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!