Essay "The Food and Mysteries of the Divine"
The environment is dreamlike. The smoke from the boiling water that cooks the potatoes and beans evokes the mystery of the Holy Spirit being celebrated at this feast. One must have faith to believe in His existence. You have to see what is apparently not there. One must feel His presence more than have proof of it.
At Feast of the Divine, one of the most traditional celebrations of the Catholic Church in Brazil, food is one of the great traditions, along with processions, horses and folkloric dances of African origin.
From its origin, at the pagan festivals of Pentecost (celebrating the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere), the Feast of the Divine is marked by the abundance of food, which represents the hope of a new era, with equality, prosperity and abundance for all.
In Brazil, the feast of the Divine happens in many cities, each of them, with an emphasis on something special. In São Luiz do Paraitinga, in the countryside of São Paulo, one of the most important traditions is to gather the community around the sacred food, the Afogado (drowned) which is served free of charges to about 20,000 people in a period of 9 days.
The food distributed to the faithful is considered an action of reciprocity for the graces granted by the Divine Holy Spirit to the volunteers who work in their preparation, but it feeds more than their stomachs, feeds their souls. Approach them to God and to each other. Nourishes.
The space of the public market, where food is usually sold, becomes a place of donation. Nine days of abundance, of providence, of accomplishment. Faith in the Holy Spirit is what moves people, but the fuel for all of this is partnership, joint effort, and fraternity among people. Divine providence is transferred to ordinary people. God's care is represented by caring, among the members of the community. The love of God is in the food that cherishes.
Catholic history tells us that tongues of fire descended upon the apostles to prove the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. In the same way, tongues of fire warm the food cauldrons, the bodies and the hearts of the volunteers. The smoke of cooking food clouds the environment, blur the vision, but unites people around a very clear goal: to prove that the solidarity preached by God is present among the people of that community.
The crowd is patient. It awaits the arrival of your turn to receive divine food with joy. Volunteers are dedicated. They work incessantly. They receive the gratitude of their countrymen and the certainty that they are honoring their Lord in the person of the Holy Spirit.
The feeling of community, care, nourishment of body and soul will accompany everyone for another year, until the next festival arrives.