I am slacker, watch me eat!

17 03 2010

The mandatory official Lenten post

I once heard a quote from a conversation between Pope Paul VI and the Coptic Pope (I don’t remember which one.) When asked by the Roman Pope what he saw as the greatest barrier between his two churches, the Coptic prelate responded that he could not imagine a church that prayed and fasted so little to be an Apostolic church. This was no doubt a dig at the ascetical laxity of the West. There was a time in my life I would have agreed with him, but not anymore.

I am very fortunate to have married someone with a similar cultural background. AG’s experience of Lent growing up in greater New Orleans may not have been exactly the same as my own, but it is close enough that I can identify with it. For instead of an emphasis on Lent being an individual struggle to “be a better Christian”, of nuns standing over you forcing you to give up candy, AG’s experience is eloquently described in a recent post:

I grew up in New Orleans, and as long as I can remember, Fridays during Lent were always days that we’d go out for dinner to a nearby seafood restaurant and have po-boys. I think it’s safe to say many New Orleanians eat better on Fridays during Lent than they do any other time of the year. Sure, great seafood is available year-round here, but there’s just something about the exhortation to avoid meat on Fridays that inspires even the most devout to interpret it as a command to chow down on a $20 seafood platter, including soft-shell crab….

Then there are the church Friday Fish Frys. Our church has added a drive through service, so that you never have to leave your car to get that fried shrimp or catfish platter. My parents’ church is offering an even greater spread: an assortment of menu choices. According to my sister, you can choose from: boiled shrimp Caesar salad, grilled shrimp Caesar salad, shrimp basket, fish basket, and the seafood platter. You also have a choice of sides: macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cole slaw, green beans, sweet potato. All the choices come with hush puppies. And that’s just if your go through their “drive-through.” If you get out of your car and walk into the Church hall, you also get a drink and your choice of dessert for free. As my mom says, “there’s a lot of competition around here between the churches for Friday fish frys!” I had a suggestion: “First 50 people to Stations of the Cross get $1 off their seafood platter!” I think lots of people would like that promotion.

(I experienced this first hand as well when, going to the supermarket on Good Friday, I was greeted by a giant boat of hot seasoned crawfish and shrimp. Get behind me, Satan!)
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St. Roch Cemetery

17 03 2010

There is a legend associated with the tradition of the nine churches and the St. Roch Cemetery. It was said that unmarried young women who made the nine churches on Good Friday and left a donation at each church would find a husband by the end of the year. For best results, the ninth church should be the chapel of the St. Roch Cemetery. The young women would pick a four-leaf clover growing in the cemetery, a plant different from other four-leaf clovers in that there were red spots on the leaves. The story behind those four-leaf clovers is romantic, Gothic, and tragic. Once upon a time, a bride-to-be was widowed before her wedding. Despondent and devastated, she committed suicide on the grave of her betrothed. Her blood fell on the graveyard’s four-leaf-clover patch, forever marking the leaves with the splatters of her exsanguination. Blood; death; Good Friday: it’s a good story.

-Earl J. Higgins, The Joy of Y’at Catholicism