In case you missed what I was getting at in the Hopi post, over at the ever-fascinating Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity, our blogger Arturo notes:

I’m so Catholic …I pray to saints even the Pope doesn’t recognize. When we went to the cemetery as children, we used to visit the graves of my brother and sister who died a few days after birth. Because they had been baptized, my mother said they were angels (not true, but a common belief in Mexico… heck, close enough). It was kind of cool having a brother and sister who were angels.

In Latin America, it is hard not to think at times that the graves are shrines and not places of mourning. Maybe it’s “Catholic ancestor worship”, but people feel that they are helped from beyond the grave by even the suffering souls in Purgatory (there are holy cards for the “Anima Sola”, and people can seach my site for an English translation of the prayer.) Down there people have all sorts of “Catholic spiritual helpers”, some good, some bad, some not so clear: Sarita Colonia, Juan Soldado, La Milagrosa, Gauchito Gil, Pedro Jaramillo, etc.

All canonization does is say that a public cult can be celebrated for a person, and indeed it should. But I am beginning to think that, scratch the surface a bit, and PRIVATE cults are just as necessary. I pray to my deceased grandmother and some of her “folk saints”. I knew one blind woman who was a pillar of the Legion of Mary in my town who I consider a saint. Saints from long ago, reigning in glory both in Heaven and in the hearts of all the faithful, serve as an example of emulation and intercession that tie us into the mystery of the Universal Church through the ages (the Virgin, St. Jude, St. Michael, St. Joseph), but those “uncanonized” saints make it all real and tangible in the here and now. Both are very much needed, and both should be propagated both from the pulpit and in the Catholic home.

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