But before we get to that, I must share with you my latest opportunity for suffering. Yo may recall my Lenten dilemma with the McDonald's fish sandwich and my subsequent food poisoning erasing the problem for a long time to come. Like the lead character in "A Clockwork Orange", whose new aversion to violence came with an inadvertent aversion to the music of Beethoven, my new aversion to all things McDonald's has sadly left me unable to enjoy another thing I like a lot: dill pickles.
My love of dill pickles goes a long way back, from always eating a giant dill pickle after a day of swimming with friends and cousins in the summer, to sloppy joes piled with pickles. If someone was putting pickles on my sandwich, they could not overdo it.
Some day I'll enjoy them again. Meanwhile, the souls in purgatory are getting a reprieve whenever the condiments are passed out.
My daughter is a big fan of marine mammals and loves to visit aquariums, zoos and parks like Seaworld so she can watch the animal trainers there. Who would the saint of marine mammal trainers be?
We don't have far to look. St. Brendan of Ireland is the patron saint of whales. Since the whales themselves don't need a patron saint, as they are not human beings whose souls need our prayers, it stands to reason that St. Brendan is the patron saint of people who care about whales, although there is a lot a argument about whether or not anyone should be trying to train them.
I won't enter that debate. I have been to SeaWorld and I had a very, very good time. I did not sit in the splash zone.
St. Brendan was an Irish monk who set sail with 60 (or 14) pilgrims and 3 non-believers looking for the Garden of Eden. According to legend, he made 7 such journeys, earning him the moniker "Brendan the Voyager". His exploits call to mind "Sinbad the Sailor" if Sinbad had been a follower of Jesus.
At any rate, on one of his voyages, he landed on an island, which turned out not to be an island at all but a whale. Or a sea serpent, depending of which translation you're reading. I believe this also happened to Sinbad, except that is St. Brendan's case, Easter Mass was celebrated on Whale Island.
As fanciful as all of this sounds, there really was a St. Brendan who did travel around quite a bit. He established monasteries in Ireland and Wales and traveled to Great Britain.
But as per his patronage of whale lovers, he returned to the Whale Island several times, so they must have gotten on like gangbusters.