The Infant of Prague and bricolage

8 03 2010

Recently I bought a medal of St. Peter to wear around my neck. This has nothing to do with any particular devotion that I have to the person of St. Peter, his office of Head of the Apostles, an author of the Scriptures, or even a touching figure from a literary perspective. No, I got the medal because of the prayer, la Sombra de San Pedro, which is a Mexican “unapproved” prayer of protection against everything from highway robbers to witches. I say it everyday before I leave the house. I also wear a medal of St. Expedite, who besides having a cool name, has a special relationship with this city.

I have been accused of being a snob by certain Internet personalities, though I smile every time I read this accusation. Sure, I got a lot of my religion through books and I am not going to hide that. But growing up in my majority Mexican-American town, I came to a lot of what I believe strictly through doing and observing. And not just through observing the Mexicans either. We had a large population of Italian, Irish, and Portuguese immigrants as well, with their festas and devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We had the Legion of Mary as well as reasonably well attended First Fridays. This being a fairly liberal diocese, I think one saw these things in an even more pristine setting since the clergy just let the oldsters “have their own way” and interfered little, thinking that all of this would eventually die out. (It probably has by now.) But my childhood faith was not a religion by the book, but a religion of the gut. The fact that a guy who was raised in a HUD project by a single Mexican mother is being accused of being a snob is for me supreme irony.
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