December 8, 2008

Paraguayan Holiday Today

Every 8th of December is the Day of the Virgin of Caacupe, who is the patron saint of miracles. Catholic citizens honor the city of Caacupe as the holy city of Paraguay (the Pope visited there in the 80's) and make a pilgrimage there each year. I'm pasting an article about it below, from

According to the legend, the Blue Virgin of Caacupé saved a converted Guaraní from a band of Mbayáes hostile to the Christian faith. To show his gratitude he carved and image of the Lady of Caacupé out of a large Yerba Mate plant (some grow to near tree size). There is some question as to whether the image on display in the cathedral is the original. Another version of the story has the Indian being pursued by a bull, and saved by a snake sent by the Virgin to bite it on the ankle. These stories were probably invented by the Jesuits in order to convert the Guaraní Tribes to Christianity.

Caacupé is the center of much activity on December 8th, the Dia del Virgen (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception). Pilgrims come from all over Paraguay, many on foot, to participate in the celebrations (including fireworks and a candlelight procession). The sick and injured come to the town in great numbers.

Apparently, the belief is that the harder the journey, the more likely that the miracle you seek will take place. (Still a little caught up in "works," I believe...) So they tell me lots of folks crawl there or walk barefoot, or whatever they can do to make the journey more difficult. It's a long walk from the capital (31 miles, more or less), where most people live. And based on the way people drive here, I can only imagine how high the risk is for pedestrian accidents on that long highway.

Thank God He doesn't require such of us. It's sad that tradition has people in need of a miracle putting their faith in something like this, rather than bringing their petitions to God, "the old fashioned way."

It makes me think about how many times I still revert back to that mentality, though. I know that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and I also realize that when we're living in God's plan and following His commands, things just naturally go more smoothly (Heb 12:5-11).

I equate it to my relationship with my daughters. If I'm getting a bad attitude from the same child who asks me for ice cream, I'm likely to say, "This time you'll do without it to learn that you mustn't talk to me that way." So for sure, God doesn't go around showering us with rewards when I deserve a negative consequence. But I tend in my humanity to take that a step further sometimes and think that, for example, if I rise at 5 AM instead of 7 AM for my devotion, that I'm storing up points with God that I can cash in later for favors. I have to remind myself that grace is UNMERITED favor, and that God wants to supply my needs (Phil 4:19), even if I don't butter Him up earning brownie points. And how thankful I am for that today, because in this heat, I can't even CONSIDER walking to the cathedral!!

1 comment:

  1. It's so sad to see people working SO HARD to gain God's favor when Christ already provided it for us.

    Grace, grace
    God's grace
    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
    Grace, grace
    God's grace Grace
    Grace that is greater than all my sin!


Wanna leave a comment? Be nice, please, and if you can't, at least leave your email address...