Day 16

Word of the Day


The Novena of Las Posadas

In Mexico and Central America and for many Mexican-Americans in the U.S., today marks the start of nine days of religious observance known as Las Posadas, the Spanish word for lodging. Ending on Christmas Eve, Las Posadas represents the Blessed Mother’s nine months of pregnancy.

The novena of Las Posadas dates back some 400 years when Christians re-enacted Joseph and Mary’s journey from Bethlehem as a way to teach the native populations about Christianity and the birth of Christ. It is celebrated much the same way today. Each night, a couple representing Mary and Joseph, followed by residents, proceed through the town and stop at certain houses designated as posadas. There, residents sing them a song until the couple reaches the final house, where they are welcomed. Those in the procession say prayers and sing carols and children open piñatas for candy and small treats. On Christmas Eve, the last evening of Las Posadas, people attend midnight Mass.

The image of Joseph leading a donkey carrying Mary, tired by travel and pregnancy, brings to mind the millions of people in the world today displaced from their homes by war, political persecution and natural disaster. And while Joseph and Mary were not refugees in that strictest sense of the word, a government decision did force them to move away from their home. And like many of today’s refugees and displaced people, they weren’t readily welcomed when they arrived at their destination.

Pope Francis tells us that when we welcome the stranger — especially the migrant and the refugee — we are welcoming Christ. And as we prepare for the birth of Christ, what better time to act on behalf of those strangers to who come to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their families?

To Think About:

  • Take a few moments to write to your member of Congress asking for support of legislation that recognizes the dignity of people seeking a safe place to live.
  • Think about how you are preparing to welcome the birth of Christ, and how you can better recognize the Christ in refugees that you encounter through your daily activities.

Prayer for Migrants and Refugees:

Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.

Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,

  •  To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
  •  To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
  •  To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
  •  To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
  •  To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.
  • We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.