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This project arises from religious education courses at the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago but can be opened to other programs as well. Interested professors of religious education or faith formation should e-mail edaily@luc.edu if they want their students to be included.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Latino Holiday Book

The Latino Holiday Book by Valerie Menard is a secular book of celebrations and traditions of Hispanic-Americans written by Valerie Menard and published in 2004 by Marlowe & Company. The book is patterned on the seasons of the year, which are titled in the table of contents using both their Spanish and English names. I resourced the chapter on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, "the Revered Mother for a Native People" for an intergenerational lesson for Hispanic-Americans.

The chapter explains the context in which the Virgin appeared, discusses her "trendiness among mainstream consumers and non-Catholics"(TLHB p.158,) and shares a detailed story of Juan Diego's meeting with her. An analysis of the self-portrait of the Virgin on the tilma is described, followed by similar appearances of virgins or goddesses in Spanish and indigenous Aztec culture. The chapter concludes with a Prayer to the Virgin in Spanish, also saying that "the fact that she appeared to a recently converted Indian, that she spoke to him in his native language, and that her image reflects the mestizaje (mixing of the races) is culturally important. To people of all faiths and all economic conditions, the Virgin of Guadalupe offers hope."(TLHB p. 168.)

Charles Dahm, in his book, Parish Ministry in a Hispanic Community, speaks of a community of teaching ministries. One element he discusses in teaching religion
is language, especially in teaching those whose first language is Spanish. "Pope Paul VI noted: "Evanglization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into condiseration the actual people whom it addresses, if it does not use their language...." (PMinHC p. 213-214) While TLHB is not a religion book, it does discuss Hispanic religious holidays, and it does incorporate some Spanish language making it appealing to those of an Hispanic background.

Dahm also discusses the importance of conserving and celebrating popular religiosity. Hispanics celebrate religious holidays as times of "social events and public demonstrations of faith." (PMinHC p.216) The lives of the saints are dramatized, the stories of the Bible are brought to life, the posadas are celebrated. The chapter on the Virgin of Guadalupe from The Latino Holiday Book does bring Our Lady of Guadalupe to life and gives enough resource material for others to use for celebrating her.

The Latino Holiday Book is an interesting, informative, culturally appropriate resource book to use in working with the Hispanic-American community. However, because it is a secular book, it should not be used as a primary resource for religious education needs. It is marvelous to use as supplementary material, but not as primary material for this purpose.

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