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``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D


Las Posadas
and Christmas Novena II

 
 

 

During these nine days before Christmas, Mexicans and Mexican Americans have a wonderful custom called "Las Posadas," a nightly procession that brings to life Joseph and Mary's search for an inn. On each night, a house in the parish is chosen as the destination house, and the people of the parish gather to process to it. One young person is chosen to act as Mary (who sometimes rides a real donkey), and another to act as St. Joseph (sometimes a third is chosen to act as an angel, and others as shepherds); they are often all dressed in beautiful costumes.

Behind the "holy family," the people of the parish walk, carrying candles and blowing whistles, until they reach that night's chosen home. There, the group knocks and sings a song that begs repeatedly and pitifully for shelter. They are refused in song over and over again, until the "innkeepers" relent and finally open the door (or, in other places, they knock on the doors of houses whose "innkeepers" refuse them, and then process to another house and another, etc., until they reach the house chosen for the night's festivities). Once allowed entry each night, all go inside and pray (usually the Christmas Novena or the Rosary), and a party follows, with wonderful tamales, churros, and other Mexican foods, and a pinata filled with hard candy, tangerines, and peanuts.

On the last night (Christmas Eve), two children chosen to play Christ's godparents are added to the procession, which is more elaborate and colorful than the first nights. The godparents carry His likeness to the last destination, where a "nacimiento" (nativity scene) has been set up, and lay Him in the manger. Fireworks, food, piñatas, and Mass all follow.

(Note: Italians have a similar but much less elaborate, 1-day "posadas" custom -- called "Tupa Tupa" -- on St. Joseph's Day, 19 March).

 
 

Christmas Novena II

Some Catholics pray the Christmas Novena that begins on November 30 and ends on 24 December, and some pray the one below, beginning on 16 December and ending on 24 December. (and, of course, other Catholics pray no Christmas Novena at all).

This Novena, however, has the advantage of matching up very well with the O Antiphons that start tomorrow, and with the custom of Las Posadas above.
 

December 16:
O Shepherd that rulest Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 17:
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 18:
O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 19:
O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 20:
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 21:
O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 22:
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 23:
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

December 24:
O Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, God of hosts, come, show Thy face, and we shall be saved.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory be.

 

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