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