Thursday, October 31, 2013

Catholic Stand: Laughing at the demons

This year for Halloween snacks, Mom bought a box of 18 packages of bat- and pumpkin-shaped pretzels. If this year follows the pattern of the last five, we’ll have twelve of those bags left Friday morning. Three will have gone to neighborhood urchins, and the other three will have gone to my grandniece and grandnephews.

For one thing, we live in a cul-de-sac near the only entrance to the neighborhood; most of the houses are further up and away. For another, we live near a mall — certainly not so grand a consumerist paradise as Mall of America, but they do sabotage the spirit of Halloween fairly effectively by handing out candy and treats there. Madison Avenue has done more than four hundred years of Puritans and one hundred fifty years of skeptics to ruin Catholic festivals … simply by marketing them.

No, I’m not going to any parties. Many years ago, while resting my head on the cool porcelain of a toilet between violent bouts of vomiting, I concluded that getting drunk wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And the adults at some of the parties I’ve been to are like the people who show up at medieval fairs dressed as characters from fantasy novels; they’ve forced me to conclude that some people just don’t “get” Halloween.

(By “fantasy” I mean they show up as either elves or dominatrices. At one major fair in Waxahachie, I saw a woman who was wearing leather “Daisy Dukes” with a sword strapped around her hips and a chain-mail top with not so much as a Brazilian bikini top underneath it. I’m guessing her research stopped around Season Three of Xena: Warrior Princess.)

So okay, if you show up at the party dressed as Yakko the Clown, I get it — clowns scare many adults. C+ for the effort, regardless of the execution. But where’s the memento mori in dressing like a French maid or Superman? To get closer to the feel of what Halloween is supposed to be about, you’re better off going someplace where El Día de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead”, is still celebrated.
Read more at Catholic Stand!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A mortal, sinful man

On July 16, 2011, during the funeral rites of Dr. Otto von Habsburg, the last heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, a curious ceremony took place for what will almost certainly be the last time.

Following the requiem Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, his coffin was carted through the Innere Stadt, the historic old town, to the door of the Capuchin Church of Saint Mary of the Angels. There Ulrich-Walter Lipp, a family friend, used a staff to knock on the door three times.

Just inside the door was the custodian of the Imperial Crypt, Father Gottfried Undesser. “Who desires to enter?”

Lipp, taking on the role of a herald, then began to read Otto of Austria’s numerous titles. Former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria. Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, Steyr, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukovina. Und so weiter.

Replied Fr. Gottfried, “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked three times again, and with Fr. Gottfried’s query, began to read Dr. von Habsburg’s many secular titles and awards. President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union. Senior member of the European Parliament. Honorary doctorates from numerous universities; honorary citizen of many communities in Central Europe; member of honorable academies and institutes. And so on.

Again the denial: “We don’t know him!”

Lipp knocked again. This time, in response to Fr. Gottfried’s question, he announced “Otto – ein sterblicher, sündiger Mensch (a mortal, sinful man).” To which Fr. Gottfried replied, opening the doors, “So may he come in.”

Read the rest at Catholic Stand!