Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe


On Friday night I went to St. Joe's for its annual our Lady of Guadalupe celebration; the bishop was there to celebrate Mass. The parish has long since become multicultural, reflecting the changing demographics of Cupertino. But did they really need a multilingual rosary before the Mass? How many people were actually praying the rosary? I have heard multilingual rosaries recited at Lourdes, probably done in the name of intelligibility to the pilgrims of different ethnic backgrounds coming to the site. But was it really necessary for this parish? After all, most if not all of those attending speak English. It may be an expression of cultural diversity and unity in the faith, but I think the different languages might get in the way of actual prayer. How many were really praying the rosary? It may be unfortunate that we do not have that gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to comprehend other languages, but it is necessary when we can all speak English? (Some might argue that unity could be expressed through the use of Latin.)

As I noted two years ago, the celebration of the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe here in the United States tends to be Mexican in nature? There was a nod to other Iberian American countries last night, as some of the students processing in carried flags of countries other than Mexico. This should not be a surprise, since Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness (and Queen) of Mexico, and has touched the lives of the Mexican people. But she was also named the Empress of the Americas, was she not? (And declared patroness of the Americas in 1946 by Pope Pius XII?) Is there a risk of the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, as it is celebrated in the United States, of becoming a Catholic version of Cinco de Mayo?

Again, I must say that I like mariachi music, but I don't think it is appropriate for the liturgy. It detracts from the sense of sacred (and so do the jokes coming from within the sanctuary). But I do not see a return to the singing of Mexican or Hispanic polyphony. At least we did not have too many made-up elements incorporated into the Mass in the name of inculturation. There was one parishioner carrying a bowl of incense instead of a thurifer, and the school children dressed up as Aztec dancers (they later did a prayer dance in front of the altar). But it could have been worse. (I don't know if there are adults doing Aztec dances at the cathedral, but I think this has been done before elsewhere.)  How often are mariachi Masses celebrated in Mexico? Do people in Mexico dress up as Aztecs and do a dance or something else during the liturgy? 

Can there be a common celebration of the feast for all Catholics living on the American continents without requiring non-Mexicans to adopt Mexican customs? Can the feast be anglicized for Catholics in the United States? The patron of the United States is Mary Immaculate; while the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation, we do not do much to celebrate it outside the the liturgy. These two feasts are close together on the calendar -- embracing the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as an alternative to the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe... how feasible is that? (Combining the two feast days for one communal celebration seems even more unlikely. However, there is piece written by His Eminence, Raymond L. Burke, when he was archbishop of St. LouisRegarding Our Lady of America. It mentions the compatibility of the two feasts in spirit. From what I have seen, very few non-Hispanic white Catholics celebrate the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe. (It is seen as a Mexican or Hispanic thing, for Hispanic immigrants, with the celebrations and a special liturgy in Spanish.) But they have not done much to promote the feast of the Immaculate Conception either. There are few parish celebrations for our Holy Days -- maybe something for the patron of the parish and other special occasions, but nothing for our major Holy Days. No fellowship, no sharing of food, no festivities.  (It is probably quite different for smaller, more ethnic parishes.)

At least so far the feast has not been used by those to advance a certain cultural agenda within the Church of the United States, but what will happen as certain states and areas become more Hispanic? In our local multiethnic parishes, people tend to stick to their own kind, so we haven't had too much conflict or push for separatism. IMO, non-Hispanic Catholics in the United States often have a tenuous grasp of what it means to be an American;  they tend to ignore the cultural differences in the name of Catholic universalism. Many are relative newcomers, descended from immigrants who settled in the North and are infected by Yankee culture and propositionalism (proposition-nation thinking).  And we are unaware of the different classes, groups, and cultures that actually exist in Ibero-America, along with the ethnic and racial tensions. Even if we come to celebrate our European culture and heritage, would Hispanic immigrants be willing to do the same. What happens if they begin to reject the elites because of social inequity and decide to throw out the culture and heritage of the elites as well? They may not have such an appreciation of European culture and more and more will see the conquest of Ibero-America as that and nothing more.

Is the advocacy of Gregorian chant polyphony in Ibero-America mistaken? It may be true that the Church should work within both "high" and "low" culture, distinguishing those who belong to European culture from those who are mixed or embrace a hybrid/mestizzo identity and those who identify themselves as Amerindian, and not seek to impose one liturgical culture upon all.  However, the willingness of those who are alienated from the whites to adopt traditional Roman liturgical forms should not be underestimated, if it can be disassociated from white Hispanics and identity politics. Latin may be more palatable than Spanish.

Too often Americans learn about European civilization through courses and textbooks. What do they really know of the cultures of Spain, England, and Ibero-America and the colonization of the new world? It is better that they come to know and appreciate a local living culture and their history (their people and lineages). Those who have a stable parish community should have a better chance of making this happen than those who do not--and appreciation of (and living) one's own culture should not be downplayed in the name of Catholic universalism.

With mixing and intermarriage is it possible for one to learn about both family lines? Or will the family line that is part of the majority win out? If it is legitimate for groups around the world to seek to preserve the cultural character of their society, then why should Anglo-Americans be denied this? And in Ibero-America, can a reconciliation between conquered and conqueror be eventually effected? Or will social injustice lead to greater fragmentation? The conquest may be a fait accompli, but people can nurse historical grudges, or adopt them if they become disenchanted with their political economy and do not see improvement taking place. Some dream of a world in which race no longer exists, everyone having mingled with everyone else to create a new, single mixed race. This may be the way to resolve identity,culture, and ethnica loyalty, which are grounded upon the natural ties of kinship and affinity among members of a people, but it seems unlikely to happen.

A continuation of the log...
Mrs. C and her daughter were there for the Mass, and after the Mass we went out to greet the bishop. I didn't have any problems kissing his ring, and I refrained from making any comments afterwards--it is proper to say that he is in need of our prayers, but is there anything else that can be done to bring his mind around to Tradition?

The young attractive Latina who was in attendance at St.  Joe's last year wasn't to be seen this year. (I don't think I saw her friends, who are (long-time?) parishioners, either.) I didn't see any LCs present, either. But KK's godmother Mrs. M was present, and she gives her greetings to everyone. It seemed to me that the amount of food that is donated has been decreasing over the years. I think there were slightly less people attending the Mass and the reception this year -- but the tables were all full. (Did they set up less tables?)

The bishop of San Jose has a twitter account.
What San Jose Diocese Teaches Lay Leaders about the Sacraments
Work of the People: Liturgy Notes of the Diocese of San Jose

Related:
California Catholic Daily: 25,000 Catholics attended
Archbishop Gomez leads procession and Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Guadalupe
Insigne y Nacional Basílica de Guadalupe
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
EWTN
Painting by Edward Jarmosiewicz of Wohyn, Poland.

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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