America's First Article in Spanish!

Yes, you read that right.  America has published--posted--its first article ever in Spanish.  Yes, a bit late given the predominance of Spanish-speaking Catholics in this country, but better late than jamás

The story: A few months ago, I was invited to speak at this year's Los Angeles Religious Education Congress (which concluded last month), where a huge proportion of the attendees are Latino/a Catholics.  And given that a new Spanish translation of my book My Life with the Saints had just been published--called Mi vida con los santos--and given that my Spanish is okay (not great, but not bad) I asked Loyola Press if they might help me translate a talk for la gente!  So I made my proposal to the organizers at "Congress."  "What would you think of my giving a talk in Spanish this year?"  Sister Edith Prendergast, the lively and longtime organizer of Congress, said, as I would later learn, to one of her colleagues, "Does he even know Spanish?"  When I assured them that it would be a top-flight translation, that I had studied Spanish and, most importantly, that I would practice assiduously, they agreed.  So Miguel Arias, at Loyola Press, translated the talk; Julia Sosa, our advertising director helped me practice; and voila (sorry: wrong language) I was happy to speak before 5,000 Latino Catholics a few weeks back.   On my favorite topic: los santos!  And it was a marvelous experience!  So moving to be able to speak about Archbishop Romero, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Salvadoran Martyrs, San Ignacio Loyola and Pedro Arrupe, in their own language, to a group of Spanish-speaking believers.  It was especially moving to quote Monsenor Romero in Spanish to my Spanish-language brothers and sisters.

Of course I needed to have Miguel seated next to the podium in case I botched any words--which I did several times.  Whenever I stumbled (Catolicismo was pretty hard to pronounce, for some reason) Miguel popped up to the microphone and said the word to much laughter.  And towards the end of the talk when I stumbled over modelo, for some reason, the crowd shouted it out!

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An excerpt:


Así pues, un verano caliente, en el sótano de una Iglesia Episcopal de Cambridge, Mass., repasé todo el vocabulario, la gramática y la estructura de los enunciados que había aprendido una década antes en la preparatoria. Y fue entonces cuando me enamoré nuevamente del idioma castellano, de su español.

Pero esta vez, mi amor por el castellano fue más profundo aún. Esta ocasión no era simplemente una cuestión de imagen o de cultura, era cuestión de testimonio cristiano. Una de las experiencias más profundas durante mis años de novicio fue el martirio de seis jesuitas que trabajaban en la Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, en San Salvador, junto con su cocinera y su hija, en el año de 1989. Su trabajo a favor de los pobres llevó a estos Jesuitas a no huir, sino estar al lado de sus hermanos y hermanas y, consecuentemente, ser asesinados durante el conflicto civil en El Salvador.  

En esta ocasión entendí realmente, por primera vez, que un cristianismo verdadero tiene su propio costo. Ese martirio no es algo que solamente tuvo lugar durante el período de la Primera Iglesia. Las historias de los santos y santas continúan hasta el día de hoy. Me resulta muy difícil explicar en palabras lo mucho que este evento significó en mi vida cristiana.

Entonces, queridos hermanos y hermanas, here's America's first article in Spanish, Conviertase en santo (o santa)!  May it be the first of many, many more!

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Gabriel Marcella
8 years 11 months ago
Mas felicitaciones. Esperamos que en el futuro America Magazine, la mas prestigiada revista de cultura catolica en Estados Unidos, publique articulos en castellano para comunicar sus perspectivas con el quinto pais en el mundo de habla hispana. Adelante Padre Martin!
7 years 9 months ago
Dear Father James. I just finished to read your book My life with the Saint. I am very please with the news that it is available in Spanish. I have my members of my family whom do not speak English and I believe this book will be a inspiration for them.
My sincerely thanks for the ways your book has been written. It is full in grace and honesty. This book help me to understand that the Lord wants to the everybody be saint, but be yourself not somebody else. Your book help me also to deal with my own struggles with pride and insecurity. I will pray the Lord grace be you and your vocation always.  

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