morbid Catholics…

morbid Catholics… March 10, 2010

… Catholicism is the punk rock of religions. The Church is fearless in Her embrace of death. We love our relics, cherish our martyrs, talk to the dead and pray for a happy death!

I was discussing my upcoming trip to Italy next month with a non-Catholic co-worker. I told her about the possibility of getting tickets for the Scavi Tour and expressed my enthusiasm for seeing the chians that bound St. Peter and Capuchini Bone Chapel, and went on in some length about St. Stephen’s hand in Budapest.

She just stared at me as I went on and on about chains and bones and crypts and decapitated and severed limbs… slowly backing away from me.

I suppose it would appear to some that Catholics are a morbid twisted lot, especially since things like death and dying are still taboo. They shouldn’t be… it is the one universal experience we will all have in common.

I wonder though if my attitude isn’t in part cultural as much as it is spiritual. I mean, hell, I was named after this doll.

Even some of my fellow papist friends are a little taken aback by the thought of “memento mori” and can not understand why I would chose to surround myself with death and do hospice nursing.

Here’s why… if you knew you were going to do die tomorrow what would you do? Call all your loved ones, settle quarrels, forgive and seek forgiveness, go some where or do something you would normally put off… in other words you would LIVE! There’s a reason for the popular sayings “live for the moment” or “live like you are dying.”

Why do so many wait till they are dying to start living anyway?

I know that at any moment I could die; I am reminded daily how fragile and precious and incredibly brief our time on this earth is. And that knowledge is a source of joy. Call me creepy.

About the image: Prince of Orange, René de Chalons, died in battle in 1544, at age 25. His widow commissioned the sculptor Ligier Richier to represent him offering his heart to God, set against the painted splendour of his former worldly estate. Church of Saint-Étienne, Bar-le-Duc. [source]

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  • Been following your blog for a while and love it. I felt like I had to let you know that "Catholicism is the punk rock of religions" has to be the most awesome quote ever! And, I love this post! Wish I was going on the trip with you to see all the precious relics.

  • "Call me creepy.".Okay creepy.

  • But crazy?Oh, no, dear; you are anything but crazy…nutz sometimes…okay, that'll do (just like most of us!).I don't get the "dismemberment"kinda thing with Saint's heads, arms, hearts, whatever ending up in any number of places (maybe my Anglo-Irish background…but then again, the English were into "hung, drawn and quartered"…which I still do not understand, but I'm blabbering)…most people today when you speak of relics or all the things you mention do not have a clue…None. Whatsoever.Don't feel alone; we're all in this together!

  • The Catholic Faith unnerves people not because it is morbid per se, but because it is so relentlessly realistic, and deals head-on with the full spectrum of spiritual and temporal realities. This unblinking, unflinching view of both the beauties and the horrors of the universe and the human condition makes most people uncomfortable, if not downright freaked out, and is why happy-clappy, "warm fuzzy Jesus" is always much more popular than the Faith in full, which fully considers and appreciates the good, the bad, and the ugly.P

  • I am really creeped out by the physical relics, especially the "uncorrupted" bodies…they give me nightmares..Years ago when I was stationed in Germany I remember visiting a little chapel in Southern Germany–don't recall the name. We sat and prayed for awhile and I was seated next to a reliquary that had the skull of someone, with a crown…all I could think of was that creepy skull looking at me…and maybe laughing like the skull in Pirates of the Carrebean (Disneyland).I was really surprised at the number of skulls–art especially–in the churches in Rome…Sara

  • "… Catholicism is the punk rock of religions"I definitely wanted to make this my facebook status…then I realized that I gave facebook up for lent. But, you must know, that I would have! 🙂

  • Seb

    I think your attitude is very correct and orthodox – that it disgusts many people is just a sign of our age, where people mostly think with their feelings.I have in the past made a whole youth group collectively go "ewwwww…" by making the statement that one day each of us will die and our decaying corpse will be eaten by worms – apparently no one had informed them.

  • I gotta disagree with you Kat, Catholocism is not the punk rock of religions it is the classical music of relgions, where else could the spine-chilling Dies Irae and the beautiful Salve Regine co-exist? SebIs it always wrong to think with feelings? Is it wrong to hope to be a father one day when I see my friend's children taking thier first steps? I guess I should apply to have my emotions removed

  • It sounds to me as though you ought to become a Dominican !The old saying is that 'Benedictines are the Order to sing in, Carmelites are the Order to pray in, Cistercians are the Order to work in, and Dominicans are the Order to die in . . .' – they're famous for the amount of praying for their dead which they do.

  • Dominic, funny you should say that…without elaborating. 😉

  • Tim

    "… Catholicism is the punk rock of religions."I have had the same thought many times. I even bought the domain with the idea that I would start another blog and write about my punk background and how I believe it was powered by my repressed Catholic beliefs. Maybe one day I'll get the time to do that. Until then I can be read here writing things that can mostly be translated into "What Crescat said!".

  • Confession: After finding my baby teeth in my mom's jewelry box, I've considered having them strung as a rosary.The wife does not approve.But it just seems a shame to leave them just lying around in a box.

  • You will see St. Stephens Hand!!! I am SOOOOOO jealous! Thanks alot for sending me to confession…

  • I lost a daughter to Leukemia in 1996. She was four years old. We had a hospice nurse who specialized in caring for dying children and I still think to this day that she was really an angel in human form.Thanks for doing hospice nursing. You are amazing. -Tim-

  • Have you heard of the Orthodox Zine me.

  • Maria

    St. Robert Bellarmine used to say "Am I never going to die?"Charlie Rich said: "Death is a welcome friend for those who love things divine."

  • Maria

    Crescat: I am so impressed that you have saved so much money for travel while in nursing school and raising children!!! What is the secret?

  • Maria, this trip is three years in the making. I have been saving for several years and gotten quite a few generous donations. I am also traveling with a friend and we are sharing accommodation costs… otherwise I would never be able to go.

  • Just found you and your blog is awesome! None of the people I work with get why I have dirt on my head on Ash Wednesday. It looks so dirty is their reply. This past Ash Wednesday I had a huge cross on my forehead, not the usual smudge. As I was leaving church an old man looked at me and started laughing. He said, "Boy, you must be really bad!" I said, " There's a prophet among us!!!" Keep up the good work!

  • Happy landings on the pilgrimage. Cheers

  • Maria

    Crescat: Good for you! I am an unemployed social worker at the momenent. If I were employed I would make a contriburion. God Bless. I will pray that cash rains down on you!!!

  • My son says punkers aren't about morbidity, but about going against the establishment. I told him the early Christians did just that — they went against the establishment…the pagan Romans.

  • Crescat;you intrigue me . . .Christopher;you must have been a seriously weird baby to have had enough teeth to make a rosary !

  • Dominic, that comment to Christopher… LOL. priceless. 😀

  • Post a picture of you kising a relic.

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  • Wfarris


    Just came across this by searching punk rock catholic and I loved reading it. As a former punk, a catholic and even as a funeral director I completely agree with your assertion that Catholics LIVE every day. I really enjoyed this thank you.