This Feastday is extremely important to Catholics of Latin American heritage. Devotion to OLG is also strong in other places such the Philippines. Just this morning, I arrived at our local parish for my usual Saturday morning men's group meeting, and the parking lot was packed with cars at 6:30 A.M.--it was a Mass for the Spanish speaking community for today's feastday. We had our meeting in a small side chapel, but we could hear the celebration going on next door in the main church--joyful singing, clapping and lots of cool mariachi music.
Many years ago, I was extremely blessed to be able to visit the basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and see the image close up, although I didn't appreciate it at the time. This was before my religious conversion and I was visiting the city as a tourist solely to have a good time and to see the many sights, the visit to the basilica (at the time) being just a side trip. I distinctly remember, however, reprobate heathen though I was at the time, being deeply impressed and affected. I can't help thinking now that God used this visit to eventually bring me close to him. There are other episodes in my earlier life that, in retrospect, also seem to have blessed me and prepared me (such when I first saw Pope John Paul II on Guam--but that's another story).
One thing that often annoys me is to see Our Lady's beautiful image in places that don't seem to give her honor. If you see it on a gang-banger's car or t-shirt or tatooed on his back or arm, you can't help but wonder how much of the religious significance of the image is impressed on the wearer. It's a fact that the image is in the minds of many of my fellow Mexican-Americans is as much (or more) a cultural icon as it it is religious.
I say it annoys me rather than angers me because I also know that there is a lot religious ignorance and at the same time good intention involved here. If these particular folks (most of them young men and women) weren't brought up with a good religious education, whose fault is that? Shouldn't those of us who know and love the Faith be doing more to bring the fullness of the truths of that Faith to those who desperately need to hear it?
UPTATE: The blog Whispers in the Logia has uploaded videos of several Guadalupe celebrations going on around the country. You can view the site here.