Sunday, December 11, 2005

At the Foot of Tepeyac

OK, here's a viewing tip for people in the States: At midnight Eastern, tune into Univision. It's the annual Mananitas -- the Midnight Celebration at the Shrine of Guadalupe to celebrate the first moments of the Feast of Our Lady -- who is, let us be reminded, Patroness of the American Continent.

Even if you don't understand Spanish, it's worthwhile watching. There have to be in excess of 150,000 people in the Basilica Plaza right now. And thousands more gathered in the packed (and I mean PACKED, standing-room) Cathedrals of New York, Los Angeles, and San Antonio.

(UPDATE: In LA, an Aztec drummer is going off and natives are dancing down the aisle, feathers and all. It looks like a re-enactment of Imani Izzi's entrance scene in Coming to America, same drumbeat and everything. Live from LA, SA and Ciudad Mexico, it's Catholicism! And now, a Mariachi version of "Ave Maria"....)

Our companero on the ground at Tepeyac has called this weekend's crowds "Holy Chaos." (Literally, fireworks all the time.) What a blessing to have one of the family praying for me -- and, by extension, for all of you, even those who call me "slime" -- before the tilma. Muchisimas gracias al nuestro hermano!

Here's why I love Guadalupe -- well, one of the many reasons.... The cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a prime example of inculturation which has been fostered not to divide, but to increase the embrace of the Latin rite and make it accessible to cultures and in places which have a sacred sense distinctive from the white, European mould which created and regulated the liturgy. If it weren't for Guadalupe, Catholicism in Mexico wouldn't be a shadow of what it has become.

For example, if Mary had appeared to Juan Diego as a blue-eyed, blond woman, would it have had the same effect? Doubtful. And you've gotta love the delicious irony that the same people who wince and jump out of windows at any mention of respecting other cultures' sense of the sacred in liturgy are the first to scream that dreadful Guadalupe hymn (sung to the tune of "Pescador de Hombres") at the top of their lungs on the abortion marches.

If inculturation's such a bad thing, its chief adversaries don't seem to be showing it just then. Here's to more of it.