Norma E. Cantu’s piece “Bruja’s Fears and Desires” was so interesting to me because I feel like it highlighted the ways in which a lot of Latina women in my life often experience the world. I think that the religion vs. spirituality aspect was especially interesting, because it pertains to my mother’s own interaction with Catholicism in her life. My mother also has an alter where she has La Virgen de Guadalupe framed in the center while pictures of her siblings, parents, husband and children are scattered around her. It is as if she is positioning La Virgen as the sun which the rest of us revolve around; without La Virgen’s light and guidance, perhaps she wouldn’t be lucky enough to have three kids pursuing higher education and her family back in Mexico still in good health.
So while my Irish grandmother will pray on her rosary and go to church every Sunday at noon, my mother quietly practices Catholicism her own way. Just this past Easter Sunday, we were not expected to go to church. Instead we helped around the house, paying special attention to make sure the flowers placed on the alter of La Virgen were vibrant and given enough water, while also making sure that the food that was to feed all of our hungry extended family members was being prepared properly. I think that my mother is a very spiritual person in the sense that she sees it as a personal, almost internal responsibility that she worships La Virgen in order to maintain homeostasis among her loved ones. Her alter to La Virgen and the crosses she has nailed above our headboards is less an imposition and more her own version of prayer–making sure that those she loves are safe and given every cosmic good fortune available.