Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mestiza Queen of the Fortnight

Benedictine College's Guadalupe Chapel.

At the Gregorian Institute blog, we’re deep in the middle of a series of posts about promoting Catholic identity in public life.

The new one is called, descriptively, “Put an Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Your Church.”

It is in part about the Queen of Catholic Identity  — whose image has become a Catholic identity badge … but it is also about demographics.

Here’s the key part. But register a hit and read the whole thing!

The Catholic Church is America’s best hope to assimilate the new immigrants in such a way that they become patriotic Americans who ascribe to the moral vision of our founding fathers.

No, seriously. Our Church has become very articulate about America’s founding principles during this Fortnight for Freedom — take Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez for example. And after all, the Catholic Church has practice turning immigrant people into good Americans. My family used to live in Connecticut, where the phone book, and local ballots, were filled with Italian names. Through organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Catholic immigrants accepted America’s principles of self-government.

Can we do the same thing today? I think so. Sometimes we overthink the issue of Evangelizing Catholic Latinos. I don’t want to oversimplify it either. But the best way to evangelize immigrants is the way the Church did it last time: Encourage the devotions that the immigrants already have, and add catechesis on the sacraments.

For the one-click price of admission to the post, you also get a bonus quote from Pope Benedict XVI that blew me (I am half Mexican) away.

Go, therefore, and read the whole thing.



  • KMN

    I agree when we say immigration reform, but I do not ( or hope not) think you are stating illegal immigration sanctions. I actually went to confession in my Cathedral, to ponder if hiring illegal immigrants was a sin. ( my husband owns a construction company) to my surprise, I was told YES (by my Latino Bishop) . It is my prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe, that the METHODS to come to our country legally, are opened to all, and that those, today, just like my Irish ancestors did, come here to celebrate the heritage of America and the amazing opportunities. To become self reliant, not government reliant. To embrace the language, and systems we have that protect citizens to faith, and education for all. To keep their heritage alive, but to develop new heritage traditions also as our Founding Fathers did. The Bishop concluded that we must, be vocal ad prayerful for access for people coming to our country for the same value and principle of the ancestors of time, but to do it through legal channels and changes in the process.

  • AMH

    I’m all for keeping cultural devotions and adding catechesis on the sacraments as a way to evangelize to large groups. It’s a model that has worked for the Church for hundreds of years now and with great success.

    I do question though how having Masses in Spanish each Sunday helps Catholic Latinos assimilate into being patriotic Americans. Doesn’t such a practice keep them removed instead of included and contribute to the growing divide between Anglo and Latino Catholics in America? What if we moved to the practice of saying Mass in Spanish on special feast days and devotions and kept to English during the rest of the Masses?

    • Joe M

      Does the Church have an obligation to ensure American patriotism though? I’m not sure that forcing people to learn a language by limiting their opportunity to attend a mass they understand is the right way to go.

      • AMH

        Joe- according to the Catechism, the Church and its members do have a patriotic duty to their country, in this case, America:

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community” (No. 2239).

        In other words, love of country is not just an optional virtue, it is a duty — a duty that flows from gratitude.

        You can read more about the topic of Patriotism and the Church in this article from OSV: http://www.osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/9558/How-to-be-a-faithful-Catholic-and-a-loyal-citizen.aspx

        • Joe M

          AMH. I don’t interpret that passage the same way that you seem to. If we must be patriotic as an absolute rule Germans would be required to be patriotic Nazis under Hitler. The argument from the link you provide seems to conflict with that position. It suggests that it’s basically up to opinion what the “higher ideal” is. A spanish speaking person, under that reasoning, could argue that a more ideal country is more accommodating to multiple languages. Therefore, providing multiple language masses is true patriotism. — I read the passage to mean that we should contribute to society in a good way and also to be grateful for the good that society provides in return. I don’t see that passage as indicating how much accommodation for language differences is patriotic.

          • AMH

            My response and sharing of that link was to your question of whether or not the Church has a responsibility to encourage American patriotism. The answer is that it does and I think that encouraging Hispanics to attend Mass in English and improve their English language skills is an important part of that. How can you fulfill your duty of patriotism if you don’t make the effort to incorporate the common language of that country fully into your life?

          • Joe M

            AMH. I think that the quote you provided means we should do good for and love the good that our country does for us. If that’s what you mean by patriotism, I agree. However, I think you should then see how some people might believe intolerance of other languages is not an example of a country doing good and is thus not an aspect deserving love. — I am not against people making an effort to learn english to assimilate. I just don’t think that mass should be used as the carrot to accomplish that and I don’t think you have demonstrated that Church Teaching suggests it is.

    • Alejo

      This is a sentiment I hear a lot from Anglos in areas where Hispanics are a large minority. Many of these Anglos are of Italian, German or Polish origin and seem to forget, or not know, their own history within American Catholicism. When these groups starting arriving to the US in large numbers they had the benefit of ethnic parishes. This even when the mass was in Latin. Of course the preaching and some readings were done in the vernacular even then so it was important to have these parishes for them. That is how up north sometimes you would have a German parish and an Italian one close by. Now that these distinctions have blurred some inner city areas have too many parishes and they have closed.

      The ethnic parish system served immigrants well. Hispanics have not had this benefit, and it shows. I am willing to say that there are more practicing Hispanic Evangelicals than practicing Hispanic Catholics. These Hispanic Evangelicals are more organized and politically engaged than their Catholic counterparts. They are also more conservative and observant of Christian morality.

      • AMH

        Alejo- not all of us who would like to see fewer Masses in Spanish are of European descent. My mother’s family can trace their roots to the original Spanish settlers in Texas and my great-grandfather swam the river from Mexico to come to this country. I believe that having Masses in Spanish on a regular basis divides Catholics in America and keeps Hispanics from assimilating to the country they have chosen to live in. On the opposite side, I think that many Anglo Catholics could benefit from exposure to Hispanics who have a more devout, conservative and observant practice of faith. But with Mass in two languages, these groups rarely have the opportunity to interact and benefit each other in any way.

  • Joe M



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