Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Today's paper had an article examining the idea that there are three types of New Year's Eve people. Those who go out to a party or otherwise doll up and toast the New Year. Those who stay at home with some popcorn and a good movie and ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop or banging pots together, and finally, those who don't make it past ten pm.
We have all three right here in our house. Sister St. Aloysius is in the middle group. She is always at the ready to bang some pots together, but since no one else around here does that, she is afraid of offending group three, so she just blows on a noise maker and calls it a day. Sister Mary Fiacre is asleep on and off pretty much all the time.
I have been known to hoof it down to the bay, where revelers gather to drink champagne from the deck of a fancy hotel down there. I stand under the deck on the walk way. We are all watching fireworks over the bay. It's like I'm at the party, but I'm not. Believe me, I am always invited in by anyone who spots me down there, but it's nothing personal. I think they just like the idea of hauling a nun into the party. The same thing would happen if I was dressed in a giant bunny suit or as Frankenstein.
Speaking of dressing up:
I keep seeing pictures of our ecclesial prelates decked out like Liberace on one of his worse days. I mean, Jesus and the Apostles never would have been seen dead in outfits like this. (Me neither.) So why do the princes of the church?
I'm not sure what you mean. I'm assuming you mean the priests at Mass. Or the Pope.
Yes, they are dressed in some pretty fine and fancy vestments once in a while. I have yet to see any of them fly into church wearing a boa, but I have seen many things I thought I would never see. Liturgical dance, anyone?
Anyhow, these lovely outfits are nothing new. It twas ever thus. Here's the priest at St. Patrick's in New York.
And here's some saint or another. Not sure who. I believe it's St. Phillip of Neri.
It really looks like the priest at St. Patrick's might have gotten a deal on a saint's vestment on ebay, doesn't it? Or someone did.
Also keep in mind that it's not as though the priest cracks out a vestment once and then never wears it again, like some designer gown for the Oscars. Vestments get worn over and over again.
Why so fancy? A couple of reasons. In the Catholic church, we spend every second reminding you about God. God is spectacular and we are going to dress to the nines any time we celebrate at God's supper. The supper is available all the time, just like on a cruise ship, and just like being invited to the Captain's table, we're going to look extra spiffy. You may show up in your ripped jeans with your midriff hanging out, but the priest is going to dress very nicely.
Plus, it's just not all doom and gloom and hell fire and bloody martyrdom and suffering saints and people roasting in Purgatory. At the end of it all, God is spectacular. We like to remind you about that. So the priest wears some spectacular outfits. What? God doesn't deserve at least what you'd get at the Grammy's? I think He does.
No, Jesus and the Apostles didn't dress up ever, as far as we know. That doesn't mean we shouldn't dress up for them. As soon as we leave Mass, priest and parishioners, we are back to our everyday clothes from KMart and Target and the sale at Macy's and the Sears catalog.
If I were you, I wouldn't sweat the vestments. Let it go.
And while we're on the topic of Mass:
I would like your opinion on the issue of young children at Mass. My husband once knew a priest who would stop Mass if a child was crying and ask the parent to remove the child...so he's been "trained" if you will to hold steadfast to the belief that children do not belong in Mass.
I tend to agree, only because I often have trouble hearing the homily for all the fussing, talking and crying. We have a 20 month old whom we would never expect to sit quiet and still for an hour. We take turns going to Mass on Sunday while the other spends time with our child--of course it takes twice as long but it gets the job done! We have taken our son to Mass once in a pinch (vacation) and I was so busy trying to keep him occupied that I didn't really participate in Mass. I don't know how other people do it (or do they?).
I love your insight and want the honest truth: Are we being too wet-blanket-ish or do you, too, think it's a good idea to keep young children at home until they can reasonable sit still for at least an hour without needing coloring books or Cheerios?
I've talked about this before.
Verdict: Wet blanket.