Saturday, December 18, 2010

Catholicism: Obligations, Penance, Fasting; and Cartoons

It's the Advent season: the fourth Sunday of which is tomorrow. That's not what this post is about.

#1 daughter and her kitten; #2 daughter and her husband and dog; and one of my nieces and her husband, no livestock, are two rooms over at the moment. It's overflow, sort of, from a family get-together at my father-in-law's.

I'd have been there, but I'm running a fever - and it didn't seem like a good idea. I'm not all that sick - but I'm not well, either. Going to Mass tomorrow is something I'll think about - tomorrow morning.

Obligations, Gambling, Excess, and being Catholic

What?! Don't Catholics have to go to Mass every Sunday, come Hell or high water? Yes, and no. I've discussed this before. (October 9, 2010, January 3, 2010, August 16, 2009) Bottom line, as nearly as I can tell, is that we're supposed to go to Mass every Sunday. But we're also obligated to keep ourselves healthy. As I've said before, we're called to holiness, not stupidity. (May 19, 2010)

I had something I was going to write about. What was it?

Remember what I said, about wading through syrup?

In a way, I can sort of see why some folks in America think that Catholics aren't Christians - and that the Catholic Church is some kind of plot.

I mean, look at what we do!


Once a year, I'm calling numbers for folks playing Bingo, at the Stearns County Fair. It's a major fundraiser for the local Knights of Columbus council.

Bingo! That's gambling! I don't know how many folks today are convinced that gambling is the work of the Devil - but there were a noticeable number when I was growing up.

Gambling - Bingo included - can be part of a problem. What it says in the Catechism is that gambling is "morally unacceptable" when it starts cutting into our ability to care for our needs, and those of others. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413)

Why can't they make it simple, and forbid everything and anything that anybody might have trouble handling? That's another topic.


As if allowing Bingo wasn't bad enough, the Catholic Church doesn't even say that cough medicine is evil because it contains alcohol. Imagine!

That doesn't mean that we're allowed to get drunk any time we like.

Again: it isn't the booze, or the food, or tobacco, or the medicine that's the problem. It's what we do with it.
"The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2290)
Aha! Now I remember what I wanted to write about!

Cartoons? A Priest Drawing Cartoons?!

Maybe you've heard this quote:
"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
H. L. Mencken, The Quotations Page
Catholics aren't Puritans.

The Catholic Church isn't one of those 'feel-good' religions, either. All that fasting, penitence, and the whole Lent thing? I could make being a Catholic look like a dreary succession of grim duties.

That's not gonna happen. Not in this post, anyway.

Some time I'm going to get back to the idea of fun, and why I think it's so hard to think of "fun" as being "spiritual" or "religious" for so many folks - at least in my experience.

Today, though, I'm going to take a look at a a priest who's also a cartoonist.
"Father Dominick Fullam was drawn to cartooning at an early age but a higher calling erased any aspirations he ever had of becoming a full-time cartoonist....

"...'I was at the airport in Atlanta drawing a cartoon character on an iPad, and a lady seated next to me asked if I drew cartoons for a living. I laughed and said I was just passing time, but that I used to do a not-so-great cartoon in my high school newspaper,' he said.

" 'She told me what I'd done looked really good to her. A seed was planted.'

"That seed has since developed into a new comic strip titled 'Off by a Mile.'..."
Off by a Mile is online, at The website is new - the domain was registered on November 27, 2010. The cartoons are one-panel, and may not be the next Family Circus. But, who knows? I've been wrong before.

Is the Catholic Church okay with cartoons? Good question: but my guess is, "yes." For one thing there's this excerpt from a section on popular piety, in the Catechism:
"...At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people ... creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature and understand work, provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life...."
(Catechism, 1676)
In context, it looks like humor, like joy, is being shown as a good thing. Remember, though: I speak with the full authority of some guy with a blog. If you're interested, I recommend reading that section of Catechism yourself.

Not-completely-unrelated posts:
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Brigid said...

Well, we're supposed to use our talents. I would think cartooning would count.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Agreed, in principle. Particularly, in this case since cartooning isn't one of the relatively few actions/occupations that are intrinsically disordered.

Which isn't to say that specific cartoons can't be a problem.

Hey, we're human! It's that 'sparks' thing from Job 5.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.