This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13 -- Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

It's Mothers' Day, and an attempt to weave that into this post has led me far afield to a place I probably shouldn't go.  But once you start down a road like this, there's no turning back.  [That's not really true. Of course I could turn back, but this time, the lesser part of valor triumphed.]

At first, I was going to write about Saint Peter Regalado, who is a perfectly fine fellow.  Then Mother's Day occurred to me and I figured a woman should probably be selected.  Saint Mael of Bardsley turned out to be a guy. (Sorry, Mael.  Celtic names confuse me.) Saint Agnes of Poitiers seemed promising until I read that she spent her life in a convent.  She's hardly more a symbol of motherhood than Peter.  Then I noticed that May 13 is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.  If you're looking for a Christian symbol of motherhood, you're hard-pressed to find one better than the Theotokos herself.

Jacinta, Fernando, and Lucia (L-R) -- the children of Fatima
So why does she get a separate feast as Our Lady of Fatima, you wonder?  During World War One, as Europeans were slaughtering each other on an unprecedented and previously unimaginable scale for years on end, Mary appeared to three Portuguese children.  She instructed them to do penance and Acts of Reparation.  And that's where I went off the rails and ended in the ditch.  I know the Act of Contrition -- I can still recite it after decades without the Sacrament of Reconciliation -- but I don't think I ever even learned about an Act of Reparation. 

Apparently, pious Catholics have specific prayers offered to abate the blasphemies of others.  Think of them as a general spiritual restitution, offered not on behalf of a specific sinner, but on behalf of sinners everywhere.  They are intended to -- here, I am stuck for the right verb: mollify?  appease? -- placate God.  There are specific prayers for reparation of offenses against Jesus, against the Trinity, and against Mary. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Jon Stewart!
And from that, I free-associated to a news item that Delta Airlines is pulling its advertising during The Daily Show in response to a commentary about religion and contraception urging women to use "vagina mangers" to avoid pregnancy.  Stewart had a photo to illustrate what he meant -- I won't post it here but I'm sure you can find it in Google Images.  The Catholic League announced they would boycott advertisers, leaning heavily on one per week, until Stewart apologized for the joke, which they called hate speech.  

I don't quite get the vagina manger joke, but that doesn't matter.  What mostly matters is that Stewart needs to skate the edge of offense, to seem just edgy enough for a mainstream audience without poaching on Bill Maher's territory.  But what also matters is that the Catholic League needs to howl loudly at any perceived insult to the BVM, the Trinity, or the Pope, just to burnish its culture-war credibility.  And it matters that Mars and Delta and Kellogg's are trying to navigate between this comic Charybdis and this sensitive Scylla to make their money. 

Mr. Stewart has nothing on Messrs. Parker and Stone
To be clear, everyone involved has a right to do what they're doing.  Mr. Stewart can make jokes, whether funny or not, whether clever or not, whether offensive or not, as long as he wants.  Comedy Channel can broadcast his jokes as long as he agrees to provide them.  Bill O'Donohue and the Catholic League can protest as much as they want, including organizing boycotts.  It's a lot easier to change the channel, but if they choose to put more energy into it, the right to boycott and protest is protected.  Mars, Kellogg, and Delta can put their advertising dollars wherever they want, including back in their own wallets.

I must, however, observe that faithful and aggrieved Christians have another course of action open to them.  As Our Lady of Fatima told Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto, and Francisco Marto on May 13, 1917, you can always do Acts of Reparation for the blasphemies committed by others.  Two good texts are linked here.  I might print them out and keep them beside the TV remote in case I ever feel like watching South Park or The Daily Show

Oh yeah, and.... Happy Mothers' Day.

No comments:

Post a Comment