Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An ANGLICAN "Virgin of Guadalupe"?

I have absolutely no problem with the concept of "veneration (honoring) of the saints." None.

That said, I have to add that I agree with a friend from my church --- up to a point. He is very opposed to what he considers the "Romanization" of our Episcopal worship services, especially with what he considers to be the new Mariology --- which he sees as being Mariolatry, the worship of Mary. He finds it especially offensive that our newly blessed (by our diocesan bishop, no less!) icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe has been given a hallowed place in our church, right next to the high altar. That, to him, means that we now see Mary as someone to be worshiped, when it is God Alone Whom Christians are to worship. 

Again, I tend to agree with him...up to a point. As I said before, I have no problem with the concept of honoring any saint --- especially Mary, whom we Christians believe God Himself honored very highly. In what we know today as the "Magnificat," she herself acknowledges as much --- and adds, maybe strangely, that people "throughout all generations" would call her "blessed."

To me, Mariolatry --- the worship of Mary --- is very different from Mariology, or veneration or honoring of Mary or any other saint. I am not about to refight the High-Church versus Low-Church, Anglo-Catholic versus Evangelical battles that were settled for most people almost two centuries ago. Besides, my own beliefs about the afterlife wouldn't fit neatly into either one of those categories, anyway. All I will say is this: Because of my personal beliefs, I fully embrace the concept of the Veneration (not worship) of the saints. Very briefly, and perhaps a bit simplistically, I believe this: My human life is but one level of My Life overall; some people on the human level exhibit a particularly keen talent for directing spiritual energy in a specific direction; as we progress spiritually --- on this human level, as well as on the higher levels of life --- we may ask those people to pray with us and for us for various concerns. I don't understand what, exactly, it means that I have been baptized and confirmed into the Body of Christ, but I believe that exactly that has occurred. Just as I have no problem whatsoever in asking a mature human Christian to pray with me and for me, it makes complete sense (to me, at least) to ask someone who has moved on beyond this life (and is, presumably, more spiritually advanced or mature) to pray with me and for me. So, I venerate them, and I don't hesitate at all to ask those people to pray with me and for me. I do not see that as "worshiping" them, any more than if I ask the members of our prayer group at church to pray with me and for me suggests that I'm worshiping them. Thus, I have no problem with the idea that the Church has named certain people "saints" (spiritual giants). Nor do I have any problem in asking any of those saints to pray with me and for me.

Where I --- along with my friend at church --- do have a problem with the Virgin of Guadalupe is that, as far as I've been able to tell, "The Virgin of Guadalupe" is on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, but not on any Anglican calendar of saints. I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic; as an Episcopalian, I am an Anglican, not a Roman Catholic. My friend and I have diverging and different reasons for objecting to the veneration of The Virgin of Guadalupe, I'll admit. Having come into the Episcopal Church from a decidedly evangelical background, he bristles at just about anything that smacks of "Romanism," and reminds us often that we belong to The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. I came into the Church from a very different fellowship, and was confirmed in a stratospherically High Church parish (which left the denomination when women were first ordained into the priesthood back in the 1970s), so was just as concerned (and bothered) by the "Protestant" part of our name. So strong was the opposition of many Episcopalians to that "Protestant" designation that we now have two official, legal names: The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and The Episcopal Church.

Now: Back to the Virgin of Guadalupe: I am profoundly offended when people are lumped together by ethnic or similar groups. Thus, I am offended when non-Hispanics see all Hispanics as having some kind of allegiance to The Virgin of Guadalupe. While I believe that the Blessed (her word) Virgin (young lady) Mary (the name of the one we're discussing) is certainly one worthy of my respect and even veneration, the specific Virgin of Guadalupe is a Romanization of that concept. I believe that The Virgin of Guadalupe is on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, not ours. Again, I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic.

I am offended by the idea that all, or even most, Hispanic Catholics would honor The (Roman Catholic) Virgin of Guadalupe simply because they're Hispanics or Catholics.  That specific devotion is particularly distasteful to Salvadorans, who instead honor --- even worship --- Christ, The Savior ("El Salvador"), the image of Whom is very emphatically not the same as, or even similar to, that of Juan Diego and The Virgin of Guadalupe.

Non-Hispanics see The Virgin of Guadalupe as being embraced by most or all Hispanics as a cultural, a Hispanic, thing; Hispanics themselves emphatically do not! For my own reasons, I find this adoration of The Virgin of Guadalupe by non-Roman Catholics, Hispanic or not, to be absolutely, abjectly odious