A Few of My Favorite Things

Someone in the parish office must have decided to focus on baptism during the Easter season, extending it beyond the baptisms of the catechumens at the Vigil and having infant baptisms during morning Mass on Easter Sunday and today.

One of the glories of Catholic liturgy is that if you say the same things often enough they really start to sink in — and eventually you’ll hear all of them, no matter how distracted you are during any given Mass.

I have developed a couple of favorites from the rite of Baptism over the last few years:

“Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin?”

At first blush this sounds horribly old-fashioned and hyper-pious, at least to me. But that phrase, “glamour of evil,” I know just what it means, though I can’t improve upon the language. As a somewhat weak example, I can have a very dry, dark sense of humor at times. Sometimes that’s great — usually it’s better to laugh at darkness then be frightened by it — but sometimes that laughter seduces me to be mean-spirited, callous, cynical, in the guise of being “hip” and irreverant.

I had a good friend from high school and college who seemed to be seduced by the glamour of evil. She relished her “bad girl” status, honed that persona, and made herself into a bitter, cynical, and apparently joyless person by the age of 25. I don’t mean to judge her — I know the many trials she had to bear, and it seems like her family situation set her up to fail. And I know that her “bad girl” persona gave her a way to have at least fleeting feelings of security, belonging, and being loved, which would be pretty irresistable in her circumstances. As her best friend and her foil, however, I also knew how much of herself she disowned in pursuit of that “glamour of evil.” By the time our friendship faded away, it seemed like her ability to feel joy or intimacy was lost. Honestly, until this moment I had forgetten a lot of the fun we had together, because my strongest memory of her is the bitter young woman she was the last time I saw her. So when I’m asked if I reject the glamour of evil, I say “I do” wholeheartedly.

“This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it.

On any given day, I’d say at least half of the congregation has some aspect of the faith that, on that particular day, they are not so sure of. I have always been dubious of those colleges where you sign a doctrinal statement saying you believe certain things in a certain way — so much emphasis on individual beliefs, which can wax and wane. Belief is like love — it can feel strong or weak or even absent depending on your mood and the circumstances. How it feels isn’t what matters most, it’s how you persist in it. We profess our faith as a community that we might persist in it, even if on a given Sunday we are thinking more about whether Mass will ever end.

Still, when we say those words together, “This is our faith and we are proud to profess it,” I do indeed feel proud. I stand in the midst of a community of people who not only do good and love each other and work for justice in the community, but also persist together in belief. Whatever the mulitple failings of the institutional Church, when I say those words I remember how much I love it.

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  


“Haromantic” is a word Victoria has coined (from a mishearing of “how romantic”) to mean full of love.

She told me today, as we were celebrating getting a little one-to-one time, “I am haromantic.

I asked her, “Are you full of love?”

“Yes, and I will never run out,” she said. “Because love comes from God.”

“That’s true,” I told her. I couldn’t help but add, knowing that none of us stay four and “haromantic” forever, “And if you ever feel out of love, you can ask God for more, because God never runs out, and God will always give you more.”

“That’s right mom,” she said.

Published in: on March 27, 2008 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Kind of Catholic Am I?

Thanks to Patience at Singing the Rain, who pointed me towards this quiz at Beliefnet. I do love me a quiz.

According to the quiz, I am this kind of Catholic:

You Are a Divine Office (Moderately Traditional) Catholic
The Second Vatican Council was much needed, as far as you’re concerned, but you see no reason to push the church further in the direction of change, as many progressives urge. You like the dynamic combination of the traditional approach toward doctrine with the opening of the church to the world that Pope John Paul II (your favorite pope) represented. As far as liturgy is concerned, a reverent Mass in the vernacular is your favorite, as is a vernacular hymn with a feeling for the transcendent such as “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” When Nicole Kidman returned to her childhood Catholicism and regular Mass attendance, you were thrilled.

I think, however, I am equally this kind of Catholic:

You Are an Ignatian Exercises (Moderately Progressive) Catholic
You love the church, but you’d like to see some changes in certain areas–birth control, divorce, the role of women–where official teaching seems disconnected from contemporary experience. You find the new vernacular liturgy, forms of prayer (such as adapting the age-old Ignatian Exercises for the laity), and devotions that arose in the wake of the Second Vatican Council much more relevant to your own spirituality than the old. Your favorite hymn is probably a contemporary standard such as “On Eagle’s Wings.” It goes without saying that your favorite pope is John XXIII, the pope of Vatican II. You admire examples of sanctity that seem relevant to our time, such as Dorothy Day. You loved the movie “The Mission,” because it reflected a Christian concern for the marginalized that was squelched by the institutional church.

I like to think that I am a catholic Catholic — that I embrace and take advantage of old and new prayers, that I look to tradition to understand change. I’m a little bit Latin, I’m a little bit Haugen-Haas. But I balk at what I see as attempts by both conservatives and liberals to remake the church — and God — in their own, and only their, image. That’s what schism is — I like the priest who said “better a heretic than a schismatic.” Better to dissent under the big tent than to take your toys and go off to make your own club with narrower rules.

For the record — and this will mark me as an ultra liberal — my idea of a great Catholic movie is “Babette’s Feast.” And I like Methodist hymns better than anything in the Gather hymnal. Sorry!