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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Sidney Poitier has not yet arrived to help us in the garden or drive us to Mass, so we're soldiering on on our own. The worst of the actual work of tearing things out and trimming things back and cutting things down is over. I even got through almost all of the weeding.

So I wasn't expecting further injury from the attack rose bush. I should have known better.

I understand that the rose is called "Joseph's Coat" because the flowers go through so many changes in color. The flowers bloom in clusters so there are always flowers in one of the stages, so all of the colors are happening at the same time. I would have thought that the person who named the plant would have no small amount of experience with it and named it something with a more appropriate warning. "The Devil Wears Prada", perhaps.

I was weeding near the base of the plant in my 'Lilies of the Field' work clothes and straw hat, throwing the weeds in a pile to my left and somehow, on the back swing, my hand got too close to the Joseph's Coat. My index finger snagged on one of it's giant thorns, but my hand was in motion. I ripped a large tear down the side of my finger.

I did not swear.

It wasn't a deep gash and I was on a roll so I kept right on working. A couple of minutes later I looked back at my finger. The wound was packed full of dirt. I'm not one to wear gloves, even with my "Lilies of the Field" get up. Anyhow, I thought I'd better wash my finger.

I soaked and scrubbed. The dirt stayed in there.

I had given myself a dirt tattoo.

Which brings me to this reader's question:

How are tattoos accepted? I wanted to get a tattoo of a scapular, but i dont know how to go about doing so. There are many regulations which come with scapulars which is making this more and more difficult i have found.

As far as I can tell the church has made no official pronouncement about tattoos. Obviously, a naked anything is out of the question. One of my favorite basketball players has a tattoo of his mother on his arm. She's still wearing her big square glasses from years ago. I'm sure she's delighted to wear them for years to come. On his arm. But I digress.

This scapular thing is a bone headed idea on so many levels.

It is my personal view that God doesn't like tattoos. This is not a personal revelation from God to me. It is my closely held opinion. Why? Because the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Tattoos are graffiti on the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

And on top of that you want a scapular! First read this: What Brown Can Do For You.

I'll wait.

So let me get this straight. You're going to tattoo a scapular onto yourself, thus skirting the even minimal act of wearing one and the awareness of being deserving of heaven that might bring. You're going to run down to Inky's Tattoo Barn and burn one into your flesh like you're at the Lazy "C" Catholic Ranch and forget about it, except for questioning eyes at the beach. "What are they staring at?" you'll think to yourself. "Oh yeah, my scapular tattoo!" Then you'll dance off in your string bikini.

How happy this must make Our Blessed Mother! All mothers love it when their children run out and get a tattoo, after all. The Blessed Mother, the very symbol of purity, must be overjoyed.

The real question here is, should you really not deserve heaven in the final wash, how is God going to get that thing off of you? Because He is going to get it off you.

A scapular, by the way, is worn both front and back, so getting it off you stands to be really gruesome.

My advice: Don't do it. If you insist on doodling on the library book that is your body, just scribble " WWJD" on there. Maybe it will remind you not to get any more tattoos.


Unknown said...

That was an incredibly clever segue, SMM! Kudos! The entire entry was noteworthy in it's hilarity (except the blood and gore part) and information. So sorry to hear of your injury and the resulting dirt "tat."

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to forward your post to my 23-year old daughter. She has been thinking of getting a tattoo since my mother-in-law passed away two years ago. She has been wanting a symbol to represent her (daisy (favorite flower) along with an Ohio State logo somewhere near it...don't ask :)) Sadly, my father-in-law just passed away two months ago and the "feeling" is back. Her reasoning, now I can have a symbol for *both*. I've told her my reasons for not liking the tattoo idea...saying her memories are what are the important thing, along with prayer. So far though, I have not had a *siting* of any tattoo. I wouldn't mind another prayer or two to allow my daughter to resist her tattoo ways :)

Anonymous said...

Since the body is a temple, couldn't a tattoo be considered decoration as well? Cathedrals have their stained glass windows and I have my cross tattoo or, as SMM suggested, WWJD:) I think the difference between graffiti and decoration (or tribute, if you like) is the spirit in which it is done. I condidered getting the Milagrosa tattooed somewhere on my body not because I didn't want to wear my actual medal anymore but because Mary means something to me and I would like a permanent reminder that doesn't have to come off if I go tan or take a shower or whatever else.

Anyway, another great post, Sister. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A couple of reasons against tattoos:

They are difficult and painful to remove (if you change your mind or tastes).

As you age, they distort and blur. (So, Sister, that's how God will solve the scapular/salvation problem.)

As far as desecrating the Temple of the Holy Spirit, what about ear piercings (leaving aside the less mainstream piercing of everything else)? cosmetic plastic surgery? Or to go entirely over the edge: waxing and shaving?

Just some thoughts

ali mata said...

I just found your blog sister and I've been reading it for the last hour! ha! So, I should better stop and do something more productive, but I will for sure indulge a little tomorrow and smile at your posts! God bless :D

wwjdfkb said...

I disagree and agree with you sister.
I agree our bodies are temples of the spirit. I agree that we need to be careful what we put on it, or in it, as a holy place. To go extremist for a moment though- why do we cover this temple? why aren't we naked, I know that is another can of worms on sin and mortality.
I disagree with fellow readers distaste for tattoos. I have plots for spending the money I may some day make if I ever get out of college debt on a meaningful tattoo symbolizing humanity. It is a rededication of my efforts, a way of proclaiming to the world, God, and most important to myself that I serve God's Church.
I think if a tattoo has *meaning* and reprsents a constant reminder then it is a good idea. A scapular permanently there for all to see is an interesting evangelization tool and witness for the *wearer.*

Anonymous said...

While I'm not opposed to tattoos at all, I don't think the scapular idea is a good one. I think having to make the choice to wear one every day is more meaningful than just tattooing one on and forgetting about it. And the whole "Doesn't the pain and whetver make a tattoo more meaningful?" argument doesn't fly. I have tattoos I got when I was in college, and while I remember the pain and all, it was temporary and I hardly even notice the tattoos at all now until someone points them out.

Melanie said...

I have actually wanted to get a tatoo on my side of a cross for along time now and I have put thought into whether God would like it or not. I have asked around about it and someone who is a leader for RCIA and a layized preist tell me says that they're okay and his wife, son, and daughter-in-law all have at least one. He also compared them to the stained glass windows in churches. After I thought about it, it has occurred to me, aren't we all going to rot and get a new body in heaven anyway? This life is short and temporary and this temple of the Holy Spirit is only in my possesion for a short time in my existence anyway, so why is it such a big deal? I also have thought about getting a rosary or Our Lady of Guadelupe somewhere on my body.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I have never bothered to get a tattoo. I've had some pretty good ideas of what I wanted to have done, but then, I always changed my mind. The reason then was could I trust the person doing it? Could I trust it was all going to be clean? Would I be able to donate blood (a rather worthy cause) again? Where would I put it so it wouldn't cause embarrassment, firing, not being hired at all, or REGRETS later? Too many get them without a lot of thought. Too many get them based on feelings, which are fickle and bound to change.

Rather than let your tattoo speak for you, why not use what God already gave you: Your smile? Your kind words? Your charity? Your mercy?

Anonymous said...

I must say that as a "returning Catholic" it is so nice to find a sense of humor-God given in fact- in theological discourse. Your analogys are priceless and as far as I can see, you might be up for sainthood someday. May our Lord continue to bless you and keep you from harm. Thank you so much!

Unknown said...

I agree with your worries and qualms about tattoos, if they are not properly thought out and planned. Just like anything permanent one must take great time and effort into thinking:
1) Do I really want something on me for the rest of my life...
2) Why/What am I getting and is it meaningful enough to me...
3) The rest is money, safety (Hep C, HIV), but if you go to a true tattoo artist and ask about their health standards you'll be ok in that department.

Anyway, what I can not agree with is your complete disregard for the art, dedication, and creativity that tattoos allow. Also I have a celtic cross tattooed on my back (to show my love for my backgroung both ethnic and catholic religion) I also am getting a caduceus to prove my love of the medical field. A scapular tattoo does not mean you should shirk the duty of wearing one everyday, but rather an extra adoration given from the one who receives said tattoo to our Mother.
Why not just use words and whatever else? Why just stop there is what I ask you then. Are you so close minded that you think that maybe God and our Mother may appreciate it. If not, so be it, although I doubt I'm going to hell for getting a couple tattoos. I just feel tattoos can be an extra faith builder...everytime I see my cross on my back I think of how lucky I am to have such a strong faith and love for God.
Eileen, this is to you: Obviously I'm not going to get into your business about your parenting. If you do not like your daughters idea about tattoos, then why not ask her why she wants one so bad. Try and bring out those feelings that are causing her to desire a memorial tattoo. I also have a memorial tattoo for my grandmother who died of breast cancer, and my mother hates tattoos but loves that one. Ask her what types of designs she has in mind and what concepts she has drawn up, or the tattoo artist has drawn up. This would show she has been truly been putting thought in it.
Sorry guys, I just noticed this topic and thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.
God Bless

Unknown said...

There are cultures all around the world in which mothers encourage their children to get tattoos which are a part of the culture and traditions of their community. I find it doubtful that Our Blessed Mother would have such a narrow view of the ways in which people create and proclaim their spiritual experiences.

Frank Mitchell said...

Leviticus 19:28 forbids tattooing. And Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5: 17,18 – NIV). Of course, in today’s world it’s almost impossible to keep the Law down to the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen, but I happen to know it’s very easy NOT to get tattooed....

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

More on tattoos: http://catholicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/08/significance-of-tattoos.html

Anonymous said...

Totally disagree with you, SMM. I think a tattoo of a scapular is a great idea. It's a permanent commitment to God, a form of creative human expression, a witness to faith, and a daily reminder to dedicate your actions to God. The cost, health, and safety concerns would stop me, as a mother of young children, from getting one right now, but maybe I will in 25 years! And rare is the kind of person who would want both a scapular tattoo AND a string bikini to strut their stuff in, lol.