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She epitomizes pragmatic reality, and by so doing, in a certain manner assumes tangible metaphysical form. Rather than being apart and indistinct from humans, the Lady has become absorbed in the Mexican culture and has become such an endearing figure precisely due to the fact that she is seen as part of their suffering and as corporal liberal embodied in incorporeal form that is part of -- the essence of -- their very being. In that way, she is more animate than inanimate and possesses enduring capacity.
Part II. Major theological themes that can be infered from the works of Jeanette Rodriguez and Nancy Pineda-Madrid on Our Lady of Guadalupe
Various replicative theological themes can be inferred from the works of these authors. The essay elaborates on them.
Mary's relationship to the American-Mexican woman, i.e. As symbol that is stereotyped by a supercilious, dominating majority, but that appears to them as motherly and liberating -- is akin to the general Marian scatology in that Mary gives dignity and liberation to the oppressed in, that seen as servile and humiliated herself, the oppressed identify with her and perceive her as suffering human who withstood her tormentors in a dignified, resilient manner.
Quoting Elizondo, Rodriguez (Guadalupe: the feminine face of God) shows how "the cult not only liberates downtrodden people but also liberates us from a restrictive idea of God" (p. 28).
Mary is the feminine symbol in a masculine world.
In her book, in one part (Chapter 2), Rodriguez (1994) seems to characterize America as being a masculine-type nation particularly in its aloof and aggrandizing treatment of the Chicano. It is possible, therefore, that the Mexican woman adamantly clings to Mary (and, therefore, by extension the Lady of Guadalupe) since she personifies a maternal, feminine presence.
According to Johnson, there are five female images of divinity: mother, divine compassion, recreative energy, immanence, and divine power. For the Mexican-American woman who merges the familiar and intimate with the Divine and accords familiarity to religious icons, all five images have symbiotically been transferred to the Lady of Guadalupe. And as a whole, the Lady of Guadalupe teaches Mexican-American women that come what may and, despite the contradictory messages that they may receive from their American host-country, they are in reality "lovable and capable," and more so: "that we belong, that we can grow and be transformed and that there is a reason to live and a reason to hope" (29). In that way, the Lady of Guadalupe is Power. She is ultimate power since she accords petitioners the abilities to have power over something rather than having power with. "Again and again," observed Jeannette, " the women in my study found that in encountering and being with Our Lady of Guadalupe they realigned their sense of self in an accepting and empowering relationship" (p.30).
The American-Mexican woman is an individual who is bifurcated between two cultures, one of which (according to Jeannette) may be seen as masculine), the other as traditional and, consequently, feminine. The Chicano woman may, therefore, be attracted to Mary and perceive her in terms of a female lens, particularly because her birth- tradition is more feminine than is her adopted (and, oftentimes, oppressive) new environment.
The Lady of Guadalupe becomes identified as loving Mother and people see her "as a mother, a maternal presence, consoling, nurturing, offering unconditional love, comforting" (p.38), all qualities that, simultaneously, are symbiosis with God.
It is interesting but in this way one can see how Mexican-American females at the same time fuse, through the Lady of Guadalupe, their female-perceived characteristics of their Mexican natural identity together with the more masculine-perceived identity of their new American homeland. Religion is a close and intimate presence to Mexicans. Religion permeates all factors of their life, and it is conceivable that Mexican women feel particularly close with their Mother the Lady of Guadalupe because she evidences for them the motherliness and womanliness that they feel is part of their Mexican birthright. On the other hand, their other part of their identity, the American portion, is identified with them by manifesting God, the masculine image. In this way, both images, masculine and feminine are fused in one, as their identity -- Mexican-American, is fused in one, and here, too, we see as Rodriguez pointed out the fusion of human-divine.
What we have, in other words here, is a brilliant example of how the three separate fields play out in the mindset of the Mexican -- American woman as per the Lady of Guadalupe: 1. The human spectrum where the Lady becomes loving mother to an oppressed woman; 2. The Divine spectrum -- where the Lady is conjoined with the Virgin Mary and, in that capacity, belongs to an eternal era, and; 3. The Divine-human zone where divinity and humanity fuse and the Lady assume both factors -- metaphysical omniscient Divine power with loving compassionate care.
At the same time: 1. The human factor is seen where the Lady is identified with the Mexican component of the strong, motherly Mexican woman (as per sympathetic social scientists and historians), and seen as the antithesis of the human form of the masculine, i.e. The stereotype with which America presents itself by being an aloof rigid masculine oppressive figure; 2. The divine factor where she becomes divinely Mexican. Mexican is the symbolism of the Lady for Guadalupe, and 3. Both divinity and humanity fuse in that the masculinity of the American nation represents the masculine ethos of God the father, whilst the female character of the Latino (the Mexican part of the American syntheses) is characterized by the femininity of Mary the Mother. Via this synthesis, the Latino is enabled to experience synthesis of her conflictual parts and the two disjointed and often warring elements, American and Mexican can fuse together in symbolic divine form of harmony.
The Lady of Guadalupe, as one form of Mary, symbolizes everything that the Mexican woman has been extolled of being: creative, compassionate, enduring, and motherly bastion of strength to her family:
All that is creative and generative of life, all that nourishes and nurtures, all that is benign, cherishes, and sustains, all that is sympathetic, and solicitous originates in.. her." (Guadalupe, the feminine face of God, p.29)
Harmony is also the epitome of purity. Purity signifies cleanness, innocence, wholeness, the de-contamination of sordidness and materialism. It may be for this reason, too, that Mexican-Americans identify so with her since she symbolizes the very reverse of the materialistic, hedonistically minded America that can, certainly, not be vivified as 'pure'.
Pure also represents an utter fusion of opposing forces into one. The human world may see certain elements, or characters, as irreconcilable and, existentially or ontologically or definitively apart. The metaphysical world, as represented, for instance, by Divinity harmonizes these contradictory elements into a seamless whole. This is called 'purity'. The Lady of Guadalupe signifies this aspect where, in her essence, we see seemingly contradictory elements such as compassion and divine power and might conjoined. On the one hand, Mexican-Americans intervene for her sympathy and approach her in their time of deepest stress. On the other hand, the Lady is perceived as having a certain power.
3. Figure of redemption
Through assuaging the suffering of her petitioners, the Lady can best be resembled as figure of redemption and salvation according to both Pineda-Madrid and Rodriguez, and by omitting that impression, claims Pineda-Madrid in her dissertation, theologians are doing a disservice and missing a crucial point. Redemption implies "the communion of humans with themselves, others, and God." (Pineda-Madrid, 2005, 11). Again, here we see Rodriguez's mergence of three worlds epitomized where the Mexican-American woman synthesizes separately the human and divine with conjointly the human-divine and does this through the interface of the Lady of Guadalupe. The Lady of Guadalupe serves as mediator to both gaining personal succor and relief (in fact empowerment) whilst receiving enhanced resolution and solution with their dealing with the creator and with the other. She provides a temporal aura of redemption -- not 'salvation' (Pineda-Madrid (2005) is keen in emphasizing this point -- and by doing so doing factors fragments (that of self, that of self with God; that of self with other) into a whole.
The Lady of Guadalupe also signifies another aspect of the redemptive process through her connection with conversion (Pineda-Madrid, 2005). "Guadalupe signaled the transition from brokenness to integration through a conversion process" (p.27). Conversion means more than 'simple entry into the Christian church. Literally, and on an underlying basis, it means the achievement of…[continue]
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