GLEN BURNIE – Alexandra Meza shared a wisdom seemingly beyond her 9 years.
The occasion was the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration Dec. 14 at Monsignor Slade Catholic School, a regular worship site for Christ the King Parish. Meza was there with her family, including her mother, Maria, who coordinates altar servers for the parish.
“What she means to me is, she’s mother of us all,” young Alexandra said of the patroness of the Americans and the unborn.
Each year the archdiocese attempts to celebrate Mass at a new location near the actual Dec. 12 feast day to recognize the long tradition of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, particularly with Catholics of Central and South American heritage. With a strong Latino population and two weekend Masses in Spanish, Christ the King qualifies.
Before an overflow crowd of approximately 600 in the Slade auditorium, Archbishop William E. Lori celebrated Mass, which was followed by the recitation of the rosary and a reception.
“There is something very special about Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Laura Languidey, a parishioner of Christ the King who was among the coordinators of the Mass.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the feast marks the day in 1531 when “the Blessed Mother appeared in a vision to the peasant Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City and charged him with asking the bishop to build a church on that spot.”
When the bishop demanded a sign, “Our Lady had Juan gather flowers in his cloak in December to take to the bishop. When Juan opened his cloak, the colorful image of Guadalupe was emblazoned on the cactus cloth.”
That icon has become a symbol of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who, according to the USCCB, “continues to inspire poor and oppressed people worldwide.”
The Mass at Christ the King was offered in Spanish, with the exception of the introduction, in which a lector recognized Our Lady’s love as “A love with no borders.” In his homily, Archbishop Lori noted matters that hit close to home for many of the faithful.
“Just as the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe came to bring hope to the indigenous people of Latin America, so also, we, through our baptism, are called to bring that hope to those who need it,” the archbishop said. “The Guadalupan message of love, compassion, help and defense of the oppressed, wants to strengthen the faith of your children, especially of immigrants so that they live with the greatest possible dignity, in this and in all countries.
“Now more than ever, I invite you to make room in our hearts to receive those who are overwhelmed, desperate and helpless. Let’s hug our immigrant brothers as the mother hugged San Juan Diego in her lap. For he who receives a brother receives Christ.”
Mass began with select worshippers carrying flags representing nations of the Americas.
Later, a dance procession of the faithful dressed in replicas of traditional Aztec garb and choreographed to a stirring drum cadence, appeared in the center aisle. This was to recognize how the ancient Mexican culture once offered thanks for the apparition of Our Lady and its introduction to Jesus.
A planned outdoor procession, Languidey said, was canceled because of inclement weather.
Concelebrants included Father T. Austin Murphy Jr., pastor of Christ the King, and Father Diego Rivera, a native of Colombia who is in residence at the parish. Assisting were Deacons German Flores and José Gabin.