.- Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles is describing Advent as “a season of Mary” and a time for Catholics to “turn to Mary in a new way.”
“We have to take Mary into our homes. Into our lives. We need to love her and learn from her as our mother. She was a perfect daughter of God, so we can learn from her how to act as God’s sons and daughters,” the archbishop said in his Dec. 7 column for The Tidings newspaper.
Two major Marian holy days are celebrated in December: the Dec. 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which honors Mary being conceived without sin, and the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which commemorates the appearance of Mary to St. Juan Diego in 16th-century Mexico.
“In my mind, there is a deep connection between these two feast days,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“In God’s plan of salvation, Mary was conceived without original sin to announce the world’s ‘new creation’ in the coming of Jesus,” he said. “Many centuries later, in the apparition at Tepeyac, God was sending Mary to announce the coming of Jesus to the ‘new world’ of the Americas.”
The archbishop said Mary’s life is filled with “silence and hiddenness.” Major events in her life like the Annunciation and the Visitation were “off the radar” and no one “was there to see them or record them.”
In this, he saw a lesson for those who “lead quiet lives.”
“The good that we do will only be seen and known by the small circles of those closest to us – in our families and neighborhoods; in the places where we work,” he said. “Like Mary, we can live as children of God – filling our days with quiet acts of faithfulness. Carrying out our daily duties with love and care for others. Sharing our joy and love for Jesus in simple and natural ways.”
The archbishop recommended that Catholics try to set aside time every day to think about the Virgin Mary or to look at a picture of her.
“Talk to her as her child. Tell her everything that’s on your mind. Ask her to help you grow as a child of God,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez also announced that Los Angeles’ Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will begin a new tradition of celebrating “las mañanitas,” the traditional songs sung by Mexicans and others for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The cathedral will host an evening festival of songs and worship on Dec. 11 ahead of a midnight Mass celebrated by the archbishop. The festival will include a concert and Aztec dancers.
The archbishop said the festival is especially fitting because the cathedral’s new chapel now hosts a relic of St. Juan Diego’s tilma which bears the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Devotees may venerate the relic before the celebration. The Mass and “las mañanitas” will be broadcast live in Latin America and in the U.S. by EWTN and live streamed on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Facebook page.
On the evening of Dec. 15, Archbishop Gomez will celebrate a Mass to launch the Simbang Gabi Celebration, a traditional Filipino novena to the Virgin Mary in anticipation of Christmas.