Saturday, January 09, 2010

Frozen Theological Musings

Photo credit.

A repeat that I remembered when I (outrageously) went outside today.

When I first moved to Minnesota (January 1996), I thought people talked a lot
about the weather. Incessantly. To the absolute exclusion of anything else. In
fact, other subjects of any existential depth whatsoever were nixed for the
current wind chill, the comparison to yesterday's wind chill, much educated
guessing about the iceout date (when the lakes see open water in the Spring, of
course), yearly Blizzard comparisons, whatever. When I mentioned one time that I
found it a little dismissive (as in, you're not important, but today's projected
high sure is!), I was reminded with some force that weather kills you in this
state. OK, hard to dispute. My individual existence is squat compared to
humanity's efforts to survive the whims of the weather gods, interpreted through
their priests: the local news meteorologists.

So I keep living in this
state, trying to figure out how a person can be a Christian existentialist and
survive both the weather and the talk of it. As I stepped outside to catch the
bus (and you betcha, it was cold. -12 F and windy. I suppose the wind chill was
about -250 or so), it came to me.

This is Confiteor weather.

Don't get me wrong. I love singing the Kyrie Eleison in Mass, which
often replaces the Confiteor. But something about the Confiteor (printed below,
if you don't know what I'm talking about) fits in late January on this
Midwestern glacier. My sin. Weather that can kill you. Walking to the bus stop
as walking through the valley (or weather) of death. Desperate seeking for
shelter and warmth. It's all connected somehow.

Personally, I don't
think I can say the Confiteor enough. If this weather reminds me of that, well,
that's a blessing. So as a Minnesota transplant, I can finally embrace winter.
It's High Confiteor season.

Feel free to say it with me:

I
confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I
have sinned through my own fault:
In my thoughts and in my words,
In
what I have done,
and what I have failed to do.
And I ask Blessed Mary,
ever Virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and
sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Amen.

5 comments:

PaperSmyth said...

Amen. (Born, raised near the border of Minnesota.)

Keystone said...

Ahhh, the eyes!

My first thought was the cover of a National Geographic Magazine that had an Afghanistan girl of age 17 or so on it. Her eyes are your eyes.

The photographer went back decades later and found the young girl, now grown as woman. But the eyes were precise indicators she was one and the same gal.

Regrettably, the lifestyle on women there, had aged her about 50 years in 20......but her eyes were 18 again. They ran her anew on another Geographic cover.

If there be any warmth in Minnesota, I am sure the source is your open eyes. They are beautiful.

But wrapped in all that headgear, perhaps the Ironic Catholic could be falsely recognised as the Ironic Islamic! :)

Anyway, the Confiteor was said by me in Latin as a young altar boy for many, many years 7 days a week.

I looked at this part:
"I confess to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault:"

and, though I have not done a Google search, I believe this is not accurate.

I recall bowing repeatedly at "Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa", and it was in this part of the Confiteor.

It began Confiteor Deo, Omnipotente
(I confess to Almighty God)...

I agree with "and to you my brothers and sisters", but memory of the Latin escapes offhand.

But I am pretty sure the next part was "that I have sinned EXCEEDINGLY, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault"; thus the Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

Altar boys were paid 25 cents for every funeral and a buck for every wedding, so we enjoyed seeing young brides more than caskets.

The offset reward?
Funerals always had hot coals inside the censor, that the priest would add expensive scoops of fragrant spices. The white smoke rose as he shook it back and forth three times on each side of the casket. You could tell the importance of a person by the number of scoops of spices (they were exhorbitant in price).

Most funerals were one or two scoops, and a rush around the casket. The most I saw as an altar boy was 3 scoops, and the smoke was awesome.

It was white and rose rapidly, as if a new Pope had been elected (I hate black smoke; get it right the first time or the Holy Spirit is not in the mix).

My mom had 12 children, though only ten of us now live (my twin sisters died young at age 11 and 12). Mom did Novena, Stations, anything Catholic.

Only one sibling remains Catholic now; she told me she feels too guilty to leave.

Anyway, when the funeral for mom came in 2008, it was the only FOUR scoop funeral I saw in my life!

My younger brother, never introduced to Catholicism, was sure this was Voodoo on mom.
But the smells and ritual took me back decades, as does your Confiteor.

I later explained to my brother that all of this action is Biblical.

Revelations 5:7-8 says
"He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

I explained to my brother that in this moment, and in this method, God is not LISTENING to our prayers, they are being presented to Him on golden plates mixed with incense. God inhales our prayers and His answer is in His exhale.

My brother smiled at the thought.
And when he smiles,
.... his eyes look like yours.

I will think of you at the next funeral.

Sorry to ramble, but I enjoyed the memories you conjured with this post. (I enjoy the Memorare too).

In days past, folks bade farewell with "God be with Ye!", which has been contracted over time to "Goodbye".
Sometimes, the original is better than the new, eh?

God be with Ye!

Ray from MN said...

(Born, raised, suffered the 6 months of winter in Duluth)

Great suggestion, IC, saying the Confiteor before going out the door; even better, a Perfect Act of Contrition.

Lucas said...

We say the Conifetor all year 'round.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Keystone--the picture isn't of me--but I agree, it does look like the National Geographic of the Afghan woman!

Lucas--ha! But we MEAN it in winter.