Friday, January 2, 2009

Relaxing in Antigua

Andrea, Beth and I wandered through the beautiful and confusing streets of Antigua yesterday - beautiful in the repeated simple patterns of adobe walls and ornate doors, confusing because for the newcomer one street looks much like another, and all of them somehow lead to the Cathedral, Plaza and Palacio of ancient Guatemala. We wandered and wandered in search of the restaurant we had liked so much the night before, one with bountiful vegetarian choices for Beth and a delightful courtyard setting, and we finally found it, but found it closed, alas.

Along the way we visited the tomb of Santo Hermano Pedro de San Jose Betancur, open for the holiday. Brother Peter, born a poor man in Tenerife in 1626, made his way to Guatemala and, destitute, joined the Franciscan breadline. Later he tried to study for the priesthood in the local Jesuit college, but couldn't master the subjects. Instead he became a 3rd Order Franciscan and gave the rest of his life to caring for those in great need, opening a hospital and school for the poor, a shelter for the homeless, and a religious order for women teachers, the Bethlehemites. No wonder his tomb and the Franciscan church were full of people praying. In the church, a mural of Franciscan life included portraits of four Franciscan brothers martyred during the civil wars of the 1980s, one in Salvador, one in Nicaragua, two in Guatemala: a potent reminder that the call to give all for Christ continues to be a dangerous invitation.

As we came back to the Plaza we saw a great crowd gathered and heard firecrackers going off in a storm of noise and smoke, young men running through the area of explosions, and then, majestically, a procession with the Holy Sacrament carried reverently around the plaza under a canopy - preceded by firecrackers and followed by devout candlebearers. A very latino combination!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a rich time you are having and how good to connect with Sheila! Just want you to know, Susan, that we missed you at our New Year's Day dinner and that Margie read your Peace for Us poem. Everyone loved and and loves you, too. Greetings to Andrea and Beth and be sure they know to come back. It's very quiet in the Province office!!!! Peace for You, Corky