It seems that about every seven years, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls on a Sunday. This year, December 12th falls on Gaudete Sunday. "Gaudete" is the Latin word for "rejoicing". The introit speaks of rejoicing. The Savior of the world is near. Our redemption is at hand!
The rose carries special significance for both Gaudete Sunday and Guadalupe. The color for the vestments on Gaudete Sunday is rose (not pink). The tangible manifestation of Our Lady of Guadalupe is accompanied by roses that bloom out of season on a very cold day in December. Even the readings for Gaudete Sunday manage to compliment the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. While the Gospel speaks of St. John the Baptist, who was the Messiah's herald, one can apply the same concept to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the case of Guadalupe, Mary comes to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert, as a pregnant royal maiden, as evident by the black sash about her waist. Like St. John the Baptist, she is proclaiming the coming of her Son to the peoples. She urges prayer and preparation in order for the Aztecs to fully receive Jesus. She is the forerunner of the Lord, so to speak. Her maternal love appeals to the Aztecs and plants the seeds of conversion in their hearts. She appears as one of them in order that what they see and love in her, they will see and love in her Son. Our Lady of Guadalupe, then, is the compass that orients the Aztecs and their descendants to Christ.
In the United States, because December 12th falls on a Sunday, the Church gives us the option of celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day on either December 11th or December 13th. This is not to say that the feast is ignored; rather, the Sundays of Advent take precedence over every other feast. In fact, when December 8th falls on a Sunday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (the patronal feast of the United States) is translated (transferred) to Monday, December 9th. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that processions and special celebrations may take place on December 12th; however, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must be for the Third Sunday of Advent.
This helps us to put Our Lady in the proper perspective. Theologians and spiritual writers refer to Mary as the moon. The prophets referred to the Messiah as the Sun of Justice. Just as the moon receives its light from the sun, so, too, does Mary receive her light from Jesus. We do not honor nor venerate Mary any less simply because her feast is transferred to another day. In fact, we honor and venerate her more when we worship her Son on the day reserved for Him.
It is no coincidence that both St. John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary play key roles in this holy season of Advent. Both of them, in their distinct vocations and missions, lead us to the Messiah. St. John the Baptist vehemently encourages us to repent; Mary teaches us to believe and be open to the will of God. In particular, in her apparitions as Guadalupe, Mary encourages us to rejoice and have hope!
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!