The tradition of Christmas cribs is widespread here in Honduras. Not only are there nacimientos in the churches, but businesses and private homes have their nacimientos, often large affairs with lots of images, beyond the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the Magi.
Gracias is known for its nacimientos. Here is a photo of the very simple nacimiento in Casa Betania, the house of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family (from Dubuque) just outside of Gracias.
On the way to Christmas Eve Mass we passed a business that had one that took up half the front room. We were in a car and so couldn’t stop to see it.
The church of San Marcos in Gracias again had a large nacimiento. As I was about to take a picture and moved to get the Holy Family in the center, a man I know told me to be sure to get “El Misterio” – “The Mystery”. What a beautiful way to talk about the images of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
|The San Marcos, Gracias, nacimiento, without the infant Jesus since it was taken before Mass|
The Mass was preceded by a pastorela, a Christmas pageant of children from the parish. it was a retelling of the biblical story. The children were incredible, having memorized their lines. They were very expressive and brought the mystery of the incarnation to life. There was a real infant who was very good - even as Mary and Joseph handed the "infant Jesus" to Simeon and Hannah.
|Mary, Joseph, Jesus (a real infant) and angels|
|Joseph and Mary present Jesus to Simeon|
|The three kings come with gifts|
On Christmas I went out with Sisters Brenda and Nancy and Betty, the volunteer with them, to the village of Rodeo-El Pinal for a Celebration of the Word. Nancy brought the Eucharist.
The Celebration was preceded by the arrival of the image of Cristo Negro – the Black Christ – from another village. The people from rodeo came out with their image of St. Francis of Assisi to greet the image and the people from the other village. After this the celebration followed – simple, but full of the presence of Christ, the poor One, the Word made flesh, the God of love.
It was a good Christmas.
I returned to Santa Rosa de Copán on Monday – but came down with a fever, a sore throat, and a cold. I was supposed to have another session of root canal today but it’s delayed until I get well.
May the blessings of this holy season fill all of us with love and compassion – and solidarity with the poor.