Saturday, January 01, 2011

Theotokos, Mater Ecclesiae, Virgencita Nuestra....

Beyond the New Year, the hometown Strut and the global church's World Day of Peace, as this first day of the civil calendar marks the (albeit non-obligatory this time) Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, tribute is due.

And in that light, where better for it to come from than the most-visited and wildly-beloved Marian shrine in all of Christendom -- the heart of Catholicism in the Americas...

...and above all for our purposes, the lodestar behind what's become the key force of the life, the youth -- indeed, the survival and flourishing -- of this faith on these shores:

Madre Santa de Dios, Morenita de Tepeyac, mil gracias y más por tu regalo de una vida nueva -- una renovación, una nueva esperanza y la oportunidad de redención -- para la fe en este país.

Lest anyone remains quizzical about the lingual switch-up of recent weeks, the figures best speak for themselves: as of this writing, a majority of US Catholics aged 18-29 -- that is, this scribe's generation -- self-identify as Latino/a, as do nearly 40% of the national pewfolk between ages 30-50.

(If we got into regular attendance figures, to be candid, the Hispanic proportions would only spike higher still across the board... and even that's putting it mildly.)

As these two youngest poll-able generations comprise the demographic lion's share of the nation's roughly 68 million faithful (nearly three-fifths of us, to be precise), the most seismic shift the makeup of this Stateside church has experienced in nearly two centuries has already come to pass in our midst -- a wildly altered reality that doesn't even take into account the birth rates which only serve to punctuate and swell the sea-change all the more.

As ever under the mantle of the Mother of God, welcome to a new decade, church -- yet even more, welcome to a new era of the faith's five-century journey in this place: not so much an age of something "new," but simply American Catholicism's return en masse to the culture and spirit of its first founders.

Suffice it to say, the rising majority's already well into its celebrations... albeit, as ever, under cover of night:

(De Norristown, Pennsylvania... that is, in the River City church.)

Whatever title of hers you prefer, que viva la Virgen -- and again, to one and all, a joyous, Blessed and Happy New Year.

PHOTO: Getty