Oración a Santa Elena de Jerusalén

30 01 2009


Gloriosa Santa Elena, gloriosa Santa Elena, gloriosa Santa Elena, hija de la reina de Jerusalén; a Jerusalén fuiste, tres clavos trajiste, uno trajiste, lo consagraste y el martes a la mar lo echastes; el otro se lo diste a tu hermano Cipriano, para que venciera en guerra y batalla; y ese que te queda en las benditas manos no te lo pido dado, sino prestado, para enterrárselo en los sentidos a (aquí el nombre de la persona) para que no me olvide; para enterrárselo en la frente a (aquí el nombre de la persona), para que me tenga presente; para enterrárselo en el corazón: San Caralampio, tráemelo, Santa Elena, el clavo que te pido es para que me tenga presente y enterrárselo en el pensamiento; que venga Santa Elena, no le dejes en cama acostar, ni con mujer alguna conversar; como perro rabioso que vuelva a buscarme; Santo Varón, te pido para que nunca me olvide por otra mujer; Jesús Nazareno, tráemelo; Santa Bárbara, que (aquí el nombre de la persona) no me olvide. San Antonio, que (aquí el nombre de la persona) me cumpla lo que me ha ofrecido; San Juan Bautista, santo antes de haber nacido, concédeme lo que te pido, que (aquí el nombre de la persona) me cumpla por la santa camisa que te pusieron hoy; San Miguel, písalo; San Cipriano, óyeme y préstame lo que te pido; Elena, conmuévele el corazón con esa varita que tienes contigo, milagrosa Santa Elena, traémelo. -5 Padre Nuestros, 5 Ave Marías.

Glorious St. Helen, glorious St. Helen, glorious St, Helen, daughter of the queen of Jerusalem. You brought three nails, one you brought, you consecrated and threw it into the sea on Tuesday; the second you gave to your brother Cyprian to conquer in battle and war; and the one that is still in your holy hands I ask to borrow and not to be given, to nail it into the senses of (name) so that he doesn’t forget me; to bury it in his forehead so that he always has me before him; and pierce it through his heart; St. Caralampius, bring him to me; St. Helen, the nail I ask you for is to nail it in his thoughts so that he is always thinking of me; may St. Helen come, may he not be able to lie down in a bed or converse with another woman; as a rabid dog may he come to look for me; Saint Varon, I ask that he never forget me for another woman; Jesus Nazarene, bring him to me; St. Barbara, may (name) never forget me; Saint Anthony, may (name) keep the promise that he made me; Saint John the Baptist, saint before you were born, may he keep his promise by the holy shirt they have put on you today; St. Michael, step on him; St. Cyprian, hear me and lend me all that I ask; Helen, move his heart with that wand that you have with you; St. Helen, bring him to me. -Pray 5 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck

29 01 2009

The opening of the opera

SSPX update

28 01 2009


As you all know, the whole SSPX controversy is making the rounds with the secular and religious press. Now, Fr. Schmidberger, former Superior General of the SSPX, has come out denouncing Bishop Williamson’s views on Holocaust revisionism. While such things are not indicative of an immediate surrender of the SSPX into the embrace of Rome, I find at least the idea that two important figures in the SSPX coming out and openly denouncing one of the bishops that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated to be unthinkable when considering my experiences with the SSPX. Before, at least in my perception, these bishops were untouchable, and almost treated as “primes inter pares”. Now, it seems, that is no longer the case. Does this mean some sort of change has occurred within that organization?

To those of us with a history of deep involvement with the SSPX, Williamson’s remarks were far from surprising, and we are almost scratching our heads over the whole hubbub. I entered the scene of the SSPX in the late 1990’s, when the powerful triumvirate of Fr. Peter Scott, Father Ramon Angles, and Bishop Williamson ruled the United States District turning it almost into a far right wing cult. (Stories of such behavior are legendary around the SSPX compound of St. Mary’s, Kansas.) Those were the days when the SSPX was having its crusade against television, women’s pants, and the time that they were saying that even going to any Novus Ordo Mass was a sin. Those days apparently are over, though their imprint still remains, I believe, in the SSPX.

The recent events, then, give me pause. Does this mean that the SSPX is turning around? I have to say that one weird part of me is a little sad to see them “going soft”; even if I don’t like fanatics, I wish the world had more of them, at least at the very margins to remind us that the “normal way” of doing things may not be so normal after all. Nevertheless, I would never want them to have any real power. I guess I’ll wait and see.

De capite

28 01 2009


Thus man’s head is, as it were, a small-scale image of the sky. Its roundness expresses the curve of the firmament and its seven orifices correspond with the seven planetary lights.

-Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods

This wanting creature

27 01 2009


I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting?

There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no tow rope either, and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the
soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are.


Krishna and Me

26 01 2009

Part II: The Baby Butter Thief and the Quest for a Western Bhakti

A few days after my visit to the Hare Krishna temple here in Berkeley, I received in the mail the first installment of an Indian miniseries on the “life” of the deity Krishna. This is religion Bollywood style. To say that the the movie is, well, unique, is a bit of an understatement. Like many Indian movies, the acting is exceptionally bad. If you are looking for cheesy renditions of scenes from ancient Hindu mythology, this is the film for you. Not only that, but I think you will have your hands full; there are about twenty discs in the series, so knock yourself out. The eighth incarnation of Vishnu led a long and exciting life, don’t you know?

The first episode is actually the most informative and sort of an overview of the rest of the series. It reveals how important Krishna is to the Hindu religion; he occupies almost the same place as Jesus in ours. The stories of his birth and life are equally miraculous: he was the eighth child of his parents, and destined from birth to smash the power of the evil demon king who was holding his parents and the world hostage. Meditation on his life and deeds, according to many of the sages portrayed in the movie, is the secret of bhakti yoga. People in India during the feasts of Krishna reenact scenes from his life in dramatic plays. As the Hare Krishna leader said during the Bhagavad Gita class, all things must be done for Krishna: the incarnation of God on earth.
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SSPX reconciliation?

24 01 2009


As much as I hate to comment on stuff that is too “news worthy”, as one of the only bloggers who has a fairly ambivalent attitude towards the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and who has had some personal history with them, I think it only appropriate to write a few words about the lifting of the excommunications against the four SSPX bishops.

Firstly, I will say that I think Archbishop Lefebvre was not in the wrong for doing what he did back in 1988. Regardless of what I think now of the movement he started, I still feel that his actions were necessary for the preservation of tradition and the well-being of the Church. So as far as I am concerned, any canonical action taken by the present Pontiff is a non-issue.

Secondly, there seems to be some controversy going around regarding Bishop Richard Williamson’s Holocaust denial. I am far from being sympathetic to right-wing quacks, and wouldn’t mind if they locked this guy away in a monastery so that he can bark his conspiracy theories to the walls. He came to La Reja for ordinations the year I left seminary there, and he gave some rather bizarre and apocalyptic spiritual conferences, and I thank God everyday and twice on Sundays that I didn’t have to be a seminarian under him. (He took the reins six months after I left.) Nevertheless, his views do not affect the Holy Father’s canonical decision, as many have pointed out.

Thirdly, I think this really does make the Catholic Church into a case of “here comes everybody”. My own feelings of alienation from the Church often stem from the fact that my experiences of the Catholic Church have been so radically different from the typical American Catholic, liberal or conservative. I was raised in a fairly liberal parish with a heavy dose of Mexican charismaticism and underground folk Catholicism. Intellectually and in terms of piety, I was also heavily formed by the SSPX itself, and the way it and other traditionalists function when compared to “normal” Catholics is basically the difference between night and day. While ideology inevitably turns traditionalists into a sect within a larger Church, at least they still do the same things that were on the books in pre-Vatican II Catholicism. That is worth something, at least in my book.

While Pope Ratzinger cannot help having profound esteem for the Second Vatican Council, it is hoped that some day we will live in a Church where it is but one council among others. While the SSPX may reject most of what has happened in the Church in the past fifty years, let us remember that we dwell in a Church now where large sections of people reject what has happened in the Church in the past 2,000 years. One does not get brownie points for good behavior or “loyal rhetoric” to the hierarchy, but rather for keeping the Faith once delivered to the Apostles that is supposed to be preserved and protected by the aforementioned hierarchy. It is clear that in what was once the homeland of Christendom this is often no longer the case. May the Society of St. Pius X, with all its flaws and nutcases, continue to contribute to the restoration of the Church.

Nigra Sum

23 01 2009

La Santísima Muerte – A Mexican Folk Saint

22 01 2009


A Review of E. Bryant Holman’s book, with some reflections

(image above found on one of Mr. Holman’s sites)

E. Bryant Holman is a writer for whom I have immense esteem. I have spent many an hour perusing his Curanderismo mailing list, and everything he writes is insightful, eloquent, and well thought-out. Although not really a believer himself, he approaches popular Mexican Catholicism from a respectful and unbiased perspective. At no time does he patronize or express outright skepticism regarding the practices of folk healers, witches, and ordinary faithful, and only records their beliefs and practices with very little hint of editorial judgment. In a word, he is a true scholar: always humble, always searching, and never quick to impose his own categories in areas where he is admittedly an outsider.

Lay Catholicism in Mexico as perceived by the normal believer has almost always been slightly different from the Catholicism that the hierarchy preaches. For the average believer, there have always been many Christs and many Virgins, many images of saints and many animas or holy souls, all of whom vie for the devotion and prayers of the faithful. The Sacred Heart is not the same as the Holy Infant of Atocha, who is not the same as the Holy Face. If the Virgin of Guadalupe doesn’t answer your petition, you go to the Virgin of St. John of the Lakes, and then to the Virgin of Lourdes, etc. A lot of it can seem like witchcraft at times, and while the hierarchy is often distrustful of this attitude towards Catholicism, they have had to respect its understanding of the Christian mystery. They have also had to tolerate people taking the sacramental character of Catholicism upon themselves in the form of “white magic” or curanderismo, of which I written on this blog before.
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On Catholic punditry

21 01 2009


Another good one from Lee Hamilton :

The Catholic critique in the modern world is the most meaningful, sincere and honest beacon of unadultered truth you will find in what is otherwise a mesmerizing and seductive cavern of lies, illusions and dead ends. This is why it’s not hard to spot when it’s being appropriated and corrupted for lesser purposes. When it’s used in this way, the real motivations become plain to the discerning eye: a visceral and unreasonable – nay, hysterical – loathing of people unlike themselves, and an incredibly entitled sense of affront at the simple everyday reality of being obliged to share public space and political discourse with those people. That’s why this particular segment often elects to disengage and spit acid from a distance. One can expect that this nascent backlash will become increasingly venomous with time, under the guise of bearing witness to the Faith, irrespective of how the new Administration seeks to temper its policies in order to forge a new middle ground, a new public commons where people of good will and transparent intentions can engage with each other.

As I have said, somewhat less eloquently, some people regard their religion as an instrument of their political ideology, and not the other way around. It becomes quite clear after a while when this is the case. When I lived in Latin America, I often felt that many of the Lefebvrist faithful down there used their adherence to Catholic traditionalism as a badge of honor expressing that they weren’t associated with the “Masonic Mass of the Communist hierarchy”. I often wondered if religion was really the issue at all. Not that I think it is as extreme here, but it looks like it’s getting there.