Thursday, December 23, 2010

What if God Was One Of Us???

"What if God was one of us??. .."

I love Mexico.
People are so public about their faith there.
Don’t get me wrong.
I love the U.S.A.

It’s just that in recent years
I think this country of ours
has gone from
Freedom of Religion
Freedom From Religion.

You can’t put up a nativity set
unless you also have
other religious faiths represented.

We’ve gone from
“Merry Christmas”
“Happy Holidays.”

We’ve gone from
putting a Christmas Tree
Holiday Trees.

I’m sorry
but the Holiday is Christmas
and it’s a Christmas Tree.
A nativity scene
represents Christmas.

I’m not opposed to others
of other faith traditions
sharing their images and traditions.
But I will not tolerate
others trying to take mine away from me.

She is so-o-o-o public with her faith.

I love this photo.
It’s a picture of the back
of the bus driver’s seat
in Mexico City.
we’d NEVER see this in Detroit.
I don’t know if the bus driver
had an artist paint for him.
Or maybe the bus company
had it put there.
But it doesn’t matter.
This image of Jesus Christ
is on that bus.
this is true freedom of religion,
freedom of expression.
Here in this country,
there would be a ban of that bus,
of that bus company.
Somebody would probably lose their job
and/or be sued. .
. . .all for expressing their belief.

As for the song,
when I boarded this bus
the day I took this picture
this song just played through my mind. . .

“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus. . . .”

"If God had a face
what would it look like?. . ."
Probably much like
the face of that bus driver.

It's been about a year
since I took this photo.
I just hope
that I get to ride
this same bus again
some time soon. . ..

Free MP3 Downloads at

Poetry: Wonder Counselor, The Anunciation, The Visitation, The Magnificat & The Nativity

Here are a few short poems
I originally wrote in 1997.
Although I do have plans 
for some of my other creative works,
these are a few poems
that might not otherwise see the light of day
unless I share with you here.
Merry Christmas!

- r.

Wonder Counselor

They shall call him Wonder-Counselor.
They shall call him Prince of Peace.
His dominion shall be vast
and forever full of peace.

They shall call him God-Hero
the Day-Spring, David’s Key,
a shoot from the stump of Jesse
for all people to see.

On his shoulder dominion rests.
They’ll call him Father-Forever.
He’ll rule with dignity and justice
both now and forever.

The Annunciation

The angel, Gabriel,
sent to a town of Galilee.
She was betrothed of Joseph.
The virgin’s name was Mary.

“Rejoice, oh highly favored.
The Lord, our God, is with you.
Blessed are you among women.
Our God has found favor in you.

“This child shall rule the house of Jacob.
He shall be given David’s throne.”
“Tell me how this all can be
for man I have not known.”

This shall be the sign:
in a virgin’s womb the child dwells.
“You shall conceive and bear a son
and call his name Emmanuel.”

“Jesus shall be His name
with great dignity he’ll reign
He shall be given David’s throne.”

“How is this to be
for man is not known to me
For man I have not known.”

“How is this God’s plan
for I do not know man.”
“The Spirit will come to you.

“The offspring to be born
will be God’s holy son.
The power of the Most High will overshadow you.

“Elizabeth also conceived
she was thought sterile but believed
With God all things can be.”

“Let it be as you say.
I conceive this special child today.
Let it be done to me.”

The Visitation

Proceeding in great haste
Mary then set out
to a town of Judah
to Zechariah’s house

She greeted Elizabeth.
The child leapt for joy within her womb.
“Blessed are you among women
and blest the fruit within your womb.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit
Elizabeth did say,
“Who am I that the mother
of my Lord should come to me this day?

“My baby leapt for joy
when you greeted me.
You trusted our Lord’s word
how blest are you now and shall ever be.”

The Magnificat

“My spirit does find joy
joy in God, my savior.
My being proclaims the greatness
of the Lord, my God, forever.

“Blest shall be this lowly servant
from age to age to come.
Our God, who is mighty,
for me great things has done.

“Blessed be this lowly servant.
My being does our God proclaim.
Our God is mighty.
Holy is God’s name.

“For those who fear there’s endless mercy.
God’s arm shows great might.
Confusing the proud.
Lowly raised to greatest heights.

“Rich empty sent away.
Good things given to the hungry.
Mighty from their thrones cast down.
Israel upheld in highest mercy.

“As promised to our ancestors,
Abraham and Sarah before,
our God keeps the promise still:
Our God forevermore.”

The Nativity

“A son shall be born to you.”
The angel’s words came true
in David’s town of Bethlehem.

In manger world’s redeemer lay
perhaps asleep upon the hay:
no room for them in the inn.

Shepherds watching flocks by night
the Lord’s glory shown ‘round them.
“You have nothing to fear,”
the angel said to them.

“I proclaim Good News
and tidings of great joy.
In David’s town of Bethlehem
Is born a special boy.

“Today in David’s town
A Savior born to you
An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
is the sign for you.”

In swaddling clothes amid sheep, cattle and all
the Author of Life was born in a stall
Born of a woman who did not know man.

And yet, how appropriately so
in such a place some time ago
was born our Saving Lamb.

And suddenly with angel
a multitude did praise and say,
“All glory to God in high heaven
and peace to those on whom God’s favor lays!”

And just as the angel had told them
in a stable born the Prince of Peace.
Glory to God in the highest
and on earth to God’s people, peace.

And so now we sing with the angels!
We praise God and rejoice!
We join the heavenly hosts
praising God in one voice!

Yes, today we sing with the angels
in the song that shall never cease:
Glory to God in high heaven
and on earth to good people, peace!

For He is born! Emmanuel! God is with us!
To our saving lamb the virgin gives birth.
Glory to God in the highest
And peace to God’s people on earth!

(c) 1997, 2010 Rubi Martinez-Bernat. Rubi has worked in the area of Music and Liturgy in the Archdiocese of Detroit for over 25 years. Rubi has several blogs and websites, including Permission is granted to use these poems on your blog or website provided that nothing is changed or edited. The full content of poetry together with this paragraph and clickable link must be included. All other use in all other media prohibited.

- - - - - -
about the photo:
my corn husk nativity that gets displayed each year on my baby grand piano.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What is this tradition of "Posada?"

What is this tradition of Posadas
The editor of Detroit’s SW Vicariate newsletter 
asked me to write something about it
and then time just went creeping by. 
I never actually wrote anything. 
Sorry, Todd. 
I really did mean to write up something.

But now, well, 
the choir will host the Posada tomorrow night 
and the event is on my mind. 
I suppose late is better than never. 
And, at the very least, 
Todd will have the basis for an article 
for next year’s Vicariate Newsletter.

Before I explain what a Posada is, however, 
I think we must first define/describe Popular Regiosity.
For the fact is, Popular Regiousity (or popular piety) 
is one of the greatest tools for evangelization there is.

Popular Religiousity is an adaption of culture to worship. 
The faithful attempt to hold on to culture, 
to tradition, to language through faith. 
Rosaries and novenas are good examples of this. 
What the faithful do is take those items 
of the Roman Catholic Church 
that have fostered the faith 
and create an “interior liturgy.” 
This interior liturgy encompasses 
and embraces their art and their music,
their language and their culture, 
and of course, their faith.

And now, before I continue, 
I guess I should define liturgy. 
liturgy comes from the Greek word “Leitourgia.” 
That, in turn, comes from two Greek words: Laos Ergon. 
To put it simply, it is the work of the people. 
It is a work all of the people must do 
and a work all of the people will benefit from. 
I won’t go too much further than that here 
as the goal of this blog entry is to define/describe Posada
And while Posada is not a formal liturgy of the church, 
it is liturgical in nature 
as it is a prayerful work of the people 
which, in turn, helps to build up the Kingdom of God.

Posada is not formal liturgy, 
but a good example of Popular Religiousity. 
The beautiful tradition of the Posada 
dates back to the sixteenth century. 
St. Ignatius of Loyola 
suggested that prayers be said on nine successive days. 
In 1580, 
St. John of the Cross 
made a religious pageant out of the proceedings, 
which were later introduced to Mexico 
by Spanish missionaries.
the Posada tradition left the church building 
and was held in private homes.

Scripture, prayer, and song all form part of the Posada
A rosary may be prayed 
or sometimes there is a Pastorela 
in conjunction with the Posada

Now another defnition/description is needed here. 
A Pastorela is a creative play, 
a drama of the Nativity. 
But more than just a re-enacting 
of what took place in Bethlehem, 
a Pastorela tries to show the struggles
between good and evil. 
It shows the journey the shepherds made, 
the journey that we make. 
A Pastorela is the story of trials and tribulations; 
of those (the shepherds) who originally went seeking Christ,
but ours as well. 
So you see, 
it doesn’t always take place like a traditional Christmas story. 
Those who sponsor a Pastorela 
may decide to make the script more contemporary, 
more creative. 
It’s part play and part ritual: Popular Religiosity. 
a Pastorela may very well be incorporated 
into and with a Posada.

The Posada is a novena 
and the novena begins on December 16 
and culminates with the celebration 
of the incarnation of our Lord on La Noche Buena 
(literally, The Good Night - Christmas Eve).

Since the Posada is an oral tradition, 
it varies from one location to the next. 
Some communities pray and sing 
with a nativity scene as the focal point. 
Some communities literally go from house to house 
in their neighborhoods - some even with a live burro! 
Some assume the roles of the innkeepers and of Mary and Joseph. Some are “dentro” (inside). 
Some are “fuera” (outside).

The Posada is more
than the reenacting of the Gospel stories 
of Mary and Joseph seeking lodging 
(Posada means lodging). 
La Posada, 
as popular religiosity, is an interior liturgy. 
La Posada makes us owners of the nativity story. 

What do you feel when you listen to the story 
of Mary and Joseph seeking and not finding lodging? 
Do you recall a time in your life 
when you were “outside?”
Who accepted you in the end? 
Do you know someone
- a friend, a co-worker, a classmate - 
that is outside of the group? 
What can we do to bring that person in? 
Mary and Joseph are knocking at your door today. 
How will you respond? 
Will you let them into your household? 
Will you turn them away? 
What do you tell Mary 
when she asks for a place in your heart to rest
- a place for Christ to be born? 
Do you let her in?

Without getting too political here 
I can say that the topic of immigration 
makes Posada all the more heart-wrenching. 
Who is permitted to stay in this country? 
Who must leave? 
Who is an outsider?
Dad and the kids can stay 
but mom must leave. 
Mom and dad must leave 
but the children can stay. 
a Posada can really bring home 
the idea of being “in” or of being “out.”

The great journey of La Posada continues - 
from the City of David some two thousand years go 
to 16th century Europe 
to an infant Mexico 
and into our hearts today. 
When the event comes into our hearts 
we create the interior liturgy. . . .

. . . .And there is still much work to do.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Letter to Maria Lucia

I originally published this letter
in a blog that I have since dismantled. 

Juan Diego was a widower.
He and has wife,
Maria Lucia,
were converts to faith.
I wrote this letter
to her.


- Rubi.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

April 16, 2009

My Dearest Maria Lucia,

I have, so very often,
thought of writing you this letter.
To be honest,
I do not know what has kept me
from such an important task.

I have thought of you
often throughout my life.
You, my dear Maria Lucia,
are one of those women
who inspire me beyond measure.

It sometimes saddens me
that people forget you existed.
Why is that?
Why do people chose to remember
only certain things,
only certain people?

It seems as though some consider you
optional to the story,
optional to history,
optional to Salvation history.
But I know well
that you are not
an optional woman.

And why do people opt you out?
Could it be
because you are not a biblical character?
Or is it because you are not canonized?
Why do people forget you?

Like Coyolxauhqui,
the aztec moon goddess,
some important women
are buried and forgotten,
buried deeper and deeper
with the passage of time.
But being forgotten
is a worse fate
than Coyolxauhqui
having been murdered
and dismembered by her younger brother.

Why do people choose to forget
those who were enslaved
to build the cathedral of Mexico City?

You know,
in today’s modern world
if we were to destroy
someone else’s house of worship,
well let me just say
that it is a horrifying thing.
destroy their house of worship
and then force them to build a church
out of the ruins of their temple?
It is an ugly history
but it is real.
And yet,
Christianity tends to forget
that she did the very same thing
to you,
to your sacred temples.
Christianity recalls the miracle of Tepeyac
because it is, in fact, a miraculous story.
But she tries to erase,
she tries to bury where and how
she dismembered
those who were here before her.

Why do people choose to forget
the barbaric way the indigenous were slaughtered,
but manage to remember aztec human sacrifices?
The thing is
there was human sacrifice.
And it was all in the name of
the One True God.

But I don’t need to tell you that.
You, my dear lady,
were there.

I remember
those who were sacrificed.
I remember
who destroyed the houses of worship.
I remember
whose enslaved hands built the cathedral.
I remember
who evangelized whom.

I remember, Maria Lucia.
And I remember you.

They tell us
that your husband was a weaver by trade.
Tell me, Maria,
did you assist him
in his handiwork?
Tell me, Maria,
did he weave that garment
that would later become
the miracle of Tepeyac?
Or was the Tilma of Tepeyac
the work of your hands,
a gift
for your beloved husband?
Could it be
that while most of Christendom
doesn’t even remember you existed,
doesn’t even know your name,
Our Lady remembered you
by the garment
sacredly and secretly
woven by your hands?

Tell me,
what was it like for you
watching your husband from heaven?
Was there a celestial joy
when your Juan Diegito
dared to enter the house of the bishop
to bring to him Our Lady’s message?

You know,
to this day it scares some people
to tell the bishop
what he really needs to hear.
I wonder why that is.
To tell the truth,
I wish we had more Coatlatuatzins around today!
I wish we had more people like your Juan,
unafraid to Speak Like An Eagle.

I’ll bet you laughed when Juan was questioned by the bishop!
“What was She wearing,”
Fray Juan de Zumarraga asks.
And your Juanito replies,
“El Sol y las Estrellas.
She wore the sun and the stars.
She stands on the moon. . .and oh, yes,
Su vestido era el color de una princesa azteca. . .
Her dress is color of an Aztec Princess. . . .”
An azteca in your earthly life
you knew well that stars symbolize not only the end of an era
but the beginning of a new one.
That poor bishop never saw what was coming!
I’ll bet you’re still laughing
because some things just never change!

And I’ll bet anything
that when Juan Diego found those roses
he immediately thought of you,
his beloved Maria Lucia.
He probably wished you were there with him
to witness the miracle.

But you were with him.
You were with him in a much grander way
than if you had physically stood at his side.

Tell me, Maria,
during your earthly time,
did you have any idea
that your Juanito
was going to be called
to such a great task?
Did you have any inkling whatsoever?
You know,
we women sometimes know these things.
We don’t know why we know.
We don’t know how we know.
We just know that we know.
My guess is
that while on this earthly plain
you may not have had the full picture,
you probably knew
that something wonderful was to be.

You and Juan
survived the diseases that came with the Spaniards.
And you know,
everything happens for a reason.
You and Juan survived the plagues.
That is the first Guadalupe miracle.
Sadly, it is a miracle story
that never gets told.

Tell me, Maria,
what was it like watching your kinfolk
suffer and die?
It must have been painful and agonizing,
not only for those who suffered the illnesses,
but also for those, like you,
who witnessed it all.

But you and Juan survived.
That must have been your first hint
that The Merciful One
had great plans.

When your ancestors died
did it not fill you with a great sadness
knowing that some of their great teachings
died along with them?
Did it sadden you to lose those
who most understood and appreciated
and celebrated
the gift of flor y canto?

Tell me, Maria Lucia,
what was the war was like?
Tell me of the great Aztec warriors.
Tell me how they died for their faith
and how many suffered,
how they suffered
during the battle.

I can’t imagine anyone destroying my church.
I know a church isn’t the building.
I know a church is the people.
But you know,
that building is sacred.
It holds sacred memories.
You saw them, Maria.
You saw them destroy your temples.

I know that just because you accepted a new faith
that doesn’t erase all of the memories
of your old faith.
Places have power
in that they evoke memories.
Watching those temples destroyed
must have been
like witnessing the death of something sacred.
I mean,
I cry when I find out another church has been closed.
And closing a church is no where near the same
as destroying a temple,
demolishing a belief system.
Closing a church hurts me profoundly.
I can’t even begin to imagine witnessing
the purposeful destruction of one.

Death, disease.
The rape of your culture.
An attempted annihilation of your history.
Tell me, Maria,
why did you ever convert to Christianity?
You experienced all of this
and yet you came to the faith
before Our Lady made her presence known.
How is it that you converted?
That conversion,
my dear Maria Lucia,
is another miracle story
that has been buried,
hidden, forgotten.

How were you called home, Maria?
In the end,
was it one of the many illnesses
brought by the Spaniards?

Or did you die of a broken heart,
accepting this new faith,
but mourning the temples crushed
at the hands of the conquistadors?
you probably died of a broken heart.
Embracing this new faith,
all the while realizing
that the very ones who brought this faith to you
were the ones who didn’t get it.
You knew then
what I am coming to know now.
Sometimes those who most need evangelizing
are the very folk who think that they are already evangelized.

I often wonder
why you were called home
before this all took place.

Maybe it was because
Juan Bernadino
was needed to bring the miracle full circle.
Maybe Diosito and Lupita knew full well
that the world would forget to tell the full story
about the death and destruction.
So Juan Bernadino’s illness
served to show and remind the world
of the miraculous healing power
of Tepeyac.

Maybe you were called home so early
because your Juan Diegito
had to do this on his own,
without the gentle nudging of a spouse.
Or maybe it was
so that you could give your gentle nudges
from the heavens,
accompanied by the angels.

Or maybe,
just maybe,
it was so that several centuries later
women like me
could ponder
what it was like for you.

You were a woman
who witnessed devastating disease and destruction.
You were a woman
called forth to abandon the faith of your parents,
of your ancestors.
You were a woman
called to walk against the grain
of the society of your time.

You were a woman
called to seek a new way to believe
in things eternal,
even choosing a new name: Maria
-the same name of She
who would choose your spouse as Her messenger.

you were called home before
the miracle of Tepeyac took place
so that through your story
women like me can see
and understand
that we may not always see
through these earthly eyes
that which we give birth to.
we must continue to conceive
we must continue to create nonetheless.

Tradition tells us
that Juan Diego was on his way to mass
when Lupita first came to him.
Tell me, Maria,
was Juan Diego on his way
to a mass in your memory?
You know,
we give Lupita Dec. 12th.
And Juan has is own special day of Dec. 9th.
Somehow, we are still missing something.
When would you like your feastday to be celebrated, Maria?
Even if Mother Church
never ever formally remember you,
I will always remember you.

my dearest Maria Lucia,
tell me what I can do
so that others will remember you,
will remember your name.
What can I do to unbury your story?
Once you are truly remembered,
once the pieces of your story are in place
you deserve a place of honor.
a place of honor,
just like Coyolxauhqui,
who now lives at the Museum of Templo Mayor.
And just like Coatlicue,
her mother,
who makes her residence
at the Museum of Anthropology.
MarĂ­a Lucia,
you deserve a place of honor
at the hill of Tepeyac
with the woman
whose name you share:
Maria de Guadalupe.

Eternally Yours,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Random Act of Hallelujah

These random acts of culture are catching on.
But one thing I've noticed
is that they seem to focus
on the Hallelujah Chorus
from Handel's Messiah.
You know,
me thinks these random acts of culture
are turning into
random acts of evangelization. .
.. . .". .and He shall reign forever and ever. . . ."

I love it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Su Voto Es Su Voz (Your Vote Is Your Voice.)

Aye. . .
It’s election time again.

A couple of years ago,
I posted a video in this blog
that I thought was most ingenious
for many reasons
which I then detailed.
many in the offline world
accused me of supporting
the candidate who was the topic of the video.
You know,
we need to learn to say
when one political party
or candidate
is doing something right or good,
even if that’s not the party
or candidate of our choice.

I have never stated
in this blog
what party or candidate I support.
Because I think most people
should decided that for themselves.
This blog isn’t about
mixing religion and politics
or about
getting people to vote
in one way or another.

As I am living in this world
I have a responsibility to this world.
And a part of the responsibility
is choosing
who my leaders will be.
That is what this blog entry,
what previous blog entries
about elections
are about.

election time is upon us.
as usual,
everyone tries to tell me what to do,
how to vote.

I don’t mind some things.
For example,
a leaflet arrived in the mail just yesterday
explaining the proposals.
That’s useful information for people to have.
How many in Michigan
even know
that we have a proposal on the ballot
about a revision of the State Constitution?
Or a proposal about felons holding office?
that leaflet is most useful.
Would that more information like that arrive
maybe people would not just assume things.

I’m sick and tired
of people assuming
that I will vote in one fashion
and then
try to convince me
to vote the other way.

As I woman,
I must be voting this way,
so there are those who try to make me
vote another way.
Or worse yet,
there are still those out there
who behave as though
a woman cannot make an informed decision.

As Christian,
I must be voting conservative,
so some will try to make me liberal.

As a Latina,
I must be voting liberal,
so some will try to make me conservative.

A daughter of blue collar,
I must be voting Democrat,
so some will try to make me Republican.

Employed by the Church,
I must be voting Republican,
so some will try to make me Democrat.

I often wonder what people think
when they say certain things,
when they send me emails
or comment in social networks.

Do people think I am uninformed?
Do people stereotype me
and then send me comments
solely based on those stereotypes?

Do people think I don’t think????

I grew up in a very politically active household.
My father would register people to vote.
And then,
he would drive anyone who needed a ride to the polls
just so they could vote.
Although he clearly supported one political party over the other,
that really didn’t matter to him.
He just made sure
that people who wouldn’t otherwise get to the polls
got there and voted.
“Su voto es su voz,” he would say.
He even had a bumper sticker that said the same.
“Su voto es su voz.”
He would tell us that everyone needed to be heard,
even if we stood somewhere else.
“The important thing,”
my father would say,
“ is to get informed and
stand somewhere.”

Stand somewhere.
Boy, could some people use that advice today.
So much political jello.
Just get informed
and stand somewhere.

My father would take care of the poll workers, too,
bringing them coffee in the morning.
And then their lunch.
And drive people to vote in between, before and after.

I remember when he bought the Suburban.
From the outside,
people surely thought it was to
tote his kids around town.
From inside the house, however,
we all knew it was so he could drive
even more folks on election day!

If he believed in a candidate
he would give them his utmost support.
He even had all us kids involved, too.
I’ve past out literature on several occasions
and have even done
more than my fair share of phone banking.
I can honestly say
that even the grandchildren
have gotten involved.
My cousin, Amelia,
is behaving today
much like father did back in the day.
My dad’s actions
and words,
“Su voto es su voz,”
touched not only us, his kids,
but even the extended family.

He made sure that if he knew someone
was going to be out of town
that they got the absentee ballot.
I voted absentee for the last presidential election.
And I can honestly say
that I thought of my father
and his words,
“Su voto es su voz,”
as I filled in the form,
and again when I took the form in,
and again
when I watched the election results
on a tv monitor at the airport
as I waited for a connecting flight.
“Su voto es su voz.”
I can honestly say
that I felt like a part of the process,
no matter how small my input may have been.

To do this day
I cannot go through an election day,
any election,
without thinking of my father
and, and most especially, what he taught us:
“Su Voto Es Su Voz.”

I always find much humor in elections,
in the ads and in the debates.
I’m certain my father
is looking down from heaven
shaking his head
and laughing with us, too!

“Where in the Constitution
is the separation of Church and State?”

“The Rent is too damn high!”

“I’m you.”
(OK. . .
I chose the parody instead the actual video
for that link,
but she made me laugh anyway!)

And Sarah
made us laugh more times than I can count.

But I digress again.
My point is,
some politics
just makes you laugh out loud.

But I must say
that I’m just plain sick and tired
of what has happened
to the politicking in this country.

I am sick and tired
of racism
that tries to hide quietly under the veil patriotism.

I am tired of those
would promote a patriotism
that promotes hate.

I’m tired of those who would promote freedoms for some,
and take it away from others.

I’m tired of those
who talk a good game of “family values”
and would then rip a child from
a loving parent’s arms.

I’m tired of politics
that behaves as if
certain segments of the population
just don’t matter,
as though they are optional people.

And I’m just plain sick and tired
of negative ads.

You know,
negative ads can tell you a lot.
I find that the negative ads
have a reverse effect.
I think negative ads
reflect upon those
who created,
those who support those ads.

Some ads are just plain wrong.

“Don’t vote.”
That’s what one ad is saying.
that’s about as asinine
as it gets.

The ad is clearly targeted
for a specific group of folks,
as there are versions in Spanish
and in English.
And the topic is immigration.
don’t even get me started on immigration.

I have two relatives,
one of whom lives in my household,
who are processing immigration papers.
I have sat, many a time,
in the immigration office
located on Jefferson and Mt. Elliot.
I have stood in line,
a line that extends for many city blocks,
at the American Embassy
in Mexico City.
I have an immigration attorney’s phone number
always at hand,
programmed into my cell phone.

I went there:
the immigration topic.

I find it humorous
when people say that English proficiency
must be a requirement for citizenship,
as if it weren’t already,
so obviously uninformed.
I find it humorous
when people state
that drug lords and criminals
are the ones crossing the border illegally.
Do these folks even have any idea
what is going in Ciudad Juarez?
Again, so uninformed.
It makes me laugh out loud
when some people state that knowledge of the American government
should be a requirement for citizenship
(as if it weren’t)
and then some of those same folks
can’t even name their own reps.
I digress.

My point is
that this “don’t vote” video
is clearly targeted
to those folks
who so desperately
want and need immigration reform
to keep their families intact.

“Don’t vote.”
Why, on earth,
would anyone say that?

Would not a more logical video
say “don’t vote for them, vote for us????”

But no.
The video clearly states, “Don’t vote.”

Did they mean,
“Don’t vote because you don’t matter?”

Or maybe they meant,
“Don’t vote because you are optional to this country?”

“Don’t vote. YOUR family doesn’t matter.”

“Don’t vote because, well,
we don’t want to you to support those guys,
but we really don’t want you on our side either.”

“Don’t vote because we don’t want your voice heard.”

“Don’t vote because you are really aren’t an American anyway.”

“Don’t vote, just go away.”

This is far from political empowerment.
Telling people not to vote is not activism
(though it could be considered another kind if “ism”).

All this technology at our hands
and what are we doing with it?
What can we do?

we need to return
to a simpler time.
we should do what my father did.
Do little things.
Register people.
Drive people.
Feed people.
And say simple but profound things:
“Su Voto Es Su Voz.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Pedro Martinez; Ruega por nosotros.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception,
Patroness of the United States; Pray for us.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Wedding Stories

It’s been a while
since I’ve posted something to this blog.
That’s for a lot reasons,
which I won't detail here.
But that surely doesn’t mean
that my mind has been running on empty!

Just this weekend
I was a part of the music ministry
for the marriage convalidations
at St. Gabriel.
These masses always make me reflect.
these couples,
these families,
seem to have really reflected
on what the sacrament means.
And you know,
that makes what I do
feel so special.

Over the years
I have encountered all sorts
of requests from people
for their (or their son’s or daughter’s) wedding,
requests that show that these particular folk
really didn’t have a clue
about the Sacrament,
about the Holiness that is Marriage.
And some,
it would seem,
really didn’t have a clue
about the Eucharist.

There was the bride
who asked if they could have a mass,
even though her spouse to be
wasn’t Catholic
and wasn’t converting anytime soon.
She asked if he could be given
a breath mint at the time communion
to make him feel like he was participating.
I wonder,
what did Eucharist mean
to this young bride?

There was the bride
who came extra early for her mass.
Her decor included silk roses.
She sprayed them all with rose smelling perfume
before her guests arrived.
Was this the detail she most worried about
on her wedding day?
If she really wanted this done,
could she not have asked a friend to do this
so she could focus on more important things????
I wonder what goes through people’s minds sometimes. . ..

There was the bride
who wanted the “Cinderella” mass.
She wanted her man
to try the glass slipper
on all of the bridesmaids
and, of course,
it wouldn’t fit
until The Bride came down the aisle.
When the pastor said
that this wouldn’t not be done,
she still insisted that the groom
wear his cape,
which was covered in peacock feathers.
I wonder,
what did people remember about this mass?
Did they remember the exchange of vows?
Did they remember the exchange of rings?
Or did they remember the feathers?

And then there was the bride
who couldn’t understand
why her dog
couldn’t be the flower girl.
I said a prayer for her as I wrote this paragraph.
She’s probably still mad at me.

And the couple
who wanted to do a butterfly release.
It stormed that day
with the lights flickering on and off.
At the end of the mass
no one went directly outside
as it was pouring rain.
They all just stood in the vestibule. . .
. . .and released the butterflies anyway.
And what do people remember about this ceremony?
Deceased butterflies???

There was the bride
who wore combat boots.
Neither she nor her spouse to be
were military.
Neither were their parents or siblings.
She just liked the way the combat boots
looked with her bridal gown.
I’m certain everyone in attendance
will remember this.
She lifted her dress slightly
as she walked down the aisle
to show her boots. . .
. . but does anyone remember
the vows?????

And then there was the mother of the groom
who hired me for the music.
I later found out that the mother of the bride
had hired Mariachi.
Neither the bride nor the groom
were aware of any of this.
Good thing I ALWAYS
check in with the bridal couple
when someone else inquires about music.

most of the weddings in recent years
haven’t been so weird.
I guess,
after having done this sort of work
for over 25 years
one is bound to have some stories to share.

Where does the weirdness come from?
Where does the gimmickry
and individualism come from???
I suppose I’ll never know for sure.

But you know,
the weird stories
make the special masses,
like the one I was part of Saturday,
all the more worth it.

One little girl,
who is a member of the children’s choir,
was there as her parent’s
were getting married.
I’m glad I could be there
and be a part of it.
No weirdness.
Just holy people
exchanging holy vows
in a holy place.
Couples being Eucharist to each other.
Parents being Eucharist to their children.

And you know,
the older I get
the more I appreciate
what marriage is.

And the older I get,
the more I just plain appreciate
The Eucharist.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Cherubs

The Cherubs are on my mind.
These heavenly beings
are on my mind.

I made some angel pins
for my niece’s baby shower this past weekend.
Maybe that’s why
The Cherubs
are on my mind.

And someone once told me
that angels gather
where there are flowers.
My lilies are in full bloom
and every time my flowers bloom
I like to think
that what she told me is true,
that the angels are gathering,
admiring my blooms.

Last week just before
the children’s mass
a mother
of one of the new choir members
asked me about forming a choir
for the wee ones.
I’m talkin’ wee ones,
3-6 years old.
I told her
that I had already given that some thought,
though I’ve never formally
talked to our pastor about it.
She has a daughter
who is in that age range.
That child
is constantly coming up to me
and singing something!

Cherub Choir:
The nudges are all around me.

who joined the choir
a couple of months ago,
has a younger sister
who sings everything
and dances if it’s an upbeat song.
This wee one
is already coming to rehearsals
with her sister,
though she is really too young
to be in the children’s choir.

one of our best singers,
has a younger sister
who loves to sing.

And Jean Paul
has two younger sisters
who clearly fit
The Cherub description.

without much effort,
the backbone
of The Cherub Choir
already exists.

What’s on my mind is very simple.
I’d like to tell the children stories
and then teach the song
that goes with the story.
But before I teach the song
I’d ask them about the story,
to make sure they were listening,
to make sure they understand the story.
This would help to reinforce listening skills.
My, how we adults
don’t even know how to listen.
Imagine teaching children
from the youngest age
to really listen.

The story would reinforce the song
and vice versa.

And I would teach them
much the way I teach
their older brothers and sisters.
I would recite the words in rhythm
and have them recite it back in rhythm.
It’s rote learning,
this is about listening.

I would pluck out the melody on the piano
and then pluck it out again
and sing it
and then have them sing it back.
Once I see they’ve got it
I’d add the accompaniment,
and then move on to the next verse
or refrain.

The following week
I would see which child
could tell the story back to me.
I would see which child
could sing the song back to me.

And then
I’d probably introduce movement
or hand gestures
if there is anything
that goes with that particular song.
Moving in rhythm
will only help to prepare them
for hand help percussion instruments.

And I am learing
(albeit, on my onw)
the Kodaly Method.
The Kodaly Method II: Folksong to Masterwork
What I’ve seen so far
using this method is amazing,
but it has really on been on internet video.
And yet,
it seems so simple.
Why didn't I learn of this method
25 years ago?

I only wish there was a class
close to me where I could study
the Kodaly Method formally.
as I so often do,
I digress.
My point is,
I could teach them rhythm
using Kodaly.

And then,
we’d probably tell another story
and start another song.

But I would probably start each session
with some music games,
some learning games.
Something fun,
but something that will teach them.
Something that would get them
up out of their seats
and moving around.
This would at once
serve as a distraction
to keep their minds busy,
but also could be
just another rhythm game.

I can’t envision a rehearsal with them
being much more than ½ hour or 45 minutes.
And I don’t know when
that rehearsal might be. . .
. . maybe just before
or just after rehearsal
with the older kids,
seeing how many would probably be siblings. . .
. . but to be honest,
I don’t want the older kids there.
I think this could be very distracting
to the little, little ones.
I don’t think I’d even want the parents there,
except maybe one or two to help,
but to REALLY help.

And I haven’t quite figured out
how/where to use them in worship. . .
. . . probably a song or two
at the regular Thursday evening
children’s liturgy. . . .
. . . .with an occasional presence
during the year at weekend masses. . . .

.. . .or maybe try to put something together
that could be incorporated into
the Christmas program
that is also dancing in my head. . . .

And I still haven’t researched
age appropriate music for worship,.
though Christopher Walker
does have a collection
that is available
in both Spanish and English,
Stories and Songs of Jesus.
And it would need to be something
that uses both languages,
though I’m thinking
primarily in Spanish,
Walker’s collection
also has a coloring book
based on those same songs.
This would certainly be a start. . . .

Or maybe this should just be
a pilot project
to see if there is interest,
to see if I haven’t
gone off my rocker
thinking I can do this. . .
. . . .maybe a six week project
followed by evaluation.

In any event,
the words are out of Rubi’s head
and on electronic parchment.
My pastor is bound to read this,
sooner or later.

Does anyone in the blogosphere
have a Cherub Choir?
What words of wisdom
can you offer???

- - - - - - - - -
About the photos:
these are the angel lapel pins that I made for my niece's baby shower, obviously, made of noodles. they are painted with spray paint and i used a hot glue gun to put the pieces together.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Road to Juquila - Part 5: Holy Water

LOS MILAGROS DE JUQUILA, where the miraculous had been reality in 2001 [VHS]
I know it’s been awhile
since I posted something
about my trip to Juquila.
I had hopes of going to Palenque
this year,
but I am slowly starting to realize
that I am being called
to spend more time in Oaxaca.
I feel Our Lady
calling me back to Juquila.

It’s been six months
since my trip to Juquila,
I continue to reflect
on this sacred journey.

My life
and my brain
just seem to be going
in so many directions lately.
And I still have so much more to share
about this wonderful trip
to Our Lady’s little chapel.

Since the celebration
of The Easter Vigil
a couple of months back
my mind’s eye has been focused
on Holy Water.

Since my trip to Juquila
I’ve really given a lot of thought
to our use of Holy Water,
of our non-use of Holy Water,
and to the Holy Waters
found at Juquila.

of course,
water is just plain necessary for life.
We cook with water.
We clean and wash with water.
Water is just one of those things
that one can easily take for granted.

But of Holy Water?
What is it that gives Holy Water her power?
What makes Holy Water “Holy?”

Is it the power of God?
Is it the prayer of the priest?
Is it the assent of the people?
And who decides what bodies of water are holy?

I have several containers of Holy Water
on my home altar:
Guadalupe, San Juan de Los Lagos,
Lourdes. . .and yes,
even Juquila.
And to tell the truth,
I use them sparingly.
And since the Easter Vigil
I am beginning to question
why I don’t just use them all the time.

as already mentioned in previous blog posts,
is located in Oaxaca
in the mountains.
It is a long and arduous journey to get there.
Many of the area
choose to make the pilgrimage on foot,
processing for several days up that mountain
before finally arriving.

At the outskirts of Juquila,
there is a little place
where pilgrims can gather themselves
and their thoughts.
They can formalize their prayer requests
in concrete form
before going on
to the little mountain municipality.

They can stop and rest and eat.
They can also wash up.

as you watch the faithful
stepping into the river
one quickly realizes
that there is more going on
than people washing their face
or splashing their bodies.
It is easy to see
that something of a healing nature
is taking place in those holy waters.

I am certain that God
has greatly blessed that area
including the waters of that river.
And I am certain
that many a priest
has blessed those waters.
So please,
don’t think that I am in any way
negating the Power of the Merciful One
or the works of those
called to an ordained ministry.

But in all honesty,
I can’t help but think
that the water of that river is holy
because the people
are constantly blessing it.

The faithful aren’t just washing up
after a long journey.
They are refreshing
and renewing their belief.

What powerful things can be
if we but only believe.

. . .remember,
if we but believe
we can move those mountains. . .
. . .what we can do
if we had faith the size of a mustard seed. . . .

What happens
when a believing people
enter the waters of that river
and offer prayers of blessings
and thanksgiving?

A couple of years ago
I read many of the works
of Dr. Emoto.
He writes about the power of words
on water.
The Hidden Messages in Water
Great stuff.
I highly recommend.
His work demonstrates that the written words
“love” and “gratitude”
when shown to water,
will change the water.
So does the word “ugly.”
The words change the water.
Water charged and changed with “love”
changes the plant watered with it.
So does the plant
when watered with “ugly” water.
The words change the water.
The water changes the plant.
Can you imagine what that could mean
about the fruit and vegetables we eat?
This is so simple.
Its about words,
only words.

. . maybe that’s why grandma’s chicken soup
tastes so good
and makes us all better
when we are sick:
because she adds “love”. . .
. . but I digress. . .

I’ve said throughout this blog
that words of have power.
In fact,
one of my first blog posts
was about words and tattoos. . .
. . but I digress again. . .

Here’s what I’ve come to believe:
The water of that river is holy
because the people
are constantly blessing it.
Prayers of blessing and thanksgiving
are constantly flowing
from the faithful
as they approach this river,
as they are in the river,
as they leave the river.

But they are not just
blessing the water with their words.

They are blessing it
with all of their being:
Body, Mind, Spirit.

they have been on foot for days
making a sacred procession.
They have been in prayer
and singing sacred songs
as they journey.
They have worked hard
to get to this sacred place.
The have worked hard
to be in Sacred Space.
Laos Ergon: The Work of the People.
Their time in this Holy Water
IS Liturgy.
And Liturgy,
all liturgy,
a sacred, holy event.

We become what we get close to.
Look at your closest five friends.
How much are they like you?
How much are you like them?

This water, too, becomes
what it gets close to.
It becomes Sacred and Holy
because a Sacred and Holy people
approach her, seek her, touch her,
and bless her.

The water is blessed
because a blessed, holy people
are in constant contact with her,
blessing her.
The water,
ever present,
is also listening
as the faithful voice their prayers.

And now,
I’m calling the river “her”
as if she were alive.
The thing is,
she is.
And she is very, very sacred.

mind you,
I’m not at this time
speaking/writing about ecology
or keeping the earth green.
That discussion,
I’m sure,
will make itself known.
What I am speaking of here
is very simply
the power of words.

Words have power.
Don’t forget
the Word Became Flesh.
I don’t know why the works
of Dr. Emoto
would come as such a big surprise
if we really believe
what we’ve read a gazillion times
in the Scripture.

Words Have Power.
And the faithful
are constantly
pouring blessings
on the water
of this river.

The faithful
are making this water Holy
with their words,
with their prayers,
with their work,
with their bodies.

why are those holy water bottles
just sitting on my home altar?
Why am not blessing myself
everyday with them?
Why haven’t I blessed
the whole of my house,
inside and out,
with those sacred, holy waters?

What good are they
if I don’t use them?

We become what we get close to.
I could use a little Guadalupe
in and around my neighborhood. . .

My middle son
was in the hospital a couple of months back.
His illness was sudden
and changed our lives.
At the time,
a little Juquila healing
would have been most appropriate.

And then,
not too long ago,
I was sick myself for awhile,
missing quite a bit of work
and just having hard time
getting over a respiratory bug.
Guadalupe Holy Water
really could have made all the difference.

I should be blessing my vegetable garden,
my car,
my son’s school books. . .

. . . a pitbull went after my cat
not too long ago
and really, really scared her.
I should have blessed her
and entrusted her, once again,
to the care of St. Francis. . . . . .

I can’t tell you
the number of prayer requests
that come through
my facebook.
Why haven’t I just given
my bottle of Lourdes Holy Water
to someone who really needs it?
Why am I hoarding it?
What good is my faith,
my belief,
if I don’t share it?

I did not enter the river
when I made my trip to Juquila.
I regret that now.
as I have every intention
of returning to Juquila
you can bet your bottom dollar
that I won’t deny myself
that sacred experience.

And so now
I’m blessing the waters of that river
even though
I am thousands of miles away. . . .

Words Have Power.
And when words are spoken
in prayer and blessing,
they have the greatest power of all.

Holy Water.
Something so simple,
so basic,
and yet,
so powerful.

You know,
we SHOULD be blessing the waters
of the gulf area.
And maybe we should be pouring
our bottles of Holy Water
right into it. . . .

Friday, June 25, 2010

¡Si se puede! You Can Do It!

I have more reflections
on the children’s choir.

Just after I was asked
to direct his fine group
I went to Mexico.
I started rehearsals with them in September 2008.
And then, I went to Mexico
about two months later.
The trip had already been planned.
I really didn’t like the idea
of starting this new project
and then being gone for two weeks.
But so be it.

Thinking of and praying for the children of the choir,
I purchased some maracas
during my visit to Chalma.
We tried to incorporate instruments
my first Christmas with them.
What a disaster!
Several of the maracas broke.
I purchased a dozen
as they were the small kind
made out of gourds.
three of them got legs and walked.

Even a rainstick
met its demise.
When I explained to the children
how the sound was made
I think they got curious.
“Miss Rubi,
it just broke.”

After this,
I just put the toys away
and decided to concentrate
on singing only.
Instruments could wait
until some time in the future.

I knew they could do it.
The time just had to be right.

as I stated in my previous blog post,
there were some real discipline issues.
I knew they could use the toys creatively,
but other things had to come first.

All the while
they kept asking me
when I was going to bring
the instruments out again.
I kept telling them
that singing was primary.
If they stopped singing
to play the instrument,
we don’t want that.
Your voice is the primary instrument.

During the course of this past year
I was looking for some vocal music
for my work at my other job
with the kids at COMPAS.
(Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest)

I was seeking music
that would build self-esteem and confidence.
these are inner city Detroit kids.
I look at my work at COMPAS
not only as teaching music,
but also to build confidence
and a sense of self-worth
in these young folks.
And I found this wonderful song
written by Jim Rule,
dedicated to the memory of Cesar Chavez.

many of the children of the choir
of St. Gabriel parish
attend The Cesar Chavez Academy.
And my own father
was graced to have spent some time
with the legendary Cesar Chavez.
Cesar Chavez by TIME Magazine. Size 8.00 X 10.00 Art Poster Print
this was not a religious song,
not a church song,
not a liturgical piece.
I asked my pastor
if it would be OK to teach the children this song
and he said, “Go for it!”
I kinda knew he would.

And then I decided that now is time
to bring back the toys.
I purchased a set of chimes
and a claves to complete the set.
And the video below
is the end result.

Carlos, Jean Paul and Gerardo
can carry a simple rhythm in 4
on the maracas.
And Carlos can do 3/4 very well.
Rita is great on claves.
And Viridiana knows exactly
when to come in on chimes,
as do the lovely ladies of the rainstick.
And through it,
not a single instrument was broken
this time around.
My kids were ready.
My kids ARE ready!

At the end of the video
you can see their sense of joy,
their sense of accomplishment.
You’ll see Elizabeth give a little dance.
Carlos gives a waive.
And Jean Paul raises his arms in victory!

Cesar Chavez was right all along.
¡Si se puede!
You CAN do it!
At the very least,
my Beautiful Bilingual Babies can!