Monday, February 27, 2012

God, Not the Devil, Is in the Details

While browsing through the 1964 Rituale Romanum, I found some gems that solidified my conviction that this book needs to make a dramatic, worldwide comeback.  For example:
BLESSING OF BEER

P[riest]: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you. [And with your spirit?]

Let us pray.

Lord, bless + this creature, beer, which by Your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to Your Holy Name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.
Personally, I'm not much enamored of beer, not being very fond of the taste; but, being Italian, the very next blessing is more up my alley:
BLESSING OF CHEESE OR BUTTER

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Lord God almighty, if it please You, bless + and sanctify + this creature, cheese (or butter), which by Your power has been made from the fat of animals. Grant that those of your faithful who eat it may be sated with a blessing from on high, with Your grace and all good things; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.

And in this topsy-turvy age when so many people who wouldn't think twice about committing adultery would rather die than eat a bacon cheeseburger, I must profess myself a fan of the following:
BLESSING OF LARD
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Lord, bless + this creature, lard, and let it be a healthful food for mankind. Grant that everyone who eats it with thanksgiving to Your Holy Name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.
There are blessings on medicine; on wine for the sick; on cars; on trains; on bread and pastries; on bees; on animal feed; on all sorts of everyday things.  Now, I submit that the fact that Catholicism takes time out to seek God's blessings on everything from electric dynamos to silkworms  is a sign that it must be the true religion.  I submit further that the extent to which we think this is ridiculous is a sign of how far we have strayed from Truth.

Put down the pitchforks.  Get rid of the tar and feathers.  I'll wait for the uproar to die down.  I've got all day.

1. Isaiah 55:8-9: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways My ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My ways exalted above your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts."  This seems to be the first thing we are apt to forget about God.  The second thing we forget about God -- and I do not exempt myself from this criticism -- is His boundless generosity: "...let him ask of God, Who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5).  This space has previously been given over to consideration of the fact that God pays attention to every detail, and nothing is beneath His notice: it is a mistake to use our puny, pathetic selves as a yardstick to measure God.  His kindness is infinitely greater than our own; He is willing to stoop far lower to us than we are to each other.  Since God saw fit to take the time to create the things we use to make cheese, for example -- including the requisite human intellectual and physical powers -- why should we think He would be too busy to bless cheese?  Must we try to put a cap on God's generosity, simply because we ourselves are ungenerous?  Clearly, it is not the devil but God Who is in the details; and if God is a God of details, then it is fitting that His Church should pay attention to them.

2. Blessings on everyday items like butter and cheese spring from a healthy, balanced view of created things and their proper place in relation to God and to us.  If we think it's dumb to ask God to bless lard or silkworms, it's because we have lost sight of the fact that these things are not ends in themselves, but are there ultimately to help us on the road to salvation.  The Church blesses mundane items, above all, in order to honor the God Who made them, and to praise and thank Him for showering so many good things upon us.  She recognizes that everything God makes (including alcohol) is good, because He Himself is good; in blessing even mundane things, she rejoices in their goodness and God's generosity.  Indeed, the very fact that the objects of these blessings are mundane is a sign of God's abundance.  She also recognizes that, because of our fallen nature, we have a tendency to misuse the good things God gives us, so she provides for the bestowal of blessings upon them in order to obtain for us the grace we need to use them properly.  How much less alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, etc. might there be in the world if we availed ourselves frequently of the Church's blessings on the good things we tend to abuse?   

3. The Church bestows blessings on our everyday stuff in order to keep before our eyes the fact that all creation reflects God, and to make us see God at every level of our existence.  If we view the world in the light of eternity, then everything we come into contact should in some way remind us of God.  But since we frequently do not view the world in the light of eternity, we need help to get back on track.  Blessings help us to stay focused on the true business of our lives, which is to know, love and serve God in this life, and be happy with Him forever in the next.

4. These blessings of the Church's help keep us from taking the good things we receive from God for granted.  They remind us that we have nothing -- not even industry and the ability to work hard -- that does not come from God's hand.  They remind us that we are really beggars at God's door.  They remind us of our need constantly to give thanks to Him, and are thus a superb antidote to the soul-destroying sense of entitlement with which so many of us today are imbued.  

That the Catholic Church provides for blessings upon even such things as beer, butter, cheese and lard is a sign that she is indeed the True Church.  It is proof that she thinks with the mind of God in the matter of earthly goods, and in the matter of providing us with the means of overcoming our weaknesses in regard to earthly goods.  If the only response to a blessing on beer that we can muster is derision, then we are badly in need of correction.

5 comments:

  1. This! "And in this topsy-turvy age when so many people who wouldn't think twice about committing adultery would rather die than eat a bacon cheeseburger"

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  2. Ms Anita - such a delightful and uplifting post. God reward you,

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  3. Not so much a comment on what you've said, as you've said all that there is to be said, but well done for saying it so well!

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