Catholic ComBoxes, Catholic Harumphs!

My friend Tony Rossi — who has a fun and thoughtful piece up over at Patheos, looking at the headline-reflecting themes on this seasons episodes of “V”, particularly as pertains to the ongoing battle between people of faith and the secularists (do read!) — sent along this cute piece from NCR, asking which personality are you in the Catholic Combox?.

Encyclical Man. Encyclical Man has a quote from a papal document for every occasion. Doesn’t matter if you are talking social justice or the Latin mass, Encyclical Man has a quote at the ready that will clearly establish that anyone who does not share his opinion on the matter is a heretic. Even if you were just writing about what you watched on television last night, Encyclical Man has a quote, usually from the Council of Trent. Ah, television. This brings me to the next cast member.

Throw Out Your Television Man!! Any mention whatsoever of television, even if tangential or passing, will have “Throw Out Your Television Man!!” excoriating you as a bad, bad Catholic. You see, “Throw Out Your Television Man!!” has not watched television since the Father Dowling Mysteries went off the air in 1988. “Throw Out Your Television Man!!” will tell you in no uncertain terms that the Devil invented television to swallow up the souls of the unsuspecting. Encyclical Man will sometimes respond to “Throw Out Your Television Man!!” by quoting papal documents citing the positive aspects of media, but to no avail. The thing I don’t get about “Throw Out Your Television Man!!” is that he lives on the Internet. The Internet has the potential to be ten times worse than TV, but let’s not confuse things with logic.

Read it all. He missed a few “types,” but I’m sure he was working on a word limit. I agree with Barbara Nicolosi who has expressed the view that if people want to toss their televisions, that’s fine, but they needn’t cast aspersions on those who do watch, and who respond to what they see, so they might still have some influence on the popular culture, rather than simply seceding the ground to the worst of it.

A very sound point, btw, about the internet’s potential to be worse than television. I have always thought so. Television may be a vast wasteland, but it has limitations. The internet, if used narrowly, can fool you into believing that there are millions of people who think as you think, when in reality it’s just the same 80 people, popping in and opining over and over again. Magazines, television, books – they’re all bound and limited, but the internet can suck you into an idea, or an ideology, or an obsession, or a perversion, and draw you ever-further in, because there are no page limits, no programming hours. There is just you, your ego and imagination, and — if you’re reckless — the endless ability to click, click, click.

Simcha Fisher also has a post up that looks at “types” and we probably can all recognize ourselves in them. Wondering about a world with married Catholic priests, she imagines a damned-if-they-do-or-don’t aspect of their lives:

“Well! I see the pastor’s wife is pregnant again! What is she trying to prove? Must be nice to pop ‘em out year after year, while the parish has to support all those brats.”
“Well! I see another year has gone by and the pastor’s wife still isn’t pregnant. A fine example they’re setting! I won’t have them teaching my children CCD, since his own wife is clearly on the Pill.”


“I see the pastor’s kids are taking tennis lessons! I guess they’re doing pretty well– no need for me to leave anything in the basket this week, when we’re barely getting by.”
“I see the pastor’s kids are wearing such ratty shoes. What a terrible example he sets! No one’s going to want to join a church that encourages you to have more kids than you can care for.”


“I wanted to meet with Father to talk about the new brochures for the pro-life committee, and his secretary said he was busy — but on the drive home, I saw him at the McDonald’s playground, just fooling around with his kids! I guess I know where I stand in this parish! Harumph.
“Everyone thinks it’s so great that Father started all these holy hours and processions and prayer groups, but I saw two of his little ones sitting all alone, just looking so sad and neglected. It’s a shame that any children should grow up that way, without proper attention from their parents. Harumph.”

When I happen to be around that sort of harumphing, I always think of the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland, who said, “it seems to me if everyone minded their own business, the world would go around a good deal faster.” Or, we’d get more done, at any rate!

On a slightly different but somewhat related topic, Catholic Phoenix writes a terrific piece on the Catholic education received at the hands of Jewish parents, and how it still goes on:

The first part of my education that I remember took place in my parents’ bedroom — my goodness, that sounds ominous — no, I’m talking about the nightly readings of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Lord of the Rings, just before bed. My father, who has always admired Mel Blanc, is no slouch either when it comes to making up voices. He can make his voice wily (for Odysseus), high-pitched and earnest (for Sam Gamgee) and up-all-night-with-the-lights-on terrifying (for the Nazgûl).

The second part that I remember took place on the couch downstairs. That’s where my mother read us the Narnia books. There are eight of us, and she wanted everyone to hear all of them, so she read the series through about eight times. There was significant overlap, which we minded not at all.
The third part took place at the kitchen table, where my mother taught me relativity, biology, theology, and metaphysics. Originally these subjects were discussed over breakfast or lunch. Later in life — just a few weeks ago, for example — they were discussed over morning coffee, or a midnight sandwich.

It’s a great piece – don’t miss it.

Finally Pat Gohn’s column this week takes a look at Sacramentals; that St. Benedict Medal you’re wearing is one, and (and I admit, I never thought of this before) so is your wedding band!

All these tangible, wearable sacramentals are outward signs that remind me who I am and whose I am. They bring my faith, hope, and love alive.

Despite their name, sacramentals are not sacraments. Nor are they lucky charms or magical talismans. I harbor no superstitions about them, as no powers accompany them. Yet they do reflect all the special graces I have already received, pointing to the gift of God’s on-going presence in my life.

A sacrament actually confers grace that comes directly from Christ. If the sacraments are the big-ticket events—the most important moments of grace in the lives of Catholics—then sacramentals might be happily referred to as the small change of the sacraments. They do not confer any grace in and of themselves, but they prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments. They sanctify our daily lives.

Sacramentals illuminate the sacred in every day. Given to us by the Church in the service of the sacraments, they remind us of the graces we hold dear, and the God who holds us near. They dispose us to divine life found in daily life, like loving tokens of friendship between God, the communion of saints, and us.

Once again, read it all. I don’t know if I’ll ever look at my wedding band in quite the same way again!

Deacon Greg asks a great question: “what is essential”?

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