Sarita Colonia

18 08 2008

On the Birth of a Folk Saint

Not much information exists in English on the Peruvian cult to Sarita Colonia. Outside of Frank Graziano’s book, Cultures of Devotion: Folk Saints of Spanish America, information about her in anything other than Spanish is scarce. In the world of folk saints, however, she is one of the heavy hitters, like Jesus Malverde and Gaucho Gil. The main difference between this Peruvian woman and other folk saints is that we know exactly who she is and the circumstances of her life and death. When her cult was far more popular than it is now, her many siblings were still in middle age and some have benefited from the people’s devotion to her. This has not stopped people from making up stories about her to make her appear larger than life. From a poor immigrant girl from the highlands of Peru to the patroness of the lumpen proletariat of Lima, she is a prime example of how people can take a simple story and create an elaborate mythology around it.
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Some tardy thoughts

18 08 2008

As you know, I went to a Humanae Vitae Conference a week ago, and I overall enjoyed the experience. AG and I had a pleasant picnic lunch under the trees on the beautiful Saint Mary’s campus, and the conferences overall were good. I went to one on the theology of the body that was pretty informative and made me think twice about previous criticisms that I have had of this phenomenon. I was intending to do a whole review of this conference, but I am too lazy and probably not the most competent person to do something of that nature anyway.

I did start writing something on this, but later gave up. Since I consider this blog a notepad for what I believe, I’ll post it anyway. Let the following not be construed as being the only thing I got out of the conference. As usual, it is easier to write simply of differences than to eloquently formulate agreements. So this is what it is:

One of the only thoughts that I have on this subject comes  as a warning towards
moderation. One of the speakers said that having children helps us to be better
Christians since it fufills the passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “For I was
hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a
stranger, and you took me in…” My first inclination when I heard this was, “well,
not quite”. Our Lord is very explicit in the Scriptures to distinguish between
natural, familial love and allegiances, and supernatural charity. This passage of
Scripture, along with the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the exhortation to love
your mother and father less than Jesus prove that Christian love is of another
order. Or are we to think that these passages mean that Christians are better
parents than their non-Christian counterparts? Christianity triumphs throughout
history not through upholding the family and making people better members of
a particular society: it triumphs because it proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven
regardless of the opinions of the society it finds itself in.

While I think that it is beyond dispute that we are under the assault of a “culture
of death”, we nevertheless cannot substitute one extreme of an issue with another.
It is clear that this society undervalues sex by cheapening it to a base action in
the pursuit of pleasure. On the other hand, we cannot OVERVALUE sex, family, and
“life issues”, since we would be putting too much meaning and significance into
phenomena that cannot sustain such meaning. Families in the best of circumstances
need the critique of the eschatological anticipation of the Gospel. It may be better
if Christian thinkers theorize upon sex only in moderation, following the examples
of the Fathers of the Church, and with great caution. And most of all, it may be
necessary to better accentuate the fact that the greatest presence of God in the
modern world continues to lie in the virgins and monastics who live the angelic life
among us. What modern man needs to hear is not how important
sex is, he needs not a Christian version of the Kama Sutra. He needs rather balance
put back into his psyche: a greater cultivation of reason, beauty, and the higher
senses of life.