We had Mass Saturday morning at St. Hipolito Church in Mexico City. After the Mass, the Mexicans begin coming up to the altar railing. We weren’t really sure what was going on but then we saw Fr. Kerns being directed to come down to the people to give a blessing. It is a custom at this church for the priest to give the people a blessing and to bless religious articles after Mass. It has been wonderful to see and experience some of the local customs here in Mexico. Fr. Kerns blessing the people after Mass at St. Hipolito Church on Saturday. (above) The guesthouse at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery (below).
After Mass, we headed to Cuernavaca and arrived at the Monastery around 4:30 in the afternoon. We were warmly greeted by Fr. Konrad Schaefer, Prior of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. This monastery is a daughter monastery of Mt. Angel Abbey south of Portland. Fr. Konrad came to this monastery 14 years ago and has been running it ever since. They say the Benedictines are known for their hospitality and I think all of the pilgrims would agree. During an orientation meeting with Fr. Konrad, he spoke to our journey very well when he said “We have seen a lot and now we need some time to process all that we have seen.” So for the next two days we have been given the gift of prayer, silence, reflection and community.
Saturday evening we joined the monks for Vespers and Compline, which was by candlelight. Even though the liturgies were in Spanish the accompaniment by guitar (the usual instrument is an organ) and watching the incense rise through the candlelight was a very prayerful experience.
Our Sunday morning retreat session with Fr. Konrad was a guided Lectio Divina on the Sunday’s readings. We then went to Mass with over 300 people and enjoyed hearing Fr. Konrad address us by telling us in English “you may be seeking God on this pilgrimage but do you know that God is seeking you?” We all need that reminder now and again.
We had some quiet time Sunday afternoon to enjoy the warm, sunny weather and to spend time processing all that we have seen, all that we have heard, all that we have smelled and touched and tasted. Yes, this is truly a culture of all the senses. I will never forget walking into the Basilica and smelling all the flowers. Was that what Juan Diego smelled, when he first saw the flowers on Tepeyac?
After another retreat session with Fr. Konrad where we discussed some of the things we had seen and had some time to ask questions, we had a wonderful fiesta with the monks. Of course, a mariachi band made an appearance along with a little tequila. We had a policy that if someone is late they have to buy tequila for everyone…guess who was buying the first bottle?