Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm not going to... no... I can't...

Two things. I've decided to TRY to reread Death Comes for the Archbishop. It was required reading when I was a junior in high school and it was the first book I started to read that offended me and so I put it down. I'm not sure if what I saw in the book was really offensive. So many people, many Catholic, many not, many not New Mexican, say how much they loved that book and what a wonderful picture of New Mexico Cather painted. I just recall feeling totally upset and shocked by it. So, I'm going to try to reread it and see if I have a new and fresh perspective of it. I just remember feeling it was terribly racist and painted my people in a bad light.Whether it's true or not, I haven't been willing to reread it to find out. As much as I judgmental behavior, I have judged this book by the eyes of a naive 16-year-old. So... I will pick it up and start reading it again. It's not a long book and I read fast. I may make observations as I go.

The second thing, I think I'm going to try to explore a new idea for a new blog. I was talking to someone at the office and an idea came to me. It will focus less on my personal thoughts and observations, but more on historical and cultural observations. Some of which I've already done in this blog but I see it more of a tourist guide to Catholic New Mexico-- for a lack of better descriptor right now. I may not go very far with it, but I'm going to play around with it and see what emerges.

Ack... now I must get moving, as I have a date to go to the gym and then I should go to the office. See what happens when the office meeting is canceled? I get lazy. Oh, like I need an excuse for that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Circles in My Head

I saw this first at Amy Welborn's blog, which directed me here to the Inside Catholic book circle. It sounds like something worth checking out and following along.

So I ask myself the question:

What is Catholic Fiction?

Is it fiction about Catholics, Catholic themes, characters, etc.? I think that's someone else's answer but I will ponder it.

And do I write it?

I must admit that is one of my worries. I don't know why I worry if my stories are "too Catholic". Should it matter? Does it exclude readers by the nature of my themes, characters and plots? Am I limiting myself to a certain niche or genre? I must admit that all my stories have Catholic characters and themes, but until I started writing my second novel, I never thought I was writing Catholic Fiction. I barely just learned there was a whole genre of Christian Fiction, Catholic Fiction must be a niche within that genre.

Anyway, readers who read my first novel will see that my main character is a product of her Catholic background, but it's not a major theme of the story. She's not practicing, to the dismay of her parents. She baptizes and educates her child in the faith, but it's not strong within her. I don't quite no why. I also don't think she will ever have an epiphany and return to the church (in the story) maybe in later life. My stories never really end, they keep playing on in my head. She truly is the definition of a Cultural Catholic and a product of where she was raised. She's a Hispanic New Mexican-- where Catholicism and Catholic culture are intricately tied together.

In my second story, the circumstances are different. It is Catholic. It is about Catholics. It's actually been the story that has helped me journey back to the faith and has helped me figure out exactly what it means to me.

In looking at my novels so far, perhaps they are Catholic. I hope more so in an universal way, touching upon themes that are common to everyone, that the stories are realistic and my characters are truly fleshed out and human. I want to touch someone with my writing, be it Catholics and non-Catholics alike. I want to show people a world that rings true and opens their eyes to a world they might never see otherwise.

And maybe I'm not a writer who happens to be Catholic, but a Catholic writer. Of course, then the next question I might need to ask, do I write Hispanic fiction. Oy.

Say What You Need to Say

I recently answered a question about the Loretto Chapel and the miraculous staircase at the Catholic Online forum. Someone from Albuquerque chimed in and filled in the rest of the answer.

(image credit: Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, NM. Photo by camerafiend.)

There is a lot of outrage felt by people that the chapel no longer belongs to the archdiocese. It's interesting that this contempt comes from Catholics who don't live here. I guess we have gotten over our anger about the whole thing 35+ years ago when it happened. I'd love for it to come back to the archdiocese one day and maybe it will.

I googled something unrelated and stumbled upon this article, which is the reason for this post. Anyway, near the end is a tidbit about Lamy and La Conquistadora, which was what I was searching.

"Even the beautiful shrine of La Conquistadora, by which Bishop Lamy paid homage not only to Our Lady, but also to the glory of the Spanish Catholic “conquest” of New Spain, was removed from its place of prominence in his ancient Cathedral dedicated to Christ the King."

I love the spin of that statement. First off, Lamy's Cathedral is far from ancient. In the grand scheme of things, it's new. It's not even 200 years old. She was moved into the original part of the church, which wasn't destroyed in the revolt, to the old chapel, which is nearly 400 years old. That's where she belongs. She's part of our Spanish Catholic Culture, History and Tradition, most of which, Lamy came here to squash.

I don't have a positive opinion of Archbishop Lamy. I need to find objective source material about him before I solidify my opinion of the man. I think he did a lot of good while he was here, but it was at the expense of others and possibly to the detriment of others.

Again... I need to do my research. I think a huge Catholic project is stirring my head anyway.

(image: MFS (C) 2008. All rights reserved. )

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Two Pesos... they're not worth much

Lately, I've read a lot of negative commentary and criticism about my archdiocese and archbishop on so called Traditional/Conservative Catholic sites. Mostly, by just stumbling across it on certain sites and forums. I don't go seeking it out. I'm pretty much writing this post to a couple of comments I've seen recently on the Internets. I won't link to them, one I'd have to dig through my internet history to find and the other was in a comment on a blog I frequent. Oh yeah, and also a comment my cousin made from an experience she recently had a Mass. We attend the same parish but she gets up with the chickens and goes early, I get up with the lazy dogs and go late.

We have 400 years of Catholic history, tradition and culture in New Mexico. The Spanish adopted and blended their culture with the native cultures. Spanish culture was pretty much a mix of all the culture of the people who settled in Spain and it was brought to New Mexico where it thrived for hundreds of years. The Culture and the Faith are intricately intertwined here. Still, there has long been a history of multiculturalism here and it's reflected in the practice of the faith here.

So, when I read comments from somewhere else, where the person making the comment has no historical perspective, it really bugs me. I'm not the self-appointed defender or anything of the archdiocese, the archbishop or Catholicism here in NM, but it is really sad to see all the negative comments, judgments and harsh criticisms. One thing about Northern New Mexicans is that we're very protective of our people, our culture and our church. We can be very insulated. As a norm, we are very tolerant and welcoming, but when our way of life or one of our own is insulted, threatened or offended, we get defensive. I suppose that's why I'm trying to write this post.

Granted in the first case, the comments were made by people who don't live here, and have family here and are reacting to what they've "heard" not necessarily experienced. The blog comment was probably someone who does live here and was entitled to his/her opinion and sad to say, it doesn't reflect my experiences, and my cousin's Mass experience was made by someone who was just rude.

I think in the grand scheme of things, the archdiocese is in capable hands. I think it's doing quite well actually. The finances are in order, parishes aren't closing, I believe churches are being built, we have people filling the pews. I'm sure there are many pews empty on Sundays too. Yes, we need more vocations and more priests, but we seem to have a good crop of seminarians. I'm not sure where we stand in comparison to other arch/dioceses around the country. In a 2007 report, we were ranked #6 as a whole-- so something is going right here. There were three men ordained to the priesthood last month, there seem to be three thriving Latin Mass communities, who knows if many others will emerge.

Oh yeah... I forget we're a "liberal" archdiocese. You can't judge our archdiocese or compare it another one half-way across the country, but obviously some people do. Ugh.

How Do You Do???

Oy... I need to stay off Catholic Answers Forums and comments in blogs I like to read. Maybe I should expand my blog reading or just give up altogether. There are times when I wish Andrew was real. Because in my story I had Isabel musing the same frustration about all the Catholics on the Internet and he told her to stay off the Internet and to come to him when she was troubled or questioned. In my story, he is a priest and all, so that's all well and good, but he's not real! I suspect though, at least one, maybe all the priests at my parish church would say the same thing.

I stumbled onto a post on a blog and found a comment that just bugged me. I find a lot of comments made by Traditional Catholics (I hate labels. Do Catholics have to define themselves with labels, such as Traditional, Orthodox, Liberal, Conservative, good, bad etc.? Aren't we all Catholics? And why do we have to use political terms to define ourselves? I'm a political liberal, so naturally I'm a liberal catholic? I don't think it works that way. I've always thought I was Catholic.

My feelings about the Church can't be put into liberal/conservative categories. I question things plenty. Do I think women should be ordained priests? No. The idea of a women in Persona Christi troubles me. It's hard for me, as a feminist to admit that and it surprised me that I feel so strongly about it. Yes, I think women and men are equal and can do the same jobs. The priesthood isn't a job. It's a vocation and it's a vocation open to men only.

Do I think priests should be allowed to marry? No-- not after ordination. Do I think married men should be ordained? Maybe yes, maybe no. Definitely yes for the men who convert from other faiths and are allowed ordination under the pastoral provision. We have many married priests coming from Episcopal and Lutheran backgrounds. Our archbishop ordained the archdiocese's first married man this summer, so, yes, in that case I support it heartily. I'm not not sure if it would work for the church as a whole. It seems to work in Eastern Catholic, who are part of Rome and the Orthodox Churches not in Communion with Rome, but in the whole Latin Rite church, hard to say.

Do I oppose altar girls? No. Would I want my daughter to be one? Maybe. Only if she could understand that she would never be allowed to be a priest, but that there are other roles women can do in the church.

I would welcome an edict from Rome that says communion must always been received from a priest or a deacon and on the tongue. Probably, though, I don't think it would matter to me either way. However, I usually receive in my hand, but I am comfortable with receiving it on the tongue as well. If I can avoid going to an EM, I do and go to the priest or a deacon. I remember being told as a child in catechism we cannot chew the host, so I don't. I try to keep my hands by side during the whole Mass, but will hold hands during the "Our Father" as I generally like it.

Catholics need to remember we are all different people, but we are one united in and by the Church. We are one body and we need to accept and embrace each other, not distance or reject one another.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's the Moon... It's the Moon.

It's crazy today, now I know why. There was a moon illusion. It was a full moon tonight and the solstice is just two days away. No wonder the energy was weird. I had other things I wanted to do tonight, but the phone rang and the evening went wild from there.

Above: The full Moon beams through trees in Manchester, Maryland. Credit: Edmund E. Kasaitis. Copyright 2008; all rights reserved.

NASA Article Here.

Crazy People Are Everywhere

This morning when I woke up, I pretty much had this whole post composed in my head, but of course, now that it's five hours later, I can't recall exactly I was going to say. In my head it was articulate. Anyhow, the gist of the post started because I'm on a mailing list for Sephardic Genealogy. I'd say a large portion of the members of this list are descendants of Sephardic Jews, the religious backgrounds of the membership is pretty mixed, with a large number of Jews and a probably a large number of Catholics of every flavor, practicing, cultural to lapsed and there are the evangelical too. Can you see where I'm going with this post? There's one person on the list who always seems to cross the line when it comes to posting unrelated material. There is one person who tends to post things of an evangelical nature and someone gets riled up. This is not a list to convert people to or away from one particular religion. It's an informational list, a place to come to look for information about names, traditions, histories of a large group of people, who has lost a lot of that. New Mexico is one place where much of it has been lost and is now being rediscovered-- none of this has anything to do with religious conversion.

While, I wouldn't say that it's the norm, but there have been a few insensitive remarks made about Catholics and Catholicism. There is no dispute that many evils were done in the name of the Christianity. There have been many evils done to the Church as well. You cannot deny all the good the Church has done in the past and continues to do so, however, this is usually not what this list is about. I'm tired of 2000 years of Church History being painted by the brush that is the Black Legend. Still, I usually take them in stride and not get offended, especially when it comes from the historical Jewish perspective. More than likely some of my ancestors when they settled in New Mexico were probably Sephardic Jews or Conversos.

However, when the commentary comes comes from the usual Evangelical/Former Ex-Bitter Catholic types, and that's when it gets offensive. There was recently a post on the list defending, yes defending Pastor John Hagee. Of course he was called a good example of a Christian, so I said... hello, he's the one who offended the Catholic Church, he had the audacity to say Hitler was doing God's work by getting the Jews to return to Israel. Uh... remember the Holocaust people? Hilter killed millions of Jews. If he wanted them to go to Israel because God willed it, why didn't he just send them there? Oh it didn't exist yet. Modern Israel was established after the war. Anyway, two people cited him (Hagee) as being a good Christian for all his good work on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel. I was troubled when I read that. When I cited the Hagee comments, I was asked to define a good Christian. Well, I certainly wouldn't consider Hagee or those like him who spread the same ilk of intolerance, hatred and moral judgment Good Christians. A good Christian wouldn't decry that Hurricane Katrina happened because God was upset that there was going to be a gay-pride parade the next week. That's almost as bad as blaming 9-11 on the feminists, liberals etc.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

La Conquistadora

Hard to believe
that another year's Novena in honor of La Conquistadora has come to an end and that it's already been a month since it ended. (I wrote this post a month later but backdated it.) For approximately, 300 years, the faithful of Santa Fe have been making this novena in Thanksgiving. (see links on sidebar for some history. I've yet to put it all together in my own words.) I've compiled the links to the posts I made with my own reflections of the day. I posted pictures as well and they are listed below. I hope you enjoy getting a taste of what makes my Catholic Faith so special to me.

It always begins with Vespers at the Cathedral, then the procession follows and we wait for the First Mass to begin the next morning at 6 a.m.

My First Thoughts after the First Mass of the Novena.

A Beautiful Day, reflections after the Second Mass.

It's almost like touching a bit of heaven. Thoughts after the Third Mass

The Fourth Mass

Pictures from the Fifth Mass of the Novena and My Thoughts About faith and peace after the Fifth Mass

Reflections on the Sixth Mass

Giving Thanks To God, reflections after the Seventh Mass

Procession back to the Cathedral and the 8th Mass of the Novena.

Lastly, the 9th Mass at the Cathedral. As beautiful as it is, it's sad because it's over for another year.

That's it for 2008.

And now for a few grumpy thoughts and part of why I compiled this directory post of sorts. The other night I stumbled on a very critical post about my hometown's beloved statue of the Blessed Mother and it kind of pissed me off and I can go on and on about why, but that is not what this post is all about. I probably will write a post in response later, when I'm not so pissed. I'd make a comment on her blog, but the post was over a year old and I don't think it's worth the effort. Needless to say, why is it that people who know nothing about Catholicism, its history, traditions and culture, and no very little about New Mexico history feel compelled to make a comment about something they don't understand? She claimed to be a Christian, but I didn't find anything charitable or Christian about her commentary. Maybe others will want to learn something after seeing these posts.

I hope that if people stumble upon this blog and see these entries about La Conquistadora, they'll have a better understanding of why she's so important to the people of New Mexico and why she truly is Our Lady of Peace.

In case anyone wanders over to this post, the 2009 entries are here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

So, for the last 36 hours or so you can't turn on the news, the Internets or the blogosphere and not see something about him, his life and now his death. I admired his journalism work ethic, I liked his interviews and I liked his style. I recently caught some personal interviews with him on PBS where he talked about his life, his family, his career, his faith and he was passionate about all of it. It's sad to hear about his death. He was so young. The news media will miss him and this election season will just be a lot more somber without him to guide us along through it all.

This was a nice piece about one meeting with the pope. And Sister Mary Martha had a lovely tribute to him in her blog last night.

Though She's Still, Life Moves Around Her

My posting about the novena totally slowed down. The sadness I felt over its end has passed. I had a few days where exhaustion reigned, PMS hit and all I wanted to do was sleep. I was so glad that it was over.

The last day was at the Cathedral. The Archbishop celebrated the Mass and it was over for the year. Only one picture today. I love this shot. I got several good ones that final day of Mass but I think this one with the people moving in the background sums it up for me.

While for just a short period of time we celebrate this Novena, life continues on afterward just as it did before. I'm probably too tired to really sum up my thoughts or articulate them well.

Now, if I can only get the words Cordero de Dios out of my head, I'll be most relieved. Oh man... I'm going to Mass tomorrow. All I have to say about that is: Ten Piedad De Nostros.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dios Te Salve Maria

With the end of the Novena, a profound sadness over came me. I can't really describe why I felt the way I did but I did. So, to pick up where things left off on Sunday. As the Sunday before, there was a procession late in the afternoon. I was able to get a few pictures of La Conquistadora while she awaited the procession back to the Cathedral.

Two Members of the Confradia de La Conquistadora stand guard and protect her, while we all have one last opportunity to see her close up before she is returned to her chapel in the Cathedral Basilica, where she's kept from harm.

As a participant in the procession back, I must admit I did not take any photos. I think next year, I'll take pictures as the procession begins and then catch up with my parish to walk solemnly on the journey to and from. I will definitely continue to participate in this novena and both processions.

The parishes start arriving. The journey is about a mile and a half.

Following the arrival of La Conquistadora, the Eight Mass was celebrated with the archbishop as the celebrant.

Her arrival was bittersweet because the last two Masses are held at the Cathedral, and while Mass at the Cathedral is beautiful, it just doesn't feel the same as it does in the little Rosario Chapel. It also means that the Novena is nearing its end and we won't come together for another year to celebrate this annual tradition. However, it's the beginning of the the summer and will culminate at the end of Fiestas with the candlelight procession to the Cross of the Martyrs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Always Remember

The end of the novena always brings about a bit of sadness. It’s truly a wondrous week. Words cannot describe the magic of those 6 am mornings. While grand and beautiful in and of itself, the Cathedral Basilica can’t capture that in the morning. The sunshine, the spirit and joy that fill the little chapel is immense. Surrounded by faith and the majesty of the Blessed Mother, you do feel closer to her Son during this week. Sometimes it feels like it gets a bit lost in the grandness of the Cathedral. Because while we spend the week venerating her, talking about her Greatness, her Grace and her piety and her total surrender to God, it’s with that, we recognize the Greatness, the Glory and the Goodness of her Son. We as Catholic Christians should emulate her as best we can. It’s a feeling that I really can’t explain, it’s one that surprises me. While I witness this great faith, I still sometimes feel like I’m looking at it from the outside. I didn’t grow up with a strong faith. I don’t really remember when my family lapsed from the Church. The little that I learned, the history of the Church and my Catholic faith, I learned from the Christian Brothers (and lay teachers) at Catholic school. It was then, when I probably learned the most, and probably didn’t learn as much had I grown up in a home where we truly practiced and lived the faith everyday. My parents are Catholics, they believe, but they haven’t always been practicing. I don’t remember Sundays spent in church, I don’t remember being on my knees for three hours for Good Friday, I had never gone to a Holy Thursday service, I had never done the Stations of the Cross, nor participated in the any of the religious processions of my community. This year, I did all those things and was so totally overwhelmed and enriched spiritually, I will never miss them again. Hell, I didn’t even know this novena existed until my friend encouraged me to come with her last year. I'm ever going to be grateful to her for opening my eyes up to something so beautiful and so wonderful.

We didn’t pray the rosary at home, just at funerals and I always remember the words “our death amen” running together at the end. It always scared me a little to hear those words over and over and over. Now, when I say the rosary, I say the prayer slowly, surely and don’t find myself uttering our death amen as one jumbled monosyllabic phrase. I take the whole phrase and find comfort in those words.

I have a whole world of anxiety, worry and stress running through my head these days. I’m full of self-doubt, insecurity and I wouldn’t say despair, but I’m feeling a bit weary. Maybe it’s impatience and frustration. Despite all this, I would say I’m a happy person, but have a huge cynical and jaded side. I’m just beginning to doubt if my dreams will come true.

Early this morning I woke up in fits from a nightmare. I know it’s anxiety based and I have worries that have troubled me for a while and I know I should stop trying to put them aside and I should deal with them before it’s too late. In the dream I was trying to figure out how and if God talks to people. In it, I was talking to a priest at my church. I’ve been wanting to talk to one of the priests at my church about something on my mind so maybe that’s why he popped into my dream. He was himself in the dream and I asked him if he thought God talked to people in their dreams, or if it was just my anxiety stressing me out. I really wanted an answer. I don’t think he offered me any real words of wisdom—I don’t quite remember what he said to me—but there he was standing there offering some sort of comfort. Still it’s a bit disconcerting when I start dreaming about a priest from my parish.

The faith that I have, it’s still a bit shaky. I know why as Catholics, we do the things we do in Mass, and just how important the Eucharist is. I understand its significance and what it means to us as Catholics. I am even willing to believe by the priest’s words and actions, the bread and wine to change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. I can believe this because I believe God exists and because I believe that, I believe all things are possible. It’s one of those things my non-believing and my non-Catholic friends can’t understand or comprehend. I often wonder what think of me knowing what I believe—do they know truly what I believe? Have I lived my life by that example? I surely hope I have.

I think choosing to become or remain a Catholic is not always easy. I know for me, returning to the Church has made me think differently about many things as well. While I’m not a Traditionalist Catholic, I’m not a Call to Action type of Catholic either. While I’m politically a liberal, I’m spiritually more conservative. I see beauty in the Latin Mass but I prefer the ordinary form of my parish. I wouldn’t be upset if receiving Communion in the hands was disallowed. I also prefer to receive from a priest or a deacon, but sometimes there truly is a need for Eucharistic Ministers. I’m ok with hand holding during the Our Father, but sometimes I prefer not to and often it’s a mood thing and I often sit alone so I don’t have to. I can take or leave all the hand gestures though. I don’t like liturgical dancing, but I try not to be uncharitable so I don’t say anything. There are people who do like it, so why ruin it for them? I like the sign of peace, the unity of community and faith that is expressed is a nice feeling. I don’t mind it when the priest tells a joke or banters with us in the pews. While he’s a priest, specially chosen and consecrated by his ordination, he still is a human and it’s nice to see that side of him. It helps make him more approachable when we need him for something serious.

I believe the Church is timeless and that She will prevail, but I think if I stopped going to Mass on Sundays, it would be easy to pull away again. While I believe, I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to hold on. I struggle to pray. It’s not something that is easy for me. I can’t say I don’t know how, but I don’t know if my prayers are fruitful enough. I know God answers all prayers but that he doesn’t always answer them how we want them answered. He’s not some great Magic Genie in the sky granting our wishes to come true. He’s not Santa Claus or a vending machine full of things we want and can buy for $1. I think He’s elusive, enigmatic and knows what we want but he gives us what we need. At least I’d like to hope so. Maybe for that I pray. I suppose if it’s His will, what we desire most will come to be. I also know we can’t sit around and wait for those things to come to us just by sitting here and waiting either. We have to make an effort and try ourselves and pray that it’s His will for us. I think will can find strength and courage in and through God.

And today the archbishop said in his homily that we should always remember to give thanks to God, especially for the little things we forget. We always remember the grief, the sadness and heartache, but tend to forget about the good, like a glorious day, a much needed rainstorm, a kind word, a gentle touch and a loving gesture. Those he said we should try to remember, to write down… it’s important not to forget and to remember that All Good Things come from God. Now if only I can learn patience.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gloria a Dios in El Cielo

Just a quick update. Mass was gorgeous. It was the last morning Mass at the chapel. The choir from the Cathedral Basilica is amazing. It was asked to perform at Carnegie Hall last fall. So, today the music was incredible. The children's choir sang part of the Magnificat in Latin. They sounded lovely.

So... a few pics.

Maybe a more fleshed out post later. It's strange not to be getting ready for 11:30 Mass at my parish. As I went this morning I met my Sunday obligation and will have to go again tonight for the 8th Mass. I think my soul will be ok by missing Mass at my regular parish. I took over today's readings for my mom earlier because she likes to read along, and I also gave her my envelope with my offering, so technically I'll be th ere in spirit. Besides, I think perhaps the priest at my church probably saw me at Mass in the mornings. He was there almost every day too.

I could really use a nap. Though, I think I'll clean the backyard and relax till the Return Procession this afternoon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It Is Really All About Faith.

I had a really hard time getting up today. I decided to go to Mass this morning only because I had an appointment later in the morning, so I could come to the office, get some work done and then go. I'm dragging, even after breakfast, a diet coke and now I'm drinking an Iced Chai-- hoping to wake up. Today there will be some serious napping and quite possibly some yard work.

Today's Parish was Our Lady of Guadalupe. Father said something in his homily that I wanted to remember so I could comment but I'm tired. His homily was about the underground church, he didn't mean so much about the Church in China, North Korea or any of the other places where the Church is persecuted, but here, in our every day lives, in America where we cast it aside from our daily lives for whatever reasons. He also talked about how it is an offense when our mothers are insulted, which he related to the ulitmate offenses and insults to the Blessed Mother. He mentioned that his parish will be traveling to Mexico to pick up a statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It will be a pilgrimage of sorts as they're going to take the El Camino Real. he hopes to get some dirt from the shrine from the srhinre there where Our Lady of Guadalupe is kept. It sounds glorious.

Anyway... the Mass was nice, pretty subdued. It needed trumpets. Tomorrow's will probably be as nice as yesterday's. (I don't want to believe another Mass could top yesterday's as it was my parish's turn yesterday.) It will be the Cathedral Basilca's day and the Cathedral has the most amazing choir in the world. Even if only part of the choir shows up, the music will be fabulous.

And now for the pictures. Eventually, I will do a slide show.

Today is another white day. Most days she wears the most beautiful crown but it seems to blend in with the relief behind her. Much of her jewelry was made because of the donations of parishioners who felt it was a good thing and an honor to give up their precious jewels for her.

After this morning's Mass there are three more left. Two tomorrow and one on Monday. Tuesday, sleeping till 6 is heavenly.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Santa Maria De La Paz

Novena Day Five

Today was also First Friday, so there was the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of this morning's Mass.

She looked so beautiful today. The outfit she wears was specially made for her and matched the Chasuble made especially for the pastor of my parish on the 16th anniversary of his ordination, which was also today.

One more shot of the altar, the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Mother.
Today, sitting there quietly during adoration, I truly felt at peace.

Holy Faith

Novena Day Five.

From the start of this novena, I've eagerly awaited today's Mass. While I've enjoyed the other four, I knew today's Mass would be beautiful. I didn't know how special it would be, most especially for my pastor. Today it was my parish's turn to host the Mass. The choir sang beautifully, the liturgy was beautiful, much of it in Spanish, and finally Father's homily was poignant and touching. His words truly reflected the spirit of what this novena is about. He's from here so he understands the significance of this novena. In his homily, (I'm paraphrasing) but basically he stressed that we have a strong culture, rich with tradition and history here, but what was most important is our faith in God. Faith matters above everything else. He talked about the Blessed Mother, how she guided him and helped him in life, how we can all turn to her and ask for her intercession as she is our mother as well.

This morning the sun was out and shined brightly through the trees and over the altar. I really wish I could capture that on film. It's something best imagined I think. I didn't have my camera this morning. I was bummed out.

Today's Mass also fell on First Friday so we had the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after the final prayer of the Mass. It was also the anniversary of my pastor's ordination and it was also my parish's day to celebrate Mass, so for those reasons, it truly was special. Today, Our Lady was changed into a new dress made especially for her, it was made to match the new vestment given to our priest for his anniversary. He was recently in Rome and bought a new crown for La Conquistadora and had it blessed by Pope Benedict XVI and she wore it today.

Last year this novena brought me back to my faith and the Church. This year, it's truly helping my faith grow. I'm still struggling with a few things-- maybe I just need to let go and trust God fully and completely.

Anyway, I said above I forgot my camera so having some free time after breakfast with good friends, I went home to get it. I also had a few errands to run. I took Mom and Dad's dog over to play with my dogs, while she cleaned house, I got my camera, my rosary and prayer book and headed back to the chapel for adoration. I'm still a bit perplexed about what one does during adoration-- I just think of it as time sitting quietly with Jesus. I took my prayer book and read a few prayers specifically suited for Eucharistic Adoration and then, some specifically for Mary. I do find a quiet peace there. Today I felt like I was really with Jesus and his mother, Mary. I don't really know exactly how I should pray. Sometimes, I think I do ok and other times, I just don't know what I'm doing. I still hope that in time, I'll have a more fruitful and spiritual prayer life. For now, I'm just going to sit and enjoy the beautiful silence of it all.

Today's Pictures Posted Here.

Time for a Brief Interruption

There are other things besides the Novena happening. I'm slowly working my way through email, blogs and other news. Today the BBC news reported on the state of Football in Italy (soccer for us Americans who don't know the difference). Now I'm not much of a soccer fan, though I did get caught up in the world cup frenzy a couple years back. A few of the folks in my office were glued to the TV or their computers watching streaming videos. So can Priests Really Save Italian football's soul?

I'm really behind in my reading. There have been things I've wanted to blog about in recent days but have not sat down to actually do it. Maybe I'll catch up after Monday.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Mother's Love

Day Four of the Novena

Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

Today's Gospel seemed especially appropriate today for some reason. While we honor and venerate the Blessed Mother, it is Jesus who came down to Earth for our salvation. She was not just a vessel for his arrival. She was His mother and she knew who He was and was meant to be. How amazing that must have been for her. She nurtured Him, she cherished and adored Him, she raised Him and she loved Him just as any other mother has ever loved her child. She watched Him perform miracles, she watched Him preach and she witnessed his mercy, his love and his sufferings. She watched him persecuted, she watched him die and she held him in her arms after he was taken off the cross. How can anyone say she was just the vessel, the means for His arrival on earth? I really dislike that non-Catholic Christians seem to have no understanding of Mary's role in the world. Why belittle her so much, after God chose her to be the mother of His son and Jesus loved her so much?

I'm nearly half-way through the novena. I'm not ready for it to end but I'm dragging. Driving sleep deprived is dangerous. I'm also disapointed that I haven't made it to the gym all this week. I thought it would be easy to get there since I was up so early... yeah, that'll teach me. The first day I'll get to sleep in will be Wednesday. I'm so looking forward to that, but I'd like to start walking at 6:00 in the mornings. Sleeping to 6:00 sounds heavenly.

I also lost my bracelet. I lost it once before, but this time I think it's gone. I retraced my steps from the car, through the cemetery into the chapel twice. I hope it's at home. I think St. Anthony is going to get tired of me asking for his help in finding missing jewelery.

St. Anne's Parish hosted the Mass this morning. The Gospel reading was: Mark 12:28-34

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Heavenly Bliss

Novena to La Conquistadora Day Three.

Today's Mass, the host parish was St. Anthony's from Pecos.

Every day, she gets more and more flowers. The chapel looks lovely.

It's hard to capture, but from where I stand, when the sun rises through the trees, it's like there is a little glimpse of heaven coming down on the Altar. Not wanting to be disrespectful to the sacrifice of the Mass taking place, I took this after the Mass had ended. I happened to get a candid shot of my cousin is in the picture.
Today, I had to nap.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Give God Everything

Novena to La Conquistadora, Day Two.

Just as Mary's response to God's will for her, "Let it be done to me according to thy word..."

Today's host parish, was San Isidro. It was truly a beautiful Mass.
I was in awe of it all. I hated to see it end.

She was dressed then night before in Native American clothing. Pueblo drummers (I can't remember from which Pueblo) provided the processional music. The rest of music was also lovely-- old Spanish Hymns which I KNEW! Father's homily was inspiring and timely as always. I'm not a parish member of San Isidro, but I really should go to Mass there every now and then because he's a wonderful priest.
Anyway, my whole day was filled with joy after yesterday's Mass.

Taken from: Gospel of Saint Luke, 26-56.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Danos La Paz

Novena Day One. Today was the first day of eight days where I will get up at 4:00 (4:30 if it's really late) and go to Mass. On regular Sunday's I'm in the pews no earlier than 11:20 for the 11:30 mass. I've only made this novena once in my life but I've always known about it. Last year, I attended all the Masses and watched the procession back from the Rosario Chapel to the Cathedral. This year, I hope to make all nine Masses and both processions. It was really hot on Sunday. I still plan to write up the history of the whole Novena when I'm not dragging.

The different parishes from the area will each take turns to celebrate Mass. From what I understand, each night her clothes are changed and she wears something that might be meaningful to that particular parish. Last year, she wore the dress the mother of one of our local priests made for her after he was ordained. What's really wonderful about the novena, especially for those of us who are natives, is this is a time to participate in our history and heritage. Several of the priests who celebrate Masses during this week are natives and have shared their stories of discernment and inspiration during their homilies. I really look forward to this year's novena.

Today's Mass was celebrated by the parish of Christo Rey, as tradition dictates, it always starts the novena. My parish is on Friday.

"...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..." **

Yesterday was the start of the Novena to La Conquistadora. It started with a Vespers Service at the Cathedral, the knighting of the young man portraying Don Diego DeVargas and the coronation of the Fiesta Queen, the Indian Princess and the Fiesta Court and Cuadrilla followed Vespers and then La Conquistadora was taken from the church to the chapel where she'll stay during the Novena.

I've been taking pictures like crazy, though some of these are a bit blurry, I thought I'd post them anyway. These are from the procession from The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to the Rosario Chapel where La Conquistadora will remain for 8 days, while the city holds a Novena in her honor.

The Holy Spirit Window at the Cathedral
Basilica of St. Francis. Seen as you leave the

The crowds await the arrival of La Conquistadora at the Rosario Chapel.

Banners Start Arriving with penitents as they make their way from the cathedral to the chapel on this first day of the Novena.

Others arrive after the short journey from the church to the chapel.

She makes her way into the cemetery grounds, always handled with such care and affection.

She is the patroness and protectoress of this City of Holy Faith. Because she is the Mother of Our Lord, Jesus, for Generations, she has been cherished, revered and adored, most especially here in this culturally rich and old city.

She has arrived and now awaits to be placed upon the nicho behind the altar of this two-century old chapel. The site where Don Diego DeVargas and his Caudrilla once camped.

(Monsignor Jerome Martinez y Alire, rector fo the Cathedral Basilica stands behind.)

This tradition lives on and will continue to carry on as long as there are people who remember.

Awaiting her arrival. This is the nicho where she will be placed and remain for the Novena until the day she is carried back, with the same great care and devotion to her Chapel at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

She is placed upon the nicho.

Hail Mary Full of Grace
The Lord is with Thee,
Blessed art thou among women and
Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus

Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our Death,


And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”

** from Mary's Magnificat as written in the Gospel of Luke 1:39-56

Of the holy weird

Got the strangest email today. Well, not the email so much as the link it contained. It was to a long, letter written over 40 years ago from a Brazilian and was a pretty big anti-Catholic diatribe. These are them moments when I wish I was an apologetic or better versed on the Church history to respond. I think it came about because on the Sephardic Mailing list I subscribe to, I answered a question about Catholics and Masonry. I can't recall what the original question was, but essentially I answered that the Church didn't/doesn't want its members to join the masons. It's always been that way. I know there are Catholics who don't abide by the Church and have joined. We have a Masonic Lodge here, several of its members are/were Catholic. They're political figures and power towers here. I suspect that's why they joined. Maybe they're ill formed on their faith and don't know what the Church teaches or doesn't care. I don't discuss all things Catholic on a Sephardic genealogy list.

The Knights of Columbus is the Catholic organization for Catholics. It's in line with Church teaching and belief. That's pretty much all I said to the email list and then got that interesting link in email.

I don't think I want to bother to refute it or discuss it with the guy who sent it to me but I had to write about. ;-)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord..."

For a couple of days, I've been posting about my excitement about my hometown's annual procession and novena to the Blessed Mother. I took some pictures not great ones today after the Vespers service as we made the procession from the Cathedral to the chapel where she'll stay for 8 of the 9 days. I'll be updating this entry with more links and information. I'll try to compile the whole history before the Novena is done.

It was a beautiful day. Truly. Now I'm going to bed. 4:30 comes awfully fast.