I had the honor and privilege of being invited to a special tea ceremony at Hsi Lai Temple, a Chinese Buddhist temple located in the greater Los Angeles area, ahead of their annual interfaith prayer for world peace. As the interfaith representative of my church, I was already planning on attending the prayer, which is open to the public; but when Fr. Alexei Smith, the head of interfaith relationships for the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, invited myself and my friend and colleague to the private tea ceremony, all he had to say was "tea" and I was there.
One thing I recommend everyone experience at least once in their lives, is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For us Catholics in North America, especially Mexico and where there are large populations of Mexicans, it is a big religious feast day, and my favorite mass of the year. It's the one mass I like to invite non-Catholics, too, because it's as much a historical and cultural experience as it is a spiritual one. Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates our Holy Mother of the Americas, and it's a celebration of bringing people together, of worlds coming together, and most importantly it is the celebration of a mother's love. We celebrate Our Lady on December 12th each year with Aztec dancers and Mariachi music, and this year was especially special in my parish, because our Jewish and Muslim neighbors joined us in the celebration, truly symbolizing the coming together of people. Keep reading for more about this special feast day celebrating a Jewish mother, whose name has Arabic roots, and some interesting facts.