Saturday, May 29, 2010

St. Rose of Lima, Decisions, and Being Catholic

If this picture looks familiar, you probably follow the Catholic News Agency, or this blog. I posted the frame from a CNA video on Wednesday of this week:

(from the Maywood, California, Police Department and Jeff Allen (Flickr); via catholicnewsagency, used w/o permission)

Looks like the folks in Maywood, California, still don't know why their Catholic school was vandalized. As EWTN News quoted the parish priest-
" 'We still do not know the motivation for this attack of hate. We do not understand the motivations of such people. Maybe they wanted to take part in a satanic ritual. Maybe they wanted to leave a message. Maybe they wanted to offend what is most sacred to us.' "
(EWTN News)
Or maybe 'all of the above.' We just don't know.

From some points of view, it looks like the St. Rose of Lima Parish 'got what they deserved.' They were helping 'those people:' undocumented immigrants.

Law, Loyalty, and Personal Reminiscence

Before someone has a stroke, read this: I'm an American citizen. I think it's a good idea to obey the national laws - providing that I'm not in a Thomas à Becket situation. When it's there's a conflict between secular law and God's law - the decision is not easy. Actually, it is: for anybody who has some notion of just how powerful God is. But it's not comfortable.

That said, obeying the letter of the law is prudent.

I'm an American: a Euro-American. My ancestors came to this country because they thought they'd be better off here. Although I'm related by marriage to the Lakota people, I tend to be sympathetic to those who were born elsewhere, but want to live here. Even if they don't look quite like me.

Ah, but what about the law! Well, if I remember my family history correctly: some of my relatives couldn't get into the United States legally. They could, however, get into Canada.

Then, having established Canadian residency, they came south. Technically, they didn't (quite) break any laws. Arguably, though, they violated the spirit of the American laws of the time.

And yet, I have no intention of disowning them.

The Burned Crucifix of St. Rose of Lima in Maywood

Back to that bit of self-expression or whatever in Maywood, and the St. Rose of Lima parish:
"Day of prayer to be held following attack on California church"
EWTN News (May 28, 2010)

"The faithful of Saint Rose of Lima Church in Maywood, Calif., will hold a day of prayer and reparation after their church was attacked by vandals on May 24. Two unidentified assailants ransacked the school kitchen and desecrated a cross and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in an attack that has been described by local police as a 'hate crime.'

"Fr. David Velásquez, pastor of St. Rose of Lima, a parish with many Latino immigrants, said they are not sure if they will restore the image of the Virgin that was stabbed in various parts of the body and face. They are also unsure whether or not they will re-build the crucifix that was turned upside down and burnt before it was broken.

" 'It is safer to leave the church as it is, as a reminder of the attack and as a sign that together we are the body of Christ. Even under attack or hate, we will not give up in our mission to defend our faith and our community,' said the priest...."

"...Accustomed to dealing with violence, Fr Velásquez said he has been 'shot at, the rectory windows have been broken, my license has been taken off me, I have been threatened.' He added that the violence has increased since 2006, when Maywood was declared a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants.

"Mexican media outlets report that the Church in this area has made many enemies since it began taking an active role in the defense of the immigrant community."
Right now, I don't know enough about what St. Rose of Lima parish is doing to say whether or not they're doing the right thing. I do think that 'those people over there' who are undocumented immigrants/illegal aliens/dirty foreigners/whatever are - people. They've got the same basic needs that I do: and aren't in the position I'm in.

Helping Those in Need

Helping those in need isn't the worst thing that a church could do.

'But they broke the law.' Okay: that's a fact, and it needs to be considered.

On the other hand, that knife in the eye of a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe doesn't inspire me with patriotic zeal to drive the foreigners from our American midst. Particularly since, not too many generations back: my ancestors were 'those people.'

Maybe the St. Rose of Lima parish was wrong to help the poor who were living among them. But I don't think that stabbing a picture of Mary, burning a crucifix, and trashing a school was a reasonable response.

And I'm not convinced that it was wrong to help 'those people.'

A Universal Church

One aspect of the Catholic Church that hasn't, I think, endeared itself to some Americans is that we really are a universal church. We're American, Mexican, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese - and we're all Catholic. It's not that national identity isn't important. As a Catholic, I'm required to be a good citizen - wherever I am. (September 24, 2008)

The St. Rose of Lima parish has been helping some of America's very poor residents. These residents are not, apparently, here legally. But I'm not inclined to think that not having the correct government papers is a terribly serious a crime.

Meanwhile, take note: Parishioners of St. Rose of Lima in Maywood, when attacked, prayed. I think other Catholics could profit by studying their example.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.