By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — A big full moon shone whitely in the dark blue skies above the Grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine on Avenida Cesar Chavez. Even though it was only 5:15 a.m., a full two hours before sunrise, cars were arriving and disgorging families and individuals who climbed the steps to the shrine. The statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe in the Grotto atop the rectory garage was surrounded by flowers and brightly lit. It was Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Virgen de Guadalupe.
Inside the shrine, the sanctuary was decorated with roses and other flowers, images and statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As more and more people entered the shrine, a mariachi band was tuning up.
A pounding drumbeat out on the sidewalk drew many to watch the celebratory dancing of the Sacred Heart-Guadalupe Matachines Dancers, who dance to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico and all of the Americas. Dressed in red and gold costumes and wearing feathered headdresses, they danced along the sidewalk in front of the shrine to the beat of the drum.
All gathered in front of the Grotto to sing Las Mananitas, the birthday song, to her. Then shivering a little from the cold, the assembly trooped back inside the shrine for music from the Mariachi band. A few minutes later, Father Darvin Salazar, pastor of Sacred Heart-Guadalupe Parish, and Bishop James Johnston, Jr., processed up the center aisle, led by members of the Guadalupana Society singing, “Bueno Dias, Paloma Blanca” (Good morning, White Dove), accompanied by the congregation and the Mariachi band. The bishop was clad in cream and blue vestments with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and matching miter.
The Mass was in both Spanish and English.
In his homily, Bishop Johnston asked the assembly, “What do you call the children who have the same mother? Brothers and sisters, right? … That’s one of the beautiful things this feast day reminds us of. Mary is our mother; Our Lady of Guadalupe is our mother. Our Lady of Guadalupe is especially important to the people of Mexico. Our Lady is also especially dear and important to all the peoples of the Americas. She is the patroness of the Americas. She is one … who really helps us realize our solidarity as a family. If you’re children of the same mother, you’re brothers and sisters. So Our Lady is the source of joy for us, a sign of hope … also a sign of our unity, that we are all one family. And this year, the Bishops are calling us to pray in a special way on this day, this is the day set aside for prayer for all immigrant people, all those who have risked their lives to travel to another country, many here in the United States and Canada, seeking a better life for their families … Often in great danger, often very vulnerable. I ask you to pray for the very vulnerable today, especially migrants and immigrants, will you join me in that? (“Yes!” was heard throughout the shrine.) Thank you!
“During this season of Advent … we are told many times in the Liturgy, in God’s Word, in Scripture to prepare the way of the Lord. And Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows us how to do that … In opening her own life, her own self to God’s will, she conceived and gave birth to Jesus, the Savior, the son of God. Mary, in her own life, prepared the way to bring Jesus into the world to be our savior. So she teaches us through her own life, through her actions, through her attitudes, how we can prepare the way for Jesus … to bring Jesus more fully into the world, a world today that needs Jesus so much! The world is thirsting for the love of God. Our world today needs Jesus more than ever, and he relies on us to prepare the way for his coming, but we have to begin with ourselves. Mary shows us in little ways how we each can do that.”
He listed the little ways: her obedience to the will of God; her evangelizing, carrying Jesus to visit Elizabeth, who also was with child; her suffering at the foot of the Cross, and through prayer.
In conclusion, the bishop said, “Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds us that we are all children of the same mother. We learn from her as she teaches us how to prepare the way for her son to come into our lives. We rejoice with her and we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus, come.’”
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Johnston blessed the medals of three new members of the Guadalupana Society as well as other religious articles brought by people in the congregation. After the Mass, a reception in the parish hall continued the celebration.