Monday, April 14, 2008


I do not like mustard, or, always thought I didn't like it. I remember eating it as a boy, growing sick of it, having a bite of a sandwich with mustard and thinking it was horrible and made me want to gag. Then, I found myself eating other things--stuffed mushrooms, pineapple and chicken salad, delicious sandwiches and others--all of which had mustard. I went to the sandwich shop and tried again, just a dab, and now, put it on most of my sandwiches.

Religion, it seems, is my mustard of faith...hmm, as I type that, I recognize the whole mustard seed parable probably doesn't fit, but who would have thought mustard would come up twice when discussing the soul? You see, religion and faith to me have always been more like floating a river than driving a car. I am along for the ride, and, for anyone who's ever floated a river, you know you can get stuck in the rocks or be swiftly taken to one side even on a short stretch of river. It's all the same river, but it's little choices you make, even subconsciously, which guide your trip.

I have begun attending Mass again at a horrible little parish down the street. The Priest is always different as there is a shortage of Priests in the area and the homilies are rarely inspirational. The choir is full of old men and women who know neither tone or pitch...but specialize in volume, and the decor is straight out of 1970 (whomever makes those tacky grape and bread panels that Catholic Churches seem to love, please, for the love of God, stop).

However, I went with my friend Nick for the first time in a while before he deployed to Iraq. I didn't need the misilette because, like riding a bike, you never forget. And, thankfully, the Mass rarely changes. Despite the bastardization of the Gloria and Kyrie, the song can only ruin the sound, but not the meaning and it feels good to be there again.

I don't know what I believe about Catholicism, or if there is any of it I believe, and yet, when I say the Creed, I feel as though I am saying it in truth. Many Saints (not that I am one) have confronted the disconnect between belief and desire to believe. Saint John of the Cross penned the Dark Night of the Soul, Saint Therese claimed to have never felt God, and Mother Theresa wrote of her well known doubts, so at least I'm in good company.

At the same time, I read this well written article about the Pope on Slate. After decrying the state of American politics in my last post, it is good to know there is a man who is deftly navigating global politics in a way that is inspiring (even when we disagree with every decision he makes).

Technically, Catholic means Universal. Maybe I'm just biased because I am Catholic, but truly, is there another religious leader whose decisions must take into consideration more variables than this man? The Dali Lama, the Mormon Prophet...even the head of the UN, none of them have to take into consideration more various peoples, ideas and realities than this man. It really is true that the mantle he put on as Pope is also a cross to bear, for there is no relief from the life he leads but death. Anyway...that kind of came out of nowhere, but I thought I'd share it.


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