What happens when a traditional Advent service falls on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe? They come together to form a beautiful, imagery-filled celebration, dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus and her time of waiting.

That was the case Sunday, when associates and professed members of the Arlington Heights/Chicago region of the Viatorian Community came together. Members of the regional committee — Associates Randy Baker, Karen Cutler and Joan Sweeney, as well as Fr. Tom Long — planned the gathering as a Taizé prayer service, which typically takes place in a darkened chapel, with only candles to light the way.

Fr. Tom Long places a taper into one of the sand bowls.

“We thought the image of light and darkness was appropriate for Advent,” Cutler explains.

Associate Joan Sweeney retold the story of the apparitions of Mary appearing to Juan Diego, celebrated worldwide on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Associate Christine Gucwa

“What you may not know is the manner in which Our Lady appeared on the tilma (Juan Diego’s cloak),” Sweeney explained. “She had a sash tied around her waist, which meant she was with child, the way the Aztec women dressed when they were pregnant.

“A four-petal flower on the dress also was very significant,” she added. “To the Aztecs, the four-petal flower was the symbol of the true God. This flower was located on her abdomen, right over the place where Jesus was growing inside her. The Aztecs understood that this was the mother of the true God.”

Associates Betty Faraci and Susana Tellez enjoyed the reception afterwards.

Musicians encouraged those gathered to sing hymns in Spanish and English, including “Confitemini Domino,” or “Come and Fill Our Hearts,” and “Nada te Turbe,” or “Nothing Can Trouble.” The prayer service ended with a moving rendition of “Hail Mary: Gentle Woman.”

“Let us celebrate together and dedicate this service to Our Lady,” Sweeney said, “as we all await the birth of Jesus.”