Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Personal Prayer for The United States

For California;
For those who have lost homes, possessions in the fire;
For those hurt in the blaze;
For firefighters;
For policemen and rescue personnel;
For hospitals, doctors, nurses and all who tend those needing medical care.

For Louisiana, especially for New Orleans;
For those who have lost homes, possessions in the flood;
For business that recently reopened after Katrina forced to close again after this flood.

For Georgia;
For Lake Lanier;
For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
For those forced to drill their own wells for water;
For rain.

For family pets and for wildlife lost or hurt in fire, flood and drought.

For Michigan;
For those who have left our state seeking employment, housing;
For those who remain hoping for a better tomorrow for our state;
For business to return to Michigan;
For Chrysler, Ford and GM;
For the UAW;
For Michigan’s Migrant farm workers as they end the harvest season and for their safe return home;
In thanksgiving for beautiful Michigan autumn colors.

For all who find themselves in a shelter;
For those who supply the shelter with food, blankets, with the work of their hands;
For our generosity when others find themselves in need.

For decent housing;
For those who have lost their homes to foreclosure;
For those who continue to struggle to keep their homes amidst rising interest rates;
For predatory mortgage lenders;
For predatory mortgage brokers;
For those forced to sell their homes;
For those buying a home, especially for first- time buyers.

For jobs for the unemployed and underemployed;
For just wages;
For pride in the work of our hands.

For the uninsured;
For the under-insured;
For the falsely insured;
For medical care for all who need it.

For toys that are safe for our nation’s children to play with;
For school that are safe;
For food that is safe for our country to eat.

For churches across the country;
For all houses of worship to be loving and welcoming to all;
For leaders who are pastoral and committed to service;
For parishes that will cluster, merge or close;
For healing.

For immigrants;
For the children of immigrants;
For laws that are just;
For laws that are humane;
For those seeking citizenship, especially those of my own family.

For an end to racial profiling;
For an end to apathy and complacency.

For military personnel, especially those stationed abroad;
For their safety and their safe return home;
For good medical attention when it is needed;
For their family, friends and all who love them;
For military personnel who lost their life seeking peace.

For a nation that cares for her elderly as well and for her young;
For a nation that cares for her natural environment;
For a nation filled with peace.

Hear this prayer, O Merciful One.
In Your time, Thy will be done.

Que así sea.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

God's Work of Art

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in a most wonderful event in the city where I live. Wyandotte’s Crafter’s Alley is an event sponsored by the Wyandotte Business Association and runs at the same time as the Wyandotte Art Fair. Although this event took place in July, I thought I’d share my experience as well as some photos here.

Artists and crafters lined the streets at Wyandotte’s Art Fair and Crafter’s Alley. The finest works of art I experienced during the festivities weren’t sold by any artist, crafter or vendor. The finest form of art I experienced was in the form of body art: tattoos.

Personally, I’ve never given tattoos much thought, however, I must say that it is an art form I admire. I am a musician and while I have never particularly cared for opera I appreciate and respect all of the preparation and talent needed to sing opera, to compose opera. In much the same fashion, I appreciate and respect the art and talent in every tattoo.

Words have power. If a mother yells at her six-year-old daughter, “you’re stupid. You’re ugly,” those words are not uttered without effect. Those words carry impact. But what if words are part of body art?

I met a young man at the event with a very elaborate and ornate tattoo. Amidst the designs of his tattoo was the word, “hate.” Another young person had the words, “infernal confusion” on her arm. I wonder how seeing those words every day effects these young people. I wonder how it is that they came to choose these particular words for their tattoos. The irony is that these young people were browsing the rosaries I made.

I have always had a great love for popular religiosity, those faith expressions that are born at the grass roots experience, born from the living experience of the populace. Quite often, these expressions of faith aren’t recognized by the church or are even shunned by the church. The tattoo has certainly not been widely accepted as the only “mark” or “seal” is the one given at baptism.
Personally, I have seen that popular religiousity finds expression in many forms. Popular faith truly finds expression in art.

I also had the opportunity to meet a young man who shared the story of how his father had a great devotion to Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos. As he embraced his young child he told the story of how his father had hopes of one day traveling to San Juan de Los Lagos to “pagar una manda.” In Mexican faith expression, a “manda” is where the faithful publicly thank God, Our Lady and the Saints for prayers answered. Pilgrims travel many miles, often doing the last stretch on their knees as they approach a specific sanctuary. Sadly, this young man’s father died before he could fulfil his “manda.”

He further explained that he was going to do what his father didn’t get a chance to do: publicly make a “manda” at Our Lady’s shrine. He said that he, too, had a great love and devotion to Our Lady. The procession to Our Lady’s Shrine that this young man will make in his deceased father’s honor will begin at Detroit Metro Airport. More specifically, the procession has already begun in his heart.

He then told me had Her tattooed on his back. Although the tattoo was still a work in progress, he permitted me not only to see it but also to take a photo. I never would have thought that a tattoo could be used for evangelization, but this young man taught me a lot that day. Now that was, without a doubt, the most affective and effective piece of art I witnessed during this particular event. In fact, that art witnessed to me!

A young lady who browsed and then purchased a rosary wore the fourth tattoo that caught my attention. Perhaps the rosary she wore as body art on her wrist and the back of her hand expressed her devotion to Our Lady much more than the rosary she purchased from me. This young person was also gracious enough to permit me to photograph her tattoo. Have you ever thought about how often you use your hands, about how you use your hands? Every time she pays a cashier, every time she shakes someone’s hand, every time she waives she has a prominent tool for evangelization available. Every time she uses her hand she gives witness.

My time at Wyandotte’s Art Fair and Crafter’s Alley was truly blest by those who not only had art on their bodies, but art in their heart. I’d like to thank these young people for what they brought to me. You, my friends, are God’s work of art.

Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos, Pray for us.