Archive for the ‘Religion’ category

Katelin’s Baccalaureate

May 7, 2014

Our youngest sister had a beautiful baccalaureate mass on Sunday. Katelin is getting ready to graduate with the Pojoaque High School Class of 2014.


Happy Easter

April 20, 2014



Good Friday: “Penance” by Felicia Lujan

April 18, 2014

My Good Friday penance will be paid in the gym. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Read more about my thoughts on penance here: Good Friday: The Penance of Imperfect Creatures by Felicia Lujan

"Penance" a digital composite by Felicia Lujan

“Penance” a digital composite by Felicia Lujan~~ Created using: one photograph, filters, and a text layer in honor of sacrifice. God Bless.


Sunday Visit to El Santuario de Chimayo

March 9, 2014


Today D and I went to Chimayo with my family. It was a good day. We left in the morning and came back in the late afternoon. It was such a gorgeous day up north. The amazing blue sky gently enveloped the sacred, historic site.

I know all of us thought about how much my grandma and her sister loved that place when they were alive. My grandma believed in Santuario’s power to cure every ailment be it mental or physical. I picked up gifts for one of my special girlfriends who is very religious. She will appreciate the gifts.


I came across an old friend selling sweet smelling, handmade soaps, sage smudge sticks, and Chimayo chili. It is always good to support local creatives, so I dropped 40 on some goods! Following that we went to Rancho de Chimayo for lunch. I had a delish salad there.

Tonight I went back to read an old piece I wrote in April of 2012 about El Santuario. It was titled Good Friday: The Penance of Imperfect Creatures. I remember that I really enjoyed writing that piece. I used a quote by Ernst Fischer which says “as machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.”


It is important to embrace our imperfection. Hearing a sermon for sinners today reminded me I’m human. I also reread a lovely quote from Karen Nave I used for that 2012 piece. She said “sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.” Being human is hard, which is why so many people pray.

We pray for health. We pray for peace. We pray for others. We pray for direction and answers. In times of our deepest human weakness we pray for strength. If my prayers aren’t answered, I know that there’s a reason. I trust in that. Visiting El Santuario always reminds me that I am beautifully flawed. 

Galileo the Heretic: Science and Scripture

December 30, 2013

Yesterday I watched a movie I checked out at the LaFarge Library about Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). The movie is based on the book Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel and is titled Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. I came away feeling so sad for this unbelievable man. He was constantly at odds with religious officials with regard to his pursuit of knowledge, still he remained a pious and obedient Catholic.

Galileo was considered a heretic in his day. For at least three decades he risked his life to study our universe. He was actually a hero of knowledge who continues to inspire contemporary scientists and freethinkers. The dictionary defines a heretic as a “person believing in or practicing religious heresy.” Was he really a “nonconformist,” a “nonbeliever,” a “pagan,” or a “heathen?” Maybe some think he was?


During the 17th century and even later, freethinking was really frowned upon. You could be burned at the stake for partaking in scientific, mathematical, and other studies! Galileo lived in a time when a book of banned books was kept. It makes me sad. I have to be thankful that I am alive today. I can express my opinions openly. My century is far from perfect, but I am in a much better place than Galileo was in relation to my consumption and sharing of knowledge.

The movie I watched was perfectly titled Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. I found myself wondering if God could really frown on the discoveries made by Galileo? Though he was basically haunted by the Holy Office for several decades, he never turned his back on the church and at times was even apologetic for being smart. The movie touched on: his career as a professor/mathematician at the University of Pisa (1589); his explanation of the tides (1595); his experimentation with a pendulum/natural accelerated motion and balls/inclined planes (1602-1604); his observations and sketches of the lunar craters and mountains of the moon (1609); a demonstration of one of his telescopes (1609); his discovery of the four moons of Jupiter (1610); and his research on sunspots (1612).

The secret archive of the Vatican dates back to 1612. I realized how close this was to some of the most important discoveries made by Galileo when I looked back at a post I wrote last year. In 2012, I wrote about the religious archive and the trial documents of Galileo in a post titled 400 Year Old Archive: Secrets of the Vatican. At that time, stated that the Vatican secret archive contains 50 miles of shelving. Now I am curious how much of those documents are related to Galileo’s studies of the heavens?

Galileo facing the Roman
Catholic Inquisition in a
painting by Cristiano Banti


For at least 30 years, the Holy Office/Inquisition had a firm hold on one of the most intelligent men to ever walk the Earth. From 1611 until his death in 1642, poor Galileo was muffled by religious officials. Why? It is hard for me to understand and frankly, it makes me feel embarrassed to be Catholic. I think religious groups still suppress knowledge to some extent for if we have wings, we can fly. I can only imagine what his unhindered soul could have become?

By 1616, the Inquisition believed Galileo’s theory that the sun centered the universe was “absurd in philosophy and formally heretical.” He was summoned to Rome by Urban VIII in 1632 and was told that if he didn’t appear he would be “arrested and brought to Rome in chains.” In April of 1633, the formalities of the Inquisition were in full force and the “father of science” was detained by the Inquisition for close to 20 days. At the end of that detainment, Urban VIII decided that Galileo would face imprisonment for an undeclared amount of time. He was threatened with torture, and eventually sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life.

It is unbelievable that Galileo was forced to endure physical suffering while he was under house arrest!! In 1634, the genius was suffering from the pain of a hernia and asked the Holy Office for permission to leave his home to visit a doctor in Florence. His request was denied and he was told that if he asked again, he would be imprisoned once again. Even after he went completely blind in 1638, the Inquisition did not return Galileo’s freedom. He was granted permission to attend church on Catholic holidays if he didn’t speak to anyone. So sad.

At 77 years old, Galileo became seriously ill. The year was 1641 and a heroically smart man was silenced and blind. He died in 1642. With his death came the loss of a heavenly mind. I believe in God. I believe I am a good person. I believe in Heaven. I find it really hard to believe that God saw it right to prosecute a man who only treasured knowledge. I understand that his pursuit of scientific knowledge was contradicting scripture, still I find it hard to believe that my God accepted the things which were done to Galileo. Maybe I will never understand??

**Additional reference used~ The Galileo Project/Galileo Timeline/Rice University.

Mysticism: The Power of Belief

July 23, 2013
~~~Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier; the Pythia was inspired by pneuma rising from below~~~

~~~Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier~~~

Since the dawn of man we have been intrigued by mystics. Today we have contemporary mystics who embrace all things divine. We are fascinated by those who can see beyond. We are drawn to those who are godlike or have heightened intuition. Their insights into the unknown and their ability to heal broken souls permeates our collective consciousness, culture and history. Some may believe that mystics see through the eyes of God. Some may believe that mystics dabble with magic. Some may believe that mystics do not exist. That is something each of us must decide for ourselves. Do those gifted with divinity walk among us? That depends on what we choose believe.

Mysticism envelopes those who are on a higher level of awareness. They see things that normal eyes either will not or can’t. They are conscious of alternate realities, yet can remain grounded. A mystic seeks and gifts others with spiritual truths, and are often believed to walk a fine line between self and the divine. Only a true mystic can master the art of transcendence. There are historic accounts of mystics who could completely absorb a deity. This enabled them to heal, apprehend extensive knowledge, see into the future or the past, deliver prophecies, dream and find the answers to mysteries.

Pythia or the Oracle of Delphi, was a priestess. She practiced on Mount Parnassus, near the Temple of Apollo at Delphi which was established in the 8th century BC. It is interesting that Pythia delivered her prophecies near a Castalian Spring. Water in itself is highly symbolic and has been used to heal, baptize, birth, and replenish those who use it. She delivered prophecies from the Temple of Apollo as it is he who inspired her visions. The mystical Pythia is said to have frantically delivered divine messages which were triggered by mysterious vapors. The vapors were released through natural formations. Some say that she simply spoke nonsense, but it was likely glossolalia or speaking in tongues.

Right here in New Mexico, a record created to assist an ethnohistorian with the School of American Research captures visits by two separate mystics (Albert H. Schroeder Papers Collection No. 1972-033, Serial No. 10706, Folder No. 427~NMSRCA). In 1969, an unknown author documented “new perspectives on the Pueblos.” In these cases, both mystics appear during the first and second world wars. This is a time of need. The mystics are both men with Christ-like features. The men pray for and heal many in Nambe, Picuris, Santa Clara, San Juan, and Taos Pueblo. These mystics were called “new prophets” by the locals. They “enchanted” and “spoke many languages,” which made them even more mystical.

Today I found myself wondering if I have ever been touched by a mystic? I am intrigued by historical and contemporary mystics who have embraced or embrace all things divine. I am fascinated by those who can see beyond. I am drawn to those who are godlike and have heightened intuition. These insights into the unknown and an ability to heal broken souls is vital to our spirits. They may see through the eyes of God or dabble with magic. I do believe they exist. Those who are divine do walk among us. That is just what I choose believe.

Define and Attain Happiness

June 26, 2013
~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

Have you ever thought about what makes you really happy? As humans, we need to be happy sometimes. We deserve to feel genuine happiness, but what is happiness? Is it a smile? A thought? Laughter? Can it be bottled or made? Defined? Extracted? Invented? Analyzed? These are tough questions to answer.

New Webster’s Dictionary defines happiness as a “feeling of joy or pleasure.” According to the dictionary, the word happiness is a noun. So in that case, is happiness a thing? If happiness is a thing, maybe we can just buy some? I think not. How does the word “feeling” come into play in that definition? The word feeling is a verb tied to an emotional state. That kind of washes up the noun right?

Another online source says “happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That seems like a better, still not perfect definition. Can we even define the word happiness? Maybe it’s something we just can’t explain. Maybe it is something we can only feel?

For years psychologists, biologists, philosophers, and religious groups have attempted to understand what allows us to attain happiness. Maybe this is why we have such an ambiguous definition and understanding of happiness? In my humble opinion, the study of happiness should actually be cross-discipline. I believe happiness comes from the mind, heart and spirit. There should be a Doctrine of Happiness which incorporates all three.

For about 15 years, “positive psychologists” have been striving to understand happiness. Positive psychologists believe happiness is fundamentally important, and this contemporary branch of psychology has made efforts to understand the science of happiness. The psychological theory behind positive psychology includes things like pleasure, strength and talents. These are then tied to positive experiences and relationships. These psychologists also recognize that there are two sides to every coin with regard to the human condition. Maybe harnessing negative thoughts and emotions in useful ways works best? For instance, I write what I see as some my best poetry when I am upset.

So what makes me happy? Things that feed or replenish my mind, heart, and spirit make me happy. Intellectual, intimate and spiritual connection to humans who care to connect with me brings me happiness. I like to give of myself and help others. Seeing my son and those I care about smile because of my actions makes me happy. Making others feel good, brings me feelings of warmth, purpose, and happiness.

Maybe you should think about what makes you really happy? Each of us deserves and needs to be happy. It is possible that all the dissertations in the world will never pinpoint a definition of happiness. It does include smiling, pleasure and good thoughts. If it could be extracted and bottled, I would be rich. What it comes down to is simple. Happiness is a choice. When it rains, we can be riddled with misery or we can choose to be happy even in the face of adversity. We must choose to take control and understand that we all deserve to be happy.

Spirit, Heart and Mind: An Interview with Miguél A. Tórrez

April 15, 2013

Aristotle once said “if you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” I believe that the great Greek philosopher intentionally excluded “its end” when he said this. History has no end, therefore, there are constant developments. This quote could not ring more truthful for a lover of family history. There is something about knowing where we came from that makes us feel complete. When it comes to the art of research, there is a genealogist who grew up in Ranchitos that is making major contributions to our history. This man has a passion for traditional and scientific research, which makes him a well-rounded historian.

I have known Miguél Tórrez for many years. The first time I met him he was feverishly working on his genealogy with his small boys by his side. He has been interested in history since he was just a boy, but in his early 20s he was seemingly smitten by the history of those who came before him. This was just a few years after Miguél graduated from Española Valley High School. Growing up in Ranchitos, New Mexico, Miguél was near the historic Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo). At that time he couldn’t imagine that several years later his maternal line would be genetically connected to this type of ancestry. He says “current data tells us that approximately 80-85% of all New Mexicans with colonial roots have Native American roots on their maternal lineage (mtDNA).”

The final week I collected photographs from Miguél for his feature piece he was preparing for Holy Week. His spiritual devotion bears the deep roots of tradition. As a genealogist, learning about traditions and even practicing tradition will foster a clear understanding of what shaped our people. Miguél believes that “knowing oneself through culture and language fosters a sense of pride” and this belief is evident when you hear him lecture. I asked him why he felt that our traditions were important and he said “no matter what culture a person belongs to everyone’s culture is important because it gives people an identity.”


~~Santo Niño in Espinosa, Colorado by DeSautel~~

By now I’m sure that Miguél has a family tree which extends further than I can imagine. He has done so much work and he is always willing to help others in need, which is admirable. Many people who don’t understand the breadth of family history are unaware of the vast collection of surnames they can be connected to. Miguél says that “just two generations back we can see our extended relations.” Between his grandparents and great grandparents he can claim the Torres, Romero, Madrid, Roybal, Rodriguez, Martinez, Medina and Trujillo surnames. He is proud to have discovered that some of his relatives were involved in very important historical events such as the Apache Campaigns and the Rio Arriba rebellion of 1837.

Miguél has tracked military service on his paternal (Torres) line back to Cristoabl de Torres who was born in 1641. He seems to appreciate the fact that a grandfather named Juan “loved to tell stories about his grandparents and all of his relatives.” This grandfather was born in 1915 and had extended family from Chimayó to Cordova, New Mexico. “As a child I was given a visual of life in the 1920s with his stories of travels he and his father would take on horseback and wagon to communities such as Mora where they would travel to sell their produce,” he said. Though his grandfather practiced oral history, Miguél has now harnessed the power of documentary evidence and genetic studies.

3 generations of Torres

~~Three Generations of Torres Y-DNA~~

Miguél is currently in charge of about 100 paternal lineage (Y-DNA) kits. He collaborates regularly Angel Cervantes, the New Mexico DNA Project Coordinator/Group Administrator. This DNA project includes “the colonial expeditions of New Mexico by the Spanish in 1598 and 1693, by the Mexicans in 1821, and by the Americans in 1848.” This weekend Miguél will make a presentation titled “The Espinosa DNA Quest.” On Saturday (April 20, 2013) he will deliver a lecture at the Albuquerque Main Library (501 Copper SW~ Albuquerque, New Mexico) on the discovery of the Y-DNA genetic code of the Nicolás de Espinosa lineage (which includes 18th century branches of that clan). The presentation will run from 10:30~12:00 and is sure to be captivating.

When I asked Miguél what he wanted people to remember about him 200 years from now he said “I hope that the work I am doing will produce results that are worthy of scholarly articles and will serve as a worthy reference thus having historical relevance. As a young man I hope that I will have many successful years in doing so and that many generations will remember my name as having been a valid contributor to the preservation of New Mexican history and culture.” I guess as lovers of history we couldn’t ask for more than that right? Here is to one amazing man making a positive contribution to our communities and to the future through history.

Good Friday: The Penance of Imperfect Creatures

April 6, 2012


As machines become more and more efficient and perfect,

so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.”

*****Ernst Fischer


Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection

that we forget that imperfection is happiness.”

*****Karen Nave


Being human is one of the hardest jobs that many of us have ever had. The struggle between the good and bad, the dark and the light, the positive and the negative, at times can be overwhelming. Sometimes just a reminder of inescapable imperfection is enough to comfort the weary. Like with anything else in life, we need to do our best to walk a crisp line, and be the best people we can be right? In 1973, the Journal of Religion and Health (Vol. 12, No. 1) published a paper titled Saints and Sinners by Harry C. Meserve. In the paper, Meserve was “pondering the mystery of sanctity,” and he says that “the world’s moralists have tended to divide mankind between the saints and the sinners, ourselves and the enemy, the sane and the insane, the wise and the foolish; and these distinctions, sometimes descriptive, are usually inadequate.” Meserve goes on to say that “we come into the world neither good nor evil, but with a potential for both. We end up, unless we are true saints, as some what mixed beings, with, one hopes, the weight on the side of goodness.”

My uncle Rick Lujan has always walked to El Santuario de Chimayo with his lion cane. He made the cane out of a juniper branch, and it was the first carving he ever made. Today the cane is about five inches shorter because of the walks.

This week marked the annual Holy Week pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, in Chimayo, New Mexico. People from all over the world, and from various religious backgrounds walk hundreds of miles to the sacred Catholic site to ask for forgiveness, and pray for blessings. Saints and sinners alike make the trip to pay homage, erase darkness, and inspire the light. “Three pueblos, long abandoned, have been located in the area and dated, the earliest being about 1100 A.D.” Tewa Indians recognized Chimayo “as a shrine,” and “a place of healing.” Local accounts note that “in 1706 the Chimayo Valley was a part of the San Juan Parish. Later, in 1751, it was administered by the Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz.” The Santuario de Chimayo was built in 1816 by Don Bernardo Abeyta, but a small chapel dated back to 1810. The site was dedicated to Our Lord of Esquipulas. There have long been “stories of the miracles performed through the healing earth beneath the shrine.”

My grandma Corine loved El Santuario de Chimayo when she was alive. This was a container of the holy earth she gave to me years ago. Her favorite was the saint who “wears old, worn shoes.” His name is Santo Nino or the Holy Child. There is likely no statistics to confirm the number of “sick” people who visit that saint. He continuously wears out his brand new shoes “from nightly trips giving aid to those in need.”

In 1996, the pilgrimage was called “a sacrifice,” and that is still true today. When I was young I walked countless times to the magical place with a well containing holy earth. The well was “the site of a holy apparition in the 1800s,” and “the soil where the apparition appeared is said to be holy and the source of miraculous healings.” Sinners and the “sick” need to be healed, thus droves of imperfect humans take containers, buy containers, and fill pockets with gritty holiness to ward off unwanted pains. In Saints and Sinners, Meserve said that there is “a division between good and evil; but the division, the conflict, is within each one of us.” Can miracles, faith, and a bit of sacred earth really cure the “sick?” Well according to Meserve, “the problem of the saint and the sinner within the same person is not unlike the problem of the healthy and the sick person within the same in individual. All of us, at one time or another, are sick. Yet elements of health exist in all of us, too, even when we are at our lowest ebb.” Apparently the answer is yes!

So why do so many make the Holy Week pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo? Why do they ask for forgiveness? Why do they pray for blessings? Why do they need to cure the sickness? Are they saints or are they sinners? Maybe the latter really is one in the same? The only real answer– put simply– imperfection should be accepted because unfortunately, humanness is hard.

The Saint Wears Old, Worn Shoes by Alice Bullock- Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo, December 7, 1969


~Native Mountain Villages– Santa Fe New Mexican, July, 16, 1951

~The Saint Wears Old, Worn Shoes by Alice Bullock- Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo, December 7, 1969

~Saints and Sinners by Harry C. Meserve- Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1973

~Obscure Oratorio Predates Famed El Santuario– Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo, February 21, 1985

~Faith Keeps Them Warm by Chris Roybal- Santa Fe New Mexican, April 5, 1996

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I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

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