March 3, 2009

Así pues...

There's a good article in the New York Times this morning on the shift toward Spanish language and Latino Catholicism here in New York. The presenting dissonance is the appointment of our tenth Irish bishop (in a row) for a local church in which the majority or near majority of Catholics are Latino. In fact, New York hasn't had a non-Irish ordinary since the death of bishop John Dubois in 1842 (He was from Paris.)

Now I wouldn't want this to interfere with the big fun of Dolan's honeymoon period here in New York. But this shift in North American Catholicism is obvious in my own experience. The Church needs not only to accept it, but to celebrate it.

In the last two parishes I have been in before this one, the Sunday schedule culminated in a Spanish Mass. In both cases the attendance and the participation at this Spanish Mass exceeded the other Masses in English combined. In the parish where I work now we have confessions for an hour on Saturday afternoon. In between confessions I almost always have time to pray Evening Prayer, and sometimes even have time to pray my Rosary as well. On the other side of town some Mexican sisters have taken over a parish convent where they run retreats most weekends. I've gone several times to help with confessions. They put me in a room with a sign on it asking that no more than seventy people be in line for confession at a time. I tell them that I'm good for two hours or maybe a little more. After that, I'm exhausted from trying to listen in Spanish.

Now my experience is limited in scope, and is confined to the Northeast of the United States. But it does tell me that the future of our faith as it is practiced here is more and more Spanish speaking and Latino in culture. The average Latino Catholic is more likely to attend Mass than your average Anglophone Catholic. (In fact, the great majority of the latter don't attend to their religion at all, or perhaps only in an emergency like marriage or death.) Latinos are less likely to substitute actual children with pets, so they have more children and are more likely to raise them--to one degree or another--in the faith.

So, Irish archbishop or not, a local church blessed with the culture of Irish Catholicism or not, we are on our way to being a Latino church. Check out the article here.


Matthew Ignatius said...

I noticed that myself, the shift to a Spanish-speaking spiritual culture. To be honest, I agree with you, I think we should celebrate that.

I think the one thing that I like the most about the Latin American culture in Catholic churches here is there is a great respect that exists for the Church, for priests and religious, for Tradition, for devotion, etc. And, this one is a biggie for me, they actually show reverence to religious articles and they show great reverence for the altar and for Christ in the tabernacle. There always seems to be a lot of genuflecting, bowing, kneeling, and making the sing of the Cross.

I get upset when I go to parishes nearby Stonehill (or even my own parish) and see people strutting into the church as if it were their living room and showing no reverence for the altar or for Christ in the tabernacle or for the pastor and his assistants. This is a problem of particular concern among my generation and people younger than me who are just now entering their teenage years. There is no respect. It may be a phase exacerbated by teenage rebellion, but nonetheless it is a problem that can carry on even beyond the teenage years and that terrifies me.

Brother Charles said...

Quite right, brother. Far too many people are way too casual, and that goes across the board--clergy and laity, religious and secular.

Anonymous said...

I have to smile when I think of marriage as a sacramental emergency.

I beleive you are correct when you talk about the changing face of the american church. However, we have had these problems before. In Denver, our first 2 bishops were French, and their flock and their priests were largely Irish. By the time we had an Irish bisop it was 1969 and the ethnic tensions had subsided.

Here in Denver the spanish masses are also the best attended, and also receive the worst times on the schedule, often at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. However things are changing. Abp. Chaput has made Spanish a priority, and it is required of all seminarians. Many of the young men in our seminaries are native spanish speakers.

There are even a few spanish speakers where I attend the extraordinary form, and even there confession is offered in spanish.

I think the best attitude to take on these changes is to embrace the great saints that have been given to the church by spaish speaking people like St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, Bl. Miguel Pro, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Peter Alcantara, and the whole host of others.