… A little late for the Fourth of July, but hey, since I’m still burning through my cache of bootleg fireworks and bathtub gin… Behold! Patriotic art that should never be.

And He will raaaiiiissse you up on eagles’ wiiiinnggsssss.

Click here for a glorious gallery of truck stop religious art. The author of the post calls it blasphemy. I wouldn’t go that far. But then again, I am an avid collector of kitsch. Awkward, a little. Intentionally blasphemous, no. Totally hifreakinlarious, yes.

… My co-worker went to visit the in-laws in New Jersey. Upon his return he presented me with a key chain from this magical place called Nun’s Beach in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. A beach full of nuns! My imagination soared. I could hardly contain it. My two favorite things coming gloriously together, besides chocolate and peanut butter and gin and tonic… nuns and the ocean.

Ok. I got a little carried away.

Image from Surfer Today.

The nuns host an annual surf competition that raises money to maintain their retreat house, Villa Maria by the Sea. They also have a surf shop which sells boards hand painted by the nuns, key chains, t-shirts and other assorted Catholic kitsch. The stretch of beach in front of the retreat house became known by locals as Nun’s Beach.

The nuns don’t participate in the contest but they do enjoy watching the contestants. In an interview, Sister James, the retreat’s property manager said, “It’s very peaceful [to watch the contest]. You see how the water holds them up, balances them and if you ride with the water, it will get you where you want to go. That’s how it is with the grace of God.” [Read More] [See More]

Nuns relaxing at Villa Maria.

Isn’t that a great story? The only thing that could make this post any better would be more beach nun gazing. So… now we gaze.

Nuns at Cherai beach, just north of Kochi, Kerala, South India.

Nuns on a beach in Benaulim

Missionaries of Charity on a beach

Nuns on a beach in Queens, NY c. 1934

… You know how an establishment identifies itself as “hipster friendly”… they put a bird on it. The practice was popularized by the show Portlandia.

Hipster 1: Oh my god, I LOVE your tote bag, where did you get it?
Hipster 2: Oh this thing? I just bought it for $75 at Brooklyn Flea but it was so boring until I put a bird on it!
Hipster 1: You should sell it on Etsy!

You’ll see them here in Charlotte and Asheville; hipster clothing and “thrift” stores with a bird decal in the store shop window. The phrase “put a bird on it” came about from all the re-cycled [read junk] crap that’s peddled on etsy as home-made and “artsy”. Wanna sell your junk as “trendy” at exorbitant pricey? Put a bird on it.

Could the same thing be said for Catholics. Wanna hawk your wares to Catholic hipsters? Put a pope on it.

Wanna hawk your wares to traddie Catholic hipsters? Put a stole on it.

Leaflet Missal posted this image on their facebook page as an item listed for sale. Clearly photoshopped, and poorly done at that. The stole was added to this image.

To be fair to Leaflet Missal said they were unsure of whether the image was photoshopped or not because it was supplied by an unnamed vendor. So that makes it OK to sell, I guess.

Oh, oh… and if your market is the pious hipster put a Papal blessing on it.

Yeah. And that crap about Pope Francis’s comment regarding the carnival being over… never happened. I’m shocked. Something I read online was a falsehood?!

Francis’ first days as Pope were marked by a heavy focus on the differences between him and his predecessor. It is true that Bergoglio’s mission is characterised by a simple style, continuously breaking rigid protocol, as Wojtyla had done since the start of his pontificate. But urban myths started to circulate within the first few hours of his papacy. According to one of these rumours, straight after his election, Francis apparently refused to wear the red velvet mozzetta trimmed with (synthetic) ermine, saying to the Master of Papal Ceremonies, Guido Marini: “You can wear it! The carnival’s over.” A rude and boorish comment to make to the Master of Ceremonies. As far as Vatican Insider has learnt, said comment was never made. As Marini placed the mozzetta on Francis, the Pope simply said: “I would prefer you didn’t.” No reference was made the carnival and no humiliating comment was made against the Master of Ceremonies.

Wanna sell a news story to a Catholic quick to believe the worst. Put a pope on it. With a pope on it anything can be sold.

… Gah! I feel like the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes. I should to stick to mocking faceless and nameless entities to avoid the after effects of a guilty conscience. Pro-abortion advocates are still free game, as are misguided misogynistic feminists. Other than that I no longer derive the same pleasure at other’s expense as I used to. Blame the Catholicism or the spirit of Christmas or maybe it’s the old age making me all soft but I was up half the night riddled with guilt over a stupid post about an even stupider cruise.

Then I was all set to write a post mocking this… this… I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.

I had it all planned out, a magnificent post oozing with witty mockery and commentary suggesting the Church sell ad space on altar cloths and vestments to boost revenue. Then we wouldn’t have to sit through the annual Lenten Shake Down every year or those endless Diocese support appeals. I was even going to photoshop I nice kitschy picture of the above altar with a few paypal donation buttons and big adverts. Something eye popping and splashy to match the garden hose. But half way through I just looked at that picture and felt tremendously sad. Sad for the priest and even sadder for myself. Where is the virtue in picking on an old man? The priest in the photo is 90+ years old. I should live so long.

Really there would have been nothing to gain from that except a few chuckles and maybe a couple of shares around the old social media. The greater damage would be in giving the “if it ain’t Latin it’s a sacrilege” crowd more fuel to throw on their ever raging fire against the novus ordo missae.

Reputations are a serious business. I should worry more about my own.

… Someone once referred to me as a “celebrity blogger”. I guess because I receive monetary compensation for my writing maybe? Or maybe it’s because I was invited to the Vatican’s Blog Meeting in Rome last year. But so were 149 other bloggers. And I have it on good authority I was there for comedic relief and the decision was not based on my merits as a writer or a Catholic. I’m nominal at best.

No. That’s not me. When I think “Catholic Celebrity” a dozen names come to mind, but not my own. I think Lino Rulli, that hater of pale girls. Or that priest that used to be on EWTN. No, not that one. The other one. Wow, being on EWTN sounds more dangerous than showing up for work on the USS Enterprise wearing a red shirt

At the top of my mental celebrity list are Fr. Z and Michael Voris. Now don’t mistake me. Referring to someone as a celebrity isn’t meant as an insult. Celebrities are just individuals who are widely known by a group of people. They are generally admired. Admiration is not a bad thing either. It’s ok to admire people who are good or do good, like Fr. Groeschel. I admire Lino Rulli for his candor and wit. Fr. Z for his infinite knowledge of the Catholic faith. Micahel Voris is admired by many for his dogged determination to expose lies and falsehoods and his mesmerizing man hair.

It only makes sense that two of the top renown Catholic internet personalities, Fr. Z and Michael Voris, should have their paths cross at some point. Perhaps to write a book together on Catholic teaching or to give talks on the spiritual benefits of Advent traditions, or take a cruise together. Wait. What?

If you made it past the two minute mark, God bless ya.

Please permit me to express my utter disbelief and give two reasons why the idea of a Lenten cruise just simultaneously blew my mind and made me laugh hysterically.

1) For the most obvious reason; It’s duiring Lent.

You know, Lent? That penitential time of the year when we celebrate the gruesome crucifixion of Our Lord by taking lavish “retreat” cruises around the Caribbean.

Oh. You’re being serious.

Look, I get the need to take a vacation. I need a vacation. Right now. And a stiff drink… but A Lenten retreat at sea? At least back up your pretense with a pilgrimage somewhere that has even the tiniest semblance of desert atmosphere. Or, I don’t know, go somewhere legitimately holy. If an apparition of Our Lady has been seen floating in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, then forgive me. Just calling something a “retreat” during that particular liturgical season doesn’t necessarily make it Lent-ful or appropriate in practice.

2) The obscene cost.

I find it terribly gauche that the promotion video claims the purpose of this thousand dollar cruise is to spiritually “reinforce” our faith. I can name a dozen cheaper and more spiritually beneficial ways to reinforce my faith and none involve an all you can eat seafood buffet and Vegas style show tunes.

Last I checked, daily mass is offered free everywhere. Confession is usually weekly and also free. Unless they’ve changed that and there’s now a fee. I don’t know. It’s been a few months. Look, if you’re seriously looking for a way to “recharge”, “reinforce your faith”, and “rest in faith” then go to Adoration! Also free, I might add.

Just don’t do it like this unless your intent is to make everyone around you uncomfortable.

The idea that a Catholic needs to spend this type of money in order to experience some spiritual fulfillment just blows my mind. Call it what it is and pass around the plate. The $1083.89 cost of this trip is for the privilege to be in the company of Fr. Z and Michael Voris and to bask in the luxurious comfort of a cruise ship. Again, better company and comfort can be found in Adoration. Challenge me on that.

I’m not arguing with Voris that pilgrimages and retreats can indeed reignite the fires of our faith. It’s why people flock to holy places by the hundreds of thousands every year and push themselves beyond their physical limitations to walk the Camino across Spain. Rome is never lacking for pilgrims. And yes, these trips cost a pretty penny. There are very few true pilgrims anymore, begging alms and lodging along the way.

Spending the money on a pilgrimage to visit relics and holy sites is not a bad way to spend money. Neither is going on a retreat. And neither is doing any of these things with the company of a priest. However, retreats are usually held in monasteries and convents which charge very little for their accommodations. They don’t have entertainers and staff to pay so the savings are passed on directly to you. How thoughtful of them.

You see where I’m going with this. This voyage at sea is clearly not a retreat. There’s a ginormous difference between spending that kind of dough on an actual pilgrimage to Lourdes or going on a retreat at Clear Creek and a cruise to the Caribbean on a luxury liner. One is at a holy site & the other is a place where holy people live, usually in austere conditions. So what of a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean then? Pardon me, but this retreat seems to imply that merely being in the company Fr. Z and Michael Voris surrounded by like-minded Catholics is the source of “holiness” and exactly what one needs to recharge spiritually during Lent.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit this cruise sounds like a rockin’ good time. I’d pay that amount to go hang out on a floating castle with cabana boys bringing me an endless supply of fruit drinks out of coconut shells. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a good time and if you got the cash laying around why not take a cruise and rub elbows with Catholic aristocracy. But to call it a retreat is kind of insulting.

Just call it a cruise with Fr. Z and Michael Voris. No shame in that. Fr. Z is a lot of fun to hang out with in a bar and if people want to pay to be in his company that’s their prerogative, but it would be more prudent to leave the “retreat” nonsense out of it and pick a more appropriate time on the liturgical calendar.

Lastly, I wonder how they’ll manage to pull off the liturgical logistics for a boat full of neo-con purists. Aren’t Voris’s fans usually the ones that have a very low tolerance for liturgical impurities and anything modern looking? Will there be a chapel on the Ruby Princess and will it have altar rails? And if not will Michael Voris do an exposé on the mass that Fr. Z celebrated in a make shift chapel that didn’t have kneelers?

Really, this is such a phenomenally unwise move for Fr. Z. As Terry noted, “Voris is pretty much a persona non grata with many bishops, dioceses, not to mention the USCCB.” I mean for goodness sake, his business can’t even identify as “Catholic”.

Then again who knows. Maybe I’m dead wrong. Casinos, confession, and show tunes certainly has a Catholic Kitsch factor going for it.

In which case, party on.

I don’t know if this one is photoshopped too, but I definitely see kitsch potential in the theme… Pope Benedict with kitties.

… Catholics love kitsch. This is no secret. We are the proud creators of some of the best sentimental cheap plastic crap ever to be manufactured from China. Here are some blogs celebrating our profoundly poor taste.

Saint Kitsch – Celebrating all that is wonderfully awful in the world of Catholic Kitsch.

Bad Vestments – Dedicated to subjecting particularly awful Christian liturgical vestments or church decorations to the ridicule they so richly deserve.


Now behold! Gaze into the penetrating stare of Velvet Jesus.

… My love of Catholic kitsch is a well documented fact. If it’s tacky and Catholic in theme chances are I am going to love and adore that object and give it a place of honor in my home. The more craptastic the better. I think it started as a young girl when I would gaze with child like wonder at my Abuela’s velvet Madonna hanging in the hallway. It’s a magnificent thing to behold, adorned with glitter and bedazzled to the hilt. All this splendor sat in a silver tin frame with angels and flowers etched into the metal. If I am ever lucky enough to have this heirloom fall into my possession it will sit behind a glass case, like the Mona Lisa, in my home under a spot light. I would charge admission and people would come from miles away to venerate Her. I get a tear in my eye just thinking about it.

But what purpose does kitsch serve and why does it mostly endear itself to me? Would you find this toaster offensive or would enthusiastically invite Father over for a cup of tea and toast for the opportunity to show off your newest kitschy acquisition?

The Christian Post has this piece about Christian kitsch;

Are these items harmless, or humorless and offensive? Christian kitsch is becoming a mainstream commodity, making waves in Christian retail on Internet sites featuring odd items.

“There are some disconcerting side effects to watch out for in the world of Christian advertising,” noted James Beverley, in an interview with The Christian Post. “Any promotion that uses Gospel symbols to sell non-spiritual products increases the chances of non-Christians thinking that all Christians are interested in is money.

“There is also the danger of cheapening the value of Christian symbols by direct connection with various products of modern capitalism,” said Beverley, professor of Christian thought and ethics at Tyndale University in Toronto, Canada.

I’ve always felt that if we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves we’ve lost the ability to laugh at all.

Feel differently, sound off.

My husband once asked me to chose, him or Catholicism. I’m still Catholic. And still divorced. I could no sooner stop being Catholic than I could stop myself from breathing. Even then, dead as a door nail, I’d still be Catholic.

I have a son who is Catholic. Even my damn cat is named after a Pope. My collection of Catholic kitsch is the envy of all the little Abuelitas. Everything I own has been blessed. Twice. Even the damn cat.

Contact Me
Got questions, comments, love or hate mail? Feel free to send correspondence to:
thecrescatblog@gmail.com. Find me on twitter @the_crescat and on facebook at The Crescat.

Hmm. I see a lot of guitars… but I still haven’t spotted any reverence.
Anyone reading this blog is not practicing custody of the eyes.

“You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.” –Evelyn Waugh.

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