About delfinwaldemar

i am a native of miami, fl and i am of cuban and salvadoran heritage. i am a social worker and queer theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and justice—specifically around lgbtq issues. i have a master in divinity as well as a master of social work. as an activist scholar of faith, i am interested in creating spaces where individuals and communities are safe and challenged to explore identity, expression, gender, and orientation in their complexities. i enjoy cooking, eating, laughing, writing, photography, eating more, “queerying” theology, and spending time with family and friends--especially my dearly beloved (while also driving him crazy). my approach to life is rooted in la lucha (the struggle)—lifting up our stories and experiences to inspire creative and authentic conversations and actions that thrive outside boxes transgressing dominant narratives. i hope this space will provide folks who feel isolated or disconnected from communities, especially religious one, an opportunity to wrestle and reconnect and re-member and simply be with the sacred. being raised roman catholic, i have felt marginalized and alone because of who i am within my church community--my queerness bars me from being able to pursue ordination and so this blog will be a space for me to share my journey of faith through homilies, pictures, liturgies, rants, queeries...my prayer is that this space become a pulpit and sanctuary, a new way of living into our call to radical holiness juntos...a place where you, me, G-d will caminar juntos y juntas en la lucha. Amen.

embracing guadalupen theology

I wrote this a few years ago and wanted to repost in honor of today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   My reflection looks at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a “still speaking” text of liberation and wholeness.   ¡Que viva la Guadalupana!

Some music in honor of today:  La Guadalupana sung by Miriam Solis; a variation of the same song by Emmanuel and Alexander Hacha. 


As I reflect over one of my favorite images of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, I realize the rich complexity and beauty within the apparition of la Morenita del Tepayac.  Just as in Galilee Mary’s yes and life pointed to God; so too in Mexico on a sacred mount Mary again points towards the path to God.   It is an apparition that does not have one meaning but speaks to us today on several levels.   The apparition has social, historic, and theological implications with new discoveries and meanings to consider with each look at the story.  Theologically, Guadalupe demonstrates God’s revelation through the unlikely hero, the need for safe space for divine encounter, and of the “un-boxing” of God’s revelation.

Throughout Biblical and Christian history, there are many examples of the underdog that saves the day.  In Guadalupe we come to see what God can do through the “nobody”, the outcast, and the rejected.  Just as God chose a poor Galilean Jewish girl to come into the world, God chose a poor indigenous man to reveal God’s plan for a new creation.  It is through the marginalized community that God planted seeds to fix the mess created by misguided, well-intentioned European colonizers—a revolu that is still being dealt with today.  Similar to stories in the Hebrew Bible, God demonstrates that God does not abandon God’s people but walks with the people and will provide a messiah. Mary, Joseph, Hagar, David, and Rahab are examples of people who were not hero material on the outside because of their gender, size, class, or fulfillment of cultural expectations but whose lives revolutionized their communities and history; Juan Diego is in this same line of known and unknown individuals that God uses to reveal truth, bring about change, and reflect divine love.  Though indigenous people were looked down upon and their culture seen as threat by Europeans, God sees potential and uses Juan to evangelize the Europeans and ultimately the world.   God holds up the rejected by calling an indigenous farmer to be a prophet, using the language and symbolism of the “conquered” to deconstruct harmful rhetoric, and comes to the people through Mary’s apparition as one of them through one of them to bring wholeness and liberation.

The story of Guadalupe reflects the need for safer spaces to connect with God.  Europeans came and destroyed the lives (on every level) of the Indigenous people of the Americas.  Native communities were flattened through a “salvation” of coercion and  humiliation—all in the name of God and in the name of progress, globalization, and evangelization.  People along with their traditions, beliefs, and way of life were completely eradicated because they were perceived to be less human (difference, like today, was seen as a threat to be silenced and conquered).  European notions of God, customs, dress, and education were forced upon tribes.  The conquest and colonization did not give people the space to desahogarse of their traumatic experience or grieve the loss of their livelihood as a community who became strangers in their own land—land that they had worked, bought with their sweat and blood, built homes on, and was a source of connection to the divine.  They were violated, blamed for being violated, and had no outlet to express these feelings. A dynamic that sadly continues today with other marginalized groups who are re-victimized by being blamed for the dominant group’s harsh treatment of them.

The missionaries’ church was not a place of encounter with God but a place of fear, pain, and terror.  Why would the indigenous people who were being evangelized and forced to convert want to come close to a god or deity who obliterated their sense of self, their land, their families, and their way of life?  Before any relationship with God could be created and fostered, it was necessary to establish spaces where people could heal and find God in travesty and tribulation.  God was not freely found but imposed—that is not healing, forgiving, liberating, or “whole-making” but just deepens the wounds.  As with other forms of violence, people than and now begin to believe the lies told to them by their oppressors.  It is beautiful and amazing how Mary greets Juan Diego; her greeting in his mother tongue begins to restore dignity that was taken from his people. Guadalupe provided a safe space by reclaiming a sacred site as a place of divine encounter, demonstrating that indigenous practices were not evil but good, and planted the seeds for a new beginning for both natives and foreigners.  Though the story of Guadalupe has brought healing and created a safer space, I believe that the Church needs to take a step further to apologize for its actions in the 1500s and not hide behind the image of Our Lady.  The story of Guadalupe shows how God reached out to create a sanctuary where people could encounter the divine on their own terms and through their own unique self and to begin a new creation from the pain of chaos and confusion (a message that has many implications for pastoral work today).

God’s work through the unlikely hero and the creation of safer spaces demonstrates that God’s complex and liberating revelation can be revealed to us through simple means that truly pack a punch.  Through Juan Diego’s testimony, the tilma with Our Lady’s image, and guadalupen roses God continues to speak to us today in a truly remarkable way.  We sometimes get caught up in the grandiose and in the bells-and-whistles; we often forget that God speaks in the “still small voice”.   Guadalupe was a reminder than and now that God can use anything as a microphone to speak God’s message of love and justice for all.  Guadalupe shows how God spoke and continues to speak through the rejected and marginalized to the Church and to society.  God’s message can come through the institution and hierarchy of the Church but it is not confined to it.  God speaks through the whole church choosing prophets from every level of church from bishops to forgotten campesinos.  The message of Guadalupe did not come from a learned philosopher but from a simple man eager to please his dulce Señora­—the message that was given was directed from the pueblo to the higher-ups (not vice versa as is often the case). God used Juan Diego and La Morenita to remind us that God’s revelation is bigger than the neat little box we try to put it in and is not limited to one person or a select few.

The story of Guadalupe has multiple meanings and was an event in history that continues to speak to us today. It’s messages take on new significance with each reading of the events that took place.  Hopefully we continue to learn, listen, and live what Guadalupe said and continues to say to us today as individuals, community, and church.   ¡Que viva la Guadalupana!


 

delfin bautista is a native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.   delfin is a social worker and activist theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and justice.   delfin is a former member of CTA’s Vision Council, Board of Directors, Anti-Racism Team, and 20/30 Leadership Team.  delfin is coauthor of religion and spirituality in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and also serves on their Board of Directors.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University as well as serving as adjunct faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  delfin is also a contributor to Believe Out Loud’s blog and “preaches” on their blog “La Lucha, Mi Pulpito.”

Advertisements

We are Pride!!!

also posted at:  https://laluchamipulpito.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/we-are-pride/

Towards the end of the Spring Semester I was asked to share a reflection at a vigil in celebration of Pride. In honor of Pride Month I wanted to share my ramblings—you, me, us, we are pride!

— 

We are Pride

A queerfelt muchas gracias to you all for your presence tonight.

Tonight we are pride! Tonight we celebrate all of who we are! Tonight we lift up our queerness, our rainbows, our LGBTQliciousness…we lift up our pride in who we are, who we have been, and who we will become.

I often get asked, is being a LGBT choice? Many have responded to this question with, why would anyone choose this life? Choose the hardship? Choose the discrimination? However, most recently I’ve decided to rant to the world…Why NOT choose being queer? I am not ashamed and there is nothing wrong or less than for being me, or being you, or being us.

We need to take pride in our isness and should not, cannot, will not feel shame or have folks through misguided shade. I honestly don’t think LGBT identities are choices, however, if I could choose I would choose queer everyday.   This is not to undermine the experiences of hardship that we have experienced…discrimination, rejection, isolation, violence, confusion. But I also have done some incredible things like getting arrested for civil disobedience, getting to hang out with folks who teach me everyday about beingness, getting to join my voice to the countless others advocating for all are welcome to truly mean all are welcome at OHIO and beyond its fun being a colorful thorn in the side of some of our student, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders on campus.

I don’t want us to feel bad about ourselves or for others to take pity…hell the fuck no to pity, I want people to be proud of us and for us to pridefully chant…we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere!

Tonight, this week, and other moments of Pride are not at the expense of the challenges and tragedies we have endured as a community…

  • The murders of trans women in the United States and around the world
  • The microaggressions that students experience everyday in the classroom and other spaces on our campus and all OHIO campuses
  • The reality that yes we can get married but we can be fired in 30 states and executed in 7 countries.
  • Folks who are being targeted for being LGBT, with little or no recourse from our community
  • The white washing and heterowashing of the radicalness of LGBTQ folks and our contributions
  • The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
  • The countless and often unknown victims of sexualized violence who identify as trans or gender variant or queer
  • The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media and other social networks

Claiming and reclaiming that we are pride is a re-energizer to continue to counter violence. We are pride and honor with pride

  • Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and all those who refused to be bullied and silenced at Stone Wall
  • The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2010 and June 26, 2015 when marriage equality became the law of the land.
  • Though we may have our critiques of her, Caitlyn Jenner has opened the door for conversations around trans identities throughout the United States.
  • Laverne Cox was on the cover of Time Magazine
  • Abby Wambach has a freakin’ Barbie made in her image
  • A Mya Taylor, a trans woman of color, was the center of a campaign for an Oscar Nomination for Tangerine.
  • Nike created a sneaker in honor of Pride Month
  • The Legend of Korra celebrated bisexuality
  • OHIO has and is and will be taking steps to fully live into diversity and inclusion…we have an LGBT Center, Gender Neutral Housing, LGBTQ Studies Certificate, Name and Pronoun Policy, trans healthcare for students, and we are moving forward with a new LGBT Living Experience and Gender Inclusive Restrooms.

We reflect and we remember our heroes and sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…

  • Gloria Anzaldua
  • Albus Dumbledore
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Ellen Paige
  • Frank Ocean
  • Carmen Carrera
  • Langston Hughes
  • Harvey Milk
  • Alice Walker
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Zachary Quinto
  • RuPaul
  • Tom Daly
  • Laverne Cox
  • Margaret Cho

Trail blazers past and present, who spark and kindle our commitment to embodying #bobcatrainbowwarriorfierceness. We take pride in our journeys of living and expressing who we are…we honor all of who we are, our bloopers and our triumphs as individuals and as familia…we take pride in our efforts to embody being a rainbow in the clouds of others…we take pride in our goods, our bads, and our freaking awesomeness!

We are pride! All of us without exception IS fabulous, fierce, glitterful, amazing, unicornlicious…

We are pride…we are here…we are queer…we have always been here and we will always be here.

Cheers and queers!  Muchas gracias!

 

delfin bautista is a native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.   delfin is a social worker and activist theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and justice.   delfin is a former member of CTA’s Vision Council, Board of Directors, Anti-Racism Team, and 20/30 Leadership Team.  delfin is coauthor of religion and spirituality chapter in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and also serves on their Board of Directors.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University as well as serving as adjunct faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  delfin is also a contributor to Believe Out Loud’s blog and “preaches” on their blog “La Lucha, Mi Pulpito.”

The Story of Resurrection is a Story of Transition

Reflection also available on Believe Out Loud’s website!

Easter Sunday. A day of many questions and confusion within a hope-filled community.

We still don’t know exactly what happened that night and moment. We can’t begin to imagination what folks were experiencing and feeling. As we reflected together this year over the snippets shared in the gospels, we immersed ourselves in imagining the fear and excitement of that moment.

Jesus’ followers did not know what was going to happen next or what to do next or what to say next.

After many doubts, they began to celebrate the resurrection not only of the Risen Christ, but the resurrection that erupted within them as individuals and as an emerging tribe what would be known by their love.

Though the future was not clear and would never be clear, they began to understand the transfiguration of the moment and the calling to live into wholeness, adopt and reclaim language, and ultimately to embody the resurrection of their being-ness.

As a trans and queer person of color, as a person of faith and spirit, as a person who struggles with the hallenges of living in a world enmeshed and divided by binaries, the story of resurrection speaks to me on many different levels.

The story of resurrection is a story of transition.

The Resurrection is the beginning of a journey of living into wholeness, a journey of affirming who one always was, and a journey of discovering and/or rediscovering new aspects of who we are—a journey similar to the many ways we transition as trans-identified folks.

Transition is not about medical procedures, changing one’s name, adapting the ways a person dresses, or wrestling with the dynamics of what it means to “pass” or whether one wants to even pass. These are just some of the aspects of transition.

But transition is ultimately about living into you. And that kind of living means different things to different people—it is filled with fear and questions, determination and doubts, hope and wholeness, risks and affirmation.

As people wrestling with different understandings and embodiments of gender, we stare into the tombs of our pasts, we come to recognize that who we were, who we were forced to be, who the world expected us to be is no longer there and perhaps was never there.

Who we are was hidden, and it took the passion of struggle to reveal ourselves to the world.

The bandages that covered wounds of societal and even self-inflicted violence are discarded with humble fierceness to reveal us in our fullness and in our dazzling light.

Resurrection is not about changing who we are. Like transition, it is about affirming who we are, who we have always been, and who we will always be. Just as Jesus revealed (and re-revealed and re-re-revealed) to the emerging Christian tribe, we as trans folk, genderqueer folk, gender creative folk, gender non-conforming folk, agender folk, Two Spirit folk, and the “various-expressions-of-gender-diversity” folk reveal who we are to our tribes, communities, families, and the world.

The Resurrection did not change Jesus into something new but simply affirmed who he always was. Jesus came out of the closet that was the tomb. We as trans people do the same—we affirm who we are, sometimes privately and sometimes publically and sometimes both, coming out of the tombs of closets, binaries, and imposed expectations.

After our journeys of crucifixion, mindful that each journey is different, we emerge as wholeful and resilient selves and souls.

Much like the apostles who ran into an empty tomb, we wrestle with many questions and doubts and disbeliefs imposed on a body they expect to be there, the body they predetermined should be there, but instead encounter a body that is sacred through its scars and a body that is whole despite several attempts by others to break it.

But, also like the apostles, we too have Mary Magdalenes in our lives who advocate with us to share our voices, often not being acknowledged or listened to—trans accomplices who continue to rant with us as we share who we are, both to and with the world in our sacred and sassy mystery of us.

The Resurrection is a transition—a transition that will never end as living into our being-ness is a never-ending transition. One does not complete transition, one does not finish resurrecting—both are ongoing adventures of struggle and resilience, of ups and downs, of tears of pain and tears of celebration.

The Resurrection that is transition is Biblically sparked and continues to spark the emergence and revealing of imperfectly fierce believers who affirm the good news of who they are in their messy wholeness.

Much like the Christian tribe grappling with the possibilities of the future, as trans people of faith and spirit we don’t always know what will come next.

But we are ready to take on the world with our scars as living badges of honor and resilience. 

Emergence, affirmation, creation, resurrection, and transition are journeys of is-ness and not was-ness, journeys of both/and-ness mixed with either/or-ness and also neither-ness. Who we are—not only as trans people, but simply and revolutionarily as people—is dynamic and messy, deconstructive and reconstructive, struggle-filled and celebration-ful, confusing and inspiring.

Amen, blessed be.

featured image from: http://jesusinlove.blogspot.com/2013/07/resurrection-added-to-lgbt-stations-of.html

delfin bautista is a native of Miami, FL, delfin is of both Cuban and Salvadoran heritage.   delfin is a social worker and activist theologian who is passionate about engaging the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, race, and justice.   delfin is a former member of CTA’s Vision Council, Board of Directors, Anti-Racism Team, and 20/30 Leadership Team.  delfin is coauthor of religion and spirituality chapter in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and also serves on their Board of Directors.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin is a contributor to Believe Out Loud’s blog and “preaches” on their blog “La Lucha, Mi Pulpito.”

Embracing La Guadalupana

In honor of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, la morenita del Tepeyac, I wanted to share a reflection I wrote 3 years ago that continues to speak to me today…may it provide new insights as it did for me today.  ¡Que viva la Guadalupana!

As a person with both indigenous and Spanish roots, my encounter with Lupita, this dark haired and brown skinned woman, has been transformative, healing, and wholizing as it was the first time that the divine manifested herself in an image that was and is like me.

Through the story of La Guadalupana, honor and affirmation have been brought to my raices and my lucha. She appears as a marginalized person—she appears as one of the people. For a long time I struggled with the story of Juan Diego and La Virgen de Guadalupe due to the idea that its only importance in history was the conversion of the indigenous people—a belief system brought and imposed by the Spanish and other Europeans. However, as I grappled with the image, the story, its place in history, its place in my faith journey, I came to understand that what happened in Mejico more than 500 years ago was a moment in which the sacred, the mysterious, the divine came near—a moment in which G-d revealed G-dself in a way that Juan Diego and later myself could understand, embrace, and identify with. On that day, my messiness, my identity, who I am as a person who lives a lucha beyond the norm, was also lifted up.

Not only is the tilma on which the image of Mary is preserved and revered an important part of the story, but also the messenger Juan Diego, a simple indigenous farmer on an errand early in the morning, who was chosen to share a prophetic message to the church and to the world: G-d is with us in the struggle. He, like La Guadalupana herself, is a reminder that the call to holiness is not limited to any one group but is an invitation and challenge open to all people, period.

La Virgen is a source of hope and healing in a world that is divided by ethnic, religious, racial, and genderized “us vs them.” She is a reminder that the divine belongs to all people of all colors, sizes, genders, races, belief systems. The story we commemorate today lifts up women and all those on the margin. By remembering Guadalupe, we also re-member the dignity and worth of all people on the fringes of church and society.

Through this story and image, I came to know un DIOS with many names, faces, and bodies—a G-d of and in la lucha … un DIOS who is different and unico…who is spicy, colorful, quirky, and transcends gender norms…who understands Spanglish, who likes black beans and rice with a fried egg and banana, who can dance salsa and cumbia…who founds joy at widening the circle of familia, who enjoys a good rant about social justice issues, who finds time to laugh and be silly…a G-d who inhabits those in-between spaces of identity and expression.

A prayer for today (from Yale Divinity Latin@ Association’s 2009 Chapel Service honoring La Guadalupana and all women):

Santos DIOS,  Bless us as we gather together today to celebrate Mary of Nazareth, the mujer from the barrio. Lift up our hearts today as we remember her manifestation to the indigenous man Juan Diego of Mejico in 1531, and the special relationship she continues to have with the peoples of the Americas.  In honoring her, we honor and lift up all women who are in la lucha In this space, we gather to remember profetizas Latina who like Maria de Nazaret took charge of their lives, lived out a daily yes by embracing the messiness of GOD’s unfolding revolutionary plan with all its joy and frustration.  In our commemorating of La morenita del Tipeyac, we commemorate the dwelling and expression of GOD in all people, black, brown, red, yellow, white … all colors, ethnicities, cultures, nationalities.  United with La Guadalupana and all blessed women in la lucha,  Maternally guide our hearts and prayers to live a prophetic life…to give birth to the Divine in our words, deeds, hearts, thoughts, lives, in our lucha. Amen.

The artwork is not my own but gathered through various internet searches attempting to find  diverse representations of Our Lady of Guadalupe…many come from chicana artists like Alma Lopez and Yolanda Lopez, some are a little scandalous, some redefine tradition, all of them queery.   Each artist infuses into the image a new way of relating to Guadalupe and a new way Guadalupe can relate to us. Enjoy…

image11_29la-virgen_alma-lopezchicana9lopezyolanda7IMG_0217

delfin bautista is a member of the board of directors for Trans Bodies Trans Selves; delfin is also a member of CTA 20/30, Dignity’s Young Adult Caucus, and Dignity’s Trans Caucus.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin “preaches” on their own blog “Mi Lucha, Mi Pulpito” and  is a contributor to the Young Adult Catholic Blog and to Believe Out Loud.

We are the Immaculate Conception

somos tod@s la imaculada concepción…we are the immaculate conception
Mary Visits Elizabeth: Luke 1: 39-45:   In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

I would like to start off with a short selection from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple …  

CELIE: God forgot about me!

SHUG: God takin’ his time getting around to you, I admit, but look at all he give us. Laughin’, and singin’, and sex. Sky over our heads, birds singin’ to us. I think it piss God off if anybody even walk past the color purple in a field and not notice it. He say,”look what I made for you.”

I use the story to engage this Gospel passage… The story of Mary … A woman who transgressed borders. A woman called to be a mother, prophet, apostle, revolutionary…She has been exulted and divinized, yet her humanity has often been forgotten and ignored …It is her story that we will look at today to wrestle and grapple with the church’s teaching on the immaculate conception.

Llena de gracia…full of grace

Catholics around the world accept the teaching of the Immaculate Conception. However, what does it actually mean? In 1854, Pope Pius IX stated: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” What does it mean that Mary was preserved from sin? It is the belief that because of her unique mission, Mary was conceived immaculately in her mother’s womb so that sin would not pass on to her child, Jesus, who as son of GOD is free of sin.

It was a common belief in Israel that the sins of the parent were passed onto the child. If Jesus was to be free of sin, his mother would also have to be free from sin. My queries are…where does the cycle end…if sin is passed from generation to generation, was Mary’s mother, Anne, also free from sin? How far back does the immaculate lineage have to go? If Mary was not marked by sin, did she really have a choice … would she come down with sinfulness if she had said no? By focusing on conception for future conception, have we limited, distorted, and reduced Mary and by extension all women to worth based on biological breeding?

This feast and dogma has wider implications than explaining that Mary was a suitable receptacle for a son–it impacts how the church treats women and their bodies. It is a source of much division among Christians … with some believing that women should be subservient to their husbands as baby factories (those who cannot are defective machinery) while others affirm the right of women to be ordained and preach.

It is dogmas like the Immaculate Conception that lead to confusion and misunderstanding about Mary and I believe a neglect women, we coerce their womanhood into mindless biological assembly lines. It is this theological marginalization that we need to address so that we can proclaim all as being llena de gracia, full of grace.

In this place, I invite us to relook at what it means to be la Imaculada Concepción…To be conceived immaculately.

In proclaiming Mary as the Immaculate Conception, we are also proclaiming our own immaculate conception as children of GOD. The feast is not about Maria as an exception to the rule, but a celebration of who we are and who we will become. We are all conceived immaculately, each of us is llena de gracia, full of grace

If we look to Genesis, we are told that we are created in GOD’s image and that creation is good. From the beginning we are holy, we are perfect. Regardless of the goofs up that we may do upon entering the world, regardless of the run ins with the Sarah’s of the world who reject us and castigate us for being different, we are good, we are llena de gracia.

Past all the mistakes and oopses, past all the things we coulda woulda shoulda, we are good, we are llena de gracia. Many of the women included in biblical texts are due to their calling to be mothers. What does this calling mean What about those of us who cannot conceive children? Are we less filled with grace? No … regardless of our capacity or ability or willingness to give birth biologically … we are all called to give birth to the divine in our actions, words, and deeds … we are called to give birth through our vocations and callings. We too have been entrusted with baring GOD to the world. GOD has consecrated and created us with a mission from the time of our birth.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” We are all llena de gracia.

As the Psalmist proclaims, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Regardless of the defects that society says we have or how denominations may tell us that we are unworthy for being a woman, black, or transgender, or when we are looked down upon for standing in solidarity with the oppressed, may we hold unto, remember, embrace that we are created, conceived and consecrated as good, as holy, as llena de gracia.

No one can take that away… We are Llena de gracia, full of grace.

Like our foremother Mary, we all have a purpose and personal vocation. It is a calling that we will learn to live out, that we will grow into, that will be revealed to us through out our lives, perhaps with angelic visits in the deserts of life, moments of prayer in chapel, proclamations received through loved ones.

We are not just born and that’s it … No, no, GOD has a special something for all of us to accomplish. Mother Teresa is humorously quoted as having said, “GOD as entrusted me with a specific amount of things to accomplish in this life, I am so far behind in my work, I will never die.” If we look to all the births that were announced in Scriptures, Isaac, Ishmael, Samuel, John, Jesus… The child born always had special vocation to live out.

This is not limited to Biblical figures, all of us come into this world with a special calling to live out, to be the change, holiness, and love GOD wants in this world. There is no right or better calling or right or better way to express it…it is expressed through a marian enthusiastic yes and through hagarian righteous anger. Immaculate conception does not mean we are passive and submissive, but like Mary we embody spiciness and chutzpah to care for those who are sacred to us.

The call to motherhood is not about breeding like rabbits or limited to female bodied individuals, we are called to be fruitful through the evolving multiplication of our abilities to listen, cook, design buildings, theologize, preach, and understand how the physiological makeup of fungus has implications for sexual ethics. By expanding our understanding of the immaculate conception. By honoring Mary, we celebrate the prophets and disciples we are all called to be, of who we are now on our journeys of faith and who we will become in the desert.

We are llena de gracia, full of grace, in our callings to be hospital chaplains, professors, parents, immigrant rights activists, reproductive health advocates, parish priests, youth ministers…all of the above, none of the above…in our calling to be human, we are full of grace, llena de gracia.

In the chaotic joy of living into our multiple callings, we must remember, hold onto, internalize, and put on a post it that we are not forgotten by GOD as Celie laments in the color purple, we are not abandoned or sent alone. We must hold onto Shug’s reminder of how GOD provides through laughter, singing, and sex. GOD does not forget about us for GOD is with us, just like GOD came to Hagar in the desert, meeting her where she was … just like GOD came to the prophet in the stillness after the thunder and storm … just like GOD came to a poor Jewish girl from the barrio … just like GOD was with Mary at the foot of the cross … just like the names Emmanuel and Ishmael … GOD with us and GOD listens … GOD is always there and is always here.

We may not feel it or believe it in our moments of grief, confusion, depression, chaos … when anger causes us to flee from the world into deserts of despair. In our earthquakes and hurricanes and pervasive brokenness… in our desolation for being rejected for fulfilling a task given to us–GOD is there, GOD is here…through a friend, through an email, through a butterfly, through an angel who tells us we will be cared for, despite our belief.

GOD is there and GOD is here…through the fact that we manage to get up and face the desert despite our exhaustion. GOD is there, GOD is here, for we are llena de gracia and full of grace. In this time of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the Word made flesh, may we remember our own births, how we were divinely knit, how we are lovingly woven together with purpose.

Though this homilitecal engagement is perhaps heretical and not what the good ol’ boys in Rome had in mind, I like Mary will not sit and wait, but will be counter-cultural and provide a counter narrative–we are the immaculate conception. We cannot let the church and society take away that we are immaculately conceived with sacred and sassy chutzpath!

We too are good, we too are consecrated with purpose, we too are llena de gracia, full of grace.
Amen!

delfin bautista is a former member of cta’s vision council.   They currently serve as the director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University. 

Embracing Pinkitude ~ Breast Cancer Awareness

Saludos to all!  First off, I would like to apologize that I have not posted to the blog in a long time.  Life became very hectic with personal and professional life, causing a neglect in my writing.  However, I am learning to balance and learning to find time for my writing, ranting, and sermonizing.   And so la lucha will continue and venture into new areas of luchaness.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and All Saints Day, I wanted to share this homily I wrote in memory of Marie Hernandez and Maria Lemes da Silva, two brave women who coped and thrived despite being diagnosed with breast cancer.  The sermon is based on the three Gospel stories of the woman who was hemorrhaging that touched Jesus’ garment (Matt 9:20; Mark 5:25; Luke 8:43).  Her story is one of not allowing a disease define who she was and of taking a leap of faith that is rooted in radical boldness.  May “think pink” be more than a catchy gimmick this month but an ongoing testament to our solidarity with all those impacted by breast cancer—a commitment to coping, surviving, and thriving.  Towards the end there is space for people to name all those women and men who have bravely fought this disease, who are beginning the fight, and who are in remission—honoring also their loved ones who are also coping, surviving, and thriving.

Fore more information about breast cancer and ways to get involved, please visit The National Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org).

Coping     Surviving     Thriving

I will be honest, preparing this sermon was a challenge. It was and still is daunting and anxiety provoking, inducing of many brain-busts.  What can I say about breast cancer? What do I know?  I asked myself repeatedly, how will G-d get me through this one?  Why me?  But than I asked, why not me?   Someone has to break the silence. I may not know much but…I do know that…

  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women, accounting for one in three cancer diagnoses in women (check also asbestos cancer statistics).
  • One in eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lifetime
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women aged forty to fifty-nine
  • There are over two million breast cancer survivors in the United States
  • A survey of twelve years of reports in two major psychiatric journals showed that spirituality – defined as participation in religious ceremony, social support, prayer, and belief in a higher being – yielded positive mental health benefits in 92% of the cases

I know Maria Lemes da Silva, I know Marie Walker Hernandez, two brave women who fought breast cancer, two women who are presente and here with us.  I know that despite the intensity and magnitude of this disease, the pulpit has remained silent.   I may not know much about the embodied impact of breast cancer, but I do know about coping, surviving, and thriving.  I may not know the struggle of radical mastectomies, the pain of chemotherapy, or the anxiety caused by finding the right wig, but I do know about the warrior spirit of the luchadoras who are in the struggle…la lucha, to not merely cope or survive with breast cancer but to thrive.  Luchadoras who are not letting cancer define who they are, but who are finding ways to live life without fear, despite the pain that breast cancer may be inflicting on the body, they are not letting it take over their spirits.

Coping     Surviving     Thriving

When it came to finding a scripture passage to reflect on sermonically, I was at a loss and I struggled with the bible, realizing that many of the passages on healing in the New Testament intersected with sin and I did not want to equate cancer with sin … I also realized that many of these same stories are sources of hope for many who are living with cancer.   What to do?  After hours of reflecting, praying, reading,  re-reflecting, re-reading, and praying again,  G-d sent me 4 radically spiritual women, Sadie, Rebecca, Stephanie, and Rachel.   At a point where I was going to lose hope in scripture and in Christianity, these 4 women shared insights and thoughts and questions that helped me see passages in a different light.

With their help, I came across the story of a woman whom I am naming Florence.   Her story is captured in 3 of the gospels as the woman who was hemorrhaging that touched the hem or fringes of Jesus’ cloak/robe.  Her story is one inspiration, of boundary breaking, of the warrior spirit that was embraced by Marie, Maria, and the countless women and men diagnosed with and affected by breast cancer. She is un-named in the gospel accounts, but the fact that she is included in 3 gospels reflects the importance of her story of fighting with a chutzpah-based faith.  

Florence was afflicted with a disease, a disease that made her unpure and marginalized her from society – not unlike the treatment many women received when they were first diagnosed, marginalized by silence by many who were unable to pronounce the “c-word.”  Florence was a luchadora, she was not going to let disease stop her from living.  She went to doctors, she prayed, she offered sacrifices.  But despite all her efforts, 12 years worth, she did not get the results she hoped and yearned for.  However she did not let that stop her, she endured the chemos and homeopathic remedies of her day with their body ravaging side affects and side effects to the side effects, she could not be healed, she could not be made whole – but her chispa, her undominable audacity to hope would keep her in la lucha, in the struggle.

Despite social norms on purity and the place of women in society, Florence acted boldly, aggressively … she did not let the cancer within her define her or let society dictate her identity.  Florence decided she would fight and do what was needed.  She embodied the Deuteronomist’s encouragement…“Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; G-d will not fail you or forsake you.”   She trusted G-d and G-d trusted her.  Guided by her faith and determination, she did something radical … she touched Jesus.

Despite the crowds, despite the claustrophobia of crawling through a forest of legs, despite the heat, despite the pain within her body, despite the stigma that marked her and that she risked marking on others, she took a leap of faith and was healed … Jesus tells her that it is her faith that healed her.  It was her boldness, her determination, her lucha that brought her healing and made her whole.  Her lucha of coping surviving and thriving

What can we learn from Florence?  What can we learn from her faith that flowed her into voice and wholeness?  She lived and embodied what the Psalmist says in Psalm 31 … she was strong and let her heart take courage.  She took a risk, she took a chance, she got messy. Knowing at the core of her being, in the depths of her soul, G-d was with her … she coped, she survived, she thrived.

Florence’s story is not a story of giving people false hope, or instill an expectation of healing.  Florence’s testimony in the Gospels  is about not letting disease or society’s view of disease define how one lives life, however, long or short it will be. We need to remind all those living with breast cancer that they cannot and will not be diagnosed to the margin.  They are not alone, for G-d is with them.  It is not about fuzzy quips and fluffy colloquialisms, but radically embracing life like Florence, Marie, and Maria … Of fighting with every breath and ounce of chutzpah one can muster.  Of transforming limitations into differently abledness.  

Maria is my best friend and sister in life’s mother.  Marie is my beloved husband’s mother.  These two moms, wives, workers, women of faith realized that though they might not be able to climb mountains anymore, they would boldly proclaim…
I will go to church, I will raise my children,
I will lead a household, I will be there for others,
I will participate in treatment,
I will work as long as I can to take care of my loved ones,
I will cry, I will be angry,
I will laugh, I will go to the doctor,
I will live.
Will it be easy, no.
Will we get mad, yes.  
Is that okay … it sure is.
It is okay to complain and be angry and ask G-d why.  Like Job and Job’s unnamed wife, we can authentically and angrily ask G-d why … knowing that G-d can take it.  Maria and Marie, like so many others, coped and thrived.  They could not answer many questions about their health or what would happen, but assured everyone through their conviction and faith to live as long as they were able to live, believing and reminding others to believe that G-d’s love was present and filled with anger-enduring care.  

As the Psalmist proclaims … G-d is my shelter, covering me in the refuge of G-d’s feather… in G-d is my strength … though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil … with G-D, what shall I fear.

As Isaiah proclaims … “do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your G-d;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
   I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Coping     Surviving     Thriving

In this place, may we be reminded that though the world may be falling apart, our bodies are ravished with scars, chemo has caused our hair to fall out, nausea is our constant companion, getting out of bed is an insurmountable quest, fear of the cancer spreading, G-d is suffering with us.  G-d is carrying the cross with us and sometimes for us through a nurse, doctor, friend, loved one. G-d is holding us.

“And I will raise you up on eagle’s wings, Bare you up on breath of dawn.  Make you to shine like the sun, And hold you in the palm of G-d’s hand, And hold you in the palm of G-d’s hand.”  (Hymn On Eagle’s Wings by Rev. Michael Joncas)

To be held is an act of trust and vulnerability, to allow oneself to be gently cradled in the hands of another, to truly believe our partners who still behold us as beautiful, to allow others to help you because walking to the kitchen for a cup of water is exhausting … to share with a stranger that the scars on our bodies are medals of honor and badges of courage… to be held by G-d through the pain and the joy.  To be held into coping, surviving, and thriving.

In this space, let us remember Florence, Marie, and Maria.  Let us make presente all the women living with breast cancer … For Hispanics and Latinos, those who have died are still with us, presente in our lucha, as companions in our struggles and in our celebrations.  Their stories are reminders that we are to focus on today so we can get to tomorrow, their presencia reminds us that we are not alone.  

(interactive)
In this space, you are invited to share the names of all those who have been impacted by breast cancer.  You are also invited to light a candle…

Let us lift up the names of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, cousins, and grandmothers, friends, brothers, co-workers, husbands, and pastors…

May we lift up the names of those who have died, those have been recently diagnosed, those in remission, those going through treatment, and those who are getting tested…

(back to sermon)
Where 2 or 3 are gathered, there I am … This is our calling as people of faith … To be in la lucha with and sometimes for others, to break the silence, to allow G-d to flow through us … starting groups of support, taking people to the doctor, cooking meals, going the extra mile at the cancer walk, not letting pink be just a gimmick but a true sign of our solidarity…sharing the Kleenex when the time to say “ta ta for now” comes…Talking about breast cancer to ensure that women can go from lump to laughter, love, and life.

Though one may be overpowered by the vomiting, scarring, headaches, body aches, puss, hairloss, confusions about treatments, worries about finances, uncertainties … one is not alone, one is in community, en conjunto, we face this disease … we are in this together.  

As it is written in Ecclesiastes, “And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Our experiences here are interconnected, the experiences of Marie and Maria and all women before us are interconnected with us.  Marie and Maria died of cancer, but did not lose the battle to cancer.  They are still fighting…their memory, their children, their spirits, their Florence-like chutzpah, their presence lives, loves, and fights on … With them presente in our lucha, we cope, we survive, and we thrive.
Amen.

delfin bautista is a former member of the CTA Vision Council and is currently on the board of directors for Trans Bodies Trans Selves.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin “preaches” on their own blog “Mi Lucha, Mi Pulpito” and is a contributor to the Young Adult Catholic Blog and to Believe Out Loud.

Marriage for all and #morethanmarriage

In honor of the Supreme Court hearing the cases for Marriage Equality, here is my beloved and I sharing about how for us, family means for all moments I love you.  Our family is no less and no better than anyones, our family is equal.  We are #morethanmarriage and will continue to fight until all are equal truly mean all are equal…not just in terms of marriage or family structure but in all facets of our humanity and life experiences.

delfin bautista is a member of the CTA Vision Council and the board of directors for Trans Bodies Trans Selves; delfin is also a member of Dignity’s Young Adult Caucus and is co-chair for Dignity’s Trans Caucus.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin “preaches” on their own blog “Mi Lucha, Mi Pulpito” and  is a contributor to the Young Adult Catholic Blog and to Believe Out Loud.