Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him...

I'm compiling some links for this post. First off, over here is a beautiful page of Creches from All over the world. Deacon Greg over at The Deacon's Bench posted a news story about a Czech nativity set being reassembled in Dayton Ohio. I'm sort of a Czechphile-- it's kind of a long story-- which I don't need to go into now. Needless to say, I surfed around the site (link posted in the original article and here) and got lost in looking at the different Nativity sets. I find them all so incredibly fascinating.

Also at the site, there's an article about the tradition of Native American nativities in New Mexico. I've yearned to have one. When I used to go to Indian Market, I'd look longingly at the sets, but couldn't then and still can't afford one. There are pictures there and as well as in the main page of International Creches.

My mom's current nacimiento. I wish I had better picture.

My mom had an old set that her aunt bought bit by bit. I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. She's long since put it away, but perhaps I should pull it out of the box this year.

I have two nativity sets of my own. One I got last year for Christmas. It's a Spanish Colonial set, though it's a mass-produced piece by a re-known NM artist, rather than an original. I can't even fathom what it would cost to own an original Charlie Carillo. Mine is the set on the right. My other set, which I haven't put up in years, is a Costco special. I had to color the Virgin Mary's hair from blond to brown with a sharpie marker. It's generic, but the figures are pretty enough. I used dress it up with lights, cedar branches when I put it up. I'm thinking of digging it out, unless I get my mom's old one, which looks a bit like the Fontanini sets.

Hee... a google image search lead me to a Little People nativity set. And not to be outdone, but Catholic Supply of St. Louis has a variety of Nativities, from the classic, tasteful ones, to the downright awful ones. I'm easily amused you know.

Tradition has it that St. Francis put up the first creche.
I think the nativity is a probably the most visible reminder of what the season should be about. Granted, we know that's not how it actually was, but it's still a wonderful image, isn't it? The madness that has become of the Christmas season is a disgusting display of greed, selfishness and a complete and utter lack of respect toward one's fellow man, woman or child.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Belonging Without Believing

Interesting study about Jews, religion and affiliation. The study states that one can be an active member of a religion and not really believe. There are also statistics comparing Christians, broken down by types-- evangelical, mainline protestant, Catholic as well as the unaffiliated and Jewish.

I'm skimming it now but thought I'd mention it.

One of the things I found interesting is that evangelicals are more apt to believe in miracles than Catholics. The social findings are interesting. Nothing too shocking.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Watch This Space...

I have a post running around in my head, but I don't think today is the day that I really want to make a ranty, mcranty post about stuff that's bothering me. I'm not having a crisis of faith or anything like that, but I'm just angry and upset. I'm also having a hard time reconciling my beliefs. How can I love something so much and feel bitter and hurt at the same time? I'm angry but I don't know where or how to direct that anger. What I'm angry about is irrational and I'm not sure I can articulate just right. So, I'll mull it over a little bit longer and come back to this post later.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

He Was A Community Organizer, You Know...

Live Journal is down. So much for the transition going smoothly. It figures when all is said and done, it goes down unexpectedly when all is supposed to be well and good. I posted this there, I think, can't see if it actually posted.

Well, Father James Martin, SJ, is one of my favorite Contemporary Catholic writers. Apparently he speculated how Jesus might do on a job interview with the Obama Transition team. It's here at You don't even have to be Catholic or religious to enjoy the humor of it all.

My cousin actually applied for a job in the administration. She was a paid staffer for the campaign. We all got a laugh at the questionnaire. Even I couldn't answer it perfectly and I'm almost a saint. ;-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something I've Always Known...the First Thanksgiving Was Catholic

Spanish settlers and Native Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Florida. Deacon Greg Kandra made mention of two earlier Thanksgiving Celebrations in his blog today. In his post, Is Thanksgiving a Catholic? he finds the answers to the question. Read his post to see the original article.

Of course it was and it makes complete sense that the Spanish Catholics would offer a Mass of Thanksgiving, when arriving in the New World, since Catholicism was (I still think is) a huge part of Spanish culture.

My ancestors didn't come over the Mayflower. They weren't Puritians, Pilgrims, or Protestants of any sort. They were Catholic and yes, they celebrated Thanksgiving long before the Pilgrims did.

My dad's ancestors arrived in what is New Mexico in 1598, but led by Juan de Onate, that that particular Thanksgiving was held in El Paso before they made the journey north, so, I claim ties to that one. Though, I know that the Spanish celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Florida 30 years earlier. These are things I've always known, simply because growing up in New Mexico, I was always away of Spanish, Catholic history in the New World because I had teachers who made sure we were versed in our own history. In my text books, the arrival of the Spanish in the New World covered maybe the first couple of pages and was never mentioned again. I knew because my parents made sure I knew the history and I also knew because I took classes in New Mexican history, though while I always I knew, it always seemed like no one else did.

Now, Onate is not without controversy. Still, without his daring expedition, the establishment of the first coloney here, my ancestors may have never come to New Mexico and who knows if I'd even be here. A couple of links about him here and here.

Photo: reenactment of the Onate Thanksgiving in El Paso. Taken from here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's In My Head

While doing some minor story research for my failing attempt to do this year's NaNoWriMo story, I stumbled upon this article from a Cuban American writer who was a Shabbos Goy back in his youth for the Jewish families in his Brooklyn neighborhood. It was a really sweet article and definitely worth a read. I don't know where I first heart about "The Shabbos Goy" if it was something I read or someone mentioned, but it was nice to read someone's personal account.

I know a lot about Judaism, but like a lot of things, I know enough to get me into trouble. For this story I'm working on my characters are half-Jewish, raised by mostly secular Jewish father and a Jewish mother by conversion who was raised Catholic and converted before she met the father. The characters are actually part of my fictional universe and are cousins to my other characters in my other stories. They're the children of the second oldest daughter on my story-family tree. I really think will turn out to be a really interesting character in the end. I'm really just fleshing them out, trying to figure out who they are and I have a loose plot brewing in my head, which will incorporate a lot of the family history that I know, but haven't written or compiled for this particular story. While I don't think religion is going to play into the story much, I do need to look up spellings and definitions of terms and words for the story. I need to make the characters as real as possible and I need to explore what life would be like growing up in their family.

Being curious by nature, I follow links everywhere around the Internet. Maybe one day I will actually stay on a website long enough to learn something. Or better yet, get off the Internet and read something!
I'm tired today... so I'll just link to this story at America's blog In All Things about the rise of Anti-Catholicism. Maybe I'm spoiled or just pretty damn lucky because growing up here and when I grew up I never experienced any anti-Catholicism. Sure, I had former Catholics try to convert me to their new found religions, but I don't recall them ever saying anything that was anti-Catholic. Maybe I'm living in my own little world where everything is sunshine and roses and I never noticed it. Nah, I don't think it existed here growing up.

Although, I do remember every fall, on the night of the Burning of Zozobra, a group of Bible believing Christians would pass out flyers saying how we were participating in a pagan ritual, that if we didn't repent or proclaim Jesus to be our Savior we'd all be doomed. There wasn't anything that was anti-Catholic about this particular protest, and there really wasn't anything particularly Catholic about burning this puppet, also known as Old Man Gloom. I mean, historically, the Catholics in Spain have burned effigies for many reasons, but I don't believe those were what inspired Will Schuster, the artist who created Zozobra, to burn this puppet. I also haven't been in years, so I don't even know if they come out and protest.

The only place where I've experienced or seen blatant Anti-Catholicism is on the Internet. It doesn't take long to find it. I usually stumble upon something anti-Catholic at least once a day. I'm also tired of seeing google ads on Catholic blogs and websites with links to the crazies at the most holy family site.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Watching Secrets of Mary Magdalene on PBS. I'm finding it to be a more scholarly retelling of the "Da Vinci Code" perhaps, it's giving the "Da Vinci Code" credence. I'm not overly impressed and I honestly don't believe in these theories of Mary Magdalene. Yes, I believe she existed, no I don't think she was the prostitute in the gospels, and she was important in Jesus' life and his ministry but I think they're reaching on just about everything else.

Ack... they actually called her Mrs. Jesus in this special. Oy.

Regarding one of my stories: Mary Magadalene, as the repenant sinner, is a quite important image for me to reference in the story.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holy Bagels, Batman!

I will be the first to admit that Communion has been on the brain lately. The only thing is, this has nothing to do with the recent comments about who should or should not receive, it has nothing to do with the election or anything like that, but out of the weirdness that is my mind, I managed to dream that the priest had concecrated bagels instead of unleavened bread for Holy Communion. In my dream it was very clearly one of the priests from my parish. It didn't seem like it was my actual church but after dropping the "real hosts" on the floor, he managed to give out bagel slices instead. They were toasted and buttered. He also gave me a plain one and a poppy seed bagel. I got really upset as they were crispy and I kept saying this is wrong... you're going to drop Jesus everywhere, that it was unholy bread and not the Body of Christ at all. He seemed truly unconcerned. Sitting next to him was one of the sisters who works in the parish. They were sitting behind a table like it was a bake sale. They had the chalice sitting between them and handed it out really irreverently, like it was fruit punch or kool-aid. It was totally bizarre.

I do recall thinking or saying in the dream that Jesus tasted good and that left me with a very discomforting feeling. I shudder as I write this. I remember when I was a kid we were told by the nuns in Catechism class not to even chew on the host, that I can't actually imagine tasting it. ;-)

I do admit that the host that the priest holds up and breaks during the consecration tastes better than the little round ones that are kept in the tabernacle. I don't know what the difference is and I don't think the Carmelite nuns here in town bake the bread anymore.

I actually thought about emailing the priest to tell him all about this dream, but I don't think I will. As amusing as I think it might be, he might think totally differently.


A real life friend of mine wants me to recommend to her some good Catholic blogs. I am going through my blogroll here and those on my google reader to see what I think she might like. I read a whole range of Catholic blogs, maybe that's why I'm going insane. Some I like because more for the pictures that get posted than for content, some I read for just the content, I even read some conservative ones but skip the comments, unless I haven't had breakfast, ;-) . I really dislike the condescending, holier-than-thou bloggers (clergy and laity) that I've discovered.

I've given up forums for the most part. I do have to admit though, that they were quite helpful when I was doing some research for my novel, but then I stumbled upon a blog written by a young priest and he had tons and tons of great posts with historical, religious, and useful information. His blog has folded, but I did enjoy reading it while he posted. He didn't allow comments, so it made for an enjoyable read. I've found a few that I like almost as much. I think I'll probably update my blogroll to reflect my current joys and faves.

If anyone has any suggestions to add to this list, let me know.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Poor Richie...

Or I should say Ron Howard. It seems that he's been banned from filming in and at Catholic churches in and around Vatican City.

Alas, I can't even say I object to the books or movies for religious objections. I tried reading Da Vinci Code and couldn't get through it. Then I thought I'd watch the movie. I actually turned it off. It dragged and bored me endlessly. I guess I probably won't be seeing Angels and Demons when it comes out, espeically since I won't get to see some of the beautiful footage in Catholic churches. ;-)

I'm still snarky, pissy and moody tonight.

Well, It's Started

So today, I heard my first Christmas Song on the radio today. It was Mariah Carey's, "All I Want For Christmas Is You." I'm not a Mariah Carey fan at all, but I do admit that I really do enjoy this song.

I'm also feeling quite eager and hopeful for Christmas this year. I think I will put up my tree early this year. Last year it was a struggle to get it up and then to get it taken down. I really don't know why I feel so Christmasy right now. I have no money and bills to pay. The economy is bad. My parents are worried about money and the tenant renting our income generating property is struggling in this economy. I really worry that he will walk away leaving us in the lurch. I suppose I should pray for help, but sometimes, I hate praying for such "self-serving" things.

My love life is non-existent again this year, yet I'm used to that. I'm also pretty sure I can survive New Years.

But I have other things. I have good friends, my family-- despite being my family sometimes-- is happy, healthy and well. I'm doing okay in general and I'm fortunate that I have a home and people who love me. I have my faith, albeit, it's a bit shaky right now, but I do believe and I do want to grow stronger spiritually and truly understand what it all means to me.

While I know I'm blessed, I still think about what I don't have and wish otherwise. That's simply human nature. Hopefully one day, I'll find some of my prayers answered in a way that I'd like, but if they aren't, I'd like to be able to say that I can accept things as they will be. Acceptance is the hardest thing. Isn't it the last stage of grieving?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Old Religious Imagry.

I'm on a slight genealogy kick. I haven't gone all that far back on my family tree, but being that my ancestors first arrived in New Mexico 400 years ago (give or take) and have been here continuously since returning after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and seeing as how they've always been Catholic, I just might be able to connect the dots and trace my family back. It would sure be nice to know the whole story, instead of just repeating the family rumors. Also, I've rediscovered La Herencia magazine. It's listed in the links section on my sidebar. Unfortunately most of the content from the issues is not on the web and I hadn't seen the magazine in bookstores in quite a while. It became subscription only so I didn't encounter it much. I saw the summer issue and hoped to find some pictures online somewhere. I checked the Palace of the Governors where I saw some old photos a while back and sure enough many of the photos used in the magazine were there, plus a lot more.

This is a 1948 image of La Conquistadora.

I also found an old image of a Procession of La Conquistadora. and here a page of pictures with many religious processions through the years. I wish the fees for usage weren't so expensive because I'd love to have copies of all these old pictures. At least there are archived and uploaded to the Internet for public viewing. This is an archive page of other religious pictures.

My mom used to talked about the traditions for Corpus Christi. There are images of that here, but she also would mention that they'd stop by all the churches in town and people would set up altars along the way. Here's one image of an altar and here is another which is really lovely. So while that photo was in the 1800's the tradition of setting up altars must have continued through the 30's and 40's while my mother was growing up. It's sad that we've lost that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beauty in a Time of Devastation

This photo is going around the Blogosphere. Here are the details and photo credit.

A statue of the Virgin Mary is seen among the rubble of burned out mobile homes at the Oakridge mobile home park in Sylmar, California, on November 18, 2008. The fire near the suburb of Sylmar devastated nearly 500 properties in the Oakridge mobile home park and has burned around 10,000 acres. By Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty.

I'm Blogged Out.

I have a half-finished post in draft mode, but I'm too tired to finish it now. I have a few thoughts on the post-election mood of the nation, but quite frankly I'm tired of talking about the election. Also on my not-so-finished blogging agenda are some ramblings about my worries for the next year, a brief mention about my family and other real life things, but right now the only thing I can do is read Clerical Whispers. The Irish priest who blogs there really does a good job informing the rest of us in the blogsophere of the Catholic and not-so-much Catholic news. It's almost scandalous to waste so much time reading his entries. ;-)

I really need to get back to setting aside time for prayer. I really was finding that I was starting to feel a bit more spiritually grounded when I was praying regularly and now... I think I've just fallen into a drought. I have my prayer book close by, I have my rosary by the bed and at any time during the day I can certainly sit quietly and say a few impromptu prayers, but I just can't make myself do it. It's probably not a mattering of making one's self do it. Honestly, I wish I knew.

I still plan to make some sort of a New Year's Resolution when the new liturgical year starts. I'd like to focus on both my spiritual and physical well-being. I would like to spend a little bit of time growing spiritually through prayer, reading and studying more about the Church and I need to exercise more regularly. I believe that both those activities will lessen the stress of real life a bit.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is in just over a week. Christmas Tree lots are gearing up for the Christmas season. With our unseasonably warm temperatures, I am glad that I have a fake tree because I think the cut trees, which have probably been cut for weeks now, will dry out quickly on the lots long before they get taken home.

*image I spotted ages and ages ago while looking up something on Day of the Dead or something related to Mexican or Chicano literature or culture. I don't recall the artist, otherwise I'd credit. And I photoshopped it just a bit to change the text on the computer screen. But... it illustrates just how wiped out I feel.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evolution, Monkeys, and the Catholic Church... Oh My

More Video Love. Originally posted at the Busted Halo website but I saw it in the America Magazine blog, In All Things first. This video explores Catholicism and Science and how as Catholics we can definitely believe in Evolution and Creationism. I still remember a surprising comment I received a long time ago when I mentioned that in Catholic school we studied Evolution. My non religious, very well-educated friend seemed shocked that I actually learned both subjects in my classes. I've never known a time when, as a Catholic, I've ever heard anything antagonistic toward Evolution. The former Vatican Astronomer is interviewed and clearly knows his stuff. I really enjoyed this video and think it's definitely worth viewing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Silence Has Never Sounded So Great (Updated)

I was watching a video clip of the Cathusian Monks from the movie "Into the Great Silence" doing their chant (posted here) and then I followed some links after the clip and got sucked into another group of monks and their life in an Italian monastery.

Interesting way of life. I haven't watched the other parts following this clip but I will. And no I still have not watched the movie I recorded off EWTN a few weeks back. I'm a little more obsessed with watching Supernatural these days. It's kinda fun to like something on TV again.

I've been watching the movie. It really is beautifully made and engaging. I truly can't imagine living the life of either the monks or the brothers (the nuns for that matter) but it's marvelous to get a glimpse into something I can't imagine or will never know. I think this is the "official" website for the order.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Save Me From the Crazies

Me thinks I need to continue my hiatus from the Catholic Blogosphere. Maybe it's the change of seasons, the full moon, tension in the air, food poisoning or something, but anywhere I go, insanity seems to reign, from the benign and insignificant to the heated and divisive. I had quit reading a few popular forums for quite a while and now I think I know why. I went back to one and got caught up in the same old, same old kind of posts, full of complaints, criticisms and judgments about the Church and Catholics, (none of this had anything to do with politics either). I read a lot of blogs, and there are only a few that I read from time to time, but I've been skipping those ones lately. The Catholicism community still continues to drive me insane. There are some really fabulous members and posters there, so I won't drop it, but I mostly skim it these days. In fact I posted something last night and didn't quite get the answer I was looking for, but quite honestly, I didn't expect to either. Still, I do have to answer comments and will, but I'm not even sure I want to open LJ tonight either.

I don't know why I've been so irritable and easily annoyed lately.

Holy Cow.

Story Gacked from the BBC News. Link at the end.

Russia church 'stolen by thieves'

File image of Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow
Thieves frequently target churches in the Russian countryside

A 200-year-old church building has disappeared from a village in central Russia, officials from the Russian Orthodox Church say.

The building had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809.

It was intact in July but some time in early October thieves made off with it brick by brick, they said.

Local prosecutors had been informed and an investigation was under way, a spokesman for the local Russian Orthodox Church said.

The disappearance of the Church of the Resurrection, some 300 km (186 miles) north-east of Moscow, was not immediately noticed.

It was in an out-of-the-way area and was not being used, although Church officials were considering resuming services there.

Now all that remained of the two-storey building - a school before it was turned over to the Church - were its foundations and some sections of wall, the Church said.

Thieves often target churches in rural Russia. Religious icons can be sold and church structures sold off for building materials.

How does someone/some people steal an entire church and no one notice? Seriously?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Explain This One

This morning I woke up dreaming about photographing the Pieta. I love taking pictures and I actually dreamt that I was there as Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in his mother's arms. It seemed so real. It was actually very colorful and sadly beautiful in my dream, very much like this image of the Pieta in Raphael's painting. I never have religious dreams or dreams with religious imagery so I found this one especially intriguing. I woke up either after a phone call or the dog wanting to go out, but I really wanted to go back to sleep to try to finish it. It wasn't like I was a first century follower of Jesus in the dream. I was myself, a modern day woman, probably a reporter or photographer reporting on the actual event as it happened. That was was was so interesting about the whole thing. Earlier in the day I was talking about the New Testament, the four Evangelists and the gospels and their histories. In our time period, we know we don't have actual eye-witness writings from the event, but that the gospel writers were writing after the period. We know the gospels were written after his death and not complied into the Bible as we know it until much later. Maybe in my dream, I was trying to be there, trying to witness the history for myself. I love history and I love journalism. Hmm... that makes sense.

Also, yesterday, my dad and I were talking to the tenants who rent our old family home and they were asking about the mosaic on an exterior wall. It's an old house, 250 years or so. It's been in my mom's family for years, and I thought the mosaic was very old. It turns out it's not much older than me. My aunt brought it back for my mother from Italy. My mother really doesn't like any kind of religious art at all so she didn't want it in the house per se. So, Dad put it on the back wall outside. It's held out well, not one piece of glass is missing. While it's not the Pieta, it's the entombment of our Lord in the tomb. It may have also sparked my dream. Nonetheless, it's quite gorgeous and sadly I don't have a picture, but I'll get one.

However, in this one you can get a glimpse of it in the background. That's me and my godfather, Uncle Frankie, my mom's youngest brother.

Perhaps, I in my dream, I was taking pictures of a reenactment. My friend was telling me about the "Religulous," Bill Maher's movie, which mocks religion. It's not on my list of movies to see. I finally stopped watching him as he managed to offend me, but anyway, in the movie she said there is a theme park in Orlando where apparently the crucifixion is reacted for an audience. She said he showed the audience captivated. They were either crying or applauding. I shudder to think about it. As Catholics we reenact the Passion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. I know we follow the Stations of the Cross, but we don't do these things as a stage production but as a witness and testament to our faith. I'm might be judging something too harshly but it sounds like cheap thrills to me.

Monday, November 10, 2008


This is the story about the 8-year-old-boy who killed his father and another man in Arizona. I saw it hit the news last night but didn't know anything about it. As I read it, I wanted to cry. I can't fathom how an 8-year-old could methodically kill two adult men. I don't understand why he'd want to murder them. It just shocked me. As I read through the whole article, when I came to the part where it said he was a third grader, my heart skipped a beat.

My catechism kids are all third graders. I can't imagine any one of them having the means or the capacity to commit such a horrible crime.We talked about mortal sin last Monday night. They understand that murder is a mortal sin, but I just can't believe children that age would really and truly think about killing someone for no apparent reason or have any real understanding of what they have done. I certainly hope to God that's the case.

Of course, many of the other details about the murders haven't surfaced, and maybe we will never know but there are two dead men and an 8-year-old little boy charged with their murders. The only thing we can do is pray for them all right now.

You know...

You're a big Catholic geek when at Mass you get excited to hear the Roman Canon and on that particular day you really and truly felt something divine happen at Mass.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More on the Utah Crosses

Today, a Journal North article follows up on the story about 14 Crosses erected as monuments to fallen Police Officers are still being challenged by a group of atheists seeking to ban the crosses. The story is also posted below. I blogged about it when the first story came out. I don't think I'm saying anything new here, so read the story and come to your own conclusions.

Atheists Seek to Ban Roadside Memorials in Utah Case
By Kiera Hay And Mark Oswald
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal Of the Journal
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is weighing in on a Utah court case in which atheists are challenging 12-foot-high steel roadside crosses erected to memorialize slain Utah state troopers.
King is worried that, if the Utah crosses are forced to come down, New Mexico's descansos — private roadside crosses, usually erected at the site of a highway death, that are an ubiquitous part of local culture protected by state statute — could also be challenged as an unconstitutional use of state-owned highway property for religious purposes.
"Although this case is currently specific to Utah, it could adversely affect New Mexico law that protects traditional descansos," King said in a prepared statement.
King joined attorneys general from Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas and lawyers for an interfaith group called The Beckett Foundation for Religious Liberty in filing a brief in the Utah case before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
"Filing an amicus brief on our state's behalf supports those fighting the proposed ban (of the Utah crosses) and helps us protect the use of crosses or other symbols in roadside memorials," King said.
At issue in the Utah case is whether the trooper memorials violate the constitutional prohibition against state establishment of religion, by endorsing Christianity. A federal District Court judge ruled in favor of the Utah crosses, but American Atheists, Inc., — plaintiffs in the case — have appealed.
Santa Fe city government is already on record opposing a ban of the Utah crosses. In September, the City Council voted to have its lawyers file a brief in the case.
Santa Fe City Attorney Frank Katz told the Journal at the time that the Utah Highway Patrol had approached Santa Fe for support, apparently because of the Cross of the Martyrs, the big cross overlooking downtown that honors 21 Franciscan friars killed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
An Oct. 24 brief filed on behalf of Santa Fe and numerous Utah state legislators by a Washington, D.C., law firm states that a ruling against the Utah crosses "could jeopardize the Cross of the Martyrs, or at very least subject the city to costly litigation."
But the lawyer for American Atheists dismisses concerns that their suit is a threat to New Mexico's traditional religious markers.
"Part of the defense attorneys' strategy to is to have this parade of horribles that could happen," said Brian Barnard of the Utah Legal Clinic in Salt Lake City.
"The crosses we're concerned about have the Utah State Highway Patrol logo attached. That becomes the government's stamp of approval, literally.
"The roadside memorials or descansos are put up by ordinary folks, ordinary folks who don't have government participation."
He also said that, in Utah, descansos are against the law and have to be removed if someone puts one up. That means, he said, that the 14 trooper memorial crosses erected by the nonprofit Utah Highway Patrol Association, which represents state troopers and their families, have "a special privilege that nobody else does."
"We're only dealing with crosses that are on government property and have the government's logo on them," Barnard said. "Descansos are safe." As for Santa Fe's Cross of the Martyrs, Barnard pointed to indications that the cross isn't on public property and therefore "has no relation to our lawsuit."
The Cross of the Martyrs location has a complicated ownership history, and according to information provided Friday by city government, is in fact not on city land — although the city parks department maintains the site.
Santa Fe spokeswoman Laura Banish said the cross belongs to Los Caballeros de Vargas, which helps organize Santa Fe's annual September Fiesta celebrations, including a solemn religious procession to the Cross of the Martyrs.
Hillside property from Paseo de Peralta up to the cross, including a switchback path, belongs to the Santa Fe Fiesta Foundation, Banish said. The city owns the park behind and to the east of the cross.
Previous owners of the cross include the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Santa Fe Fiesta Foundation. The foundation, formed in the 1980s, deeded the cross to Los Caballeros, Banish said. Los Caballeros pays property tax on the cross, she said.
The brief filed on behalf of New Mexico and the other states in the Utah case notes that New Mexico law makes it a crime to "knowingly or willfully deface or destroy" a descanso and argues that a ruling against the Utah crosses would jeopardize New Mexico's practice of "allowing private speech on public property" by permitting and protecting the roadside memorials.
Utah exercised no control over the design of the trooper crosses that would constitute endorsement of a religion and its legislature has passed a resolution supporting use of not only crosses, but "any other appropriate symbols as requested by the family (of a fallen trooper)," the brief says.
The plaintiffs want to "require Utah to suppress the (Highway Patrol) Association's speech solely because of its religious viewpoint," and that would violate the association's free speech rights, the brief says.


Now descansos are all over the place in New Mexico. I really would like to do a historical post about them with pictures. Here are a few examples. They are left behind to mark the spot where someone died. Usually, the loved ones erect them in their memory. It's not unusual to see flowers appear on certain days of the year-- the person's birthday, the anniversary of their death, Memorial Day, All Souls Day, Christmas. Some are elaborate others are simple. They dot highways, city streets or winding mountain roads. The two below are actually on the same intersection where a young girl was killed and a year or so later a woman was killed in horrible car accidents. There is actually a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the other corner. I don't believe that is in memory of anyone else killed, but is more of a gentle reminder to be cautious and careful.

In this picture post, if you scroll down you'll see another one. It's a simple cross but obviously someone loved and cherished died on that spot too.

These are parts of my culture and I'd hate to see them taken away by a group of people on a mission to rid this nation of all outward signs of religion.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Requiescat In Pace

Today is the fifteen anniversary of the death of my maternal Grandfather, Gus. There is so much about my grandfather I probably don't know. I was in my twenties when he died, so I was fortunate that I grew up knowing him. My paternal grandfather died when I was only five, so the memories I have of him are few and most are just stories told from my father and other relatives who knew him best. I don't even know what day he died. I should try to find that. My paternal family tree is pretty hard to fill in but I will tackle that one day soon.

Grandpa Olivas wasn't a real complex man. He wasn't a great business man, he worked hard and always provided for his family. I don't believe he finished high school but he was smart, caring and compassionate. He was a veteran of World War One. He was stationed in France and apparently saw some pretty horrific things. Mom says he didn't talk much about his experiences in the war. I believe he was awarded a few medals too. He then worked for the rail road and I believe that's how he met my grandmother who was teaching school at the little school near Glorietta. It's not all that far from Santa Fe, but in the 1920's it was miles and miles away. The way I know the story is that he'd pick her up on Friday afternoons and bring her to Santa Fe and then he'd bring her back on Sunday night so she could teach during the week. Now it's maybe a 20 minute drive, I imagine back then it was a much longer journey. Commuting was not a possiblity then.

He then worked as a security guard at the Federal Courthouse. Mom remembers taking him dinner at night. Even though she didn't live with her parents, (her aunt raised her. it's a long story, which is quite interesting and the making of a good fairy tale I think) she'd accompany her brother and other younger siblings to take him something to eat, as he worked at night. Then Santa Fe was a small town and safe, that young kids could walk the mile or so from their home to town without any fears or dangers.

He had six children with my grandmother, raised one of my cousins and enjoyed all his grandchildren. He had a stubborn streak, on that runs through the veins of all his children and grandchildren. It's one of the charms of the Olivas family. ;-)

So, he had a stubborn streak. He loved the wrestling matches. He'd drive down to Albuquerque to watch the fights, as he'd call them. You couldn't tell him that they were staged and it was entertainment. He'd get very upset and offended. He also loved baseball. He'd squirrel away in his den to watch TV. He smoked lucky strikes forever and he loved poker. He and Grandma would trade bards from time to time, but they loved each other so much. He was pretty stoic and nothing seemed to get to him. I think Mom said that when she died, he came to her, knowing her soul had left this world. She said he cried that morning.

There are other memories that always bring a smile to my face. In his later years, he had a blue chevelle and he'd pick me up from St. Mike's from time to time. He and Grandma were married for nearly 65 years and lived most of those years in the little house on Delgado Lane. My great-grandfather gave them the land and helped build the house. After Grandpa died, the children sold it and sadly it's no longer in family hands. It's been rennovated and turned into a million dollar property with a guest house where Grandpa's garage used to be. The lillacs are long gone and yet when I drive by it, I see the house as it was, not as it is.

Rest in Peace, Augustin.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Digging In the Dirt

By: The Associated Press

Excavation uncovers 17th century Santa Fe

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Archaeologists have found parts of 17th century Santa Fe.

Excavations found bits of pottery that weren’t imported into New Mexico after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

The Spanish Colonial artifacts were found in a trash deposit 32 inches below the surface.

Archaeologists also found a cobblestone surface four-and-a-half feet down. The cobbles could have been an extension of a street to meet the Santa Fe Plaza when it was larger.

That’s the thought of Jim Moore and Guadalupe Martinez of the state Office of Archaeological Studies.

Moore says it’s possible that instead of a cobble road, it might have been a stable yard.

The dig began last week to clear the way for plans to redevelop old hospital buildings downtown.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Quiet Today....

My broker canceled our office meeting for today because of the election. Most people in NM have voted, it was a pretty lame excuse, but I'm not going to complain because I've had a lazy day, probably too lazy. I'm already sick of election day punditry. I think I'll turn off the TV and take the dogs for a walk. It's lovely out. I have house cleaning to do and work to do unrelated to real estate. Maybe I'll go for a walk along the river and up canyon road with the dogs and the camera. That might be nice too.

I'm trying to avoid all things political and Catholic today, but I don't think it's possible. I just hope no matter what happens after this election, this nation can heal.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia reports on New Mexico's newest Basilica. My aunt and uncle lived in Las Cruces for the latter years of their lives, but I don't believe my aunt attended Mass there. She was Catholic, my uncle was not. I know I've never seen this church, it's very modest and humble compared to the Cathedral Basilica here, which I think pales compared to its European counterparts. Nonetheless, I think it's a very wonderful thing for the Catholics of the Diocese of Las Cruces.

Ok... time to go to bed. The time change is kicking my butt already. I have a new resident mouse on the property. This one, I'm calling Minnie. It's currently making it's new home in my bathroom, which is just off my bedroom. Oy... when will they go away? I am going to try to live-trap this one.

An onto something else...

From the CNN website Anne Rice Finds Jesus. She's moving onto writing her memoirs and Christian Literature. I haven't read anything of hers since the last novels in the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches stories (before she merged them). I've read stories previously about her return to the Catholic Church, why she left and why she felt compelled to come back. That's the wonderful thing about the Church, anyone can come home, Catholic or non-Catholic.

I haven't heard good reviews about her latest two books, novelized accounts of Jesus' early life. Maybe I'm one of those who like the mystery of Jesus' life and don't really want to read someone's subjective retelling of his life. It's like Bible Fanfiction. It exists but I don't want to read it.

The other most read news stories there are either quite depressing or amusing. I hate turning on the TV these days. It's all election news, nasty, sleazy campaign ads and bad punditry.

I'm dragging. I always drag after the time change. I have two hours to get ready for Mass. Knowing this, I will probably be late. When I have time to putz around the house I always do and I'm always late. At least I already ate. I haven't been making the hour-fast the last few Sunday's. Also, I need to fill in my sheet of paper with those who have died to honor them and them to add to the Book of Life at the parish. This week, I also need to pay for a Anniversary Mass for my grandpa. It will be 15 years on Friday since his death. He died about three months to the day after my grandma died. So, my mind is on him today. Though, I have been thinking about all the ones I loved or cared about who have died. I am looking forward to Mass today. All Soul's Day rarely falls on Sunday and I don't think I've ever been to Mass where it's been celebrated.

Ok... here I go. Otherwise I'll go back to bed and sleep through Mass, which starts at 11:30. It's amazing how I can be late to Mass.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Witching Hour... Or Maybe Bitching Hour

Often wonder why I allow myself to stay up so late at night. I know it's not that late right now, it's inching close to midnight, but I usually stay up much later these days. It does me no good because the next day I get up early and try to function. I need to remember I am not the 20-something college student who could go to a frat party with my girl friends and stay out till five in the morning and bounce back after a few hours of sleep.

Class was a bit frenzied today. I think the kids had way too much Halloween fun and way too much candy after trick or treating. Maybe I was a bit off, feeling ill-prepared but I didn't feel like I had control of the class today at all. I know I'm way too critical on myself and worry too much.

Nah. It was the candy. They were still on a sugar high. Too much treats. I was the trick. Speaking of, Mom and Dad get trick or treaters at their house. I don't. I certainly wouldn't let my kids (should and I ever have them) trick or treat here. The doorways are hidden, we don't have streets but cul-de-sacs, so you can't really watch the kids from the sidewalk as they go up for tricks or treats.

Anyway, I think the little kids are always so adorable and enjoy seeing them.

In other news, I am till contemplating trying to write something for National Novel Writing Month. Trouble is, I don't have a story line. I have a couple of ideas and characters I like, but no spark. I don't have the time to start doing the research needed for this story idea. Maybe I'll write a comedy story about Vampires and use every single cliche in the mythology. Maybe I'll name the main character Mary Sue.

Guess I'll watch Adrien Brody in Hollywoodland and go to bed.

Happy All Saints Day

Ugh...while looking for resources that I could use to teach the kids about All Saints Day, I found more than one explanation about All Saints Day and how the Catholics created it only to detract from the pagan holidays. You'd think we were the ones who think Halloween is evil and shouldn't be celebrated because it's the devil's day. Oy.

I guess I shouldn't rant and rave as I'm not always an expert about this stuff, but you'd think we were stealing all the pagan's holidays after a few clicks on the Internet.