Monday, August 25, 2014

The Handy Dandy Hiney Guide to Determine if Your House Blessing Bounced Off

So, ten years ago our family moved into a nice neighborhood in suburban Virginia. It had some bedrooms, some bathrooms, a basement, a two car garage and a decent yard with woods and grasslands for our six children to view as they walk past the windows on their way to the messy basement to play the X-box. It is a small piece of the American dream paid for with the blood and sweat and tears of a middle management government career and the lucrative pay of a Catholic school teacher with a humanities degree. We signed a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and a home owners association contract. We joined the neighborhood watch and we had our house blessed. Its what Catholics do. Well, maybe not the neighborhood watch, unless you feel guilty about all the HOA letters your family gets. But the house blessing. . .that's what we do. We do it because we remember the joyful event of moving into a house, to thank God from whom all blessings come, we pray for protection, we pray for sanctification and we expel demons. If we are in the south, in a planned subdivision with well kept lawns and six children, we also freak out the Southern Baptist, but that is never our intention. But recently, after a few encounters with the local fauna and a particularly bad infestation of mice and then (because of the mice) a soiree of snakes, I had an epiphany. I thought that maybe, just maybe. ..what if my house blessing "didn't take." I wrote to the priest who did the house blessing;
"Dear Father,Ten years ago, you blessed our house. In that time our home has been blessed with one bear, a family of skunks, countless deer, a cache of snakes, raccoons and enough mice to fund labs all over the world to cure Ebola. This year, the mice have been a thing. Today I called a dishwasher repairman who pulled a dead mouse from the grinder inside the motor. After much prayer, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion, that my encounters with little woodland creatures are squarely because I did not obtain the house blessing of a Franciscan. Thought you should know. In Christ,Regina Hiney"
Well, this beloved priest wrote me back explaining that with house blessings there are no warrantees and no guarantees. And that sometimes the blessings bounce off the family's home. I had no idea. I searched many tomes and ancient books of Catholic lore for this information. No where could I glean this precious pearl of invaluable knowledge. How does one know if one's house blessing has "taken?" I have decided to write a guide. The Handy Dandy Hiney Guide to Determine if Your House Blessing Bounced Off Your Family's Home" 1. If, upon one week of the house blessing, your stark naked four year old son flicked his superman underoos from the second floor landing in the foyer and they accidentally got caught on the chandelier in front of second story picture window and you did not own a 12 foot step ladder to remove the superman underroos from the chandelier so you had to go nearly 6 months with superman underroos with track marks dangling from your two story chandelier. . .further, if any guests that entered your foyer entered your home with the possibility that at any moment, the underroos could fall on their head like the sword of Damocles. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. Also. . .if you also couldn't turn on the lights to your chandelier for six months for fear of 1. Causing a smelly, smoky fire by burning dirty underroos and 2. Letting your neighborhood see your illuminated crap, your house blessing may have bounced off. 2. If, you have ever let your two year old and four year old play in your sandbox with two friends whilst you ran inside to change the clothes from the washer to the dryer and somehow in that brief period of unsupervised time, a pick up truck was able to drive into your backyard where the children were playing and (this complete stranger) was able to enter your sanctuary loudly beeping his horn and SCREAMING at you to get the kids inside and position his truck between the four children and a black bear. This Good Samaritan prevented the children from being consumed. . .and yes that IS a blessing. . .but IF you, the mother almost had to have a defibrillator treatment thinking about how the bear almost consumed all that succulent meat inside all the various underroos because she wasn't sure the children were wearing clean underwear (this is why you always wear clean underroons, kids) . . . your house blessing might have bounced off. 3. If one day, you noticed a large hole under your front stoop. . .if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop. . .if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover it contains a skunk. If one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and it contains another skunk. . . if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover it contains a whole skunk family; if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover "Ah crap. . .of all the skunk holes in all of Virginia, I had to get a Hi Falootin Fruitful Skunk Family." You know this because you see they are eating from an old open can of Fancy Feast Cat Food from a neighbor's trash. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. . .or been diverted to the skunk duplex that you had no idea you bought. 4. If one day, after you had animal control help you round up the Hi Falootin Fruitful Skunk family. . .after many traps and even more tomato juice. . .the odor of their sanctity still lingers. . .and a family of raccoons took up residence in the duplex that you had no idea you bought. your house blessing might have bounced off. 5. If upon potty training another child who did not like the feel of the "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" brand toilet paper, decided he would wipe his delicate bottom down every carpeted stair as the soft plush of the white carpet (former model home, I didn't choose this color carpet, I have a humanities degree, but I am not stupid) was softer and because the delicate snowflake didn't like to wipe with his hands and maybe have to touch poop on account of the "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" brand tends to disintegrate upon contact with skin, delicate snowflakes not withstanding . . .your house blessing might have bounced off. . .or maybe it just got soiled. 6. If you are a Catholic apologetics geek and you have ever answered your front door only to discover a couple of Jehovah Witnesses there wanting to discuss the importance of being a good steward of the environment and all of a sudden two Mormons ride up on Bicycles and want to discuss the restoration of the priesthood and you can't because YOU HAVE A KIRBY SALESMAN CLEANING YOUR CARPETS. . . your house blessing might have bounced off. 7. If you have ever been woken up to a blood curdling scream in the middle of the night, you immediately run to find the child and step on a lego but stifle the pain so as to offer succor and comfort to your child. . .further, if you find the child by the toilet in tears, crying about a blood clot and pointing to his or her stool. . .only to discover that they too have had an encounter with a lego. . .and you know this because you have physically mushed the stool with your "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" toilet paper and it disintegrates easily and poo gets on your hand and you find yourself sorely tempted to wipe your hand on your white carpet. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 8. If you know the difference between the Eastern garter snake and a Black snake because of all the mice they like to eat that live in your home. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 9. If every piece of edible flora that you have planted by breaking every child labor law in the state of Virginia has been eaten by the fauna. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 10. If you have ever received more than one Home Owners Association letters regarding bicycles, lemonade stands, garbage bins, naked children fleeing Saturday night bath night, fully clothed mothers fleeing homework meltdowns. . .your house blessing might have bounced off.

--Regina Hiney, Roaming Correspondent

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Introducing the Ironic Catholic Roaming Correspondent, Regina Hiney!

Drum roll please!
Regina is funnier than this ecard.

I am very happy to introduce Regina Hiney as "roaming correspondent" to the IC blog!  If you encourage her, maybe she'll contribute on a regular basis.  The deal was sealed when we mutually realized we have degrees from the same university.  Who knew sleepy Fredericksburg, VA and liberal artsy state school University of Mary Washington was a hot spot of ironic Catholic women?  (Jousting with Baptists may foster the ironic Catholic edge.)  I know I've let the blog go a bit moribund, doing all that serious writing and such, but I hope adding some contributors to the ironic amusement will keep the posts coming more than once a week.

In my opinion, Regina can do whatever she wants here (well, short of organizing a political rebellion), but I see her doing ironic Catholicish op-ed pieces--kind of like the one coming up Monday morning.  Be there or be square.

p.s. I asked her whether she wanted an anonymous handle, and said Regina Hiney was plenty ironic enough.  I have no idea what she means by that.

--IC

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Boiling Bucket" Challenge Fails To Raise Funds For Mission Trip

Not quite boiling.
Barren, Minnesota:  Inspired by a viral charity challenge that involves achieving a monetary goal and ice buckets, the St. Bartholomew youth group issued a "boiling bucket of glop" challenge: donate or collect donations of $100 to their Fall mission trip to Appalachia, and one of the youth group members will get dunked with a boiling bucket of glop.  They earned $3.27.

Tom Wilder, the youth group leader, admitted he was not sure what went wrong.  "Clearly this idea has legs: just look at facebook these days," he said.  "We just tweaked it for northern Minnesota.  It would be like a warm shower on a cold day--and all our days are cold.  Of course we're not going to boil our youth group alive.  I guess some people didn't get that.  Good grief."

In the meantime, parents were outraged that their kids may be put in harms way for a fundraiser.  "What was wrong with the annual bake sale?" sputtered a mother who wished not to be identified.  "I already have 10 loaves of zucchini bread made.  I don't want my son home with second degree burns!  And who is going to eat my zucchini bread?"

Fr. Mark Thompson, the pastor, said that the idea for this fundraiser arose spontaneously from the kids, and "took on a life of its own before we could finesse it."  He also said that despite rumors, the "boiling glop" was not going to be liver stew.  "But it's moot, because we are having a bake sale, period.  No liver.  Nothing boiling.  Cooled off baked sugar things."

On the up side, according to Wilder, a nearby college fraternity has expressed interested in the structure of the fundraiser to combine raising funds for charity with freshman hazing.  He added that the boiling was a joke, and he was certain that, being college students, they "got that."

BREAKING NEWS: An anonymous donor promised to pay for the entirety of the mission trip if the group would stop doing any fundraisers for a year.  The parish has gratefully accepted.

--IC

Thursday, August 07, 2014

How family car camping is like the spiritual life



  1. Gratitude becomes key: gratitude for dry weather, warmth, fire, food, shelter, insect repellent.
  2. Lacking gratitude, you begin to grumble like the Israelites wandering through the desert for 40 years.  Sure, you helped us cross the Red Sea and escape violent death, but I just got scratched by a briar bush and where are you NOW, God??? 
  3. A convenience store, or fast food, could become your idol.  Resist.  If need be, chant: S'mores are my manna.
  4. You may be called to be prophetic, or at least alone and away from the griping mob, and leave your kids back in the cloud at the foot of the hiking hill, while you approach the summit of the crag alone.
  5. You may bring back rules for the young ones: "I am the Lord your God and you shall love camping with all your heart, mind, and soul.  Thou shalt not run around the fire ring.  Thou shalt not wear muddy shoes in the tent. Thou shalt not tell me you hear birds chirping loudly at 4am."  and so on.  This will teach them respect, and counteract anything they learned in The Prince of Egypt.
  6. You may see the promised land--a restaurant--in the distance, from the top of the hill.  It is not for you.  God wills you to eat hot dogs for a time yet.
  7. Choosing a campsite near a confessional is wise and prudent.  On the up side, multiple penances are near at hand.
  8. When you are just about to lose it with your kids, spouse, broken tent zipper, and damp fire logs, God sends you a chipmunk to watch.  Now it's all better.
  9. Rely on the Holy Spirit, always.  Having said that, it's good to be prepared for anything.  Bring matches.  (not that I'd know, cough)
  10. Spiritual warfare, thy name is biting flies.

BONUS.  The Body of Christ camps! But we have different vocations and gifts.  To wit:

Primitive site campers: Franciscans
Cart in site campers: Trappists
Drive in site tent campers: Benedictines
Drive in site tent campers within 100 feet of the bathrooms: families with small children
Drive in site with pop up campers: third order somethings
Drive in site with motorhome campers: probably Protestants
Group center camping: Megachurch for sure
Calling staying at a hotel "camping": related to Joel Osteen

Friday, July 25, 2014

USCCB Declares NSA Awareness Week A "Smashing Success"

Original picture source.
Washington, DC: The United States Council of Bishops' staff are very pleased with the response to their annual NSA Awareness Week, July 20-27.

"This year was different, the week needed new leadership," admitted a USCCB insider who wished to remain nameless.  "So we gave it to a young volunteer committee--they walked in off the street, actually--and they really took it in a new, fresh direction.  Our people in the pew need more than a 'here is the next round of Creighton model classes.'  So our social media campaign was more 'in your face'--and people we never thought were interested in contraception issues were linking to us, sharing, retweeting...it's been just great."

Some of the most popular tweets were:

  • "God's beautiful plan for building families: be aware of NSA methods" 
  • "When was the last time your priest talked to your parish about NSA?  Encourage him that people want to know how to avoid artificial intelligence in your natural cycles" 
  • "You're 'snowed in'? Feeling amorous? Did you chart that? Can it be used as evidence in international court?" 
  • "It's natural...it's about family...it's God's plan. NSA: surveillance for love".

Some pastors admit being confused.  "I know it's been a few years since the sem, but I'm not up on this new evangelization technique," admitted Fr. Anthony Smith of Chicago.  "I thought this week was usually about...well...um...look, just don't use artificial contraception.  I'm not sure when the NSA got involved, but apparently they're into everything now," he shrugged.

Liberal social media moguls, like The Daily Kos, were horrified. "We had high hopes that the Catholic Church would back us on the scourge of the NSA.  Instead, they apparently went on a blitz to support the NSA, even applying their unconstitutional techniques to marriages.  What are you going to do, ritually wire tap your wife?" a contributor raged.

The USCCB insider argued that the week's experimental blitz proved that talking about NSA was much more popular than they had been led to believe for years.  "There is hope for Humanae Vitae.  There is hope for our marriages.  There is hope for our families.  All because this culture has finally, at long last, embraced discussing NSA.  Thank you, God."

--I.C.

p.s. still clueless?  A play on an annual awareness week held every year in the USA.  Never heard of it?  That could be the problem.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"The Ugliest Churches in the World"

I am an open-minded sort of religionista.  I think there is a wide subjective range of possibilities for sacred space that work well: gothic, white clapboard, stone, more.



This church, and others on the site, absolutely do not work well.  Ever, ever, ever.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

See you at the Theology of the Body Congress July 9-11!

Theology of the Body Congress

If any of the folks reading this blog are attending the Theology of the Body Congress in Phillie this week, let's meet!  It's fun to have these email and social media conversations, but even better when we can put names to faces and meet in person.  If you are not attending, I hope to be tweeting it.  My handle is @ironiccatholic. See you there...?

FYI: a couple of people have asked if the book will be for sale at the conference.  The exhibit tables are really expensive to rent, so, no.  But I will have 5-6 of the signed copies with me, if you want to buy them. They are $25; just talk to me at the conference.  You can even use your smart phone or tablet to order it in my presence, using a credit card, through http://tobextended.tictail.com/ .  The wonders of technology!  (You can use that link to order it for me to send to you, as well.)

The book is also for sale as an ebook at IBooks, for $15.99.

It's also at Lectio Publishing, and other online retailers (like the one named after a very, very large river), for the regular retail price.  If you are a professor, see Lectio's site for their exam copy policy.

Hope to hear some great speakers and have phenomenal conversations in Phillie!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Daily Mass Attendee Prays For "A Boring Intention"

Urbana, IL: Dorothy Greenland, a long time parishioner of St Margaret of Scotland Church, has called a small riot by her prayers.

She's not speaking in tongues.  She's not praying for heresy.  She's asking the church to pray for "a boring intention."

"Well, my mother taught me that not everything we want is all that special," argued Greenland after a daily mass.  "For years I have asked the daily mass crowd to pray for a special intention, and it never felt right.  I know the intention, and it's real, but it's boring.  That's the honest truth.  So I decided to be honest and all this happened," she finished with a shrug.

"All this" was a pastoral council meeting convened to determine whether Greenland was being snippy, clever, demented, or suffered from self-esteem issues.  "I got lots of questions," Greenland said.  "No one was ever interested in my special intention, but they sure seem interested in my boring one."

Carol Rauchen, the chair of the pastoral council, said she still didn't understand why she just wouldn't drop the modifier.  "For an intention," Rauchen explained.  "Simple and to the point.  It's the modifier that bothers me.  My teenaged kids think church is boring, and this isn't helping me make my case that it isn't."

"Just seems abrupt," argued Greenland back.  "'For an intention.'  Please.  I'm communing with the Lord and His Church, not ordering fast food."

Fr. Stephen Stewart sagely noted that that the phrase seemed to be better changed to "for a silent intention," since the person usually wants prayers without spelling out the details.  But he said he wasn't bothered by the modifiers one way or the other.

"As long as it isn't 'for a salacious intention,'" he closed.

--IC