[If you are offended by dimwitted opinions of religion, please go away now.]
I saw several people with ashes on their foreheads today and remembered that today is Ash Wednesday. It got me thinking…
Like many adults, I no longer practice the religion in which I was raised. And as you can tell from the subject line, I was raised Catholic. I’m a mix of Roman and Irish Catholic, so if we were with my Italian grandparents, we had Father Tuffolini. If we were with my Irish grandparents, we went to Father Michael. And then at school we had Father Kennedy and Father Ed.
Catholicism is a very pagan religion. As a kid, I thought that ‘Christians’ were completely separate from Catholics. We were “one holy Catholic and apostolic church” – not a “Christian” church. “Christians” didn’t have any incense, candles, graphic sculptures of agony or the Stations of the Cross. They were clean and sterile like the lab where my mom worked.
We had rosary beads with bottomless meditations and mysteries to go with each bead. We had sacraments, holy water and genuflection and a metaphorical blood ritual. And of course our teachers wore ritual clothing all the time and lived in a special community. Ours were called the Sisters of Mercy. They had names like Sister Gervase and Sister Theon.
If you wanted to be really true to the worship, you could attend a Latin Mass, where the priest faced the cross like the rest of the congregation and you couldn’t understand a thing.
We had a patron saint for everything that you can think of. St. Francis of Assisi is famous for guarding animals and St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but you may not have heard of these:
· If you want to sell your house, bury a statue of St. Joseph -- upside down -- in the back yard. You will sell your house.
· If you want to prevent throat problems, get your throat blessed during the Feast of St. Blaise in February (aka Candlemas Day or “candle mass”). The holiday fluctuates with the moon, as Ash Wednesday does. The priest will cross two candles over your throat and whisper blessings. [St. Blaise had saved a child from choking on a fish bone and so he is now the patron saint of throats.]
[St. Blaise was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers]
I know that there are many more, but I am going from memory and not looking it up on the internet.
Here is a ritual from my Irish grandmother:
· The full moon is known as “fill ‘er up” moon. When the moon is full, empty your wallet of all cash, go outside and look at the moon. You have to be able to see the moon when you do this or it won’t work. Then open your wallet to the moon and say, “fill ‘er up moon” three times. You will get extra money that month.
Also, we have a couple of holy relics from St. John Neumann and they have cured breast cancer in the family. His shrine is in Philadelphia and I went there with my family a couple of times. (We bought things in the gift shop and then had them blessed.)
[St. John Neumann lies in state at the shrine in Philadelphia]
We also used to have some weird yucky thing in the refrigerator. It looked like a specimen in formaldehyde. I finally said that we needed to get rid of it, and my mom said that it was something holy and that we needed to keep it. I think my mom gave it to someone to be healed.
As you can see, I could go on and on, so I will leave you with some Catholic imagery. Of course you must have a glass of red wine and a crust of bread. Don’t let the bread fall on the floor!
p.s. I can't believe I know all of this...
Under the Influence, Eminem
The Power, Snap!
Mary of Silence, Mazzy Star