The Virgin on the Border: A Christmas Meditation

by John Zmirak:

Christmas Meditation 2003: This Royal Night

Christmas Meditation 2002: Christ, The "Other", And
Counterfeit Citizens

As Advent`s drear gives way to Christmas, our thoughts
should not be of policy. Drawing near to the manger, we
look into the heart of things, to what

C.S. Lewis
called the Deep
the richly sedimented truths of our
existence. We see the perfect paradox, the enfleshment
of eternal omnipotence in the form of a baby who soils
His swaddling clothes.

As I sit at my desk, on my right, I see a ten-foot
banner of His mother, the image of

Our Lady of Guadalupe
. This might surprise some
readers, since this icon is often invoked by Mexican
nationalists. Indeed, the

Catholic bishops
of Arizona just chose her feast day
(December 12) to issue

their latest call for amnesty and leaky borders


Our Lady of Guadalupe
does not belong to the
militants of MeCha. She is the patron saint of all
the Americas, watching over suburban Slavs and
converted WASPs alike. Her appearance won millions of
souls from a

cannibalistic cult
to the worship of Christ.
Mexicans would not heed the Spanish missionaries, or the
white-faced icons they`d hung, until the Virgin Mary
herself appeared, seizing for her own use

Tepeyac Hill
, once the temple of the Aztec
snake-goddess, looking like an Indian and wearing native
Aztec dress.

Christianity is universal—but it accepts and works
through the particular: the baby in the crib, the
family, the nation.

So the paradox repeats itself: The son of a most
particular people, the Jews, brings

salvation to all the nations.
The Jews are still the
people of the Promise, and will endure until the
end—similarly, tension will ever persist between the
global and the local, between the human race in
general and our own kin in particular.

Christian is bound to honor both resonant truths.
Indeed, as in every formula of orthodoxy, the Church
keeps them strung in tension—while heretics play the

“great simplifiers.”

The truth of our brotherhood in Adam must be
preserved—as the great

Pius XII
did when he

condemned Nazism
, though its armies stood at his
gates. Conversely, we cannot let

overwhelm our love for neighbors and
kin—whom we owe far more than strangers.

The parent who denies his child piano lessons to fund a
clinic in Rwanda is rightly viewed with suspicion—by
sociobiologist and theologian alike. Nor must I as a
Christian grind up my

to feed the

North Koreans
. Because we live in the flesh as well
as the spirit, we value what is near above what is far,
and real loves over philanthropy. This insight,
exaggerated, spawns bigotry; repressed, it emerges as
ideology. So the

Gods of the Copybook Headings with fire and slaughter

The peoples of the West once found a decent solution to
the tension between universal and particular, in the
form of the

Strung between two poles—our
allegiance to universal man and our love of kin—stood
the mediating figure of a monarch. The American Founders
harnessed this tension as a safeguard against tyranny.
We must

render unto Caesar
what is due him—no more, but no

Sometimes two opposite heresies work together, and war
together against the truth. In Europe, the ferocity of
race and cult

burns bright
among the

, while post-Christian elites

eat lotuses
by Utopia`s dim moonlight. In England,

Islamic clerics
who preach treason will

keep their pulpits
—but books that warn against jihad

soon be banned
. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
sends blizzards of threats to congressmen who try to
enforce our border laws.

Now competing theory has quietly captivated Western
elites: Particularism may prevail among any group—except
if it`s


. Mexicans may band together on

racial grounds
(but not religious). Moslems may
rally around the jihad. But Christians of European
descent have no right to anything, anywhere—not even in
church or in Europe. Nothing may be done to foster the

survival of white nations,
which (it is implied) is

and plainly


To which one must respond—well, why?

Is there something in particular about the races
descending from Europe which inclines them to special
evil? Are they more prone to genocide? Tell that to the

and Cambodians. If it is payback for
colonialism, then why

inflict it
on the


Or is the explanation more sinister? Do Western elites
impose different standards on Christians and Europeans,
because they quietly assume we are superior? As if we
were above such tribal fetishes adored by

“lesser breeds without the law.”

In fact, it is “racist” to expect less of
Mexicans than Americans, or to coddle outright tribalism
amongst the tribes, while imposing on the smart set a


God Himself sees fit to honor particularity, the claims
of kinship and even of race, as part of the universal
good. He chose and still chooses the Jews, but wills the
salvation of all. He will dress His earthly mother as an
Aztec the better to win over hearts (the minds will
follow). He will not have us shuck off as worthless
dross or moral poison the heritage of our fathers, or
our duties as citizens and patriots. In fact, he bids us
to honor our fathers and mothers, and with them the
civilization they have built.

In his

Christmas speech to the Roman Curia
, Pope Benedict
XVI has said as much:

“A missionary Church
required to proclaim its message to all the nations must
commit itself to freedom of religion. It must pass on
the gift of truth that exists for all and at the same
time reassure nations and governments that it does not
want to destroy their identities and cultures.”

Are the bishops listening—north and south of the Rio

Feliz Navidad!

Zmirak [
] is author of

The Bad Catholic`s Guide to Good Living