A Festive God?

In the penultimate period of life you get to embark on spiritual paths not taken in hectic youth. One way I’ve done this is to reread with a remedial eye Elizabeth Johnson’s great book Quest for the Living God. Here you can encounter the Gospel in all its fullness. If you want to know what Christianity is, or what you've been missing, take and read.               

This time through I’m focusing on the short chapter, “Accompanying the God of Fiesta.” Why? Because I badly need to reeducate my ancestral Calvinist self with infusions of liberating Latino/a insight. Specifically, it’s proving difficult for me to accept retirement' leisure without work deadlines or  family responsibilities. 


Can I be a worthwhile person without ego boosting work to validate my life? I need help in fully accepting that unconditional love is more important than achievement. Hispanic theology understands that God is a God of Fiesta and Play as well as struggle. Latinos have much to teach intellectuals reading (if not bowling) alone.

Beth Johnson maps the emerging theological articulation of lived Hispanic religious experience. Here we find the appreciation of family, community, hospitality, beauty, rituals, processions, flowers and song. These enthusiasms accompany mystic spirit filled devotions to Our Lady and the saints, giving everyday access to comfort and joy. Those raised in more self-controlled (repressed?) cultural habits of decorum can envy this celebratory fervor. More Paschal and Pentecostal joyfulness, please.

Of course celebrations take time and are essentially “non-productive.” (Also inefficient and wasteful from Mr. Gradgrind’s perspective.) Yet what in the world are we anxiously hurrying for? Can’t we learn to rejoice in the day and be glad?

Yesterday on the feast of Corpus Christi I had a chance for some remedial practice in fiesta and company keeping. I walked in our parish Corpus Christi procession wending and chanting through the town and then later went to the parish picnic. The procession was moving but rather sober in the empty Sunday morning streets. By contrast the afternoon picnic was warmer and livelier, with music, plentiful food, fun children’s games and successful ‘hanging out’ enjoying the gorgeous Hudson River.

Yes, maybe I am going to get it before it’s too late.  God rest ye merry, everyone, let nothing you dismay. Any similar thoughts? 

Sidney Callahan


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Thomas Farrell
5 years 9 months ago
You might want to take a look at Josef Pieper's book IN TUNE WITH THE WORLD: A THEORY OF FESTIVITY.
John Donaghy
5 years 9 months ago
Corpus Christi is very different here in Honduras. In the parish where I help it started with a 90 minute procession from one village that picked up people on the way, only with about 25 candidates for first communion. Lots of singing and praying - including stopping and kneeling in the road. People meeting and greeting others,even as they climbed the hill to town under a blazing sun.
Mass was spirited with a shorter homily than usual, but it was followed by tamales for everyone.
The God of fiesta - of abundance - reigned, even among the poor.


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