Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 3, 2012 / 20:02 pm
An outdoor procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe held Sunday in Los Angeles attracted 25,000 participants to venerate the Virgin and to express their Catholic faith.
"We want to learn from the example of faith of our Blessed Mother, as Jesus did. Jesus learned his prayers and the practice of his faith from his Mother and from Saint Joseph," Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told the crowd assembled for Mass following the Dec. 2 procession.
"This is an example for you, my brothers and sisters! You need to be good teachers, good role models for your children...share the stories of the Gospel and the beautiful apparition of Tepeyac. Teach them how to be generous and to love."
Despite a rainy day, thousands of people came to process through East Los Angeles from Our Lady of Solitude parish to the Mass at East Los Angeles College Stadium. This was the 81st annual procession, which was started by Mexican Catholics fleeing government persecution in 1931.
"We also remembered the Cristeros as examples, because of the sacrifices they made for their faith, giving up their lives for their faith and for Christ," Carolina Guevara, associate communications director at the Los Angeles archdiocese, told CNA Dec. 3.
She recounted that a woman whose father was a Cristero martyr participated in the Mass, which was a marker of how Our Lady of Guadalupe "unites us in our faith."
The procession is held every year on the First Sunday of Advent as an archdiocese-wide celebration. This is to allow each parish to have their own Mass and mananitas for La Guadalupana on her Dec. 12 feast day, while also having a large inter-parish celebration.
For the first time this year, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will celebrate a midnight Mass in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as is done at her basilica in Mexico City. This will be preceded by indigenous dancers outside the cathedral, and then a concert in the nave at 10 p.m. on Dec. 11.
"The importance of this procession is the celebration of our faith and that our Blessed Mother unites us in our faith and reminds us that we are all children of God. Regardless of where we come from, we are all united in faith and are all part of God's family," Guevara observed.
"So in Los Angeles we have this celebration that's not just for the Mexican community; we have faithful from throughout our ethnic communities that come out in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe."
The procession and Mass were a bilingual event, and featured veneration of Our Lady's image with roses, decorated floats and cars telling the story of the apparition, equestrian groups, mariachi, and indigenous dancers.
Guevara said the tradition of public processions is important because they are "expressions of faith."
"You can see in this procession the time and care and love that's put into it...we're seeing the love that our community of faith has for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and we're seeing an example of...living faith here in our Catholic community."
Archbishop Gomez noted the first Sunday of Advent in his homily, reminding that the season is one of hoping "for the baby Jesus...for the Son of God."
But the season also looks forward to Christ's second coming glory, he said.
"Jesus wants us to be ready. He wants us to be ready to to meet him when he comes again. Ready to meet him at the end of our lives."
"How are you living? Are you living like Jesus wants you to live? Are you living according to his teachings? This is a good question to ask yourself at the start of Advent," concluded Archbishop Gomez.