Advent Devotional: Tuesday, December 16: Las Posadas

Las Posadas, literally, “the shelters,” which begins today, 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, and champurrado.

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 a novena of preparation for the feast of the Nativity. It ends of December 24th with the “Mass of the Rooster,” the celebration of the Mass at Midnight. 9 days of traveling, 9 nights of searching for shelter, 9 times of remembering being turned away because “there is no room…”

Las Posadas possibly has its origins from Father Diego de Soria, a priest of the Augustinian order. Father Diego set out to construct a practice that stood in contrast to the celebration of the Aztecs in Mexico in honor of their god of war, Huitzilopochtli. The popularity of this practice spread quickly, to other churches in Mexico and the surrounding countryside, and eventually began to be celebrated in the homes of individuals.

In it, the “pilgrims” go from house to house, led by an angel. They carry lanterns to represent the stars which illuminate the way for the shepherds who made their way to Bethlehem. 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 have made. 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. It is the preparation time for the doing and practicing of virtues. It is a time for coming together with neighbors. It is the occasion for gathering with families and friends and celebrating shared time and space.

A Posadas Prayer:

Divino y eterno Verbo, que desde el Padre descendiste al corazón de siempre Virgen María; el amor que tienes a los hombres te conduce a la ciudad de Belén para nacer a media noche en un pobre y humilde establo.
Es verdad que millares de ángeles te acompanan en este viaje; pero también es cierto que te dejamos, nosotros a quienes viniste a salvar y a conducir al Belén de la eterna felicidad.
Perdónanos, Dios y Señor del Universo, y ayúdanos a caminar con María y San José para luchar y poder triunfar sobre toda adversidad. Amén.

[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.]


Questions for reflection: What do these stories of the holy family remind you of? Do these stories call you toward any specific action? How can we be better hosts this Advent?

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