Day 351 – “Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.” ― Garrison Keillor

*Warning*Warning*Warning*

If you are easily offended by a brief discussion on religion, please don’t read this – I’m about to get on my soap box for just a minute*

When traveling you see all kinds of things, there are crosses on hills, statues of Madonna, billboards claiming they’ve found the way to salvation.  The latest are the billboards trying to get people to church, things like “Church Caffeinated” – stuff like that I find to be pretty harmless, however, there are a couple of things I find to be irreverent and offensive.  My number one complaint is people who choose to make money on God, church or their form of it.  Near Amarillo there is a truck stop called the “Jesus is LordTravelCenter.”  Its very existence bugs me.  This to me is akin to the tele-evangelists who prey on people who have so little to begin with so they can build opulent monuments to suit their own lifestyles.  The Jesus is Lord Travel Center is preachy at best, as you enter the building you are greeted with a sign that says, “This establishment honors Jesus Christ, please act accordingly” and then as you get in the door, there is a mailbox marked Jesus with a sign that says “your prayers sent to directly to heaven.”  Who is presumptuous enough to claim something like that? The items for sale are all of a religious nature, that seems ok, you see that all over, but the sweatshirts they have were a little over the top for me. So you don’t think they are alone in this bright spot in the Bible belt, let’s not forget the Top of Texas Catholic SuperStore not far down the road.  So I guess my complaint is this, preach if you want to, believe as is right for you, but let’s not profit from it.

Personally, I’m Catholic, or as my mom described it to me, Catholic-Lite; I’m not sure the Pope or any of the hierarchy would recognize Catholic-Lite, but it’s who I am.  Our Lite program could best be described as this, if you aren’t committing an infraction to the Big 10 Thou Shalt Not’s – you are probably okay to receive communion.  Catholicism is steeped in tradition and ceremony, none of which I know very well.  I do know that I can go to any Catholic church in the US and expect the same thing, I like that, you know when to stand up and sit down, you know the words to recite, it’s actually very comforting.  When my life is difficult, I find myself back in church.

When I got divorced a number of years ago, I was back in the pew, sitting between my dad and Clara most days, it provided a great comfort to me.  The priest at St. Bernard’s then was awesome. He is a very educated man, speaks many languages and seemed to enjoy himself.  Dad and I often counted the languages spoken during a single homily, the record was seven.

Father John believed everyone in the parish needed a job in the church, too few did too many things, so he was recruiting to fill positions.  After he and I talked for a bit, he gave me a job, I became the Beer Girl.  Now I know not all parishes have a beer girl, but I was pretty proud to have that honor, you see, my job was to obtain the beer keg for any functions that we had at church.  Mostly fundraisers for various programs, dinners that we invited the community, things like that.  It was a job I could handle, and moreover, it was fun to tell people.  Thanks Father John, those were my best years in church.

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