Monday, March 31, 2008
I've never had any anti-Catholic bigotry slung directly at me in my life. I've also never really felt much prejudice toward me in my life either, but when I check boxes on surveys, I'm suddenly reminded that in other parts of this country, I am a minority. Not because I'm a woman, but because I'm a Hispanic Woman who apparently by being Catholic, is now a triple minority of sorts. (Again the bigotry also runs within my community. There was a time when I tried match.com and was told by a Hispanic guy that he was surprised at how "White" I looked. Needless to say, I didn't pursue that relationship.)
I grew up in an idyllic place where three cultures have thrived for generations, where the majority Christian religion was/is Catholicism and so until I grew up, went else where did I notice that things were different in other places. I never really noticed the anti-Catholic stuff until a year or so ago when I started my novel. I hadn't been in a church in years, last time was probably some relative's funeral. Until a year ago, there was a lot about my faith I didn't know and so I turned to Google to find places where I could find the answers. I found lots of good, resourceful places, plenty of bigoted and horribly anti-Catholic sites and lots of "Catholic" sites that have an agenda far from anything that is sane and rational. They're splintered groups, schismatic in nature, but not necessarily in schism, and some not in communion with Rome. Those sites actually tend to spew the most hatred toward Rome. Sometimes, the non-catholic sites seem innocuous compared to those former Catholics, who have an axe to grind. I mean, the whore of babylon and the vile Pastor John Hagee spews is laughable, but yet... he believes it and many others do too.
I guess it shows that bashing Catholics is still acceptable, which is my sad observation of the day. I'm sure the knife cuts both ways, but I don't think I've seen it cut so deeply in the opposite direction in recent history.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
My ancestors came from Spain. I'm sure at one time I had ancestors who were both Jewish and Muslim. I occasionally comment that my ancestors were either the persecuted or the persecutors. Maybe they were both. For a while the three great religions existed in Spain. It was probably an awkward coexistence, but they did coexist. Certainly life wasn't perfect and the Christians felt persecuted so they revolted arguably quite zealously in the end. Quite honestly, history doesn't really change. Worldwide, the same conflicts still exist, the same battles are fought, but the manner in which they are fought are different. They're more insidious these days. (I don't mean to simplify years of world history, but I don't have the energy to really articulate anything more. You have to realize I'm trying to stretch my brain these days. That's what this blog is here for.)
I don't see Islam as being the big, evil religion. Like Christianity, it has extremists which tarnish its reputation. Plenty of atrocities have been done in the name of Christianity. So far no one on planet earth is guilt free.
We also live in a society that is extremely anti-Muslims. As Catholics, who live in the same world with its strong anti-Catholicism, I think before we pass judgment on any one religion, we should learn what it's all about. People who judge our faith, often know nothing about it and pass judgment anyway. And the people we need to evangelize are our own Catholics who are leaving the church in droves. That's where we need to channel our energies.
It's just that in our quest for perfection, what are we giving up?
I grew up with a cousin (probably a second or third cousin) who was either Downs Syndrome or mildly retarded. I don't remember as I was very young, but she was pretty high functioning. She did everything for herself, she babysat one of my older cousins, probably spoke Spanish and English, but may not have known the difference, she didn't go to school as she was nurtured and sheltered while her mother was alive. Mom says after her mom died, she gained a bit of independence. Still there was always someone who took care of her, which I'm sure at times was a bit trying, as she had an energy level most of us don't have. Nonetheless, she was such a joy to be around. She loved playing with the kids. It makes me sad to think about people like my cousin who might not have lived, had their parents made a different choice (of course, it would never have been a choice for her parents.) But what about the other kids I've met and known who are Down Syndrome, who are healthy, happy and bring nothing but joy to their families, what would the world be like without them?
I'm all for science and believe that we need to keep looking and trying to find cures for insidious diseases. I wish there was a cure for MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Diabetes, AIDS, Cancer and everything else that still eludes a cure. I'm not wholly against stem cell research if done ethically and am very leery about how they are acquired. I think it could yield some promising results-- but what is the price to pay?
I wish we could prevent others diseases before babies are born so all children who are wanted will be born healthy, loved and happy. I know that one day we'll reach a point where science might be able to prevent such things-- but will it necessarily be a good thing? All we have to do is look at history to see that sometimes such ideals go wrong. (And just watch SciFi-- you'll see what I mean.)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Back when I was a kid, I used to speak Spanish. Actually make that high school. I didn't grow up speaking even though all the adults around me could. My parents grew up bilingual, as did my grandparents. I think my paternal grandfather preferred Spanish over English. He was born around 1888, I think.
At one time I knew all my prayers in Spanish. Every now and then at the Mass I attend we recite The Creed and the Our Father in Spanish. I remember the Our Father (mostly, from both CCD as a kid and high school Spanish, but the creed I have to read along in the book. This site, from the Convent of the Paster Noster, where this image comes from, has a few common prayers in Spanish, what's interesting is that it has very old variations of the prayers. They've changed since the late 1500s. That one is dated 1593, just a few years before my ancestors made the journey to what eventually became New Mexico. The one that I most remember is this version. Here are the English Prayers.
The Our Father is translated into many, many languages, so take a look. It's quite something.
ETA: So today we recited The Our Father in Spanish and I totally blanked it. I should have reread this post again.
Friday, March 28, 2008
There is no SGA to watch. I have three eps. to watch, including the season finale yet. I'm just sort of muddling through the week. I may do some more work on the blog and get it ready for public display.
ETA: This kind of sums up my thoughts a bit. I know that I certainly can't be alone in my feelings of letdown. I don't feel despair, as I know with Easter comes new life, joy and the hope of life eternal, but at this moment, it's so quiet.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Mr. Barkley is quite patient as he often lets me do embarrassing things to him all the time.
Little Miss Estrella. She's really talented at lazing around, isn't she? She's almost as good at as her older, wiser brother.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I am wanting to go back to writing for newspapers. I've been saying that for a while. I even worked temporarily last fall at one of the local papers. Tomorrow, I'm going to call an editor that I know and think will be willing to give me an opportunity to write. I'm nervous and afraid that I can't do it anymore. Foolish, huh? Well, I'm going to do it.
Also, I got into a discussion at the LJ Catholic Community about how poorly the media covers the Church. The whole news about the New Seven Deadly Sins which are not new sins and how it got so totally blown out of proportion. I wonder if I can manage to find my niche in religion reporting. I think that I could write objectively on the subject.
I just realized this post was about Holy Week. The Advent Season is always beautiful. It's really nice that the church celebrates Christmas at the end of the year, when the world is at it's darkest-- probably literally as well as figuratively. Of course, Lent comes in the spring and we know it's such because the Last Supper was a traditional Seder and Passover has usually always fallen in the spring. Yet, unlike Advent, Lent is not so much a time for waiting, excitement and joy of His Birthday, but it's a time of penance, reflection and fulfillment- followed by the joy of Easter Day, after His Death. I really felt that this year.
For me this Lent wasn't about depriving myself of something, but I did give up my several times weekly trips to Starbucks for Chai, something sweet and some Internet time there. It was also a time to learn, to seek and grow. I think I did that. I made my penance, though awkwardly, but I still did it after all these years when I always declared I had no use for Confession. I guess I was wrong. It's a sacrament that I think I'll seek out again-- perhaps now I won't be so scared. Nonetheless, as I sat there, after having thought about everything I wanted to say, I went blank and muddled through it but my priest seemed to understand.
The way I felt about Confession, I kind of felt like that about Church. I have always known that God exists. I have always believed in the Catholic faith, but I never really felt like I needed it. I didn't need to go to another Church to know that it was the truth faith. I'm not going to try to convince anyone else that Catholicism is the One True Faith-- because that is between them and God. For me, it is. For my family it is. For Catholics it is. If a non-Catholic was to ask me why I felt this way, I'd sit down and try to articulate it as best as I could. However, in my years without a church, but not without God, I always knew that I could walk into any Catholic church and be at home. At a time, about 5 years ago or so, when going back to the faith and the church wasn't even a true, and real thought, I said this in an LJ post and it took me by surprise because I said this recently in a LJ Catholicism post. I suppose I've been thinking about it for a while.
I truly realized I'd come home after attending Mass on Holy Thursday and the Liturgy on was beautiful. I've never attended Mass ever on Holy Thursday that I wanted to go so badly this year. I feel like we should experience as much as we can in our lives. Even if we live to be a hundred, that's not a long time to be alive in the grand scheme of things, so we need to live each day to the fullest. We need to learn and experience all that life has to offer. From both a religious and a human perspective I had to see it for myself. I could almost take myself back to that night over 2000 years ago, the night of the last supper, the night of Christ's betrayal in the garden. (There are many questions to ponder about that night, was he truly betrayed as Judas actions were necessary for all the events to take place. Jesus knew he'd be the one to betray him.) Seeing our priest wash the feet of 12 parishioners was touching, to see him humbled as he reenacted an event that Jesus did on that night was amazing. I sat there quietly mesmerized. I think during this Mass of all Masses, a priest's role as Persona in Christ is truly experienced. But beyond that, the whole Mass was solemn, reverent and beautiful. Watching the procession to the chapel where the Body and Blood would lie in repose until the next night, was also poignant. Emotion welled up inside of me as I watched all this happen.
Sort of related, this article is about an old Spanish Nun whose travel diary influenced Holy Week liturgy and traditions. Her name was Egeria. which makes me think of the founder of the Tok'ra in the Stargate Universe.
I didn't attend the annual pilgrimage to Chimayo on Good Friday or the Saturday before with my parish. I wanted to but I worried I couldn't make the 9 or 10 miles and decided that I will work up the stamina and the courage to do it next year. The Journal wrote about it here and the New Mexican here. I felt a bit disappointed that I didn't go, it was a beautiful day, but being a bit shy and not knowing a lot of people at my parish, I also talked myself out of it a bit. It might have been a good time to meet people, but maybe not, since it was a somber time, a time for reflection and penance. There's a lovely slide show hosted on the "America" magazine website narrated by James Martin, SJ, who also wrote a lovely article about Chimayo which is here, but only if you're a subscriber to the magazine.
However, I attended to Good Friday Services at my parish. The service, also very solemn and somber, something I expected as it was Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified and died on the cross. It consisted of the Liturgy of the Word, with the Passion according to St. John acted out by the parish youth preparing for confirmation. It was moving watching these kids perform Christ's last hours in silence, while a narrator told the story. I don't think any other interpretation has touched me so much. Seriously. As always, there were intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian, Veneration of the Cross, followed by Communion.
I have always been proud of where I come from. The Catholic faith is strong here but I never realized just how strong it still ran and how much it was a part of me until now. I hope that one day I have a child(ren) to share this with.
It was a given that I'd attend that Mass and that Mass was truly beautiful. It was joyous as it should be on the day we proclaim that Christ has risen from the dead. However, Thursday and Friday affected me on a spiritual level I've never felt before and that will stay with me long after the joy of Easter has past, because I think I understand the why of it all so much clearer now.
And now I can say, He is Risen, Alleluia.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This article at SF Gate takes the prize for bad reporting. Maybe he's a bitter, ex-Catholic perhaps?
I've been thinking that I need to do some freelance writing. I think I need to segue into the religion niche. After all the bad reporting, I think I just might.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Yet, sometimes, it all seems so unfathomable. Can we really comprehend faith? Is that what faith is, the ability to believe in something that while we can't see, we know it's there, it's real. Is faith something we can grasp, perceive, touch, desire. Is it a trust that we can't comprehend?
I once said to a friend that I'm too afraid to be an atheist. How could I let go of the belief of something- someone-- bigger than myself, something I profess deep within my soul. I know I have a soul. I can feel it, yet I can't prove it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
ONCE A BAPTIST, ALWAYS THINK LIKE A BAPTIST
John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic
neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling
a big juicy steak on his grill. Meanwhile, all of his neighbors
were eating cold tuna fish for supper. This went on each Friday of
Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together
and decided that something had to be done about John, he was
tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn’t
take it anymore. They decided to try and convert John to be a
They went over and talked to him and were so happy that he decided
to join all of his neighbors and become a Catholic. They took him
to Church, and the Priest sprinkled some water over him, and
said, “You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now
you are a Catholic.”
The men were so relieved, now their biggest Lenten temptation was
The next year’s Lenten season rolled around. The first Friday of
Lent came, and just at supper time, when the neighborhood was
setting down to their tuna fish dinner, came the wafting smell of
steak cooking on a grill. The neighborhood men could not believe
their noses! WHAT WAS GOING ON?
They called each other up and decided to meet over in John’s yard to
see if he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent. The group
arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a
small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak
on the grill, saying, “You were born a cow, you were raised a cow,
and now you are a fish.”
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Anyway, my point. I was thinking about my main characters (twin brother and sister) and how different their lives become. I was thinking more about the brother, a priest, and some of his thoughts. He's the character I have the most trouble with, as he's a man and a priest and I don't know what it's like to be either. While I know the priests at my parish, I don't know them well, but they're good, compassionate men. They're smart, caring and very devout to their vocations. I think they all share qualities my character might have, but I also try to not model my characters on anyone I know, which makes it hard sometimes, which really brings me to the whole point of this post. Really.
In my moments of procrastination, uh, I mean free time, I was reading through some of the blogs I read and Father Z (from What Does the Prayer Really Say?) linked to this post by (I'm guessing a youngish) Irish Priest who expressed so poignantly and honestly about the loneliness he was feeling at the moment. It touched me tremendously and it made me realize that these men and other religious have given up a lot for their vocations and we may never think twice about their lives outside of the church or where we see them publicly. I think sometimes we view them from the pews as men above us and not like us. We are the people under their watchful eyes and in their spiritual care. We may have casual conversations with them after Mass, maybe nothing beyond that, unless we're fortunate to have them as friends or family in real life, and even then, we may not always see them for being our brother, father, son, cousin, friend, etc. They are men of God and we always put that first, which I think we should, but they are also human and want to be treated as such and we don't. Sometimes, they aren't near their families and don't always have others to turn to for support because so many of them live alone or are the only priest in a church.
And the other thing that occurred to me is that their loneliness isn't that much different from ours, those of us not living in vows or consecrated life. Every one suffers from periods of feeling lonely. ( I do believe alone and lonely are two different things.) I'm an only child and have been alone for so much of my life, but I haven't always been lonely. Most of the time, I'm not, but every now and then it hits me. Even married people feel that loneliness. My parents live totally separate lives now that they're older and I know they both feel lonely from time to time.
As a single woman, I feel it a lot and have begun to even question if I will ever find someone to share my life with. I want to have a family and share that with someone, but as I've lived most of my life single, I think I can continue to do so if that's meant to be. I just don't know about not having the children part. That I just can't imagine not having.
So... no... online confession isn't for me. And apparently Father Z says so too. He made a great post about the news article with his usual charming wit. Another, good discussion of this whole topic is here, by Jim Keane, S.J. on the America Magazine Blog, In All Things.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
For now... this is where I am.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Anyway... so, I went to Mass for Easter with my mom last year, b/c she'd been going pretty regularly.Then I started writing a new novel. It was supposed to be a girl gets back at guy for breaking her heart (which was what I was going through at the time) kind of story and it was supposed to be light, fluffy and not at all anything deep or spiritual, which is what I ended up getting. I think that's also helped me on my journey back and because I worked through a lot of this stuff in my story. I also started doing some research about the Church, the sacraments and the teachings, etc. Things I didn't know or remember from my younger days.
However, what I think really brought me back was an annual novena to Our Lady: La Conquistadora . The faith of the people around here amazed me. Something clicked in me and for the first time I understood there was more to my history and heritage than I realized. The devotion and the spirituality impressed me and opened my eyes to my ties to the faith. I knew I could no longer just profess to be a cultural Catholic anymore. After that week, filled with beautiful, joyful Masses, I was back attending Mass every Sunday, feeling like I was part of something again. I still had yet to come all the way home.
Tonight, I felt compelled to do it. I've talked myself out of seeking the sacrament of reconciliation for a long time. But I needed to confess. It was awkward, weird and yet good. There were was short reconciliation service with several priests from the community to hear confessions after. Surprisingly, I knew most of them. I ended up going to our pastor, only because lately he's said a few things in his homilies that struck a chord with me and tonight during his homily, he said something that really hit me, so I decided that I'd make my first confession back to him. There was a woman ahead me doing it for the first time in a long time too so we offered each other moral support. Anyway, as I said it went ok. Like all things, I knew what I wanted to say and confess beforehand, I'd been thinking about it all day. My conscience was ready but the words didn't come out the way I wanted them to. I know I didn't use "proper" form and I didn't say the "Act of Contrition", but I muddled through it. I think he understood. I think that it's a sacrament that I will utilize again more often than every 30 years or so.
One aspect to the penance was to think about and reflect on certain things I confessed in prayer. That's probably the hardest part of it all. One of the things I've tried to work on during this Lenten Season is how to pray. There is still more I'd like to reflect on and think about, and I also think I'd like to talk to him more about other things. Instead of trying to try to talk to him after Mass on Sunday, which I think is never a good time to say anything but hello, I was thinking of sending an email with a few thoughts, but mostly to find a time when we might be able to talk about other things that I've wanted to talk about. Not sure though.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
At my parish church there were some simple, but lovely crosses installed outside of my church. I think between now and Holy Week, I'll go. If I wasn't so tired, I'd post more tonight. Anyway, there are many lovely pictures to see.
Somewhat related, I love it when non-Catholics try to explain our devotions, prayers and beliefs. Here's an explanation about the Stations on a site called rapture ready. They don't seem to have a problem with them, except that the stations are all about His passion and death, and we still have Christ hanging on the Cross afterward. Apparently , we Catholics, don't recognize the resurrection. Oy.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
New Mexico has a very long history of Catholicism. I believe that Baltimore might have been this nation's first Archdiocese, but Catholicism has been in the "new world" for 400 years, all of that time in New Mexico. It wasn't always a serene and happy time historically, but sometimes I think it's often overlooked that there is a long history of Catholicism in this part of the country. New Mexico of course, was a late comer to the US and with so much anti-Catholic sentiment in the nation historically, it wasn't something much to be bragged about I suppose.
I found a great web site that has the history of many of the churches, chapels and sanctuaries in New Mexico. There are renderings of how the Cathedral Basilica would look if the spires had been built. I wish I had time to see all that Churches and Sancutaries of New Mexico has to offer.
I also learned that the first Spanish Catholics were not followers of the Roman/Latin Rite but the Mozarbic Rite which is a Catholic Rite that emerged in Muslim Spain and was quite strong. Apparently, there is a church in Spain where it is still observed and it is under the authority of Rome. I must study more about this.
Also, probably the first Jews in the new world came to New Mexico as well. Crypto-Jews (Sephardic Jews) exiled from Spain helped settle New Mexico too. Though, through the years, their traditions and histories were almost lost and many of the old families are discovering their Sephardic hertiage.