One of my friends from Luke's school (whose kid is Catholic but goes there because it's across the street from his house) Facebook "liked" this web site that I'm having all sorts of fun with, www.catholicgiftsandmore.com.
Well, as you're all aware, I'm sure, I have many Catholic friends whom I love very dearly, and finding the perfect gift for your favorite Popeaholic isn't always easy.
They're a touchy denomination to buy for. Surely, they all already have rosaries, that probably have to have been blessed by a priest, or drowned in Holy Water, to be authentic. Everybody's probably already in possession of a crucifix. They all have Bibles, though they don't, to the best of my knowledge, really *use* them, plus Catholic Bibles have extra books in them that, well, EVERYONE ELSE'S Bibles don't have.
Of this, I was not aware until our family received a gi-huge-ic Catholic Bible from the Cook County Sheriffs who worked with my Dad when he died. I guess they assumed he was Catholic since he was Polish, though as I've said before, he converted to Lutheranism when my folks got married. (If memory serves, people also brought us something called, I think, "mass cards," which I haven't the slightest idea with what to do. The only equation to "mass" I could reconcile with them was that they were "massive" in comparison to the other cards of sympathy we had been receiving.)
In fact, in perusing the selection of Bibles on www.catholicgiftsandmore.com, out of the 381 items matching the search for "Bible," only roughly 113 are actual Bibles of some nature. The rest are greeting cards, catechisms, Bible note-tabs (which seem unnecessary if one's not reading the Bible), and other Bible-esque oddities, none as awesomely awesome as the Unforgiving Debtor Coloring Book, the Transfiguration of Jesus Coloring Book, the Parting of the Red Sea Coloring Book....et al. I think the latter would be a great, cheeky, if not misunderstood menarche gift for a young lady. (I can make menstruation jokes all I want now, seeing as I am uterusless.)
My best friend is Irish Catholic, and her birthday is coming up on the 12th, though nothing I got her is Christian-based. I shan't say what I got her so's not to ruin any forthcoming surprises, but it wasn't one of the 333 Patron Saint medals/medallions offered on the website, for I don't know who the Patron Saint of the Extremely Hysterical Beautiful Artist Woman is. Part of her gift, let's just say, involves the Patron Saint of Multi-Instrumentalists Who Love Neil Diamond.
(People can harp on me all they want about the veritable plethora of Hindu gods and incarnations that I can seemingly rattle off at the drop of a hat. I think it's not all-that-different from pleading intercessions from the massive bevy of saints in the Catholic church. We Lutherans go straight to The Man Upstairs for our prayers, though we will collectively or individually pray for individuals who are in need, whether that's personally or as en masse in church, though we're not expecting that person to intercede on our behalf. "We" as people don't have any special powers to help the person being prayed for, nor do we believe our minister does, though by virtue of his being a called and ordained Servant of the Word, can dispense forgiveness of our sins. We believe that only God has the power to heal, or provide, or assist in some other way. While we acknowledge a certain number of saints for what they did, we don't pray TO them for intercession, for they have no special mystical powers. Make sense?)
My other favorite Irish Catholic has a birthday coming up next month, but I'll be damned (probably literally!) if he's getting a Christian gift from me this year. Last year, I gave him a beautiful leather-bound daily devotional for men, which was beautiful, which would literally take 5 minutes a day to read, and as of the last time I brought it up, months and months after I gave it to him, he hadn't even opened it up once to date. It wasn't a Catholic-based devotional, to the best of my recollection, but still Christian and meant for men. Blaming one's busy schedule isn't sufficient as an excuse, if one is capable, let's say, of getting together with one's men's group from church to drink beer and watch basketball. Kali, the dark goddess of Hinduism, would have serious issues with this guy not using my Biblical Christian devotional! Seriously, you can't spare 5-10 minutes a day for God? P'shaw. I don't know WHAT to get him this year for his birthday, other than ideas I have regarding music and pop culture, things I know he does like. Perhaps a pair of new cuff links, one inscribed "I am" and the other, "Confused." (All that being said, I still haven't read the book on The Doors by Greil Marcus he literally almost threw at me for Christmas, unwrapped, chiefly because I dislike The Doors' music intensely, but I do love Greil Marcus as a rock critic. I have to get through "Layla and Majnun, " an over-verbose plea to unrequited love, before I can move on to a rock criticism book.)
Speaking of not sparing a moment for God, I keep forgetting to tell my Pastor the story of the Catholic priest who visited me in the hospital when I had pancreatitis the first time. He was holding a sheet of paper in his hand and said, "Hello, Andrea. My list here says you're Catholic." I told him, a memory clear as day despite the morphine, "I don't know where you got that list, but I'm Lutheran." This obviously FREAKED the priest OUT. He didn't make the sign of the cross over me. He didn't say a prayer for me. He didn't engage me in conversation. Certainly, gasp, he didn't offer me the Eucharist. He said this: "Lutheran? Oh my. Well, best of luck to you," turned around and walked out the door of my room. Straight up, no bullshit. I'd have had better luck had someone pleaded to the god Hanuman on my behalf. This dude, who, come on, hasn't gotten laid in like 40 years, walked out on me, Christian-to-Christian. I was denied communion from another volunteer who came around to see the infirmity-ridden, because I wasn't Catholic. Seriously, it's the same Sacrament under the umbrella of Christianity. What would've been the big deal? At our church, anyway, any and all are welcome at the Lord's table, regardless of their denomination and are, in fact, encouraged to have a few words with our extremely friendly Pastor before the service if something is an issue or a conflict. That's not to say I haven't sneaked in a communion or two in the Catholic church in my life. Quick, dowse me with holy water that I might disintegrate into a pile of salt!
Of all the paraphernalia on the www.catholicgiftsandmore.com site, I'd have to say my favorite was the statue of St. Joseph, which is meant to be buried in your yard. It's clear on the web site that he's the Patron Saint of Realty Transactions, as pictured above. Read the other-wordly description of the item, and tell me that's not just plain ridiculous. And no, homeowners of "all denominations" don't ask for the St. Joseph statue when they're buying or selling a home, as the item advertises, even in a shitty real estate market. I'd be a hell of a lot more concerned with closing costs, down payments, inspections and whatnot before I'd bury a saintly trinket/action figure in my back yard. If I were the buyer of said house, and got around to digging and gardening, I'd wonder what the hell was up with all of these medallions and statues in the dirt. Bad enough people bury their pets in their yards, whose skeletons or remains would likewise freak me out. But I'm sure there's a Patron Saint of Dead Pets, because God doesn't diss so there'd probably be a statue or medallion next to the animal corpse too. Freaky.
"Need to sell your home? Let St. Joseph help! The tradition of burying a statue of Saint Joseph finds its roots in the ancient Catholic custom of burying blessed medals in the ground, invoking God's blessing on the area. Today homeowners of all denominations ask for Saint Joseph's help in selling and buying their homes. Each full color gift box contains one 5" resin statue, a full color story card, and a full-color tear-off Saint Joseph holy card with the Prayer to Saint Joseph, Patron of a Happy Home on the back."
Quite frankly, there's nothing St. Joseph can do to help you buy or sell a home. There's nothing Mary can do. You can pray to Christ to help you with your realty dilemma, but it's likely He has bigger fish to fry than your escrow and flood-prone sub-basement, though it is appropriate to pray for shelter over your head. To GOD. Not to a saint.
Understand that I'm not dissing the Catholic church or it's members, a lot of whom are my friends and family members on my dad's side. I know fantabulous Catholics and douchebag Catholics, and fatabulous people and douchebags are part of the collective societal makeup, regardless of creed, like the priest at Resurrection Hospital who dissed ME because I was Lutheran. Had I not been so doped up, I probably would've chanted to Krishna as he left my room, or worse yet, broke into a chorus of this:
Resurrection Medical Center is SO Catholic, you can't even get an Rx filled at the hospital apothecary for birth control pills, for they don't offer or stock them there, for birth control is a "sin," as one of my co-workers astonishingly found out, though they are very liberal in handing out 21 allegedly, illegally-obtained diarrhea pills to Lutherans and would deny denominational discrimination.
Happy Easter to ALL of my Christian friends, on what is our most holy day, when a lot of parishoners endeavor to make their bi-annual appearance at church (Christmas being the other holiday when the church is actually crowded.) Regardless of your denomination, He is Risen. He is Risen indeed!