Taos and Northern New Mexico Catholic faithful, together with over one and a half billion others around the world, will now celebrate again the beautiful Marian Feast Days of the Immaculate Conception, San Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe beginning Dec. 7 through Dec. 12.
In Taos, the Guadalupe Feast observances are especially pertinent since the parish here is the first and oldest parish dedicated to her in what is now the United States of America, in the Hispanic Southwest.
The first of the Marian (of Mary) Feasts is that of the Immaculate Conception, which focuses on the spiritual and theological meaning and joy arising from St. Joachim's and St. Anne's conceiving of their daughter, Mary, who was destined to become the mother of Jesus. Because of her destiny, it is an article of faith in the Roman Catholic Church that Mary "was conceived without (original) sin" so that she could be the pure bearer of the Christ, and give birth to him, Jesus the Messiah. The Feast Day is Dec. 8.
In Taos, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated with Vespers and with Mass (it is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics) and with processions and community meals that are centered in the Capilla (Chapel) of the Immaculate Conception in the old community of Ranchitos a few miles southwest of Taos by the Río Pueblo de Taos.
The second of these Marian Feast Days is that of San Juan Diego, on Dec. 9. In the year 1531, now 486 years ago, it is documented that she who is now called Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to a Native Mexican Indian citizen, Juan Diego, on the Hill of Tepeyac by Mexico City, or Tenochtitlan. She directed him to go tell the Archbishop of Mexico that she willed that a temple to her would be built at Tepeyac.
Juan Diego told her he was not worthy and that no one would believe him. She gave him a "sign" for Archbishop Zumarraga, which was her own image miraculously struck on Juan Diego's 'tilma' cloak garment. When the Archbishop saw the image, he was convinced. The temple was built and now the site has become the magnificent Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which over 20 million pilgrims visit yearly, and where that "image not made by human hand" remains undiminished in its vibrant vitality and color and inexplicability. Pope John Paul II canonized San (Saint) Juan Diego on July 31, 2002 as a Roman Catholic Saint. This "unworthy" Mexican Native man is now esteemed by all for having been chosen to receive the Lady Mary's image for all the world.
The third great December Marian Feast Day is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe herself, celebrated with special honors that include Vespers on the 11th and then her day on the 12th. She is the Patroness of Mexico and of all the Americas, and of the world as Lady of Peace who is invoked for her intercession.
The Taos Guadalupe Parish Feast Day and the related Marian Days are reverent, joyful and beautiful, and are integral to the sacred time of the church's liturgical period of preparation for the great celebration of the nativity of Christ, on Dec. 25. This sacred time commenced last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent.
In 2017, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Christ-bearer, continues to be honored and loved aqui en Taos.
Her Feast Days are also opportunity to invoke her intercession on behalf of all the world's poor and suffering, including all who are oppressed by cynical and ruthless nation-states and by fellow human beings, and for all who live under the affliction of constant wars and injustice.
¡Que viva la Inmaculada! ¡Que viva San Juan Diego! ¡Que viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!