Saturday, December 31, 2016

December at John Paul II Catholic Mission, Rutledge, TN

As we approach the New Year of 2017, I am sharing the joys of Advent at the mission of St. John Paul II.  In my many years serving as a Glenmary priest, the way the Catholics of St. John Paul II honor December is unique and inspiring.

Rosary to conclude the feast of Guadalupe
They begin with the novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception which is also associated with Our Lady of Joaquin ( the virgin of the state of Oxacca, MX).  This continues through the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The novena means they sing, pray the rosary, and then eat afterwards.  Each night a different family is the host.  These are held at times at someone's home or at the church.

Then the celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe follows.  This took place on the December 11 in the afternoon.  Procession, Mass, Food, three dance performers and the drama of Our Lady of Guadalupe mark this festival.  It is a huge amount of labor and expense, but done with great joy and love.  Then at 6:00 a.m. on December 12th they gathered for the Mananitas (morning praises), which is singing and the rosary.   Some came to St Teresa of Kolkata for the evening Mass; others had on last rosary at a families home.
Actors for the drama of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Presentation of the Gifts
Ladies traditional dance
Dancers from St. Teresa of Kolkata

Dance of the Viejos (Old ones)

After a few days of rest, they began the rosaries for the Posadas.  This again is nine days of rosary, singing and food with the added twist of candy and fruit each night for the children.  This then concludes with the joyous final night on the 23rd with rosary, the pastorales, food, gifts and the piƱata.
Posada singing outside the door

Receiving the crib

The final rosary

This year's Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus

The cast of the pastorales
Gifts from Novice Ken and elves

Pinata breaking

The highlight of course is Christmas Mass. 

The photos and description can not capture the level of faith that is evident in the faithful where any given night as few as thirty and as many as 100 were gathered for prayer.  Imagine 2 to 3 hours every night for 21 days during December.  Where many were shopping and preparing for Christmas in other ways, these Christians were praying to prepare their heart for the Lord. 

After all, the time of advent is to prepare us to receive the gift of faith in a renewed way.  As we end 2016 and begin 2017 may it be a time of great faith in Jesus for everyone.

 Peace, Love and Hope is my wish for everyone.

Happy New Year.