Each night, Mary and Joseph seek a place to stay and several time they are rejected or chased away. Yet, they persevere and they give thanks, and they sing, along with the hundreds who accompany them. They sing: “Marchemos Pastorcillos, marchemos a Belen. Marchemos pastorcillos, marchemos a Belen, que el tiempo de a llegado de nuestra salvación, a Belén, a Belén mi corazón también, a Belén, a Belén mi corazón también.”
The atmosphere is one of fiesta and Christmas hope in the streets of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Dealing with hardship is not uncommon in the neighborhood, but what is a miracle is how we remember and celebrate the lives of our families and children. After walking for an hour in the streets, knocking on the door of various inn keepers along the way, and considering how we treat one another in the home, school and neighborhood… the procession finally arrives at a hall, where finally Mary and Joseph enter to celebrate the coming of the light, Jesus. Piñatas are broken, and a small meal of tamales or posole is shared. Often, the marimba band, a music group or some form of entertainment add to the festivity.
The procession and celebration touch upon as many aspects of the life of people as possible. On the night we prayed for SOS Children’s Villages, all the children were invited to practice the social skill of “greeting others.” Last night, when we prayed for college students, we gave thanks for all those with a dream to graduate and we prayed for those who help tutor, serve others and seek out financial support for higher studies. Always, the procession encourages, removes doubts and fears, and provides hope! What a wonderful experience of church!
The 2011 Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe was one of the most beautiful and well attended in years at Holy Cross-Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. In part, this was due to the involvement of young people in preparing for the novena, which touched upon the symbols of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.