Our Lady Of Guadalupe 2015
I've been wanting to write about this for about a week and I just haven't gotten around to it but I have understood that it was an experience necessary to share....
Last Friday December 11th was the night before the Catholic feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and I really encountered Christ through her in a beautifully new way. As some of you know, these past months have been difficult(especially as it accounts to my dealings in being a single father). Friday the 11th was a day that I can honestly say was working to be my breaking point. Coming from a very disappointing experience I was walking up Webster ave. here in the Bronx towards Fordham Road to get on the bus headed home.
As I reached into my pocket to pull out headphones and my iPhone to turn on music that would bask in my sorrows, I heard in the distance the sound of many horns and drums in a South American style of music. I thought perhaps there was some kind of party going on and so I continued to put on my headphones. Approaching closer it got louder and louder and I started to see a large crowd in the street. I took off the headphones and realized a big statue of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe being carried in the street. It wasn't until then that I remembered that the following day was her feast day.
I immediately grabbed my phone again and began to take video for Instagram. It was then while recording that I bumped into my good friend Luis Lugo who is now the Director of Religious Education over at St. Phillip Neri's Parish here in the Bronx. My entire mood began to change more and more and as I looked back at the image now walking ahead of me, I felt the impression that I needed to join on this walk through the backstreets of what would be called "the hood" here in the Bronx.
I walked, and I prayed, and watched as this celebration caught the attention of people looking from the windows of their apartment buildings and coming out of the "Bodegas". Some took pictures and some stared in amazement; while still others joked and laughed about the celebration. I have been to other Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations organized by Mexican communities and have seen how much this feast was an important one for their culture overall but this time it took new significance. I couldn't help but think, what does this mean to our modern American culture.
The end of the walk would take us to the front of St. Phillip Neri's where cultural dancing and more cultural music in honor of the Blessed Mother would take place. I couldn't help to notice however that no one was assigned in the street to explain to the onlookers what was going on and teach. What struck me even more was how dis-engaged the young population (which seemed to be primarily Mexican) was in this festivity. This went for the teenagers especially, but even for the young kids who were trained to do some of the dances. Then I looked and noticed how all of these teens began to pull out their iPhones and put on headphones... And I continued to notice as the majority of them had Jordan, Kobe, or Lebron sneakers and snapback caps with different teams on them.... Then I noticed the parents where the ones dressed in traditional Mexican attire.
Then the question hit me.... How do we make these beautiful celebrations of faith relevant in modern society. Although they hold deep spiritual relevance it seems that our modern times do not have a way to connect into this power in a way relatable to them. Now don't get me wrong, I personally thought the festivities were beautiful and it was exactly what I needed when I encountered them but this was not the case for others in my age category and below.
I proceeded in for a mass celebrated in Spanish with a big Mecican band playing music and I was grateful to be there.... Another thought hit about some conversations and difficulties I have personally been facing within the church and Hip Hop culture which has been automatically deemed by many "irreverent" or "not true" to the faith. The mass ended with 2 things for me.... One as I gazed yet again upon the image of our Lady, I felt the impression that God through our Blessed mother was saying "What this image has done for that culture, I need you to create in a way for this culture in order that all may come closer to me." And when those words finished I happened to look over seeing a small statue of St. Joseph who was exactly who I have needed so much in my current trials as a Father.
Heavenly Father; Fernando Rielo used to speak of St. Joseph in relation to Jesus as having "Mystical Paternity" over him, and he referred to all of those who we as men teach and guide in the same way. You have given me father a very difficult task in modern times. I have been placed even in my young age in a position to teach and guide thousands of young people across the country in many situations. You have given me a mystical paternity over people in classrooms and on stages as well as through extended personal relationships. I want to take this time to offer my students, God child, and those who I've been their confirmation sponsor to you now. Not only mystical paternity, but you have blessed me to have a direct paternity over my son Christian. Please, like Mary may I be used to create miracles in this culture to teach and to guide and to bring to you. And through the intercession of St. Joseph may I have the strength to lead, protect, and provide for all who you have given to me for whatever reason it is that you intend for them. I am not perfect Lord, but may I never give up on seeking your perfection in my life. I pray this all in the name of Jesus Christ your son and our Lord. Amen.
- The Symbol
- All is Love
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