Magazine article Pastoral Music

Embracing Latina Spirituality: A Woman's Perspective

Magazine article Pastoral Music

Embracing Latina Spirituality: A Woman's Perspective

Article excerpt

Embracing Latina Spirituality: A Woman's Perspective Michelle A. Gonzalez. St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8616-886-0. 89 pages, paperback. $11.95.

"Embracing" is the most accurate verb to describe the approach that Michelle Gonzalez takes to this diverse, at times criticized, and often overlooked topic.

In a concise work of five chapters, the author displays her Cuban Hispanic heritage as well as her scholarship as an educator in theology. She situates the Latina concept of spirituality within the broader context of the Hispanic community/la comunidad. Gonzales wraps her arms around the profoundly human quality of Latina devotion as one that offers hospitality to the mestizaje/mulatizo of the Hispanic community in the struggle/lucha of everyday life/lo cotidiano. Gonzalez refers to and makes convincing applications to the mujerista theology of Ada María Isasi Díaz and to the importance of the Latinas having a voice in the Church.

After situating Latinas within the larger contexts of Hispanic culture and the American church, the author devotes entire chapters, respectively, to Marian devotions, to popular spiritual practices associated with the saints, and to the centralify of the suffering Jesus to Latina prayer. She dignifies popular spiritual practices as cultural expressions of the sensus fidelium (31). The book provides reflections on the realities of the Latina struggle in the United States as well as insights on the devotions to Our Lady of Charity (La Caridad del Cobre) and Guadalupe - representations of the Blessed Virgin Mary that have particular significance to Cubans and Mexicans.

Gonzalez courageously ineludes discussion of such sensitive phenomena as the cantineras and delicately explains how the Hispanic seasoning of Catholicism with espiritismo enriches rather than dilutes the faith of the Latina. One can almost see her smile as she relates personal incidents in which cultural practices seemed more important (at that time) than technical or logical explanations. …

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