During these troubled times living in Northern Wisconsin I have found my faith thru you and now through Our Lady of Good Help in Champion Wis. I noticed praying before Our Lady, Mother Mary, the faithful, mostly Hispanic after confession pray on their knees and make their way towards the alter. I know it is pure and understand their devotion and have been so moved but still do not understand the devotion of the faithful of the Hispanic faithful? I also watch a young lady pray with a statue of Jesus, carry, kneel and pray before the alter and statues before me. Can you expand?
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
I’m not quite sure what the question is…
How do we explain the devotion of the faithful? They love God. They love Jesus. They love Jesus’ Mother Mary and go to great lengths to demonstrate that love. As human beings, creatures composed of bodies and souls, we use both to express our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Physical gestures mean things – watch a silent movie. With few words on a screenshot, actors and actresses were able to display a whole panoply of meanings just by using their eyes. If a man were to stand, stockstill, hands at his side, and say to his wife in a monotone, “Penelope, I love you” would it have the same effect as if he were to get down on one knee, throw a dozen roses at her feet, and look up at here with pleading eyes and cry out with passion, “Penelope, I love you!”? (Presuming, of course, that her name is, indeed Penelope. If it weren’t, he would be in for a world of hurt).
We show our love for the Lord not just by cold, emotionless words (although our words are powerful, and the Lord knows that we all express our emotions differently, and some more naturally than others). We show our devotion to the God who created us by falling on our knees before His Eucharistic presence. We lower ourselves physically in order to remind ourselves of His prominence over us. We kneel in humble appreciation of His great gift of forgiveness. We embrace physical reminders of God and the things of God – statues, pictures, rosaries.
To understand the meaning behind a particular person’s expression of his or her devotion, it would probably be best to ask that person directly. “I was moved to see how lovingly you carried that statue of the Sacred Heart to the altar and knelt there in prayer. Could you explain what that meant to you?”