Saturday, December 16, 2017

Advent 2017: Las Posadas, December 16

"LAS Posadas, literally, "the shelters," which begins on the 16th of December, is celebrated with great joy as the"holy pilgrims" (Mary and Joseph) move each night from house to house, one after another. It is always celebrated with song, prayers and special food, some of which are: tamales, donuts, champurrado and buffets.

"Why? Because it is the time of Advent, the time of expectation, the jubilant wait, the time when all await the birth of the son, awaiting the celebration of his birthday. This is the time of Las Posadas, the time of joy, preparation and waiting.

"Why do people carry lanterns in the procession of Las Posadas? Because all those carrying the lanterns represent the stars which illuminate the way for the shepherds who make their way to the house of the birth."

 --Celestina Castro

FOR the LORD, your God, befriends the alien, feeding and clothing them. So you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves.

--Deuteronomy 10:17-19

DIYINO Y eterno Verbo, que desde el Padre descendiste al corazon de siempre Virgen Marfa; el amor que tienes a los hombres te conduce a la ciudad de Belen para nacer a media noche en un pobre y humilde establo.

Es verdad que millares de angeles te acompanan en este viaje; pero tambien es cierto que te dejamos, nosotros a quienes viniste a salvar y a conducir al Belen de la eterna felicidad.

Perdonanos, Dios y Senor del Universo, y ayudanos a cami-nar con Maria y San Jose para luchar y poder triunfar sobre toda adversidad. Amen.

Divine and eternal Word, who descended from the Father into the heart of the ever Virgin Mary, your love for humankind leads you to Bethlehem where you are born at midnight in a poor and humble stable.

In truth, thousands of angels accompany you on this journey, and yet we, whom you came to save and lead to that Bethlehem of eternal joy, stubbornly turn away from you.

Forgive us, God and Lord of the universe, and help us to walk alongside Mary and Joseph, thus giving us the courage to fight against and triumph over every adversity. Amen

--Posadas Prayer

"Las Posadas is a time of celebration in Mexico and the Southwest United States. It is an event of much significance with joy, protection and festivity. Las Posadas is always observed with much song and celebration. It is a novena of preparation for the feast of the Nativity. It begins on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th of December with the" Mass of the Rooster," the celebration of the Mass at Midnight.

"Las Posadas has its origins, possibly, from Father Diego de Soria, a religious of the order of St. Augustine. He was an enthusiastic priest, introducing the devotion in Mexico, in the church of Alcoman, in 1587. It was the intention of this celebrated religious to contrast the celebration of the Aztecs in honor of their god of war, Huitzilopochtli. It was celebrated at the same time as the time of the Nativity, and was presenting many problems of attraction for the neophyte Christians.

"Las Posadas of Father Diego became popular very quickly and extended to other churches in Mexico and the surrounding countryside. It then began to be celebrated in the homes of individuals.

"It is the celebration of the "pilgrims" who go from house to house led by an angel who conducts the little donkey with the seated Virgin. She is accompanied by St. Joseph. They sing songs as they look for shelter, the masters of the houses open their doors and all who participate share in the buffet which the owners (innkeepers) of the house offer.

"The people celebrate that the messiah will come again. It is the celebration of preparation for this coming. It is time to open the doors of our hearts to give shelter. How do we give shelter to Jesus? By the doing of good works. It is the preparation time for the doing and practicing of the virtues. It is a time for coming together with our neighbors. It is the occasion for gathering with our families and with those who live near us.

--Fiestas NavideƱas

We forget how much of the Christmas story, whether told by Luke or by Matthew, is about hospitality, as much for Mary and Joseph as it was for the Magi. An interesting modern version of Las Posadas, (circa 2008) via a BBC reporter:

The morning began with a beautiful walk, but ended with a stark reminder that this trail takes us through what remains a conflict zone that impacts on people's lives every day.

The final few kilometres to the checkpoint took us past small communities, again, divided into those which were predominantly Jewish, and those that had a mix of Christians and Muslims, like the village of Mokeble, the last stop before the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank.

There, I got talking to Adala, a teacher, who was keen to show off the Christmas tree in her school hall. She said that since the barrier had been put up, her husband had been separated from his brothers and sisters who were in a village a few hundred metres on the Palestinian side.

She said they could no longer come to visit him, but that her and her husband, as Israeli ID card holders, could sometimes cross the other way into the West Bank if the checkpoint was open.

After a wait at the checkpoint, I was happy to be told that I would be allowed to pass. However, the Israeli authorities informed us that our donkey did not have the correct paperwork. Donkey number two would have to be left behind.

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