Published December 15, 2005
Last Thursday evening, it rained! It was not a very good night to take a walk, but it was nonetheless a wonderful evening to honor the Mother of God under Her title of the Immaculate Conception. And so about 200 Catholics from the Archdiocese shared in the Eucharist at Sacred Heart Parish in Atlanta and then took to the streets in tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary as we processed Her Image to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest church in the city of Atlanta.
Why would anyone walk in the rain? Well in truth, we had hoped that it wouldn’t rain—at least not until we had finished our devotional procession. But the rain did not deter us. This is a new tradition for us, only two years old, but one that I suspect may well strengthen in the future. We Catholics have a special and an important devotion to the Mother of God, and no time seems more appropriate for us to honor Her than during the season that prepares us for the moment when She will give birth to the Lord of Life.
Mexican Catholics throughout America have a special celebration on Dec. 12 in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of America. They celebrate the wondrous apparition of a noticeably expectant indigenous woman who revealed Herself as the Virgin Mary. In 1531, before Lourdes, Fatima, or Knock, before the solemn definition of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption, this peasant woman’s appearance ushered millions of Mexicans into the heart of the Church. Each year, wherever Mexicans Catholics call home, they rejoice and give thanks for Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the Woman of the Evangelization of that nation and our own special Mother.
The celebrations that mark Dec. 12 are filled with dancing, singing and laughter. There is rich food and drink that tell the world that something marvelous is taking place—a people are honoring their Mother! Dec. 12 is Mother’s Day in Mexico—the Mother of God who once again identified herself with the poorest of the people who graced that land.
Traditions are born, and some may only live for a while. Last week, I met with a couple of people who were concerned that an old tradition of honoring the Mother of God with a Rosary Rally has long been on the decline. They were afraid that something special that had been an important part of the legacy of our Archdiocese of Atlanta might not survive very long into the future. I assured them that even though numbers might not now be what they once were, the Mother of God was still a person of singular importance to this local Church. Then there was the walk in the rain and the festive displays of roses and tamales and mariachis, and I knew that the Mother of God would always be close to the heart of Catholics in Georgia—we just may have found new ways to honor her and call her Mother!