Suffer the Little Collection Basket

Your diarist was dreading going to Mass at the home parish today after a few weeks in Bellingham but — you know what? — not so bad. Father Flapdoodle’s* homily on the loaves and the fishes was short and not awful, though it did arguably veer a little too close to Steven Spielberg’s Theology of the Infallible Child for comfort. Then again, some slack should be cut because the children were what really made Mass worth it this morning.

The church has started undertaking taking two simultaneous offerings, one for the adults and the other for the kids. The adult offering is collected in the usual way. Ushers pass collection baskets, dump them into a larger basket and take the monies forward with the hosts and co.

The children’s offering, for the 6-and-under set approximately, is collected by direct donation. Another basket is placed on the base of the altar. While the adult baskets are making the rounds, parents give children money that they then walk, skip or run up to the front. It’s a bit happy-clappy, sure, but you’d have to have a heart of the hardest metal ore to object.

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Devout This!

This morning, I would have been almost on time for Mass. Fortunately, yours truly got so caught up with a Darrell Issa interview on the radio that Father Flapdoodle’s homily was half-way over by the time I walked in. Listening to him tell us the story of his week made me wish I had listened to This Week a little longer.

The above is included to demonstrate, dear reader, that I am not a devout Catholic. “Devout” is an emphatic. If someone goes to daily Mass or weekly confession or prays the rosary regularly, it is an appropriate way to describe him. I do none of those things and don’t plan to start.

For a better modifier, try grudging Catholic. I go to Mass weekly, at best, and complain about it — the ugly A-frame building, the awful homilies, the awkwardly worded prayers of the faithful — and manage to not eat meat about every third Friday in Lent. The Vatican says Catholics have an obligation to go to confession once a year, and so I do.

And yet, during my recent seven-year sojourn in DC, I was often described as “Jeremy Lott, devout Catholic.”

Language shifts over time. Sometimes that works out well. The world “cool,” for instance, has no problem doing double duty describing a both a breeze and a temperament. Other times it results in unnecessary and unfortunate confusion. To call grudging Catholics “devout” robs the term of most of its meaning and usefulness.