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.
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.
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,
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).
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.