Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The hope of a land without evil - learning from Indigenous theology while praying for Brazil

On Monday morning this week Simei Monteiro from Brazil prepared a wonderfully evocative service around the indigenous Guarini Indian concept of the Land without evil - Terra sem Males.
The service began with this invocation from the Missa da terra sem males:

On the behalf of all the peoples' father
- Maíra* of everything -
On the behalf of the Son,
Who made all people brothers and sisters,
In the blood mixed with all bloods,
On the behalf of the Liberating Alliance.
On the behalf of the Light for all cultures.
On the behalf of Love which is in all loves.
On the behalf of the Land-without-Evil,
Lost in the profit, won in the sorrow,
on the behalf of the vanquished Death,
on the behalf of Life, we sing , O God!
(from Missa da Terra sem Males) *Maira means origin/completeness/ the land without evil

Simei further outlined the Guarani theology of the land without evil in her meditation and also charted the, to me, unknown story of the Missa da Terra sem Males -
primarily the work of one of the most famous of Brazil's bishops, Dom Pedro Casaldáliga, a Spanish-Catalan and Pedro Tierra, who went by the nickname of Hamilton Pereira da Silva one of the victims of repression in Brazil. The music is by Matín Coplas, an Argentinian descended from Quechua and Aymara peoples.

When talking with Simei before the service I'd been really fascinated by the idea of the prophets being for the people the ones who know the beautiful words for the land without evil. You can see from the extract from Simei's meditation below that there is also a deep link between language and song in the theology of the land without evil:

"Y vy mara ey" or simply Maíra, the "terra sem males" is like a conception of an Eden in Guarani Theology. That is why they did not need any established priest or god. They simply need a prophet ,the one who could guide them to the Maíra.
They called the prophet: "caraí", the one who knew the way to the Land without Evil. The "caraí” also knew the "ayvu porã"- "the beautiful words", the "sacred words", the true words, a common language of human beings and gods, the sacred teachings.
These "beautiful words" were poems, the poetical language which could describe the reality of all things and its values. The good words to celebrate the divine dimension in the people's life just because they were related to the true dimension of human beings understood as being gods that have lost the "original song". This song was conceived as an original sound born from the "the divine wisdom".
The originality of this theology is that the language was also conceived as a song: and I quote some phrases of their mythical cosmological poem which says: "the song was conceived before Earth exists… in the middle of original darkness"…"before we could conceive things…"

As I read the sermon afterwards I was also very moved by the following extract about and from the mass itself:

The Mass of the Land Without Evil was composed during the year that was declared by the Brazilian Church as the Ano dos Mártires (Year of the Martyrs),1978. This commemoration involved a pointed redefinition of the notion of "martyr" to focus specifically on those missionaries who had lost their lives in recent years struggling for Indian rights and, more significantly, on the thousands of Indians martyred by the Church-supported colonial enterprise over the centuries.
At one point in the mass, a voice representing the colonial Church says:
And we missionized you,
betrayers of the gospel,
driving the Cross into your lives
like a sword,
the Good News ringing
a death knell.
Betrayers of the Gospel,
of the Word Incarnate,
we gave you as a message
an alien culture
We tore asunder
the peace of your life …

The way the gospel of Christ has been imposed rather than shared across the centuries and so many lands, has certainly not been a "land without evil" for many indigenous peoples. Finally, as they have been driven almost to the edge of extinction we, who have truly forgotten the language and song of the land without evil, are beginning to listen to and learn from
beautiful truths which preceded our own. May there still be time for that learning.

You can find the full liturgy from Monday here and Simei's sermon here.

1 Comment:

Matthew Pallamary said...