Salesian presence at the Guadalupe Procession

By: Luis Chacon
Province Coordinator for Volunteers

Bishop Mora Salesian High School participated in the annual Guadalupe procession held in East Los Angeles on December 5th.  The Salesian Letterman Society, the Bishop Mora runners led by coach Gabriel Medina, and the school’s Campus Ministry Team represented the school.

This year’s event was the 90th anniversary of the procession.  The parade began at Cesar Chavez Avenue.  As usual the event included a contest to judge floats sponsored by the “Guadalupanos” groups from the various parishes of the area as well as an ensemble of Aztec dancers. This celebration commemorates the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego in Mexico City in 1531. The event was suspended last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In honor of this feast of Our Lady Guadalupe, allow me to share with you the theological meaning of this wonderful and significant devotion.

The mystery of the incarnation is the theological framework in which the Virgin of Guadalupe appears. God is love who becomes flesh; this is the message that the Virgin of Guadalupe carries in her womb for us. Becoming flesh means becoming human; it means taking our reality completely to teach us how to live a life with and for love. Not all of us can become rich and famous, but we can all be poor and spiritually humble. To recognize our humanity and our limited reality is to understand our poverty and need for God.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a testimony of acceptance, understanding, and humility. She not only accepts and understands our culture, but also decides to stay with us forever on the “tilma” of San Juan Diego within the reach of the poorest and simplest. Had the Virgin appeared in Tepeyac with a fair complexion and jewels, the indigenous people of Mexico in that historical moment would have obeyed her out of fear and not out of love. If Jesus had been born in a palace surrounded by luxuries and opportunities beyond the reach of most people, the history of Christianity would have been different.

Today, remembering the Virgin of Guadalupe invites us to be humble, to recognize our roots and identity, and to be proud of who we are. The Virgin of Guadalupe gives us identity as a Mexican people. However, the identity of a culture does not mean excluding others; rather, it means recognizing the richness in diversity and making us aware of the generosity of God that is poured out in different ways in various cultures. We are different so that we may enrich each other with our differences. It is important to realize that no matter the culture or tradition, it is always possible to become poor spiritually and know that we need God.

The Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexican history gives us faith because she has walked by our side. She gives us hope because we know that she will always be with us, and this fact inspires us to be charitable in our day to day lives for and with our brothers and sisters.

In our Church, the Virgin of Guadalupe teaches us to be attentive to the voices of the poorest and most marginalized (like San Juan Diego). In their need is the face of God. Saint Juan Diego met and allowed himself to be found by the Virgin of Guadalupe on the way to fulfill his duty. The fact that the Virgin appeared to him when he was in the midst of dealing with the illness of a loved one invites us to remain faithful in our daily duties, despite disease and adversity. It is on this path of daily life and fulfilling daily duties where the Virgin of Guadalupe appears and reveals our mission to us, as she did with Saint Juan Diego.