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What a Joyful Racket! Our Lady of Guadalupe

A snippet from my book about 'The Good Priest.' Please comment!

What a joyful racket! Old Bishop Thomas glowed from the Our Lady of Guadalupe festivities from the previous night, even though it was cold in his office. As Master of the Order, they granted him the top office in the century-old building, with outstanding views to the University quad below, but it came with a cost. The office was drafty and ill-served by the radiator, yet he never complained.

Standing up, he rubbed his hands together and walked to the space heater. He steadied himself before carefully bending over to roll the knob to the right. His cassock made a rustling sound as he returned to his desk. Blowing into his hands, he warmed them.

Rather than sit down, he decided to turn and gaze out the window, a mindless action he did often. He found it a beneficial distraction and noticed several students making their way through the college commons.

It was mid-December and the end of finals week. Several walkers, cocooned in puffy coats, wrapped in scarves, and weighted down with back-packs, looked to be in a hurry: logically to a final exam, but most certainly out of the frigid weather.

Watching the activity three stories down, the elderly priest noted how everyone was traveling solo, not even a spare couple. In his advancing years, he pondered the current university system's wisdom, focusing so much on the individual rather than the collective. Thank goodness for Holy Scripture! He reflected on the Parable of The True Vine in John’s gospel, where Jesus’ was the vine, and others the branches. Members worked together to produce good fruit. The vine never separated from an individual, but all remained in the community.

How beautifully illuminating was the image of the collective vine during the Feast of the Lady of Guadalupe. In high honor, it was he who was the Mass celebrant. What a tremendous explosion of praise! The evening had been a spectacular celebration of absolute unity, inclusion, and love. The Spanish-speaking population of the nearby parish of Our Lady of Mercy had donned Aztec-style garments, headdresses, and noisemakers as they pranced and howled around the alter. Their sacred dance honored not only God but the Holy Mother, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Angels, Mary Ever-Virgin.

The men wore bright vestments with what the bishop called a fierce and proud pagan eagle on their backs, so heavily gilded the tunics sagged with its weight. The women donned earth-blue silken costumes with a glimmery sequenced image on the front of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the pregnant Mary. All had feather headdresses, and a few of the Alpha-men held shells and blew sounds reminiscent of an off-pitched foghorn, all for full praise of God and Mary’s role in the salvation of the earth and all peoples.

The fresh thought of last night’s worship warmed him in a way the space heater could not. He smiled with thoughts so passionate, and he wondered if he were speaking them aloud, “So many centuries ago the Church understood she had to adapt the native customs to the Gospel of Christ, assuming no contradictions to her teachings. In her wisdom, the Church knew she could not rob the people of their local traditions. The Kingdom of God grew; the mercy, love, and acceptance that Jesus preached were extended to this new world,” Bishop wrinkled his brow. He wasn’t aware, but he was shaking his head in doubt and sorrow. “Should the Mother Church recall her past? Are there new native customs and morals which have evolved that do not contradict her teachings that we should adopt? Would more souls receive the abundant life and joy Jesus promises? Could the collective be strengthened, while the individual grows more fulfilled?” The priest wondered if he should formally express his thoughts. Breathing deep, he reasoned how that elephant was simply too big to swallow. He could see no logical action.

Bishop Thomas returned to the present, slightly pivoting to appreciate the view out the window. He watched the weather dictate how the students remained focused on their goal, seeking shelter from the cold outside.

pictures used with permission


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