Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's been a while since my last post. I have been home (where else could I be as a canonical novice?) I have been trying very hard to stay away from all the goodies we got from people, cookies, cakes, chocolates and all kinds of sweets. I have been praying that other people get to them before I do.

I have so much news I can't even remember now. Let me see..... we have a new Superior General, Sr. Michelle Marie, to be installed next summer, and we also have a whole set of counselors: Sr. Mary Ann, Sr. Martha, Sr. Barbara Marie and Sr. Esther. We had a retreat before the elections and then the Sisters went into the chapel to vote. I was blessed to be able to witness the whole process from the back of the chapel. Those of us who were not voting, sat at the back and prayed throughout the Chapter of Elections. One thing that we heard during the retreat was that with God all things are posible. And they are! We also were reminded of our Lady of Guadalupe and how, when she came to America, she came to give birth to a new people (Mestizos) and became mother of the Indigenous and Spaniards. I love that image because it is like our community. We are so diverse! And yet we are one at heart. I love this picture of Sr. New York and Sr. Vattman making tamales!

After the elections it was time to decorate our house and our Chapel. We had so much work I didn't even think of taking pictures. I also didn't take any pictures of Midnight Mass or Christmas Day Mass. I recently became an alto (I used to be a second soprano) and I really was more interested in singing the right notes and giving glory to God in the Highest in the right tempo, that the camera was the last thing in my mind.

For midnight mass we had a full house! Antoher tradition we have here is to get together and go caroling arond the house, with a candle procession (I didn't join this year, I was late) and then we go to chapel to sing carols for half and hour before Mass. This time we sang "Il est ne, le divin enfant", and two carols in Spanish (I played guitar with Sister Rosa) plus some of the really traditional golden oldies.

After Mass we went downstairs to enjoy our traditional tamales and other goodies. I made a cheese ball and spiced up crackers to go with it. Sisters from other houses also brought other cheese treats and crackers. I also had been baking for many days. And this was the day to put the cookies out. Now I just have to figure out how to stay away from all those leftover goodies.

The next day we had our Christmas party.
I took my camera this time but I was having such a good time I forgot to continue taking pictures. But I did manage to capture some of the "jewels" of our community.
Merry Christmas to all who read this and a most blessed 2008!
What are some of the traditions in your family, congregation, place?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

¡No tengas miedo, José! / Do not be afraid, Joseph!

En las lecturas del Adviento podemos encontrar a diferentes personajes a los cuales se les aparece el ángel del señor y les dice: “¡no tengas miedo, María...Zacarías...José!” El autor nos hace saber que la promesa del Señor, anunciada a través de los profetas en el Antiguo Testamento está por cumplirse.

In the Advent readings we can find different people to whom the Angel of the Lord appears and tells them: "Do not be afraid, Mary...Zachariah...Joseph!" The author is letting us know that the promise of the Lord, anounced through the prophets in the Old Testament is about to be fulfilled.

En el caso de José, el ángel del Señor se le aparece en un sueño y le dice, “No tengas miedo…su hijo ha sido concebido por obra del Espíritu santo.” Yo me pregunto que es lo que habrá sentido José. Las escrituras solo nos dicen que él era un hombre justo, y por lo cual es fácil pensar que se haya sentido avergonzado, confundido. Las escrituras no nos dicen mucho. Pero a veces la piedad popular nos presenta a José como un super-hombre, el héroe de María y Jesús. Pero yo creo que en realidad el no nació santo.

In the case of Joseph, the Angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him, "Do not be afraid...her son has been conceived by the Holy Spirit." I wonder how Joseph felt. The scriptures only tell us that he was a just man, that's why it is easy to think that he must have felt embarrased, confused. The scriptures do not tell us much. But sometimes the popular piety presents Joseph as a superman, as Mary and Jesus' heroe. But I believe that in reality, he was not born a saint.

Yo me pongo a pensar en mi propia experiencia y sé que no es fácil confiar de esa manera. Antes de entrar al postulantado se me ofreció una beca para un doctorado en literatura. La decisión fue bastante difícil. Yo no tuve un ángel del Señor que me clarificara la decisión o me hiciera más fácil tomarla. Lo único que tuve fue un sentimiento de paz bastante gradual que me fue facilitando la decisión. El “¡No tengas miedo!” Se me fue abriendo en el corazón de una manera bastante lenta.

When I think about my own experience I know it is not east to trust in the same way. Before entering the postulancy I was offered a scolarship for a doctorate in literature. The desition was very difficult. I did not have an Angel of God to clarify my desition or make it easier for me to take it. The only thing I had was a very gradual sense of peace that allowed my desition to take shape. The "Do not be afraid!" started to open up in my heart very slowly.

Y yo creo que es eso precisamente lo que pienso acerca de José. No creo que claridad se le presentó de manera inmediata. No creo en esas historias de las palmeras inclinándose ante la sagrada familia...pero creo en la bondad de los seres humanos y creo que eso es precisamente lo que el evangelista nos está tratando de decir. El “¡No tengas miedo!” Se nos seguirá presentando a través de los tiempos y Dios nos seguirá dando la libre opción que nos transformará desde dentro.

I think that is what I believe about Joseph. I do not think that the clarity came to him inmediately. I do not believe in those stories about the plam trees bending to hide the Holy Family...but I believe in the goodness of people and I believe that it is precisely that which the author is triny to tell us. The "Do not be afraid!" will continue to come to us throughout the times and God will continue to give us the free will that will allow us to be transformed from the inside out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

La Alianza en Oseas y Jeanne de Matel

Jeanne Chézard de Matel escribió: benditos aquellos que no se escandalizan con tu amor. Creo que esto aplica perfectamente al modo de amar de Dios que se repite constantemente en las escrituras a través de la Historia de la Salvación. El amor de Dios, experimentado por su Pueblo, Israel, resulta escandaloso por el modo en que Dios perdona una y otra vez a un pueblo que le adora con los labios pero le es infiel en su corazón.
En el libro del profeta Oseas, quien profetizó durante uno de los periodos más obscuros para Israel, la caída del reino del Norte, este modo de amar de Dios es incomprensible pues ama su Pueblo con la ternura de un esposo y demuestra que su amor no se deja vencer por la infidelidad sino que hace prevalecer la misericordia sobre la ira.

En este libro, Gómer, la esposa del profeta, representa simbólicamente a Israel, sin embargo, el profeta Oseas vivió y experimentó en carne propia la infidelidad, de modo que su anuncio profético y la renovación de la Alianza de Dios con su Pueblo le vienen del corazón.La Alianza de Dios con su Pueblo es representada como un matrimonio en el cual las dos partes tienen una responsabilidad, para Israel esto es ser fiel, para Dios, es la protección a su Pueblo.

En el libro de Oseas, Dios manda al profeta que se case con una prostituta (aunque algunos estudiosos afirman que Gómer no era prostituta en sí sino que era una adoradora del dios Baal) y de este modo Gómer representa al pueblo caído de Israel que se vuelve a adorar a dioses extraños y por lo tanto se considera que se han prostituido, entregándole su corazón a dioses extraños.

Israel, por lo tanto, ha fallado, no ha cumplido su parte de la Alianza que era ser fiel a Dios. Dios por su parte, manda al profeta a advertirles. Primero, como un aviso bastante evidente, Dios manda que el profeta tenga hijos con su mujer. El primer hijo es llamado Jezreel lo cual es aviso que Dios castigará a los descendientes del rey Jehú por los crímenes cometidos en Jezreel. Después manda que el profeta tenga una hija a la cual nombran Lo-ruhama lo cual significa que Dios no tendrá compasión del reino del norte y finalmente manda que tengan otro varón al cual nombran Lo-amí lo cual significa que Israel ya no es pueblo de Dios, la Alianza ha sido rota.Después de esto vienen las profecías, los anuncios que prefiguran la restauración de Israel: Y en vez de decirles: “Ustedes ya no son mi pueblo,” Dios les dirá: “Ustedes son hijos del Dios viviente.” (Oseas 1,10)

El capítulo dos escribe algo parecido a un divorcio, un rompimiento con Israel, el fin de la Alianza, pero más adelante, casi enseguida, Dios, manda al profeta a denunciar su amor por Israel: Yo la voy a enamorar, yo la llevaré al desierto…Israel, yo te haré mi esposa por siempre, mi esposa legítima, conforme a la ley, porque te amo entrañablemente. (Oseas 2,14;19) Después de varios oráculos, el Señor manda a Oseas a comprar de nuevo a Gómer, como simbolismo del rescate de Israel por parte de su Dios aunque no lo merezcan. Pero a pesar de los ruegos de Oseas, Israel no se vuelve a Dios y pierden el reino del norte.

Sin embargo, Dios no los abandona completamente pues permite que vayan al exilio. A pesar de todo esto, Israel, infiel, no responde, pero la grandeza del libro de Oseas es que demuestra que el amor de Dios es siempre fiel y a pesar que su Pueblo ha roto la Alianza el Señor dice: Voy a curarlos de su rebeldía; voy a amarlos aunque no lo merezcan…Israel vivirá de nuevo bajo mi protección…(Oseas 14, 4;7)
Jeanne Chézard de Matel escribió: Tu amor hace que siembres los caminos del mundo con espinas para que las almas que vagan regresen a Ti, y diariamente Tú abres tus brazos para recibirlas…Yo creo que en esto consiste la grandeza de la Alianza, el gran romance divino: Dios es por siempre fiel. Dios no abandona.

Sr Helga Leija

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

¡Felicidades, Reina de México!

¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu Madre? (Am I not here-I, your mother?) With these words our Lady of Guadalupe became the Mother of all Mexicans, of all mestizos and indigenous peoples, the protector of the poor and the humble. Our Lady of Guadalupe, our beautiful dark Madonna of Indigenous features.

In Mexico, it is said that four million people come in pilgrimage to honor and greet our Virgencita, our sweet Mother who speaks our language. There is one Church named after her in every city in Mexico. Her image is in every Catholic Mexican home. Our Lupita gives us our Catholic Mexican identiy. Our Morenita came to show us the infinite love of the Father. She unites us all under her mantle of stars and tell us:

For am I not here-I, your Mother? Are you not in the cool of my shadow, in the breeziness of my shade? Is it not I that am your source of contentment? Are you not cradled in my mantle, cuddled in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else for you to need?".

In many parts of Mexico, on the eve of the feast of the Virgen of Guadalupe, babies and toddlers are dressed in representation of the many Indian tribes of Mexico. The procession begins and fills the streets, accompanied by singing and punctuated by firecrackers. It ends at the Church named after Her, for the Mass of thanksgiving for her protection and grace. At the end of Mass the children leave baskets of roses or poinsettias, light the candles and pray, quietly waiting for their turn to revere our Madrecita.

After their offering at the temple, parents take their kids to take a picture. (I've got one of those!) Children will pose on the traditional burro, dressed up with crepe paper and flowers with the image of Our Lady up on top. Thereis also the pose at the grottoe, with the figure of Juan Diego kneeling before the Blessed Mother, that can serve as a background. (notice Juan Diego behind me)

December the 12th marks a special event in the history of America. Our Niña Amada came to help two great civilizations to dialogue. And thanks to that dialogue, the Mestizo people were born. AND, she chose to stay, she asked for a templito (a little temple) to shw us her Son. It is once again, a very pregnant Mary looking for an inn.

And when Juan Diego tells her: "Niña, why do you send me where I can't go? Send someone who is worthy" and She responds: "Juan Dieguito, you are my most worthy ambassador." And I believe it is She who is asking the same of us. She is asking us to be her ambassadors, taking her roses of love all over the world. She is telling us to not be afraid, she is with us, God is with us. How can we fear?

Nuestra Señora sees all of the nation, rich and poor, exalted and humble, as her children, and holds us in her protective grace. Our pilgrims do not come asking for health as in Lourdes, they do not come asking for pardon and mercy as in Portugal, they come to Tepeyac to be cuddled by their Madre.

¡Viva México!

¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dia de la Candelaria, a Mexican Tradition

The Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) is a big feast in Mexico. It differs from the Candle Mass in the United States because during this Mass not only the Candles get blessed but also the Baby Jesus from the crib. In Mexico this has been celebrated since the Colonial times. This celebration also changes according to every ethnic group and region who gives the Celebration the characteristics proper to their culture.

Basically, the Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) the Godparents (in some places it will be the same people who sang the Baby Jesus to sleep on the night of the 24the, in some other places it will be the ones who found the Baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes or Kings cake) must go to the house of the “owners” of the Baby Jesus, to dress him and to take him to Church to be presented, just like Mary and Joseph did with Jesus, forty days after he was born. The first year the Baby Jesus is dressed in white to represent El nino de las Palomas (The Child of the Doves) or El Nino de las Azucenas (The Child of the White Lillies), which signifies the purity of his being.

The second year the Baby Jesus is dressed with a blue, yellow or pink gown and the last year He is dressed according to a devotion of the Godparents. It is very common to see the Baby Jesus dressed as El Santo Nino de Atocha (The Holy Child of Atocha) who wears a hat, a rod of wheat and a basket of flowers. The Holy child of Atocha appeared to the miners in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mex. Click here to read more. He can also be dressed as the Medico de los Enfermos (Doctor of the Sick) who wears a doctor’s coat, the Nino de la Candelaria (Child of the Candles) with a white gown, a candle in the left hand and flowers in the right.

He is also dressed as Saint Joseph, A Pope, Saint Francis, Saint Martin de Porres or the Sacred Heart. Every little gown is distinguished by the attributes that represent every Saint. Once dressed, the Baby Jesus is seated on a little wooden chair and then on a tray adorned with flowers. The first time the Baby is taken to the Temple, the Baby Jesus lays on the tray since He is still little and can not walk yet.

The Padrino (Godfather) also takes candles to Church. In some agricultural communities it id accustomed to take seeds to be blessed and to pray for a year of abundant harvest. The candles and some of the seeds are then used to adorn the Altar of the Sorrows.

At the end of the ceremony the Padrino (Godfather) returns the Baby Jesus to his “owners” who will light the candles. That afternoon, or evening, there will be a traditional “tamalada” (party in which tamales are served) in which tamales are served according to the custom of the place (there are many different styles of tamales in the country.) The tamales are accompanied by chocolate, atole de pinole (A drink made of corn meal and pinole, toasted corn flour, sometimes sweetened and mixed with cocoa, cinnamon or aniseed) or champurrado (a chocolaty flavored thick drink.)

The name of Candelaria or the Purification have their origin in the Feast that the Church celebrates the 40th day of the Birth of Jesus (February2) as a closing to the Christmas Season. With the Purification of the Mother and the presentation of the child at the temple, the ritual accompanying the birth of a child was finished in the Jewish law.

I have heard from many people that it is sacrilegious to dress Jesus as Saint Francis,etc. But I believe this is very incarnational. Jesus comes to us as one of us, we see Jesus as one of us. Therefore, we dress him as a carpenter, an indigenous person, a mariachi, a dancer....And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us...

If there are theological inconsistencies that is because I only have one semester in theology...:)

Here are my own pictures : This year my Baby Jesus would have been dressed as the Sacred Heart, except in my head, I envisioned the Sacred Heart with a red cape. Well, this is my Sacred Heart/Christ the King without a crown. The first picture was from last year, Jesus as Juan Diego.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I got tagged!

O.K, so after going back to Brittany's blog (Salesian pre-postulant) I found out what being tagged means. So, here are the rules to the The Immaculate Conception Meme

Rules: Each tagged person must post 8 random facts or habits about themselves on their blog. At the end of the post, choose 8 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them that they are tagged and to read your blog. Have fun!

1) I am terrible at math but again, everyone who knows me KNOWS that. The random fact is that I begged my University math professor to help me out (as a senior in College). I'm brilliant but again, I can not divide, or substract. I can add and sort of multiply...He-He, that's why I either teach literature, language or tiny ones.

2) I read alot. I downloaded the reading list for a Master's Degree in Literature from some University and I am halfway through the list. I love literature, especially Iberian and Latinamerican.

3) I eat a lot of chiles. Not as Texan chillie but chile as in jalapenos, habeneros, serranos, piquin (or pitin.) I can eat as much as 20 of them in one sitting. I also grow my own.

4) I am allergic to Cinnamon. I suffer during the Christmas season when everything has cinnamon.

5) I have a minor in Translation. I translate poetry to relax.

6) I own 25 dicctionaries. I read them. I study them. One day, sitting at the doctor's office, the receptionist was so tickled at seing someone reading a dicctionary istead of a book or magazine. I say, and what is so weird about that? I try to read a section a month, right now I'm in the g section. I find 10 words I do not know, write them down and tey to use each word at least three times. By the way, I'm reading the Spanish dictionary now. I am the proud owner of a "Diccionario de la Real Academia Espanola.)

7) I study violin. A couple of weeks ago our Sister Treasurer went around the house thinking there was a cat inside. It was me tunning. I have my grandfather's violin, a 1923 John Jusek.

8) I am obsessed with Pablo Neruda's poetry. I love his Poem # 20. I use it as a mantra when I want to concentrate in something. I also dream of going to Isla Negra (he lived there) and visiting his house, now turned into a museum.

O.K, so I tagged Sr. Nicole, Sr. Helena, Sr. Julie, The Summit Dominicans, Javier (Rosas para Maria, and Sr. Teresa. I realize this isn't quite eight, but I told you I had a problem with math (truth is, I don't know that many people with blogs.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Preparing for the birth of Jesus

It has been busy here at the novitiate, besides the usual preparations at the house and the spiritual ones, well, some of us take the child within us out to play.

I had a box of clay for some other project I never really started, let alone finished. With it,I decided to make a nativity scene and prayed with the scriptures that speak of the nativity of Christ.

(I especially enjoyed making the crowns for the Three Kings and the Star of Bethlehem!)

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Here is my prayer turned into a nativity!
I can't wait for Christmas.
Come Jesus! Hurry! Come very soon!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

O Come, o come, Emmanuel

My Private Shoebox

These are some pictures of our work of preparing for the coming of our Incarnate Word. May you all have a wonderful waiting time. This is my favorite season of the year! More pictures to come!