Thursday, June 04, 2009
Clearing the Calendar
Talk about falling down on the job! I have been remiss in answering many questions. I'll catch up, I promise.
Let's start with these two, left over from our discussion about the patron saint for people who don't believe in saints. I had mentioned that St. Christopher and St. Philomena, among others, have been dropped from the list of saints due to the fact that they didn't exist in the first place, a memo that St. Expeditus failed to deliver to a few readers:
There is no St. Christopher?!
No, there isn't. Ironically, there is a Santa Claus.
Most people only know the tail end of the St. Christopher story, which is lovely. That's the part where St. Christopher has a job as a human ferry, carrying travelers across a river on his back. It seems St. Christopher was a large fellow.
So one day, while on the job, a small child asks to be carried across the river and as Christopher hauls the boy across on his shoulders, the child gets heavier and heavier with each step, until Christopher fears they will both drown. Crawling up to the far bank and gasping, Christopher says to the child, "What is your deal, kid?"
And the child serenely replies, "I am the Christ Child and I carry the weight of the world on My shoulders."
We love that story! But that's really only the third part of the actual story, which is a very silly "Three Billy Goats Gruff" type of "Three Little Pigs" type of thing.
First, Christopher is a soldier and he wants to serve the most powerful king only. So he joins the Devil's Army. Apparently the Devil had a recruitment table set up on the high school campus or something.
But then, while serving in the Devil's Army one day during a battle, Christopher sees the Devil bow down to the Cross of Christ. So Christopher wants to join that army.
This time he has more trouble finding the recruitment table. Some old hermit tells Christopher that he should just sit by this river and carry people across and that will be enough to serve Jesus.
Paul Harvey has passed away, so I will have to say, "....and now you know the REST of the story..."
Clearly, none of this ever happened and since there is absolutely no evidence that St. Christopher is anything but a story, he was dropped from the calendar of saints. It seems we miss him too much, because he is still a best seller at any Catholic store, dangling from rear view mirrors and key chains.
I have replaced him with Our Lady of LaSalette, the patroness of road rage, and St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of keeping your car from breaking down.
As a metaphor, I'd say St. Christopher still cuts it as a great story. The story of the Three Little Pigs has a great message, too.
If St. Philomena never existed, than whose intercession were St. Jean-Marie Vianney and Ven. Pauline-Marie Jaricot praying for?
Them, and a gazllion other people. St. Philomena has always had a huge cult following. That's how she became a saint. I'm sure other virgin martyrs picked up the slack.
And finally, speaking of saints:
I've got the "tortured by my imperfections" part down pretty good. It's the "life of heroic virtue" part that gives me trouble. Between sheer cowardice (go look for trouble? me?), a tendency toward bone-idleness (can I do that tomorrow), and frankly not facing many challenges in daily life, I feel totally inadequate to the challenge most of the time. I have a small ikon of St. Maximilian Kolbe above my desk, and feel intimidated every time I look at him. Even St. Therese had chronic illness to contend with. I have a mortgage, a wife who loves me but who stopped going to church/confession/anything sacramental years ago, and two lapsed daughters. Most of my troubles in the life area are of my own making. Tiny, tiny, tiny little crosses, really. And an easy-to-manage problem with diabetes. I worry that having led "a life of somewhat mediocre virtue" isn't going to cut it. I'm no slacker in my Catholicism, really, but I'm wondering what I've missed, and what I can do about it. All ideas not involving physical self-flagellation welcome.
We'll be back tomorrow to wade into this one!