Thursday, February 10, 2011

What happens when two friends get to talkin' about Mary...

If you were a fly on the wall in my kitchen a week ago, you would have witnessed an animated conversation with Maria Morera Johnson, my friend and colleague at SQPN. We were having a mighty good ol' time discussing sacramentals... both the ones we hold in common, and the ones that differ according to our cultural, ethnic milieus.

Maria hails from being raised mostly in the South, with a Cuban-American background, and I come with a third-generation Irish-French-Polish heritage, having been in the Northeast all my life.

We are two very different women, and yet, our love for the faith and our devotion to our Momma Mary really paves the way for a sisterhood in Christ and moments of collaboration that are really fun to share...

Since that conversation, and some successive emails, two columns at Patheos have been the fruit...

The first was this column from me on sacramentals, last week, looking at the subject from a catechetical standpoint as well as my experience...

And now, this latest column, with Maria Johnson as a guest in the same space, bringing a tender reflection on the subject of Our Lady of Guadalupe...  and the truth of how she really is a mother to us all...

Here's a snippet...

I have fallen in love with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “She” stands just to the right of the altar in our parish chapel, solitary and without the bright sunburst that we associate with Guadalupe. She is posed with hands in prayer, wearing a sweet look that matches the serene, simple and muted colors of her robes. Her stillness and the simplicity inherent in her design quiets me. I find peace when I am before her.
I am Cuban-American. Like many Hispanics, religious iconography and jewelry appeal to my senses. They are more than sacramentals to aid our daily worship, but objects d’art. Our icons are bright, often rustic or primitive and imbued with a beauty that transcends the actual piece, particularly in the relationship that we develop with it, whether for sheer love of beauty, or because the icon represents a special devotion or cultural identification.
It is easy to misinterpret that relationship as idolatry since outwardly we shower those objects with attention and affection. To be honest, sometimes there may be a little superstitious confusion mixed into these bonds, particularly within older generations who have not benefitted from the sound and earnest catechesis of recent years. I recognize, too, how these small but meaningful cultural idiosyncrasies might appear to our sisters and brothers in Christ who do not share an identical background or history.
Culturally, I come from a sensory-driven people drawn to the deep rhythms of music, strong scents, and shiny pretty things. To be Hispanic and Catholic means to embrace, passionately, all of the physical reminders of our faith

Enjoy the rest of it here. And listen to last summer's recording of Maria sharing about her life and new media on Among Women 62.

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