Throughout my 18 years as a Dominican friar I have been blessed with friends that belong to different Provinces of the Order. I just visited fr. Luis Roberto Aguilar, O.P., in Guatemala City last weekend. He has been inviting me for the last three years and finally I went for a few days. It was quality time! Fr. Luis Roberto presently works at the Basilica of the Holy Rosary downtown and generously hosted me along with the other four friars that minister there. The landmark Basilica is honored to have the “Queen of Guatemala,” Our Lady of the Rosary, a beautiful statue of Mary holding an infant Jesus sleeping in her arms. Every October, the month of the Rosary, the Basilica becomes a place of pilgrimage for all the faithful of Guatemala. From early morning to late evening the people fill the Basilica paying a visit to their “Queen” during “her” month.
During my stay it was quite a treat that we had the joy of receiving the Franciscan friars at the noon Mass on Sunday, August 4. At the Basilica, it’s a tradition to have the “abrazo” (the embrace) of St. Dominic and St. Francis, the Sunday before the Solemnity of St. Dominic (August 8). The “abrazo” recaptures the closeness of the two mendicant founders and their Orders. The statues of the two saints are placed on floats and carried in procession from the main altar to the atrium of the Basilica. There the faithful gathers to see the profound bow that the statues perform to one another. In the midst of incense and fire rockets a big applause takes place. I love the pictures I took.
All along my short stay I witnessed the faith and devotion of the Guatemalan people, it was encouraging and refreshing. What a gift to share in friendships with Dominican friars that nurture our vocation as preachers! You were all in my prayers.
—In Christ, fr. Juan, O.P.