Between Love and Hate
You'll forgive me when I say that, after seeing what I've just seen, I want to take up residence in Mexico City.
The Empress of the Americas -- not just a simple Patroness, after all -- was feted in style, with speeches, applause, cheers, song and dance all directed at a tilma in the dead of a winter's night. From the glowing faces of the performers and the over 200,000 souls gathered outside, you might've never known the object of their affection was 474 years old and framed in glass; the words were as filled with genuine emotion as if they were being said to a cherished matriarch on her birthday: "You are the joy and heart of the Mexican people, our queen," "Our little mother," "In you, God's blessing has been brought on us and our country."
As an American Catholic watching from the outside, it was almost jarringly refreshing to see that no heretics were condemned as all Mexico and its diaspora turned with faith and love toward the Basilica of Guadalupe, home of the patroness of the unborn. Even I felt welcomed from the den of Loggia House. As for the faithful who filled the enormous church and even-bigger plaza, they were just happy to be there, to have everyone else there, filled with praise for all the blessings they've received -- and they seem to get it that division, bitterness, exclusion and self-righteousness do not enhance God's presence and favor but cloud it.
You nutty gringos can learn a lesson from this. After all, a great many of you do need some soul in your life. (On a related note, by preferring to stick with morose chants and a whitebread bearded Mary celebrating yesterday's Mass, EWTN yet again fiddled as Guadalupe sizzled. Par for the course.)
Regrettably, US Catholicism doesn't have a mascot it can rally around. Of course, that distinction is being lusted after by the Boston Goon Squad, who won't be content until their lawyers have sucked Tom Menino's brains out with a catheter because a suitable scapegoat must be made to Feel. Their. Pain. -- a "pain" which, by the by, has nothing to do with the unborn, but everything to do with an irrational zeal to mete out justice and attain revenge... much like beating up the middle school bully at 50.
(Ironically enough, liebchins, speaking of justice meted, tomorrow marks the third anniversary of Bernard Law's forced resignation as archbishop of Boston. And you dare say Mamacita de Guadalupe isn't the Protectress of the whole American continent?)
In watching the festivities at Tepeyac, however, there was no exclusion or factional aggrandizement, no fatwas were handed down, the microphone didn't get hijacked by Republican operatives in mufti seeking to stomp on those bishops who don't tickle their ears. Milagro! [It's a miracle!] It was so wonderfully otherworldly [i.e. Catholic, non-Calvinist, holy, no smarm nor snake-oil to be found]. The feeling, contagious even by means of television, was all open, all loving, all warm -- in a word, all Christian -- and the spirit was one which has fallen deafest on the ears of the loudest mouths en esta Iglesia del Norte [the US church]: "Todos son bienvenidos en este lugar!" ["All are welcome in this place!"].
Unless I'm horribly mistaken, or just some slimy heterodox idealist cad, that embrace is what church is all about to begin with, right? However, if aliens dropped into St. Blog's and had to form an impression, I'm afraid that "welcome" would be the last word which would come to their mind. And that's something we all need to work on.
PHOTO: Reuters/Andrew Winning