Category Archives: Catholicism

Take Your Coat Off and Stay Awile

Imagine if you invited a bunch people to your house for a celebration and most of them left their coats on? Now you know how Jesus must feel.

I’ve noticed that maybe 70 percent of the people at my church don’t shed their outerwear during mass. It can’t be that they’re cold, because the temperature during heating season is always comfortable. Summer’s a different story; the parish’s lack of air conditioning is worth its own blog post.

Over the years, the Catholic Mass has not really been about comfort, what with all the annoying kneeling and standing. I was told as a child that this is so you don’t fall asleep. But what’s with wearing the coats? All I can figure is that people do not feel welcome. Or perhaps they’re just waiting to be asked to take them off.

Jesus was not a guy to stand on ceremony. If he could see today’s church, with all of its formal adornment, ring kissing, and Papal palaces he wouldn’t be happy. He was not about fancy schmantzy nonsense, but was more of a down to earth guy.

If Jesus saw you in church with your coat on, he’d suggest you take it off. Then, one of the apostles would write about it and it would be scripture — and nobody would ever leave their coat on.

Predator

Gary Mercure used his position as a Catholic priest to gain the trust of young boys. And then he raped them. Now he’s going to prison, where he belongs.

What makes this worse is the shadowy involvement of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany who, it may be argued, did not do enough when they first heard allegations of Mercure’s crimes. Don’t know about you, but I’m not satisfied with their explanation.

So to prison he goes. Some will say he’s getting off easy.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is an unconstitutional punishment for child rapists. Me? I tend to agree with President Obama, as cited in this 2008 NY Times story:

Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said, “I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, that the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.” He added that the Supreme Court should have set conditions for imposing the death penalty for the crime, “but it basically had a blanket prohibition, and I disagree with the decision.”

It’s tempting to compare Gary Mercure to an animal, a dangerous creature who deserves to be treated like a rabid dog. That would be wrong. A rabid dog does not understand the consequences of its actions.

True Confession

There’s an app for everything these days — even one for helping you unburden your cluttered Catholic conscience. A new download, called “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” helps users navigate the sacrament of reconciliation. It’s like a workbook to prepare you for penance.

One thing the app doesn’t do is replace the actual act of going face-to-face with a priest. Too bad.

When I was a wee lad — probably eight years old — my mother took me to confession at our local church. I was a little shaky on memorization and couldn’t recite the Act of Contrition. The priest, rather than helping me out, yelled at me from behind the darkened screen and told me I’d better get my act together.

I was a bit rattled, but it’s what came after that knocked my socks off. My mother stormed from the confessional and dragged me out of the church. The priest told her I didn’t know my prayers. Imagine the embarrassment of going to confession and hearing that your kid’s a lousy Catholic.

We were told at religious education class that what happens in the confessional is confidential. Apparently not.

Looking back, I probably deserved a kick in the ass for not working hard enough, but after that I always avoided the confessional. It’s funny the things that stick in your head forty years later.