Monday, March 10, 2008

I Shouldn't Be Laughing

Like most mailboxes these days, mine is stuffed daily with catalogs offering me everything from English muffins to tractors. Sometimes thumbing through their pages satisfies my desire for retail therapy and at other times it is pure amusement. The latter was the case recently with a catalog that BK brought to show me.

I must first confess that I was looking at this particular catalog early one morning on the way to school after a night of way too little sleep. My ability to be amused is highly enhanced by sleep deprivation. So keep this in mind as you read on. The catalog that I was looking at is one that carries only religious items. I don't think that any one's religious convictions should be the source of fun and ridicule, but when I saw some of the things that are being marketed as symbols of one's faith, I had to laugh. Also, having just led a retreat on simplicity, which focused on freeing our lives from those things that are unnecessary or in the way, I was hard pressed to see how many of the wares in this particular catalog would strengthen my relationship with God.

Here are a few such items:
Saints Trading Cards: I can hear the kids on the playground now.
"I'll trade you my St. Goar (the saint invoked against whirlpools) for your St. Claude (the saint invoked against twitching." Or, "Do you think I need both St. Genesius (patron saint of actors) and St. Alexis (patron saint of beggars? Isn't that a little redundant?" ""I'll give you my St. Rita who is good for tumors and loneliness for your St. Amand, the patron saint of brewers and your Teresa of Avila who is invoked against headaches."

If trading cards aren't your playground entertainment of choice, how about Holy Habits - St. Agnes of the Good Shepherd Paper Dolls. Isn't this kind of a rip off? I thought the point of being a nun and wearing a habit was that you did not have a closet full of clothes. I guess nun paper dolls would answer the question as to what nuns wear under their habits.

Then there is the jewelry section of the catalog . . .
The Miraculous Wrap Rosary Bracelet Is it miraculous because it wraps or because it is a rosary?
How about the Chastity Ring? It is not what you think. Apparently these are rings given to teenagers by their parents (who obviously know what is on the mind of teenagers) as a sign of the teens promise to be chaste until marriage. The idea is that the chastity ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand until the person gets married at which time it is exchanged for a wedding band. If only the problem could be solved so easily.

How about the ultimate paradox . . .the Memory Rosary Based on the name, you might think that this rosary somehow helps you learn scripture passages or prayers. Nope, this rosary is for people "on the go". Just in case you can't stop long enough to pray the entire rosary, these beads slide and stay put once the prayer on that bead has been said. This rosary keeps you from having to give your undivided attention to your prayers and it keeps you from repeating prayers and wasting precious time that could be spent on other important things like idol worshipping and coveting the goods of thy neighbor. I think this particular rosary is also recommended for those with ADD.

I am always interested in books. Here are a few that made me chuckle.
The ABC's of Choosing a Good Husband and The ABC's of Choosing a Good Wife. (incidentally, there is no discount for buying both.) I don't believe that these manuals come with a satisfaction guaranteed or your money back promise, but if you find yourself married to Mr. or Ms. "ess than Good", you can spend another $13.95 for Annulments and the Catholic Church. Or, perhaps you can find a kid who has a St. Gomer (patron saint of unhappy husbands) or St. Uncumber (patron saint of unhappy wives/

Perhaps all of these things hit me as being funny because we are in the midst of the season of Lent, a time that asks much of us as followers of Christ. And, we are approaching the most holy of weeks. I find myself asking if any of these things mentioned above are truly representative of faith. Also, I have a child who is about to be confirmed and I would like to give her a meaningful gift as a reminder of the commitment she is making. I am not sure what this gift will be, but I have many ideas about what it is not.