Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration subdued but still marked with joy

Valentin, a parishioner of St. Anthony Parish in Renton dressed as St. Juan Diego, carries an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe into St. James Cathedral during the annual Madre de las Americas Mass December 5. Photo: Stephen Brashear Valentin, a parishioner of St. Anthony Parish in Renton dressed as St. Juan Diego, carries an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe into St. James Cathedral during the annual Madre de las Americas Mass December 5. Photo: Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE – Dressed as St. Juan Diego, a man carried an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe into St. James Cathedral for a December 5 Mass celebrating the Virgin of Mexico’s Tepeyac Hill.

“Today we would like to honor our ancestors from whom we have inherited the faith, generation after generation,” were the words spoken by readers, first in Spanish, then in English, before Mass began. “We would especially like to thank them for passing on to us the loving devotion to our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

The image was passed to others, representing the passing of the faith to missionaries, grandparents, parents and now today’s youth.

“It is now up to the younger generation to carry on this beautiful legacy of faith,” the readers said. “It is our turn to do our part in glorifying God and honoring our Blessed Mother in heaven, not only with our words, but in deeds, full of pride and great zeal.”

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the 27th annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Madre de las Americas, was subdued and simple, with only 200 people allowed to participate in the cathedral. It was a stark departure from celebrations of years past that have included a parade to the cathedral, where hundreds of singers and dancers in native dress were joined by hundreds more worshippers celebrating the appearances of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego in 1531 and the miracle of her image imprinted on his cloak.

Edwin Ferrera, Hispanic ministry director for the Archdiocese of Seattle, said he missed the congregational singing and “all these things that we could not do and enjoy” because of the pandemic restrictions. Thinking about the words of the traditional postlude, “Virgencita de Tepeyac,” without being able to sing them was like “crying without tears,” he said.

The congregation did respond, with gusto, “¡Que viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!” and broke out in applause at points in the Mass.

Wearing traditional Mayan attire from their region of Yucatan, Landy and Tony represent native ancestors “who embraced the message of salvation, in spite of the many difficulties they faced” during the annual Madre de las Americas Mass December 5 at St. James Cathedral. The couple are members of St. Anthony Parish in Renton. Photo: Stephen Brashear

Fraternity, forgiveness, hope

The Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, which began with a rosary and eucharistic adoration, highlights the Mexican, Latino, Hispanic, Spanish and Filipino communities (Our Lady of Guadalupe is also patroness of the Philippines, Ferrera noted.)

“There’s so much diversity, it just continues to amaze me,” he said. For instance, “we had a huge representation of the Mayan community on Saturday.” And the prayers of the faithful were read in a variety of dialects, he said.

In his homily, given in Spanish but concluding with a summary in English, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo said Our Lady of Guadalupe “is calling us on behalf of the living God to dare to go beyond all barriers of race, skin color, or culture. To dignify and empower every human being around us with the simplicity and power of his loving message, ‘that we are all brothers and sisters. Children of the same Father.’”

The Virgin of Guadalupe also “has given us a new understanding and vision of the privilege and responsibility we have of being God’s messengers of fraternity, forgiveness and hope here in Seattle or wherever she might lead us to be,” Bishop Elizondo said.

With COVID-19 “all around us,” Ferrera said, “I think the experience was meaningful to people to hear the words of Our Lady speaking to us at this time, going through what we’re going through at this time.”

The pandemic has hit close to home, he said, noting that a deacon who was supposed to participate couldn’t be there because he had COVID-19, and a core member of the planning team had contracted the virus and was released from quarantine just a few days earlier.

The Hispanic community in general has been hit hard by the pandemic, but still “there’s this really embedded hope,” Ferrera said. “It’s really a community that’s been sustained by faith and [that] things will be better next year. … Faith and life are one thing, and that’s what’s holding them together.”

Ferrera is looking forward to December 12, the official feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He will attend Las Mañanitas — traditionally the serenading of Mary — that morning at his parish, St. Mary Magdalen in Everett. This year’s event may be limited to reciting the rosary, with one person singing, he said.

Ferrera also will be promoting and watching livestreams of two celebrations at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the world’s most-visited Marian shrine. Pope Francis has said Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence December 11 and 12 for their Marian devotion if they follow certain conditions. One of those is watching a livestream or televised Mass from the basilica (at 10 p.m. PST December 11 or on December 12 at 10 a.m. PST) and “actively participating ... with devotion and with exclusive attention to the Eucharist.”

Jean Parietti

Jean Parietti is the local news editor for NWCatholic.org and features editor for Northwest Catholic magazine. You can reach her at [email protected].

Jean Parietti es editora local para el sitio web NWCatholic.org y destacada editora de la revista Noroeste Católico/Northwest Catholic. Pueden contactarle en: [email protected].