Viva La Virgen De Guadalupe

Devotees, matachines dancers and members of the Guadalupana Society gathered outside the shrine before Mass to sing Las Mañanitas, a serenade for Our Lady. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — It was still dark as men, women and children walked from their homes and cars to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe early in the morning December 12, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. People talked quietly as they filled the shrine, waiting for the Sacred Heart Matachines Dancers and Danza Guadalupe to begin the celebration. At exactly 5:30 a.m., the pounding of a drum began. It was time for Las Mañanitas at the Grotto in front of the Shrine. Men, women, even children in feathered headdresses danced to the drum’s beat while their audience clapped softly.

As the darkness began to dissipate, the Mass in honor of Our Lady, celebrated by Father Luis Felipe Suarez was started. Vases of red roses covered the high altar and their fragrance filled the church.  The first reading, Revelation 12, described St, John’s vision of a woman clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and wearing a crown of 12 stars.  She is about to give birth.

In his homily, Fr. Suarez explained the readings and how they were all connected with the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“This is the image Our Lady left on St. Juan Diego’s tilma. She is clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and has a crown of 12 stars. She is pregnant and so Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered as the Patroness of the Unborn and of the Americas, since she appeared in the center of North and South America.

“There is debate about the origin of the name Guadalupe,” he continued. “It is believed that Mary would not have used the Arabic word ‘Guadalupe’ in an apparition to Juan Diego’s uncle Juan Bernadino, since it would be so difficult for Aztec Indians to pronounce. However, it is thought that the word Our Lady used in the Aztec Nahuatl language sounded like ‘Guadalupe’ to Juan Bernadino’s Spanish interpreter, who came from near the Marian Shrine of Guadalupe in Spain. So what word did Our Lady use? The Aztec Nahuatl word, transliterated ‘coatlaxopeuh,’ is believed to have been used by Our Lady and is pronounced quatlasupe, which sounds like Guadalupe.

Devotees, matachines dancers and members of the Guadalupana Society gathered outside the shrine before Mass to sing Las Mañanitas, a serenade for Our Lady. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

“The Aztec word coatlaxipeuh can be broken down as follows:

1. Coa which means serpent

2.   Tla, the ending of the word that means ‘the’

3.   Xopeuh, which means to ‘crush’ or ‘stamp out.’”

Fr. Suarez went on to say that the breakdown of the Aztec word “coatlaxopeuh” suggests that Our Lady described herself as the one who crushes the serpent.

He said that was a suitable description because serpent gods were among those worshipped by the Aztecs, thus Our Lady represented the true God who would replace the pagan gods. Within a decade of Our Lady appearing to St. Juan Diego, 20 million Aztec Indians had converted to Christianity. “So, it is true to say that Our Lady is the New Eve who cruses the head of the serpent,” Fr. Suarez said.

A little later in the homily, he reminded the congregation that ‘on the cross, Jesus said to the disciple and to everyone who would be his follower, ‘Behold your mother.’ Mary is the mother of every Christian. Like Jesus, she belongs to every race and culture. That is why each race has an image of Mary which reflects the culture of the people. For the Mexican, and by extension to all the peoples of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe comes from the culture of the people.”

Fr. Suarez said that the theme for this year’s celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe portrays Mary as the great evangelizer. She embodied in her life two qualities of those sent by God to proclaim the Gospel. “First of all, she is a woman of faith. ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’ She believed, and the Word became flesh. She pondered all the great things God has done in her heart, he went on. Secondly, she accepted the call of God to be the mother of Jesus, the mother of the Messiah, and later to be the mother of all the disciples. She was faithful to the end and remains faithful to all God has asked of her.”

“Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates our humanity, our dignity as human beings and demands the justice which honors the dignity and worth of every person, with particular attention to those who are poor and suffering.”

In conclusion, Fr. Suarez said “to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to stand right with God; to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to respect the dignity and worth of every human being as made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ; to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to care for the earth and the environment as given to us by God.”

“Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!”

Just before the closing prayer, Ramona Arroyo, of the Guadalupana Society, approached the lectern and called for all members of the Guadalupana Society to come forward. Two new members were to be inducted. They received their medals and were blessed by Fr. Suarez and all the current members.

Following the Mass, a reception of sweet breads, fruit and cheese, tamales and Mexican Chocolate was held in the lower level Church hall. The sun was up.

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Tuesday
May 21, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph