The Second week of Advent


Enjoying a sample of the Queen of Tamales, Helen

This is the time of year when my life starts to unravel; first it’s The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the eighth, then Mike’s birthday on the twelfth. (He shares his feast day with Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe). Then there’s our annual Tamale Party. We’ve made three batches of tamales so far; the first batch was burnt. The meat had that charred taste that overpowered, changing the flavor integrity of the sauce.  It was heartbreaking, but we had to start all over again. The second batch was great, and we had plenty of help too. I was so preoccupied with getting the ingredients ready that I did not really pay close attention to setting aside tamales for the contest. I had my friend Adele pick the ones that looked good from the outside. By the time we finished the production, we had only four dozen pork, and about six dozen chicken. I went to bed thinking that I should have looked for the old lady that was selling tamales at Mike’s workplace during the summer. Everyone raved about them. I wasn’t planning to cheat; I was just going to ask her for a few pointers. Fortunately Helen, the winner for the last four years, was willing to give me a tutorial. I took photographs, made notes, and mentally tried to remember every single step. When it was time to purchase the ingredients  for the tamales, I was  at work, so poor Mike was on his own. He’d text me with questions but, due to the strict orders of my boss (my daughter), I had wait until my break to respond.

Hard working crew, Mike, Mikos, Sonja Maddie, Mick, and me
Me, Sonja, Maddie, Mick, Adele, and Emily

The tamales turned out great! Even our son Mikos loved them. Last year he was quite the critic, and put a damper on my confidence of making tamales. Well it didn’t help that the tamales turned out soupy either. Our neighbors were so kind to show up for the production. Emily, Adele’s soon -to- be daughter-in-law, was a  great help. Mikos, Mick, (Mikos’ father-in-law), Maddie, Sonja, and Adele crowded over our kitchen table to produce some really good tamales.

I still was not feeling it, something was missing; so on Sunday after Mass Mike and I went to Northgate Market. This grocery chain is like a Mexican Whole Foods. For assurance I wanted to try their masa. Mike had already cooked the meat, so I made six dozen more pork tamales, and it was through the grace of God that I was able to complete this task on my own. The spirit of Superwoman overtook me, so I also made three dozen sweet tamales.

Saturday will be the the big day. I’ve asked our parish pastor to be one of the judges. Maybe, just maybe, he will have pity on my plight and show my tamales favor (or not!)

Honoring Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Mary’s Role in Advent

I was part of a lay ministry that always performed Christmas plays. These plays were executed with great heart. Everyone who participated had different work schedules, and traveled from several neighboring communities.  We rarely had time to practice for our Christmas productions. One play that I will never forget was about the Virgin of Guadalupe. My role was that of the Spanish maid of Fray Juan de Zumarraga, the Bishop of Mexico. My friend Robert played the part of Juan Diego. It was through this production that I learned the history of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. December 12th  is her feast day. I love the Blessed Virgin Mary, not only because she is the Mother of God, but because she is the perfect role model for all women. I know that those of you who are not Catholic believe that we pray to her. We do not pray to her, but we do venerate her. History tells of how God used His mother’s intervention to convert Mexico, a polytheistic nation that sacrificed as many as 50,000 people a year, including their children. According to Monsignor  Eduardo Chavez Sanchez, an expert on the history of “Santa Maria de Guadalupe,” Guadalupe’s Arabic name means “the river bed,” “the one who carries the water.” Msgr. Chavez said that it can also be translated as “river of light.” In just eight years after the apparition, with the help of the Spanish Franciscan missionaries, almost 9 million Indians had converted to Catholicism. Mexico was changed forever. On December 12th, if you live in a highly Hispanic populated area, you can attend Mass and really appreciate how we in the South West venerate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. I know on this day our Lord will smile down on us as we honor His beautiful Mother.

Second Sunday of Advent Message

The Gospel reading was from Matthew 3:1-12, the preaching of John the Baptist. John always spoke what God put in his heart; he never feared or wavered in his message. He always operated under the supernatural anointing of God. He did not care about the things of the world; he ate locusts. The camel hair coat he wore was turned inside out, to remind us of repentance. The great prophet Elijah wore similar clothing (2 Kings 1:8).  These garments were meant to set them apart. They came into the world solely to do God’s work. I wish John the Baptist were around today. He would most certainly put Nancy Pelosi in her place. I believe he would say something in the lines of: “Stop hiding behind the Catholic Church and confess all your wrong doings! Do not take communion unless you are in a state of grace.” Yes, that’s pretty much what he would say.

My Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for allowing us another year to celebrate Your Son’s birth. We humbly stand before Your holy throne.  Send Your mother’s intervention to help us repent of all of our sins. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, you know your Son better than anyone else. Ask Him on our behalf to bring peace and conversions to our hurting nation. Blessed Mary, just as you directed the servants at the first miracle at the wedding in Cana to “Do what ever He tell you,” ask your precious Son to restore faith in our nation. Amen

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