Monday, June 25, 2007

Children At Your Feet

I made it through the Novena. Nine Masses, Eight glorious Masses. I can't believe I was up at 4:30 for eight days. Yesterday, I met my friend for Mass at 6:00 and later in the day I met my other friend to watch the procession back to the Cathedral. I took pictures but they didn't come out so great. I don't like my dad's camera. I really should have taken my canon rebel, but I suspect I don't have film or batteries. (If only I had the money to buy it in a digital version. :::sigh::: )

I couldn't believe how many people were making the trek back from the chapel to the church. Carrying banners, they all walked back with their parishes or religious group. It was a hot day and it was about an half-hour trek in 4:00 heat. They were singing, smiling and walking happily back to the Cathedral Basilica. We watched them file in and of course saw many people I knew as well. Small town still. It's usually for religious functions that the local people come out.

Of course, tourists gawked and watched curiously as the procession made its way back. They asked what was going on and neither L. nor I had enough time to give them the whole history, but we did the best we could and they were pleasant and polite. (I have a huge opinions about tourists and the newcomers to my city, in general, most are respectful, courteous and pleasant, but... there are so many that I really do wish would go away. That's another post...for another day... maybe.)

There was a group of tourists, I think they were also going to go to Mass, but the daughter looked just how I imagine my mother looked at her age. She had thick, red hair, in braids, she had the same sort of skin color, (my mom tans a lovely brown) and was wearing a pretty white summer dress. I really did think of my mom.There is a picture of my mother that I thought about when I saw the girl. It makes me really wish to have a red-headed child one day.

So, after the procession, my friend left and I proceeded into the church for Mass. Everyone was there. ;-) Same with today. Today, though it was really interesting to see how the people stood in line after Mass to take a flower that had been given to "Our Lady" during the many Masses.

It's amazing the love and devotion given to this old, hand-carved statue of the Virgin Mary, which for 400 years has been part of this city. When I was 5, she was stolen. I recall hearing about it many years after the fact, but I never knew the whole story of her abduction. (Links to the story. Part One. Part Two.) After this morning's Mass, I totally understand the outrage and grief when she was taken. In 1973 this was a very small town. I think if something happened, there would still be the outpouring of grief and anger.

What I think I've discovered by doing this is the amount of faith that exists here and that there is a vast amount of faith inside of myself. I think it's always been there and today I read a post that clicked with me and I realized that no matter what, I will always be Catholic.

ETA: Pictures from a Procession in a previous year can be seen here. There is also a Fiesta Video( more like a slide show set to music) from the 2007, Fiestas. The last few shots in the video are from the Candlelight Procession to the Cross of the martyrs which I believe I posted about here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Treasures magically found

Sometimes, I don't think I remember much about growing up Catholic. This week, I've been attending the annual Novena Mass in honor of La Conquistadora, (the oldest image of the Madonna in the US). It's an annual tradition in Santa Fe, going back centuries now. (Links to come later.) A really good friend of mine invited me to go with her. I don't think she thought I'd show up on Monday. Well, I got up way too early and picked up our mutual friend, L. and we met her at 5:45 at the little chapel where La Conqusitadora will be till Sunday. That first Mass was incredibly beautiful and uplifting. Now, I grew up Catholic. I live in Santa Fe, an old-Spanish Catholic City and I have never done this. I've known about this procession and novena all my life but for whatever reason my family never did it.

It's been a culturally rewarding and spiritually enriching thing for me. Since probably college, I've been a pretty much lapsed Catholic and now, as an adult, I'm finding myself drawn back to Catholicism for whatever reason I'm not quite sure, but so far it's been an interesting journey. Who knows where it will take me.

I've been reading blogs, websites, forums and various bits of things about Catholicism lately. I grew up in the 70's, post Vatican II, so everything to me about church was a bit more loose and relaxed, definitely all about acceptance and love, social justice and peace were the messages I learned. Good stuff, I think, however, I've found a lot of complaints on the Internet about how too loose and too liberal the church became and still is in places. I just don't feel like that is the way the church is here. Of course, things are so different in New Mexico that maybe that's why I feel a bit confuzzled by what I read these days. I certainly don't want to see it get so conservative and so closed up that I don't feel like there is a place for me there. I don't think that will happen-- at least I hope not, especially here, and I do love the ritual and traditions. I even can wrap my brain around most of everything the church teaches and I do believe there is a God. There has to be something. Yet, I'm a bleeding heart liberal and truly feel like religion and politics, church and state should remain separate. I definitely keep religion out of the voting booth with me.

Maybe I'll muse a bit in here about that later. Right now, I'm not really sure if I can articulate those thoughts yet.

Nonetheless, I think to the surprise of my friend D. I've been going to Mass everyday at 6:00 and it's been the most amazing experience. I'm exhausted today. It was the 5th day but I really enjoyed it. Every day a different pastor from a different parish has celebrated the Mass. Every day has been different and special. My friend, D. who talked me into going (this is her big Catholic thing she says) was right when she said it is a bit like being in heaven. We are sitting on the right side of the altar. On the other side of the altar, the big doors are open and as the sun rises about 6:15, the sun's rays shine through the old crooked and stately Evergreen trees into the chapel, lighting up the altar with golden morning light. It's a beautiful sight. It makes getting up in the dark worthwhile just to see that in the morning. Sadly, I don't know what I'll do after Sunday.

Today, there were trumpets and it was more "Spanish" than the other days so far, because much of the Mass was in Spanish. (I wish I could remember the "Our Father" in Spanish. I still wish I could speak Spanish period.) There was beautiful. music, lots of singing in Spanish and lots of rejoicing. Tuesday, there was an Indian blessing. She, La Conquistadora, I mean, was dressed in Native American clothes. (I wonder if she has as many outfits as the Infant of Prague?) Monday there was levity and banter and it was so festive. So far, no dry or mundane church hymns. Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I'll finish out the Novena and watch part the procession back to the Cathedral on Sunday. Right now I need a nap.

(Photo Taken by Herman Lovato, copied from the 2007 Novena Pictures at the Santa Fe Fiesta Council Web Site.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I can smell the cedar burning as I type this...

It's warm and really, really windy today, sort of a typical day for early spring in NM, not late spring. So, instead of lamenting the nasty weather, I am thinking about Christmas. Ok. Not really, as I was doing some research on the Internet for my story and after a few clicks, I found this picture . It's of my family home at Christmas time. Apparently some one took a picture of it at Christmas Time and put it on her blog. It turns out she's a Realtor from Denver. That's the house where I lived till I was 5, then we moved to edge of town, which now is somewhat "in town" as Santa Fe has grown. My family still owns the house, as it's been in my mom's family probably since the late 1700's. (I have an abstract on the property but I can't recall the first date on it.)

For a long time there was a post card of one of the doors to the house. We had a tenant who painted the glass window -- with an opaque lace pattern-- it was beautiful, but I haven't seen the photograph in years and I think I've lost the only copy I had. The glass broke and it's just a clear pane there now so it's not as impressive. It's not easy googling turquoise doors in Santa Fe to find. Ok. I lied. Here it is--- it's a newer image. Sigh. I've done that search many times before and always strike out.

I really need a good camera. I miss taking pictures and there are certainly lots of photo ops here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Polish "Anne Frank's" Diary Revealed

I read the news on the Internet more than I watch the TV news or read the newspaper. I suppose I should start reading the paper a bit more these days because I am trying to go back to newspaper reporting as a career.

This news story touched me and brought a tear to my eye. It's about a young Polish-Jewish girl who kept a diary about her experiences for a short time while living in a Jewish Ghetto in Poland during the war. She was only 14. I can't imagine what it must have been like for her. She gave it to her friend to hold when she realized that she might not survive. And now after over 60 years, the friend has come forth and presented it to the Holocaust museum in Israel. What touched me was reading the comment from the girl's youngest sister, who never knew the story of her father before he came to Israel after the war.

It's hard for me to fathom that kind of world but I don't know why since persecution of people based on religious beliefs, race and sexuality and gender continue to this day.