play and relax. We lay the baby Jesus in his crib. The Christmas season has begun!