On Tuesday at midnight I walked into Sacred Heart church in Lincoln Heights with two of my intimas. A full-size copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, blessed by the Holy Father John Paul II, was making a stop there as part of her extended visit to our City of Angels.
The moon was full and the temperature cold by Angeleno standards. We were greeted by a handful of vendors peddling images of la Virgen, roses and much-needed coffee.
For me, this was a pilgrimage to a faith I had lost contact with. I buried the rituals of my Catholic upbringing along with my uniform and black-and-white saddle oxfords long ago. Even so, I never quite let go of la Virgen.
For one hour, I was transfixed by the power of faith of those around me. For a moment, I was a young schoolgirl unencumbered by cynicism and unschooled in injustices.
Worshipers ? women, men, teenagers and small children ? continued to arrive well into the night. I watched and listened to their conversation-prayers. They sat, stood or kneeled. They prayed, touched her image, and sang, all with a deep reverence we don't see too often anymore.
I was completely drawn in.
Maybe, it's what scholars call genetic memory. For la Virgen is and has been a symbol of hope to generations of our ancestors who have struggled to find their way in a world violently changed throughout history. And I carry the memory of that struggle in a space I'm not aware of.
Or maybe it's the season and I needed to believe.
The Virgen will end her visit to the LA Archdiocese on Saturday, December 11 with a Mass at 1:00 p.m. at the L.A. Coliseum. This is a free event and your local Catholic parish may have tickets or information on how to get them. You will need a ticket to attend. Check LatinoLA Calendar for a listing of parishes that will host the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe or www.lavirgenpergrina.org for additional information.