Saturday, December 13, 2008

Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

(A photo of the old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, at Encyclopedia Britannica. I prefer the look of the old one to that of the new.)

We went to OLoP for its Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations--I enjoyed the live music (which is to be preferred to recorded music being played at festive events, particularly when it is well-done) and the chicken was very tasty, but I have to admit, we were a bit hungry at the end of dinner. (I don't know how the chicken was prepared -- not grilled like the chicken at El Pollo Loco -- baked in the oven? Or in a pot?) My sister KK was thinking of going to Casa Vicky to get a tamale, since she had a craving for one. Fortunately, my mother called from St. Joe's and let us know that the reception had just started (it was around 9 P.M.), so we decided to head over there.

It's probably best that we missed the liturgy at St. Joe's, even though the bishop was in attendance (or maybe it's precisely because he was there and showing tacit approval to what was being done). I enjoy mariachi music, but it's out of place during the liturgy... how far away is he from retirement? I didn't see him at the reception, but I didn't look for him. He might have left early. I did see the pastor, but I didn't get a chance to chat with him.

(I wonder if the LCs celebrate Mass in any of the churches in the area, and what their ars celebrandi is like. Too bad the Dominicans don't have a presence down in this part of the Bay Area.)

It was good to be there in that we met KK's godmother, so my mother and KK were able to catch up with her for a bit. I hope my mom will be able to spend more time visiting old friends. And... the ballet folklorico dancers at St. Joe's were younger (high school students, I believe) than the ones at OLoP. But not too many nubile women at either celebration. (Very few at OLoP, in fact--most of the young Mexican women were already married with kids.)

At both parishes, the fact that the feast is very much a Mexican holiday was emphasized. (The 6:30 Mass at OLoP was in Spanish--I don't think all of the Mass at St. Joe's was in Spanish, but at least the music was.) I don't know if celebrating the feast day has really caught on in the rest of Latin America. Certainly, it does not seem to be an important holy day for people in the United States, unless they attend a parish with a lot of Mexican(-American) parishioners. (I've forgotten how it is celebrated over at Christendom. Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the patroness of the FSSP's American seminary; I imagine the feast there is a rather important.)

Certainly the feast commemorates an important event in the history of the Church in Mexico. But is there a way to make it less of an ethnic holiday? I don't know if it will catch on in the rest of the United States, or Canada or Quebec since it is so bound up with the history and people of Mexico. I would think that there would be at least some resistance to adopting the feast day as their own by those Catholics who are attached to American Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-(Latin) culture or some other ethnic identity. Most of those attending the dinner at OLoP were Mexican. But even if there were more tickets available, I wonder how many more non-Mexican parishioners would be present.

For some, perhaps the feast is like St. Patrick's Day, when everyone's Irish, except that everyone's Mexican on December 12. (If so, the feast day would be a good replacement for Cinco de Mayo here in the U.S., at least for Catholics.) It could easily degenerate into an excuse to party and drink. But even then, to recognize that there is a festive occasion is a step towards being merry out of devotion to the Blessed Mother. Perhaps all one would need, in addition to a religious conversion, are an explanation of the reasons for the occasion and a proper understanding of festivity and its importance for the community (as an individual chasing after the pleasure of food and drink, and whatever else, qua individual, with other like-minded individuals, is not festivity).

Or maybe it would be cause for Latin-rite Catholics to recognize their common Latin roots with Mexicans, as many 'catholic' Catholics already do. As I alluded with the parenthetical reference, even American-Anglo culture has some Latin roots and influences, even if there may be some divergence with respect to the respective political traditions of England and the rest of Europe. (How much of a real divergence there actually is, I do not know. How does the American-Anglo republican tradition differ from that of the Italian city-states, for example, or traditional Romanitas? How similar is cowboy culture to that of the vaqueros, for that matter?)

The male dancers at OLoP were wearing guayabera, which were pleasing to the eye. I am still thinking of getting one eventually. Is there a tradition of group dancing in Spain or Latin America, similar to ECD? (Or was dancing mostly in pairs?) How much of ballet folklorico is readily transformed to the popular dances from which it originated?

I did feel a bit out of place at both celebrations, since I don't really consider myself a member of either parish. (It's been a while since I went to OLoP regularly; these days I go to Palo Alto or to the oratory for Sunday liturgy.) Certainly the parishes don't have the same sort of tight-knit feel that one might experience at an Eastern-rite parish or an Orthodox church. It would be nice if St. Joe's could host a dance for the families... maybe even an ECD ball.

I miss JWB's potato tamales... I don't know when we will be able to see her again. Maybe if there is another wedding in the family.

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