Looking for a Place to Stay: Spanish Advent Meditations from Living Compass

For the past two years, the Advent meditations published by Living Compass have been written in English and made available in Spanish translation. But early this year, the Rev. Scott Stoner, co-founder of Living Compass, decided that the growing wellness ministry needed to do more.

“We wanted to go beyond simply translating meditations written in English,” said Stoner. “Advent is particularly rich with meaning and tradition in the Latino community, and we wanted to offer meditations that come out of that tradition.”

"Thanks to Robbin Whittington, who joined us in June as director of publications and resource development, we were able to create this brand-new meditation guide for 2015 and plan for even more innovative resources in 2016," he said.

To create the Spanish-language meditations, Stoner and Whittington turned to the Rev. Alvaro Araica, associate for Hispanic ministries in the Diocese of Chicago and vicar of Iglesia Episcopal Cristo Rey in Chicago. The two men had worked together on projects in that diocese, where Stoner leads the Nicholas Center.

“Scott has been very sensitive that we need to speak in our own voice and address issues that are relevant in our community in the voice of the people from the community,” said Araica, who has contributed to previous Living Compass English-language publications. “My intention is to share with the Episcopal community that we Latinos bring the understanding of faith as a journey in which we are walking together and helping each other.”

Araica recruited two additional authors, the Rev. Joel Almonó, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts and the Rev. José Arroyo, vicar of la Iglesia Sagrada Familia in the Diocese of Chicago. Together the three developed meditations for each day of Advent, says Araica, that address spiritual, personal and communal wellness in terms of issues and traditions familiar to Latino Christians.

Advent is a particularly important season to Latino Christians, says Araica, and the new Spanish-language meditations provide an opportunity to celebrate distinctive Latino traditions.

“We have a big celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12,” he says. “The Virgin of Guadalupe immigrated from México with many of her sons and daughters. She also crosses religious borders, and does not belong just to the Roman Catholic Church.”

Two days later, the daily meditation celebrates St. John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Carmelite monk from Spain who is “one of the greatest mystics in the Hispanic tradition,” says Araica.

The tradition of Las posadas is another Advent tradition that is especially relevant in the Latino community, he says. “Las  Posadas"  is like a Christmas pageant reenacting the moment when Joseph and Mary are asking for shelter. One group knocks on the door of a house or church and begins to sing, asking for posada—for shelter. In the beginning, those inside say no, but in the end, they welcome those in need.

“In one or more moments of our lives, we have been or will be strange or foreign to others, reads Araica’s meditation on the ritual. “The posadas remind us that despite seeing many closed doors, there will always be hearts that open the doors of their house to receive others in the name of Christ.”

“We are an immigrant community and we are very aware of the importance of hospitality in the country where we live now,” says Araica.“ Las Posadas  reminds us to keep up our values of hospitality and solidarity, and can also teach the larger church that we want to be welcome in our churches and in our society. We are looking for a place to stay.”

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