Wannabe but Not Quite Catholic

Bad girl, bad girl, not blogging for a week! Excuses: continuing Poppy Letdown, Recipe Club (I am too old for that kind of drinking), round 2 of the watered down flu (this time for Thing 1), a return to the gym, bible study, book club (Thirteen Moons by Charles Frasier who also wrote Cold Mountain), coffee morning with the ladies of the Jewel Box community whom I have not met before, American Idol highs and lows, a birthday lunch at a cool new restaurant, travel planning, bill paying, camp signups, and Season 2 of Ugly Betty. Total naughtydom. Total lunacy.

And did I mention the interior decorator, Mrs. Pom? She might really be my NBF. Half the women I’ve met here are already moving. And, as my mother says, sometimes you have to buy your friends. I have been in contact with her ever since I was stationed on a home tour in her house in the French Concession. After Poppy left and she was home from jet-setting on various continents, I rang her up:

“I need someone to ride to my rescue. The house is an organizational disaster. I cannot think straight.”

“I’m saddling up, darling!” she cheerfully replied in her British accent.

She came the next day and made me buy some plants for instant gratification. At the birthday luncheon, I had heard that snakes frequently live in houseplants; one has to poke to soil to make sure they do not pop out. When I told her this she said:

“Rubbish,” Mrs. Pom said. “Worms, maybe, snakes no.”

As I helped the delivery men slipped the palms into their gigantic pots, I remembered Adinilton, the keeper of the palms in Brazil, and laughed. He would have approved of the purchases.

Moving along …

Yesterday Mr. Understanding and I awoke to the Pope and went to bed with him (no sniggering, it’s not funny). Lovely to have him book-end our day. The singing/chanting was over the top and it confirmed why I am a Wannabe but Not Quite Catholic. (Did anyone else notice the four types of Italian marble columns at the back of the Washington church?). One cardinal, assisting the Pope in the baseball stadium, was absolutely beatific, his happiness radiating out from him like a contagious disease. I could feel him beaming through the TV. I was so happy for him.

Part of my ability to fake out many a Catholic, besides my name, is my love of their religious accessories, for both the home and body. Juan Diego, the Virgen of Guadalupe, and a donkey adorn the top of our bar/armoire. Doves, symbols of the Holy Spirit, form a cote on my coffee table and in living room. Around my neck I wear I medal I bought with Happy in HMB in the Insurgentes Market in Mexico City years ago. I thought I was buying a Mary/Guadalupe medal, which it is, of sorts. Happy in HMB is Catholic and even she did not understand the medal. At least there are rays coming out behind the virgin. My driver Polo tried to educate me on this point but although I wanted to understand, I did not quite. The medal is worn on a chain my grandfather gave me along with a cross I bought at the Zocalo as I was leaving Mexico, a mini Brazilian Christ the Redeemer charm Mrs. O’Leary gave me, and a locket Mr. Understanding gave me for Valentine’s after Thing 1 was born. I wear this necklace in times of distress, especially when traveling, and have pretty much not taken it off since arriving in China. Talismans of faith, as it were.

During my clean up this week, I came across a book Maria the Dentist sent me. It is about St. Catherine of Laboure. She bought it for me in France on my birthday last year (there is another story here but it is hers to tell). I sat down for 15 minutes to read it and was immediately sucked in. It was the most illuminating 15 minutes of the week. There, in the middle of the book, is an explanation of the medal I wear around my neck, the result of a vision by a young girl in France who tirelessly served the poor. Voila! I have my explanation after all these years. Happy in HMB, for the first time ever, and Maria wrote in on the blog within hours of each other, the cyber convergence of friends. Coincidence? I think not.

And I did not go back for that damn bowl.

*the photo was taken in Beijing, from a car.

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7 Comments

Filed under Family, Folkart, Life, Moving, People, Princessdom, Reading, Religion, Shopping

7 responses to “Wannabe but Not Quite Catholic

  1. At somewhere around 4:30 Sunday I fell in the living room and broke an ankle. Not bad, but broken. My daughter, Mood ring Mamma called at 4:35 and said that she had stepped on a rake in the garden and the rake had punctured the shoe and some of her foot. Yesterday I talked to my sister-in-Law and she said that at 4:30 Sunday her friend was leaving choir practice , fell down in the street, and broke her ankle.
    One must wonder.

  2. Tom

    I grew up in a town of 1500 people on the coast of the Bay of Fundy. We had two catholic churches!!

    Our church had 14 altar boys and tons of gaudy statues and paintings. It was all too much for me and when I was old enough I stopped going to church. I think I’m going to burn in Hell or spend eternity in Purgatory.

    John Lennon had the best idea. Imagine.

  3. gamamãe

    I always tell people who ask I´m a non – practicing recovering catholic. Yet I too have doves and hearts hanging on a wall. And in times of ditress I am saddened my vóvó isnt´t around to help out with her ” reza forte “.
    Just watched a peice on Globo about culture and tourism in China. The reporter and her translator Renato Cheng were busting a move all over China. They showed some footage of the Peking Modern Dance Company – Catch a show if/when you can, if you like that sort of thing. Amen minha filha!

  4. Radish: hope you are getting over the crankies and are no longer blog clogged.

    Tom: first, you made me Google the Bay of Fundy. I thought it was in Nova Scotia and I was right!!!! Was Annie Proux’s novel written there? Secondly, I don’t believe in purgatory – do you really? Where is purgatory found in the Bible? If anyone knows, please enlighten. Thirdly, failing to go to church does not give you a ticket to hell (but I really think you know that). If it did, I’d be riding that freight train with you. Just do unto others.

    Gamarama: next time I am going to see the acrobats. And there will be a next time. The French be damned. Apologies to my friends living in Paris and those married to Frog princes.

  5. maria

    Well….you want me to tell everybody I didn´t remember your birthday while I visited Paris last October.YES ,I would not lie,you know!(another catholic going to purgatory …wait for me ,people!)To be honest I do remembered you in Saint Catherine´s church and prayed for you to have a good time in China and I realised later it was your birthday.For me it is much better when you don´t need special day to think about friendship,but you know I don´t care about complete names,adresses and dates.That´s me!
    Now more about churches:Like Tom, for a long,long time I simply decided not to go for Sunday mass anymore but it happened to me some months ago to re-start going to church at 10:30,Sunday on cemetery´s chapel near Gramado.For this past 4 months I did the same with my kids and that made my sunday better somehow….Don´t think I am a better person now;I just fell good singing and praying….(purgatory, one more time?)

  6. Maria: I was waiting for you to chime in. Didn’t your mother drag you into the church? Really, the best part was that subconsciously, of course, you knew it was my birthday and you were in St. Catherine’s and bought me something that gave me an epiphany! Your card is in the mail.

  7. Susan O'Leary

    I am also chiming in a little late. I intially also thought that you were Catholic. I do not know if it was the name or the DRIVING AROUND WITH THE VIRGIN MARY STICKER ON YOUR CAR!!!! That is usually a tip off! It always gave me a chuckle and being Catholic myself I love that you were into all the religious symbols. I also enjoyed seeing the Pope. He did seem to radiate. I am not over the top Catholic, but he definitely made an impression on me.

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