Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fasting, Penance, and the 'Fun' Miracle: Many Faces of Spirituality

You wouldn't know it, with all the fasting and penance and 40 days of Lent: but the Catholic Church isn't the sort of sour party pooper that H. L. Mencken said Puritans were. Good grief, my Lord's first miracle was when his mother had him get drinks for a wedding party.

Maybe you've read about it. The account's in John 2:1-10. There's 'deep spiritual meaning' involved, too: Which, for Catholics, in large part is that marriage is okay.
"On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign-at his mother's request-during a wedding feast.105 The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (1613)
"Efficacious," by the way, doesn't mean "anemic, washed-out and wimpy:" Conditions which some folks seem to associate with being really 'spiritual.' Here's a dictionary's definition:
  • Efficacious
    • ...(marked by qualities giving the power to produce an intended effect) "written propaganda is less efficacious than the habits and prejudices...of the readers"-Aldous Huxley; "the medicine is efficacious in stopping a cough"
    • ...(producing or capable of producing an intended result or having a striking effect) "an air-cooled motor was more effective than a witch's broomstick for rapid long-distance transportation"-LewisMumford; "effective teaching methods"; "effective steps toward peace"; "made an effective entrance"; "his complaint proved to be effectual in bringing action"; "an efficacious law"
I've discussed my take on notions about "being spiritual" in the English-speaking world before, and probably will again. Bottom line? I think spirituality is "efficacious." And doesn't have to be wimpy.

There are lots of ways people can be "spiritual." Or live "a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord," anyway. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2156) (February 14, 2010) Take these Saints, for example:
Briefly, there are lots of ways to be 'spiritual.' And men don't have to become Victorian-era women to be 'spiritual.'

A tip of the hat to Christomicro, on Twitter, for his post on the "fun miracle" at Cana.


Brigid said...

St. Lawrence of Rome: Something along the lines of "You can turn me over, I'm done on this side," wasn't it?

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


That's the one. I did a little checking, and the stories of St. Lawrence of Rome are largely oral tradition, and not always a good match with written records - but that 'I'm done' crack is one I'm inclined to give some credence to.

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