Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bad Catholics

I don’t know any good Catholics. I know people who think they are good Catholics. I know people who think they are humble, and are damn proud of their humility, but I still don’t know any good people. or any humble people. Everybody I know has quirks and foibles that they don’t give up. The sad truth is that as any evangelical will tell you we all fall short of the glory of God.

I know, to take myself as the bad example that I am, that I could never get the hang of the rule on fasting. Sure, it seems simple enough, and easier than the nonsense that the Muslims go through during Ramadan, but how do I as a practical matter implement it? Two small meals that taken together do not equal a third. So is this by weight, volume, calories? If I go out with the office boys and girls for somebody’s birthday or retirement lunch, does that mean that I should eat a bigger dinner at home, or am I supposed to have a smaller dinner? Or take the no meat on Friday rule. Back when I was in grade school, before Vatican II, we’d ask the nuns about going to hell for eating a ham sandwich on Friday. I doubt if anyone ever went to hell for the ham sandwich on Friday in itself. If anyone did, it was because the ham sandwich represented, or was part of the rejection of God and His Church.

The Bad Catholics Guide to Good Living is for people like you and me, but not for that guy over in the corner who tells us about his fasts and his goodness. He doesn’t need it, and wouldn’t read it. The book covers many of the saints and their feast days, and the major liturgical observances, such as Lent. It has simple articles on the sacraments and theological issues. It takes a conservative approach to theology. No Charlie Currans or Hans Kungs for these authors. It also has some recipes prompted by the various feast days. I haven’t tried the recipes yet, so I can’t vouch for those. Some of their suggestions for fun activities will get you talked about in the neighborhood and in church, so use caution if you try to implement any of them.

If you can take a lighthearted, somewhat funny approach to Catholicism, you’ll like this one.