Friday, April 22, 2011

Popular religiosity in Vera Cruz

I’m helping with the services in the town of Vera Cruz this Triduum as I did last year.  Vera Cruz is a poor town and it needs a lot of help in its pastoral work.

What I find fascinating is the popular piety I found among the people.

The people were very glad to have me come and help, especially when I told them that Padre Efraín had me bring the Eucharist. There is throughout the diocese of Santa Rosa a deep devotion to the Eucharist, even though many people in rural communities have limited access to Mass.

The Holy Thursday liturgy was slated for 7:00 pm. The celebration started late – what’s new! Last year I had a hard time getting people to come forward to get their feet washed. But this year two young people recruited people right after the homily and we had thirteen. (The last to join was a three year old boy whom I could not in good conscience turn away.)

Several of the feet were dirty – little boys who were walking around chuña – barefoot. There was the gnarled toes of the old woman. These were not well-washed folks you might find in the US, but the poor who walked to the church through the mud puddles.

After the celebration there was a procession – la procesión de prendimiento – the arrest of Jesus. I was tired and so I stayed in the church praying before the Eucharist. After they returned we had a Holy Hour – mostly prayers, readings, and hymns.

Good Friday started with the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Vera Cruz -  a two hour procession made a little more difficult these days because of the recent torrential rains and the dirt streets dug up for repairs.

At three we had the Good Friday service. The Liturgy of the Word was normal. I even had three of us reading the Passion narrative.

But the veneration of the cross is a local custom, anointing the body of Christ on the cross. Several young girls soak cotton balls with perfume and then wipe the corpus. 

After this is done people come and venerate the cross and receive a piece of the perfumed cotton. Some of the people anoint the corpus. I encouraged them this year to touch or kiss the cross.

 After the service there was another procession, El Santo Entierro – the Holy entombment. In Vera Cruz, they place a crucifix in a glass catafalque and process through town. (I think they used to have a statue of the body of the dead Christ but it was stolen a few years ago.)

Friday evening at about 9 pm there is another procession, the procession of solitude, which is mostly a procession of women mourning with Mary. I decided to return to Santa Rosa, partly because the Santo Entierro ended about 5:30 pm and I was going to return to Santa Rosa on Saturday morning for a few errands; I also have a tooth ache.

Saturday I’ll go back to Vera Cruz for the Easter Vigil and then a Sunday morning Celebration of the Word with Communion.  I’ll probably spend most of the morning preparing.

It’s a challenge being in Vera Cruz but well worth it. I am looking forward to the Vigil there.


phoenixwoman said...

I love your photos, Brother John.

Incredible about the theft of a statue of Jesus. Presumably the thieves neither believe in nor fear God, and were just planning to sell it. But who would buy it? Surely not anyone who believes in or fears God. So who would buy such a thing?


John (Juan) Donaghy said...

The theft of old statues is not an uncommon experience here and on other parts of Latin America. There are people who collect the statues as art items, since many are hundreds of years old. Thus there is a market for Jesus - capitalism at its second worst.

The worst aspect of "unbridled capitalism," of course, is the way the poor are treated - as goods to be bought or sold for their labor - and not as the good persons, made in God's image and redeemed by Jesus.