Catholics have a lot of hang-ups.
I’m allowed to say this, of course, because I am one. An estranged one maybe- but a baptized, confirmed, card-carrying member of the “feel-guilty-about-everything” club nevertheless. And if this alone doesn’t give me the right to poke some good-natured fun at my own kind, then I kindly draw your attention to the 13 years of catechism; endless religious ceremonies; and countless rounds of standing, sitting and kneeling I’ve been forced to endure over the years.
……oh, and this dress:
We good? Ok, back to the hang-ups. Putting holy water on everything…. drinking wine in the morning … sanctifying things… not putting yeast in stuff that should have yeast in it… it’s all enough to make your head spin.
Perhaps the strangest/most interesting preoccupation of all held by Catholics, though, is the idea of the Patron Saint.
For those of you who were lucky enough to escape attending the Stations of the Cross every Friday as a child, I’ll give you some background. A Patron Saint is a saint who is regarded as the advocate or guardian of a certain group of people, place or thing. Saint Jude, for example, (who many hospitals and crisis centers are named after), is the Patron Saint of lost causes and desperate circumstances. Saint Francis of Assisi, alternatively, is the Patron Saint of animals, and Saint Elmo is the Saint of abdominal pain (cramps- as we ladies know- are no laughing matter).
Yep- we Catholics even riddle our Saints with baggage and responsibilities in the afterlife, forcing them to listen and attend to the constant demands of whiny disciples . It must be a lot of work for these poor dudes- especially since some of them are the Saint of like, 85 things. Saint Michael, for example, has responsibility for police officers, sailors, ambulance drivers, hatmakers, fencing, swordsmiths, and Pensacola Florida. Saint Patrick, on the other hand, is not only the Patron Saint of an entire country (Ireland, fools) he’s also responsible for making sure we all get crunk and have an awesome time on his death-birthday. Imagine the pressure!
Growing up, I never encountered a problem my mother couldn’t throw a Saint at. The Catholic response to the Greeks and their ubiquitous use of Windex, one simple prayer to the appropriate Patron Saint was certain to cure whatever it was that ailed you. Lost something? Never fear- Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of Lost things, is here! Going on a trip? Put in a good word with Saint Christopher, the saint of travel, and he’ll make sure nobody goes all Natalee Holloway on your ass.
For some reason, while not much else of Catholicism stuck, the Patron Saints thing still has me hooked. In one of the many ways I am slowly morphing into my mother, I find myself often praying to these guys for my friends and family.
Just the other day, for example, a friend told me about having a drink spilled on his laptop. In an attempt to be of assistance- I immediately consulted my trusty online Saint index (yep. you read that correctly) for “drink spilled on laptop”. No hits. I searched around some more, and after taking a few liberties (as we Catholics often like to do) I eventually went with my homeboy Chris, who also is the Saint against flooding. I figured this was close enough. Well- let me tell you, didn’t that computer get fixed right up! (some credit for this may/may not be due to the hairdryer used to dry that puppy out. Details. )
I guess maybe there is something to be said for knowing exactly who to turn to in a time of crisis. Rather than directing your prayers to God himself, who is busy trying to deal with all of those displaced people in Haiti and crises in Pakistan (not to mention blessing Beyonce’s womb with Blue Ivy Carter), instead you can send your prayers directly to some wise old dude who has been specifically tasked with your particular problem.. and I think there’s something kind of comforting about that.
Plus, I like to think of the Patron Saints as God’s very own team of Ghostbusters. Except they aren’t unemployed parapsychology professors… and they exterminate way more sh*t than just demonic spirits called Zuul terrorizing Manhattan apartments. Come to think of it- I might be onto something here. Ivan Reitman- call me. I’ve got the perfect sequel for you.
Question of the Day: Who you Gonna Call??