12 / 12/ 12

A neighborhood shrine depicts Juan Diego presenting roses to the Virgin

A neighborhood shrine depicts Juan Diego presenting roses to the Virgin


The fireworks continued, a constant barrage, for three nights this week.  Ozzie, our Australian Shepherd, calmed down thanks to a low dose aspirin after which we ourselves had little trouble sleeping.  The explosions continued though throughout the night, culminating in the celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s (“La Guadalupana”) feast day yesterday.

The fireworks were yet another reminder that Mexico remains predominantly Roman Catholic:  over 80 per cent of the one hundred twelve million Mexican citizens.  It is a source of pride for many Mexicans that the Virgin Mary chose a Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, to be blessed by her appearance before him in 1531.  In 1999, Pope John Paul II declared the Guadalupana manifestation of the Virgin to be “Patroness of the Americas, Empress of Latin America and Protectress of Unborn Children”.

A record 6.3 million persons from all over Mexico made the pilgrimage this week to the Virgin of Guadalupe’s shrine on Tepeyac Hill outside Mexico City.  An estimated 20 million people each year visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, making it a more popular Marian shrine than that of Lourdes or Fatima.

Aside from the fireworks, Kate and I were impressed by the people’s devotion shown in honoring “the mother of the Americas”.  On our way back to San Luis Potosi from Aguascalientes Monday the 10th, throngs of people walked along the roadside to their diocesan capital’s Cathedral.  In our town of Soledad de Graciano Sanchez, on SLP’s outskirts, hand made

Pilgrims on their way to their Diocese's Cathedral in Villa de Arriaga, San Luis Potosi

Pilgrims on the way to their Diocese’s Cathedral in Villa de Arriaga, San Luis Potosi

signs urged neighbors to attend a mass, a dance, a prayer vigil on the occasion of the Feast Day. In many Mexican neighborhoods, these events represented the culmination of weekly neighborhood gatherings during a forty day period leading up to December 12.   Kate’s Spanish class at the University in downtown San Luis Potosi was not held on the Feast Day.  In their conversation the day before, her “maestra” Karla told Kate that thousands of pilgrims walk on their knees many kilometers on their way to cathedrals dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe across Mexico.  A real “Via Dolorosa”.

But there was a difference in this week’s religious celebrations in some Latin American cities.  Near us, in Aguascalientes, Disciples pastor Manuel Tovar helped an interdenominational group organize a worship service in the city center on 12/12.  Pastor Manuel expected over 1000 people to join evangelical Christians from Canada to Patagonia in “a historical event that will change the spiritual atmosphere of the continent”.  The “Adora America” event was the vision of

Flyer for the Aguascalients event downloaded from the "Adora America" web site

Flyer for the Aguascalients event downloaded from the “Adora America” web site

some New York City pastors led by Dominican pastor Rev. Carlos Jimenez and wife Lissette Acosta. Worship in Aguascalientes and other sites culminated with continent wide viewing, via satellite or webcast, of the “Adora America” service in the Meadowlands, New Jersey.

The “Adora America” counter event on the Guadalupana’s Feast day is one more sign of the rise of evangelical Protestant Christianity throughout Latin America.  An article in The Economist magazine this year (http://www.economist.com/node/21551091) noted that even in Mexico there are areas where evangelicals now nearly equal the number of Catholic faithful.  The evangelical surge is most evident in areas of Mexico where the Catholic Church and Mexican Government have less of a presence, Chiapas in particular.

The States of Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, historic centers of Disciples mission outreach, remain over 90 per cent Catholic. But the “Adora America” organizing in Aguascalientes signals a new evangelical boldness in the Catholic heartland. New evangelical Protestant churches in the remote Huasteca region of the State of San Luis Potosi include two Disciples mission churches.  As in Chiapas, the relative lack of Catholic and government activity in the Huasteca and subsequent growth of the Protestant presence there account for a smaller Catholic majority in the State of San Luis Potosi.

Pastor Manuel Tovar with daughter in law Luz, wife Lupita and Kate in back

Pastor Manuel Tovar with daughter-in-law Luz, wife Lupita with Kate behind in Aguascalientes, the geographic center of Mexico

About erasingborders

The blog title harks back to an ancient Church history document, The Address to the Emperor Diognetus reporting on the lives of third century Christians in Asia Minor: “They live in their native lands but like foreigners…They take part in everything like citizens and endure everything like aliens. Every foreign country is their native land and every native land a foreign country…. They remain on earth but they are citizens of heaven.” Kate Moyer's wedding present to Doug Smith of a dancing jester figure bore the quote, “I like geography best, he said, because your mountains and rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.” They dedicate this blog then to helping bring about the day when human beings share the resources of the planet equitably and without borders. Our geography experience features childhoods in the Midwest. Kate lived for over twenty years as an adult in the small town of Neodesha, Kansas while Doug has been an urban dweller all his adult life. She is able to readily identify most crops and keeps a close watch on her partner’s snob tendencies. The Nile Valley of Egypt, for Kate, and the Congo rainforest for Doug have left deep marks on their interior landscapes.

Posted on December 14, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Many thanks, Doug. You are teaching me so much about Mexico and I apprecitae it.

    Merry Christmas to you and Kate and a blessed, happy New Year! I love you, June


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