Celebrating Resurrection – A Life That Is Transformed
by Magdalena Gutierrez
Happy and blessed Easter to everybody! This year I traveled to beautiful Monterrey Mexico for Holy Week and Easter, to spend time with my family. When I was coming back, I received a phone call at the airport in Houston from my very good friend and neighbor Maria. Her dad had died that morning after a long battle with cancer. How sad and at the same time appropriate that I should meditate and accompany my friend as she mourns her dad during Easter! I would like to offer you an insight into our Hispanic Catholic faith and devotions.
“Do this in remembrance of me”
My friend Maria is a young adult Catholic from El Salvador. She came to Washington DC in 2001 and immediately applied for a temporary protection status – TPS – a temporary protection status that Salvadorians and other few immigrants may obtain for a fee, in consideration of temporary circumstances particular to their country of origin, like war or violent conflicts that pose a serious threat to their personal safety. Every year the permit must be renewed for those over the age of fourteen. While protected by this temporary status the person must remain in the US at all times. This is the Law and it is meant to protect us in the USA. For my friend Maria, it meant she could not travel to El Salvador to participate in her dad’s funeral without risking her return to the US and the job that enables her to help support her mom and younger sister–now, thanks to Maria, a 4th year student of medicine.
“The Catholic Church and the Body of Christ”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines evangelization as “the proclamation of Christ and His Gospel by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ’s command.” In Go and Make disciples we read that evangelization means “bringing the good news of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel itself.”
So here is the Good News from the Hispanic Community! My friend Maria is Catholic and hangs out with Catholics. She still keeps a certain distance from the Church that is more indicative of her age than of lack of faith. When her dad died, she received empathic support from friends and co-workers. We all mobilized immediately to seek for alternative solutions to her traveling problem and to accompany her in her grieving days. After a week of searching for a permission to travel without penalties and of talking to the immigration staff of the Spanish Catholic Center she is at peace with the situation. When we are together I hear her talk on the cell phone to friends and explain, “There is a reason why things are happening this way and God knows why I have not been able to travel to see my family in El Salvador this time. I am not going to question his wisdom.” My friend is now talking about her dad and how she is so much like him, remembering the good education he provided for her and the good example he gave to all who knew him. This remembering of the passing of her loved one has given her inspiration to approach the sacrament of reconciliation. “My dad is now looking after me and helping me.”
Happy Easter to all of you and may you recognize the Lord in the daily breaking of the bread!
Gutierrez is the Coordinator of Evangelization and Hispanic RCIA for the Archdiocese of Washington. She contributes a periodic column about evangelization with Hispanic communities for Evangelization Exchange.