Keep the Faith, Baby

We baptized Baby Lee last Sunday. By we I mean one Lutheran minister and the religious consortium that is now my family, including Lutherans, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, a Baptist, a Humanist, a few Jewish friends who showed up and one resigned Catholic.

Baby Lee didn’t care. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an infant so unflappable. Through the pre-baptism photo session, the long church service and the even longer luncheon that followed, he never made a complaint. He was passed around, bounced, kissed and had children stick their noses in his face. I think he flinched once. Obviously the child knows already: This is my family. Resistance is futile.

We gathered at my house after the baptism for lunch. It was no less chaotic than usual, what with the five grandkids and two little friends running around, up the stairs, down the stairs, indoors and out. At one point I saw Toddler Bret, who is normally restricted to a sippy cup, walking across the porch with a glass of pink lemonade. It was a plastic glass. I turned and walked away.

And God said, “Truly I say unto you: it’s all good.”

AND THEN THERE WERE SIX.

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Holy Cripes

ON THE WAY TO CHURCH IN OUR NEW EASTER OUTFITS. I'M THE SHORT ONE THINKING HOLY THOUGHTS.

I was born, baptized and raised Catholic, and although I don’t show up at church very often, I haven’t heard that I was excommunicated or anything. The reason I seldom go to church is because I went to Catholic schools for twelve years. I am, however, always polite. Anyway, being Catholic is what I know, so I’m thinking I’ll just go with that for the duration.

Fortunately, my God happens to have an excellent sense of humor, because there’s been so much odd news lately religion-wise, it’s almost impossible not to make jokes about it. “Go for it, Judy,” He/She said.

Not the way I remember things
You may have heard about a church in Cincinnati offering drive-thru ashes on Ash Wednesday and figured it was some jivey young Catholic priest wearing an earring who came up with the idea. Actually it was the people at the Mount Healthy United Methodist Church. (Mount Healthy?)

I may not be the holiest person in the chapel, but I’m pretty sure receiving ashes is supposed to symbolize your repentance for the year you just spent sinning and/or generally goofing off. If you can’t take the time to park the car, walk into church and spend ten minutes being anointed, how penitent can you be? Not very darn penitent.

Why would anyone want that?
The heart of St. Laurence O’Toole, patron saint of Dublin, was reported stolen recently from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The holy relic, all that was left of the sainted man, had been on display there since the 13th century. A little morbid perhaps, but so be it. This was the second inexplicable burglary of a Dublin church this year. In January a thief made off with the jawbone of St. Brigid, an Irish abbess who died in 525.

While I’m no theologian, I do recall Sister Olivia telling us that relic stealing is a sure path to hell for all eternity. And why would anyone want old body parts anyway? Isn’t it weird enough that people once thought it was a good idea to cut up dead saints and put pieces of them in a box? How insane would you have to be to want to keep them to yourself?

Don’t like your clergyperson? Do it yourself.
So I was reading about the mysterious Irish relic thefts when an ad popped up for StartCHURCH, a website where you can go to do exactly that, i.e., set up your own tax-free religious institution. Apparently some rather pesky tax laws, along with recent court cases, have made launching your own church “very complex” nowadays. The folks at StartCHURCH will help you with everything from filling out the federal application [form 501(c)(3)] to ordaining your own ministers. “Let Us Do the Work For You!” it urged.

Out of work? Struggling to make ends meet? StartCHURCH may be the answer. How attached were you to that soul anyway?

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Phone-It-In Confession

SISTER BERNICE WOULD NOT APPROVE.

I imagine by now you’ve heard about the new $1.99 “Confession” iPhone app Catholics can get to keep track of their sins. I’m kind of Catholic; i.e., I’ve had plenty of first-hand experience with the confessional, although not for a long time because frankly I haven’t had any sins for a while.

I’d like to have some sins, but occasions of sin just never seem to present themselves anymore. Unless you count bad thoughts, but personally I never bought into that particular no-win-ology. Or unless neglecting things is a sin. I guess that would be the sin of sloth, but I wouldn’t need an app to keep count. I’d just tell the priest I’ve been sloth-afflicted every day for most of my adult life. Of course, then he might not give me absolution, because the whole point of the Sacrament of Penance is promising to go forth and sin no more, and any priest worth his collar would be suspicious of someone who’s been committing the same sin every day for years.

So you see, there’s really no reason for me to go to Confession and I certainly don’t need an app.

Anyway, Bishop Rhodes of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has given the Confession app his blessing, which must make it the first mobile app officially sanctioned by the Church ever. I hear it’s been selling well, too, which makes me wonder what kind of person needs a special tool to keep a handle on these things.

Is there a killer out there thinking, “Let’s see, did I kill just the one person last month?” Thieves don’t go to confession (they might have to give something back). People who covet their neighbor’s wife seldom think it’s wrong (unless you’re Jimmy Carter). And if you committed adultery more than a dozen times last year, you might as well throw yourself on the mercy of the College of Cardinals right now.

But I don’t care. If you think the Confession app will help you be a better person, $1.99 is a small price to pay. As for me, if I ever get the chance to commit a sin worth confessing, I’m not likely to forget it.