Friday, September 29, 2006

Your Most Ironic Moment As A Catholic contest: We have a winner!

We have a winner! From knit_tgz at Knitting Through Life:

When I came back to Catholic Church, I had a hard time with Marian devotion. I simply could not understand it. Once I went to Confession and talked to the priest about this. He smiled, and told me if I knew what day it was. I didn't. It was February 11th, the day of Our Lady of Lourdes. He proceeded to talk about the apparition, the message, the humility of the little girl to whom Mary appeared, how the apparitions were expressions of the glory of God and of the glorification God will give to all the saved in the Final Judgement, and finally about Mary being a helper, one of the several helpers God has provided us, not that God needed a helper, but we do need all the help we could get. He talked a long time, while I was on my knees in the confessional (open confessional, in the Church, with some people in the pews waiting for Confession). When he finally gave me the absolution and the penance and the blessing, I tried to get up on my feet but fell back on my knees. My legs had both fallen asleep all the way up to the knees. I massaged my legs a bit and tried again to get up, and again I fell on my knees. The priest was worried: "Are you OK?" I started laughing quietly: "My legs have fallen asleep, I cannot get up!". I tried a third time, and again I fell on my knees.

By that time, I was trying to contain laughter, to no avail. A lady approached the confessional and asked if I needed help. I told her, laughing: "I do, I cannot get up, both my legs have fallen asleep!". She held me and helped me walk back to a pew, while I laughed the whole way. I must have looked crazy (or drunk) to the onlookers, but I felt peaceful and not ashamed. I felt like God wanted to tell me: "Daughter, don't take yourself too seriously! And when I want, if I want, you will walk with the help of a lady. And will make you laugh in the best humility. Because I am a God who loves the laughter of His children!"

I still smile when I remember.

Enjoy reading the rest of these ironic moments in the comments box. Thanks for all the great stories!
--I.C.

11 comments:

angelmeg said...

About three months after I got a job as a Director of Religious Education I was at a diocesan meeting and was commenting to a small group of other DRE's about the "overabundance of energy" of one of our fellow workers in the vinyard. I made some sort of sarcastic comment about how silly she seemed, only to find out that one of the women in the group to which I was talking happened to be her sister. I was thoroughly embarrased, until she let me off the hook by agreeing that her sister can be annoyingly like the energizer bunny.

Those first few moments were excruciating though and taught me a great lesson in not always saying what I thought out loud.

Johanna Holmes said...

A few months ago, someone posted a question to a Catholic forum I moderate. Now, some questions are naturally of greater theological weight than others, but this one confirmed for me that I had in fact chosen wisely in dedicating my life/first through third born children/college degree to the study of theology. The question was as follows:

"Q1. To my knowledge, the CCC doesn't really address gluttony, other than mentioning it alongside all the other vices. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI of 1909 says the following of gluttony:

It is incontrovertible that to eat or drink for the mere pleasure of the experience, and for that exclusively, is likewise to commit the sin of gluttony.


My question is would there ever be a typical situation in which it would not be gluttonous to eat, say, SweeTarts? By typical situation, I mean to exclude, for example, cases in which a rare medical problem creates an abnormal need for sugar intake.

Seeing as how SweeTarts have no nutritional value and do not stave off hunger, I can see no reason, aside from ignorance or desperation, for their consumption to be morally licit."

At once I knew that God was calling, that my entire education had prepared myself for just a moment such as this. All of my life had been building to this moment and, as I came to it, I was unafraid. Typing boldly yet gently, with strokes as smooth as a Sweet Tart's wrapper, I wrote my defense. It was as if the voice of God said "who will be a defender of confections both sweet and tart? Will none of ye go?" to which response, clearly inspired by grace, was a sacred "OK." With that assent to the obvious will of God, I began my response:

"With regard to point one, I think it would have to be that you have a deficiency of balance in your approach to food. Aquinas is very clear that it's near impossible to get damned for eternity for gluttony. I don't think that eating the sweet-tarts is evil at all. Sweets are not a bad thing, but pursuing them in a disordered way is. Eating sweet-tarts to the point where your health is adversely affected or binging on sweet-tarts to vomit and then eat more of them for pure enjoyment of the act of eating them is sinful, but eating sweet-tarts isn't the problem any more than gorging on bread would be. I have difficulty accepting the idea that it's sinful to enjoy things beyond what we absolutely need. Flowers don't *need* to smell beautiful but they do anyways. There is no nutritional reason for putting cinnamon on sweet potatoes but the consumption of the cinammon is not morally problematic. Life itself is gratuitous. Love and beauty and the blessing of chrism oil, the incense floating in the sanctuary and the stained glass windows are all gratuitous. We aren't a bare bones Church. Even early in the Bible God promises not only land to His people, but that it will be a land that flows with milk and honey. Love is superabundant and appreciating even the fruits of the earth with preservatives and Red 6 is to appreciate God's gifts to humanity. Now one can get into trouble when confusing the priority between the gifts and the Giver, but there is no intrinisic evil in something being beyond what is barely minimal."

knit_tgz said...

Johanna Holmes said... [...]"There is no nutritional reason for putting cinnamon on sweet potatoes but the consumption of the cinammon is not morally problematic."[...]

I liked your theological argument, but there's one slight glitch: from recent investigation, it seems there is a reason for the use of cinnamon is several sweets. In fact, it seems, cinnamon helps regularize the absortion of "quick sugars", avoiding the "sugar high and subsequent abrupt fall" effects.

----

About my ironic moment (probably not the MOST ironic, but one of the front-runners for sure):

When I came back to Catholic Church, I had a hard time with Marian devotion. I simply could not understand it. Once I went to Confession and talked to the priest about this. He smiled, and told me if I knew what day it was. I didn't. It was February 11th, the day of Our Lady of Lourdes. He proceeded to talk about the apparition, the message, the humility of the little girl to whom Mary appeared, how the apparitions were expressions of the glory of God and of the glorification God will give to all the saved in the Final Judgement, and finally about Mary being a helper, one of the several helpers God has provided us, not that God needed a helper, but we do need all the help we could get. He talked a long time, while I was on my knees in the confessional (open confessional, in the Church, with some people in the pews waiting for Confession). When he finally gave me the absolution and the penance and the blessing, I tried to get up on my feet but fell back on my knees. My legs had both fallen asleep all the way up to the knees. I massaged my legs a bit and tried again to get up, and again I fell on my knees. The priest was worried: "Are you OK?" I started laughing quietly: "My legs have fallen asleep, I cannot get up!". I tried a third time, and again I fell on my knees.

By that time, I was trying to contain laughter, to no avail. A lady approached the confessional and asked if I needed help. I told her, laughing: "I do, I cannot get up, both my legs have fallen asleep!". She held me and helped me walk back to a pew, while I laughed the whole way. I must have looked crazy (or drunk) to the onlookers, but I felt peaceful and not ashamed. I felt like God wanted to tell me: "Daughter, don't take yourself too seriously! And when I want, if I want, you will walk with the help of a lady. And will make you laugh in the best humility. Because I am a God who loves the laughter of His children!"

I still smile when I remember.

knit_tgz said...

Just to clarify: when I say "About my ironic moment (probably not the MOST ironic, but one of the front-runners for sure):" I don't mean in any way that my moment is one of the most ironic of ALL the moments that people can and will post, I mean simply that it's one of the most ironic in my life as a Catholic, which already has had a good couple of them (it seems God has a very good sense of humour!).

Ray from MN said...

I was very scrupulous as a child. Sadly, I lost much of that habit as an adult and have been attempting to reform some of that old practice.

I doubt that Sister Claudia gave me really detailed instructions
on how to make my First Communion.

Oh, sure, we had the Baltimore Catechism No. One and we had more or less mastered its short answers as to what sin was and how we should go to Confession to ask God for forgiveness. You know, "I lied to my Mom", "I didn't do my chores", "I hit my little brother", etc.

(I wonder if any priests enjoy doing kids' Confessions).

But there were a lot of details that just weren't covered well. But Sister was young, probably not even 20, and this was her first year teaching. They were less strict with teachers' requirements in the "olden days."

We just had to make it up by watching everybody else if we forgot to get the question answered during class.

So the big day arrived one Spring and the weather was great. Jesus was watching out for us, as we expected.

We lived three blocks up the hill from St Anthony of Padua's Church and School.

My Mom got me all dressed up in my new white shirt, tie and dress pants and new shoes (all a bit oversized to allow for future growth) and off we went walking down the hill. Dad stayed home to baby-sit with the three younger kids.

About half way there, Mom, who was also dress up in her finest duds, turned to me and asked “Why do you keep spitting like that?”

I had been spitting regularly, firm in my scrupulous belief that swallowing spit was like drinking water and if I swallowed any, I wouldn’t be able to receive my First Communion.

She laughed and explained that “spit wasn’t water.” (It sure seemed like water to me!)

I was relieved. But to this day, I wonder why Sister Claudia didn't deal with important issues like that in class. I still see her now and then. I should ask.

James M. Hahn said...

I was recently on a trip with my wife visiting her family. During the trip we had the opportunity to attend Sunday Mass at the church where we married. We had not seen a certain priest in the parish for months and we were anxious to greet him after mass. In conversation, this priest mentioned that he owned a Sony Playstation video game system. I immediately passed judgment. I considered him to be lazy and unfaithful to his calling. In my arrogance I labeled him as an unworthy servant. After all, a priest should be praying the rosary, visiting the sick, meditating, hearing confessions or performing some other priestly function while not offering the sacrifice of the mass. I decided to pray for this poor soul that he might fully realize the dignity of the calling he has received. My wife and I exchange pleasantries, said goodbye, and went on our way. That same Sunday evening we traveled across town to another parish for Eucharistic Adoration. The adoration chapel was very small and could only hold eight people at one time. I entered the chapel, walked toward the front, and knelt down behind a man in a black suit. This man was kneeling on the hard floor since he was in the very front row and had no kneeler. Again, in my arrogance, I labeled this man as a very holy man because of the suffering and sacrifice he was placing upon himself. I was proud to be near such a holy person, as if his holiness might rub off on me. After a short time of prayer, the man in front of me began to get up. I decided to sneak a peak at this holy man so I could burn his face into my mind in order to pray for him later. The man arose, bowed, and turned to leave. As our eyes met, I realized I too had crucified an innocent man. The same priest who had given me the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ that very morning that I had judged, was leaving from his hour of adoration.

angelmeg said...

Fr. Bob, the Dominican priest in charge of the campus ministry here wears a great T shirt that says


Prays well with others.




I Love It!!


The fact that he can laugh at himself a little bit helps make the college kids feel right at home.

Matthew-John said...

When I was a senior in high school, I was asked to proclaim the psalm at the graduation Mass. So, all dressed up in my robe, stole, and cords (the hat was taken off of course), I approached the cantor stand, flipped on the microphone and waited for the music to begin.
As soon as the piano (no organ, it was a young parish) started, the entire Sanctuary filled with the most horrendous outburst of feedback I have ever heard.
Immediately, I killed the microphone and looked to the director for help.
He signalled to turn back on the microphone and try again. Once more the music began and so did the feedback. The mic was turned off again.
Repeat that once more.
Finally, with exhasperation, I turned around, and walked back to the choir mic and simply led the psalm from there.
My face was beet-red until the 2nd verse, at least according to the alto next to me.

Anonymous said...

Not a personal experience as such, but I do find it ironic that, regarding the recent kerfuffle over Pope Benedict XVI in Regensburg, James "There'll be no butter in Hell and by the way, you Papists will be toasted extra-crispy" White instead of taking this golden opportunity to give the errors of Romanism a good kicking is all "I'm down wit ma man Benny".

Days later, my jaw is still dropped.

Julie said...

It was the second night of formal sorority recruitment, so I was talking one-on-one with yet another freshman girl. Almost as soon as I sat down with her, she begins turning the conversation to the campus ministry center. Was the undergrad group having a meeting this week? What time again? What's the topic? Would it be okay for her to come if she'd never been before?

I am, of course, being helpful and polite (because that's how we are in this chapter) and meanwhile frantically trying to think if I've seen this girl before. She's totally unfamiliar to me, but maybe she's seen me at Mass? How else would she know that I'm active in the group and would have the answers and reassurance she's looking for?

Finally I can see that our five minutes is coming to an end, so I bite the bullet and ask, "Were you at the freshman sleepover?" (a welcome thing we do every year)

"No," she says, looking a little confused.

"Oh," I say, "I just thought we must have met somewhere before, and I'm afraid I can't quite place you." She's looking even more confused now so I babble on, "Maybe you've seen me at Mass or something? I'm just not sure how you knew I go to Campus Ministry Center."

She gives me a look like I've just declared that I spent my summer on Mars researching silicone-based lifeforms. A little hesitation -- and then she gestures to her neck.

At which point I remember that I'm wearing a two-inch crucifix a la JP2's staff.

I spent the rest of the evening laughing my head off. Needless to say, she did not pledge with my house.

Jonathan Potter said...

Well, there was this.