Nuestra Señora de Estados Unidos

This last spring, Matthew Richer

described for
how, on his way out of
Patrick`s Cathedral
New York City
after attending

William F. Buckley, Jr.`
s memorial service on April
4, he observed two banners hanging from the choir loft.
These banners commemorated the

200th anniversary
of the founding of the
Catholic Archdiocese of New York. One banner was
inscribed in

. The other presented the

same message


I, too, attended

Bill Buckley
`s memorial. I barely noticed the thing
(although I certainly agree it was symbolic of the

of Establishment
Spanish intrusions upon the

, and
English-language Masses, have become a commonplace in
the past several decades.

The ostensible reason for the

now-prevalent use of Spanish by the Catholic Church

in the United States is, of course, the
prevalence of Mexican and other Spanish-speaking
immigrants. Many of these immigrants, indeed, have no
English, making the use of Spanish in dealing with them
a convenience, if not exactly a necessity, for

parish priests

Catholic welfare agencies.

The historical, social, and
political circumstances giving rise to this usage are as
familiar to Americans as Mexican faces in the streets
and Mexican immigrants in search of

day jobs
hanging about on

street corners
. So far as the Catholic Church
regards the resort to Spanish as a regular convenience
and an occasional necessity, I have no quarrel with it.

But when the Church aids and abets
Latino immigrants in

wielding Spanish as a political and cultural weapon

against the

Anglophone peoples and their culture
in this
country, it goes too far—from the religious, as well as
from the secular, perspective. And this is exactly what
is happening.

Thus, the calendar of the Roman
Catholic Church lists a great many recognized feasts, or
saints`, days. Not quite one for every day in the year,
but almost. Among them, the greatest saint of all is
Mary, the

Mother of Our Lord,
who is honored by more than one
feast day. These devotions include the Feast of Mary,
Mother of God (January 1), Purification of the Virgin
(February 2), Queen of Heaven (May 1), Assumption into
Heaven (August 15),

Our Lady of the Rosary

Christian victory
over the

Turkish Muslim fleet
at the
Battle of
in 1571, October 7), and the Immaculate
Conception (December 8).
There are also feast days to recognize various
Marian appearances on earth. Among these are
Lady of Lourdes
(February 11),
Our Lady of Fatima
(May 13), and…Our
Lady of Guadalupe
(December 12).

Lady of Guadalupe
is recognized as the
saint of Mexico
. She has always been more than a
symbol of Mexican Faith; she has been as well the symbol
of Mexican nationalism. But over the last several
decades, Our Lady of Guadalupe has also become almost as
significant in U.S. Catholic churches as it is in
Mexican ones. (Though not quite: Twenty years ago, I
attended mass at the

Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
in Ciudad
Juárez, where Masses are celebrated hourly from early
morning until mid-afternoon, commencing with a vast
procession led by the Archbishop in which the halt and
the lame stagger along in their rags with the wealthy
and able-bodied beneath a profusion of banners,
standards, and crosses.)


my own parish church
, where Latinos are a small
minority, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is
lavish enough. The Spanish Ladies` Choir outdoes itself
in the choir loft, parents dress their small children in
elaborate costume, the better part of the Mass is said
in Spanish, and the church is filled to capacity by
Latino families, of whom many are notably absent from
Mass the rest of the year.

The service is colorful,
picturesque, and to some degree moving. Yet I cannot
help but feel that on this occasion the focus of the
Eucharistic Sacrifice is hardly any longer the Holiest
of Holies, but rather that it has been supplanted by an

And, whether parishioners of
Mexican descent recognize it or not, the observance of
her feast day has become as

more a cultural and political statement
than it is a
religious devotion.

And this is merely the tip of the
iceberg. Perhaps a third of parish churches in the
—not alone those in
border towns and cities, or in the American
Southwest—have been celebrating at least one
Spanish-language Mass a week for approximately those
same few decades. Many churches have Spanish choirs that
perform at English-language Masses as well as
Spanish-language ones. Some Sunday Masses are bilingual,
with the Old Testament and

readings read in Spanish, followed by the
Gospel and the

in English.

The confusion begins with the use
of Spanish in Catholic Churches in the
United States
for other
than a few limited purposes. For instance, Spanish is
obviously crucial in the administration of the

Sacraments of Penance
and the

Anointing of the Sick
to those of the Faithful who
do not understand English. But there is simply no cause
for Mass to be said in any vernacular other than the
national one.

To begin with, it is not
spiritually necessary for the worshipper to grasp more
than the general sense of what is being said and read at
Mass, an accomplishment that is certainly not beyond the
regular Mass-goer. Moreover, in my parish at least, most
of the "Hispanic"
members speak English as fluently as do the
"Anglos" who have no Spanish at all, their families having lived
here for generations. For those Spanish speakers who
feel they need them, Spanish-language

are readily available in cheap editions. (I
myself carry an Italian messale along with me to
church every Sunday, as part of my study of the language


Recently, an Anglophone parishioner
remarked to me that our newly-instituted monthly Spanish
Mass (granted by the priest to compensate for his
decision that the Old Testament reading at the Spanish
Choir`s Mass should henceforth be delivered in English
instead of Spanish, which is incomprehensible to the
Anglophone majority) demonstrates an obvious and urgent
need for such a thing. I cannot disagree with her more.

Catholics who think that way appear
to have forgotten that, until two short generations ago,
all Catholics the

world over heard
Mass spoken in an

ancient language
that probably

only a small fraction of one percent understood
with the exception of certain crucial or oft-repeated
words. (It is but one of the great and innumerable
advantages of the

Tridentine Mass in Latin
that its linguistic
universality obviates any of the nationalist rivalries
and sensitivities that the vernacular of the
Novus Ordo Mass
has created.)

There is, in short, no need
whatsoever, beyond those I have mentioned, for a
Spanish-, or a Polish-, or an Italian-, or a Swahili-,
or a Mandarin-language mass in the
United States
. I fear
that Mass-goers who believe otherwise are dupes of the
multiculturalist agenda, people who
determined to convert Holy Mass into a
cultural-political statement
, or Catholics who feel
such a blasphemy should be tolerated in the name of

But all this is equivalent to
scandal, which is

defined in my dictionary
brought upon religion by unseemly conduct in a religious
D Demands in non-Spanish-speaking countries
for Spanish choirs, Spanish readings, and the
celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Spanish
amount to saying:

are a
racial and cultural minority
that demands
recognition by the majority culture in holy worship. Our
language, our music, our

, and our nation of origin are as good as
yours, and require to be acknowledged as such. A few of

have been in your country for a very long time
, and

a great many more of us are coming
. So you`d better
look to the future and see how it will work."

All of which may, or may not, be
true. But national identity is not what people are
supposed to be concentrating on when worshiping in the

(that is,

) Church. And insisting on it in Holy Mass
is, it seems to me, a Hell of a way to make a statement.


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

obviously disagrees. But then, in respect of the
National Question and mass immigration, we disagree on
absolutely everything. For some reason, the

don`t seem interested in listening to, or
even arguing the subject with, me.

Chilton Williamson Jr.

is the author of

The Immigration Mystique: America`s False Conscience


The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact
Today`s Conservative Thinkers

He is

an editor and columnist for

Magazine, where he writes The Hundredth
column about life in the


His latest book is

a novel, Mexico Way.