I’m Feeling Religious Tonight


This post is a mish-mash of religious and food-related thoughts. Not all that cohesive. Go with the flow.

I’m a religious person, but I’m not always on fire for Christ. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I feel blessed and imagine myself on golden clouds, looking through the mist concealing the white light. Other times I feel cursed and have these bad-ass images of demons bursting into flames and poking me with a pitchfork. Enjoy the theme music.:)

Other times, like lately, I feel like God is out there messing around but that He’s busy. I think I’ll do my thing, He’ll do His thing, and one of these days, we’ll meet for coffee. I don’t even kneel when I pray at lot of the time. Sometimes I don’t even pray. Sometimes I just lie face up and talk, at the same time as looking at stars or clouds. Looking at the Heavens, let’s put it that way.

These days, my version of prayer is no prayer at all. I just lie down and think of nothing, letting the Holy Spirit in and get comfy. Meditation, basically. Sometimes, I actually feel something entering me and filling me up and lifting me up ever so slightly. Power of suggestion, perhaps? Deep relaxation? Or something else? *Hint hint wink wink nudge nudge*

I confess. I believe in ghosts, angels, demons, and all sorts of mythical things. A Congregationalist co-worker who is much more a spiritual than a religious person was talking to me one day. She did not understand why only certain people could touch the Eucharist, that Catholics literally believe Mary conceived without male intercession, etc. It began over a discussion of my Halloween costume. I told her I made my own clerical collar and she asked me why I could not borrow a real one. I explained that vestments are consecrated and she told me, “Oh, they’re so hocus-pocus.”

Well, no offense, but what other reason is there to get up on Sunday? I could be sleeping in. Sometimes I do. I prefer the Saturday night liturgy because it feels more magical at night, in which case I don’t need to go on Sunday. It is more traditional in the sense that it is reminiscent of Jewish liturgies, which take place on Friday night.

Or I could sleep in and go to the 11:00 Mass.:) Today’s Catholics have *options,* man.:)

Anyway, my point is that the same hocus-pocus that she finds silly is exactly why I am motivated to worship at all. Why go to Mass if I can just break bread and share it at home? That’s because the bread at a Catholic Mass is special, or at least it damn well better be. If I wanted to go to Church to just hear a positive message, I would not go to the Church that I do. With the glut of self-help and spiritual books on the market, I would not be going to Church. I go to Church because of that something more, something out of the ordinary.

I’m not saying that you need ritual and hocus-pocus in order to have a fulfilling spiritual life. What I am saying is that it is useless for this person to ask, “Why is the Catholic Church so hocus-pocus?” It’s hocus-pocus because it’s the Catholic church. That’s how it is. We’re Catholic, in part, because we LIKE the hocus-pocus. It offers us a little something more.

I’ll never forget the first time I ate an unconsecrated Communion wafer. I was the only one in RCIA that would take it. Everyone else was shuffling their feet, stammering, eyes wide open in horror, and chuckling nervously. They knew intellectually that it had not yet been turned into the Son of Man, but they didn’t want to take the chance of defiling it. Father L. liked to describe Communion as a meal to which we were invited, and once, I joked with him that dinner was delicious. He didn’t get it, and I explained it to him. (My sense of humor is random and weird.)

I was a new catechumen, and he blanched and his eyes flew open behind his round glasses, wearing an expression on his face of utter horror. “You didn’t TAKE it, did you?” He asked in a deadly whisper.

“No, chill out.” He breathed a sigh of relief.

Not too long ago, I was sharing my experience with a catechetical director and she reacted in a similar manner. She blanched and was horrified, and she asked me in a deadly whisper, “Was it consecrated?”

“No, no, it wasn’t.” And she, like Father, breathed an enormous sigh of relief.

I laughed, but I also realize that, even if you don’t think you will be struck dead for having touched it, you still need to be prepared to touch it. It is like going on a date. You want to put your best foot forward. And you still need to respect the beliefs of others when you are on their turf, even if you think they are just hocus-pocus.

I’m looking forward to Advent and Christmas this year. I will not be doing much, but I am looking forward to putting up my Victorian Christmas tree, sitting in the glow of the candlelight, sneaking brownies…

That’s my favorite tradition right there. Sneaking cookies, candy from the stockings, etc. in the middle of the night before Santa came. I bet, in this day and age, that would get me labeled a compulsive over-eater. Whatever.

This year, I have a lot to be thankful for, but the thing I am thankful for most, I think, is the food. I can enjoy whatever foods I want. I can afford them. I do not feel any internal pressure to deny myself the foods I want. So many other people earn so much more than I do in terms of income, yet eat less and are unable to enjoy what they have. They are on diets.

It’s sad when you think about it.

Unfortunately, not all Catholics think this way. Sure, they’re grateful for the food,  but they don’t eat it. Catholic women are like most other women in our culture in that they want to lose weight. What would make them any different? I just wish I could go to RCIA and not hear comments about weight loss. Seriously, the topics have NOTHING to do with weight loss. They are about the Bible, the Sacraments, Church history, etc. Yet weight loss comments ALWAYS seem to make their way in.

Oh, and this is what I really don’t get. Some people get all in a tizzy about people not being good Catholics. Well, Catholics like to party. We spend a lot of time fasting, repenting, and denying, then when we have permission to party, we don’t eat the foods we like. People all over the world have come up with all manner of sumptuous dishes for Christmas, and we don’t eat them. Fuck that.

I’m gonna eat. Whatever I want. As much as I want.

God is, of course, invited to this meal, provided I get a front row seat at Midnight Mass.

Eh, God won’t give me that, necessarily. God is great, He really is, but He rarely delivers what you want and He takes a million years to do it. If He worked for China Jade, He’d be so fired.:)

On the upside, His fortune cookies never disappoint.

P.S. I recently bought a car-a 2000 Chrystler Cirrus, to be exact. She’s gorgeous!

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4 comments

  1. undonne · November 13, 2011

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while and was particularly struck by this post. I particularly like the combo of FA and religious musing in your writing. Interesting how so much of Christian imagery and celebration is food oriented, yet a lot of Christian asceticism (both ancient emphasis on fasting women a la Caroline Walker Bynum) and modern American food-fear is focused on not celebrating. Have you read Capon’s “Supper of the Lamb”? I’m a moderately old person who has gone in and out of FA – back in now. Going to New Orleans for Thanksgiving and realized what a huge relief and joy it is to think that I can actually enjoy all the great food in NO and not agonize about what I’m not supposed to be eating.

    • joannadeadwinter · November 19, 2011

      Thanks for the feedback and enjoy your trip! One of my favorite things about NOT dieting is eating different food from all over the world, especially desserts.:)

  2. Victoria · December 5, 2011

    I am seriously in love with your blog. This entry spoke to me especially. As a 19 year old (sort of confused) Catholic it is nice to be able to read such things. I appreciate it sincerely and keep up the amazing entries! 🙂 Now I have to go read all of your old ones haha 😉

    • JoannaDW · December 6, 2011

      What a pleasure it was to read this comment and I’m so glad someone else gets it and was helped by it.:) I am a young person myself (22) and I have only been Catholic for a year, so I am still figuring things out. We are all called to re-evaluate and recommit to our chosen paths in life, and there should be no shame in admitting this. Together, we can find strength to carry on in ours. It has been said that doing God’s work does not pay much, but His retirement plan is out of this world.:)

      Please come again, and if want to discuss anything with me, my contact info is under About Joanna/Dead of Winter and Comments, Questions, and Suggestions.

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