Costumes, Constraint, and Chapel Veils

In my high school theatre productions, our director encouraged us to start working on assembling costumes early.  Especially shoes.  Once you had something of your character's, you could start using it to feel less like yourself, and stop doing things by rote.  If you had nothing else, he said, you could put a pebble in your shoe so you were a little less comfortable in your normal stance. I'm on a plane all day, so, since I ended up without the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, I thought I' … [Read more...]

The Fear of God in Me

Yesterday, when I was attending Daily Mass, I was one of only four people present.  I sat up in front, and, after the priest had administered the Eucharist to himself, he motioned me up to assist as an extraordinary minister of holy communion, to distribute the Blood to the remaining parishioners after they received the Body from him.I was quite nervous walking up and receiving the chalice, and hoped that terror-as-reverence was about the right disposition, as long as I wasn't paralyzed by … [Read more...]

Maundy Thursday Problems Again

As I explained last year, Maundy Thursday is the day I feel least comfortable attending Mass: I don’t like to be beholden to anyone.  I don’t like accepting a favor from someone I have no way of repaying or being indebted to someone I don’t know and may not like. I frustrated my boyfriend for more than half a year by never taking food from the post-Mass receptions the campus church hosted. In my mind, the food was for people who had bought in, and it would be inappropriate to benefit from the Ch … [Read more...]

The Damnation of the Foolish Virgins

I'm always disappointed when a Mass reading has a perplexing or counterintuitive section, and the priest chooses to focus his sermon on the more obvious moral.  Luckily, I've got you commenters to turn to for exegesis, so maybe you'd like to take a crack at Matthew 25:1-13.For the Gospel selection at Sunday's Mass, the priest read Jesus's parable of the wise and foolish virgins.  In the story, ten virgins go out waiting for the bridegroom but only five were wise enough to bring enough oil to … [Read more...]

Adoration and Abramovic

Due to a convoluted sequence of events,  I spent about half an hour in an Adoration chapel last night.  For the non-Catholics, Eucharistic Adoration is the act of spending time in a chapel with a consecrated communion wafer, believed to be the real presence of Jesus Christ.  A friend had felt a calling that I should go, and since I could spare the time and didn't want to be accused of being a bad sport, I went along.  (Not to keep you in suspense: I was not converted).The time in the chapel r … [Read more...]

Doubting the Utility Argument

First, a quick clarification: in yesterday's post about Divine Mystery, I used the phrases 'Catholic' and 'Orthodox' to refer to two broad approaches to thinking about parts of theology. Both approaches are used in various proportions and contexts in each faith. I didn’t mean to present either approach as a totalizing aspect of either tradition, and I’m sorry for the confusion. [/religion is complicated!]So, on to a different part of the responses to that post. Several readers mentioned that … [Read more...]

Nitpicking Heresy

This past Sunday, I attended an Orthodox liturgy for the first time, in the company of Miss Tristyn Bloom of Eschatological Psychosis.  Tristyn gave me an overview Saturday night, so I'd know what to expect and be able to avoid augmenting my normal church awkwardness, but I still spent a fair amount of time of Google and Wikipedia to cover all my bases.  While doing my research, I ran across one article earnestly explaining that the Orthodox don't believe in Transubstantiation.  (Note, before yo … [Read more...]