By Fr. Troy Richmond
The tradition of Las Posadas, a Novena beginning Dec. 16 and ending on Christmas Eve, has been celebrated for many years in parishes and communities throughout Mexico, Guatemala and increasingly in the United States where Latino Catholics are found. My first experience of Las Posadas was as a seminarian at Mundelein Seminary. Since then, I have been blessed to serve in parishes where Las Posadas brings together the community, Latinos and Anglos alike, in anticipation of the celebration of Our Savior’s birth.
The evening begins in the church with the praying of the rosary. As the rosary is being prayed, a procession takes place that moves in neighborhoods from house to house or from door to door within the church. Mary and Joseph followed by pilgrims in procession, journey in search of an inn (posada) where the Christ child might be born. Along the way, songs recount the unfortunate situation of Mary and Joseph, who could not find a place to stay. Finally, however, Mary and Joseph arrive back at the church where they are received with jubilant song and great joy.
The meaning of Las Posadas is at the heart of the story of Christmas. There was no room at the inn, yet Christ desires to be born anew in every human heart. As Christmas draws near, what are those unnecessary things that are taking up room in our hearts? What are those attachments, fears and worries we need to let go of in order to make room for Christ in our lives? As Christmas draws near, let us pray for the grace to make our hearts a Posada where Christ might dwell, offering us his peace, joy, love and the radiance of his divine light.
(Father Troy Richmond is pastor of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine.)