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.

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