The Feast Day Mass at the Shrine on Saturday 12th December did indeed look very different this year.
Our beautiful hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe at the beginning and end of the Mass was played over the public address system as we were unable to join in and sing this year! We very much missed the presence of the Knights of St Columba, who had been advised not to attend in view of the current situation. We also missed our many guests from round the country, even we sensed that they were with us in spirit and in prayer and were grateful to those who sent messages. We were pleased to welcome those who were able to attend and especially those who had travelled some distance. We were sorry that we were unable to offer guests our usual refreshments afterwards.
However, as Shrine Coordinator Donna Gardner said in her introduction, at least the church was open, the Mass was offered and we were able to welcome a congregation, albeit a reduced one. The Relic Image had, as usual, been brought to the front, and Maureen Brewer, who leads the flower arranging team at the Shrine, had both donated and created a beautiful arrangement to honour Our Lady.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is also given the title of Protectress of the Unborn, and her Feast Day, just days before we celebrate the birth of Christ, reminds us of the beauty and the gift of life. In his inspirational homily, Canon Seamus Keenan, Rector of the Shine, who celebrated the Mass, said that those of us who support life from beginning to natural end are like St John the Baptist, a lone voice in the wilderness in the midst of our ‘spiritual recession’ and how important it is that we are ‘inoculated’ against the trends of the world, especially indifference and spiritual death.
We are grateful to Canon Seamus for celebrating the Mass and to all who took part in any way. Kieron Rentle once again took some beautiful photographs, some of which can be seen here.
The readings and the Bidding Prayers had to be shortened, as did the Renewal of the Guardians’ promises in which the Guardians pledged to serve Our Lady of Guadalupe in the coming year. We do not know what that year will bring in terms of what we will be able to do, but we commend ourselves, as always, to the intercession of Our Lady and St Juan Diego.