Monday, January 25, 2010

Things We Never Knew about ... Catholicism

Although we spent our formative years in one of the most (if not the most) heavily Catholic regions in the United States, we have managed to remain blissfully ignorant of many of the rituals and much of the dogma of the Holy Roman Church. What little knowledge we have acquired was usually through the deeply cynical filters of wise-guys and wise-gals who as youths were subjected to instruction in the Catechism and would later best describe their Catholicism as “lapsed.”

It was not too long ago, for instance, that we learned, via the New York Times, that the Church, as it was known in the Middle Ages, is back to dispensing indulgences, the selling of which once so torqued the German theologian and noted anti-Semite Martin Luther that he launched a revolution that altered the religious predilection of much of Northern Europe. More recently we were apprised by someone whom we believe is in a position to know that there still are priests, even some in Houston, who are licensed or credentialed (we’re sure neither is the appropriate term) to perform exorcisms. (We have no names and phone numbers, so please don’t contact us if you feel in need of a casting-out, unless your name used to be Aloysius Gonzaga Hoang, in which case we’ll try to arrange an exorcism by the Texas Ethics Commission.)

And our knowledge of the Catholic Church continues to expand, once again thanks to the New York Times (some newspapers remain your best education value), which on Saturday, Jan. 24, reported on the Saints fever gripping New Orleans and how that damaged city was hoping, even praying, for municipal-salvation-through-Super-Bowl-victory:
Peggy Scott Laborde, a producer and host for the local public television station, said: “I’m Catholic. We live in a very saintly town.”

She has in her office a statue of St. Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of television. Laborde said that the city’s NFL franchise was awarded on All Saints’ Day in 1966 and that the team’s nickname was not approved until the archbishop declared it was not sacrilegious.
Yes, it’s true, as confirmed by many authoritative sources on the Web––the redoubtable Claire is indeed the patron saint of television (what a thankless saint-task), so designated by none other than Pope Pius XII, a/k/a Eugenio Pacelli, better known for his Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany and general lingering silence on Hitler's atrocities. Fortunately, Pius XII went to his reward in 1958, many years before the debut of Jersey Shore and its exploration of the mores, manners and mating habits of young Italian-American Catholics.

A patron saint of television! What a religion!

All we can say is: Geaux Saints!

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