Busted Halo

In repentance for her usual neglect of churchgoing, sometime-Catholic Amanda Farah gives up swearing for Lent and explores the season’s meaning & traditions. (And follow her penalty box total.)

Click this banner to see the entire series.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
April 26th, 2011

cursingbegin-flashHappy Easter one and all. I’m back to work with the better half of a chocolate egg on my desk and my newly restored vocabulary. A few days later and I find I’m still thinking twice before I say certain words, but more often than not I’m letting myself slip and speak all those words I’d given up during the last six weeks.

I’ll take my small achievements where I can get them: For the first time I can remember, I made it through Lent without eating meat on a Friday. And it may have taken me four weeks to finally tame my language, but my average was still less than one obscenity every two days. I know for many people that would still qualify as pretty filthy, but is quite possibly a record for me.

While giving up swearing has been a yearly practice for me for the last several years, this year has been a bit different for me. The truth of the matter is, I think my weekly reflections about what Lent means to me ended up benefiting me a lot more than coming up with creative ways to express my anger at traffic or surprise when …

April 20th, 2011

holy-week-homestretch-flashWe’re into the homestretch now and there is something I find really fascinating about Holy Week. There is more drama in this one week leading up to Easter than in all the four weeks of Advent: Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the betrayal, a different kind of parade through the streets of Jerusalem, and His death.

It doesn’t have the same fanfare as Christmas, nor the same commercialism — a few chocolate bunnies is nothing compared to the months of lead up about what should be under the tree. At the same time, I feel it makes Easter more special that it doesn’t have an exclusively secular appeal. There will be TV specials about bunnies and egg hunts and discounted chocolates and marshmallow chicks, but never enough to detract from the true meaning of the day. There’s no War on Easter for anyone to complain about, and few decorations to offend non-celebrants. It’s still pretty much a holiday reserved for those who believe.

Nothing quite brings home the significance of the week more than the Easter Vigil. Three hours in church leading up to midnight, the Passion, lighting candles, reciting saints’ names, it’s pageantry unlike any …

April 14th, 2011

andyblog-flashThe longer Lent carries on, the more exposed I feel as a Catholic. I don’t mean this in a negative way, it’s simply that certain restrictions come in conversation more often. When the contents of a pot boiled over onto my recently cleaned stove the other night, my reaction was, “Oh bother,” — not my normal reaction (see my post about giving up bad language for Lent.) In a month, it will not likely be my reaction. My husband recognizes this. Anyone who knows me relatively well would recognize this. But for now, those are the sorts of Winnie-the-Pooh statements I’m making. Somehow, that is more notable than if some four-letter word escaped instead.

Aside from my concerted efforts to not swear or eat meat on Fridays (and I’ve been completely successful in the latter — it might be the first time ever,) I have mostly exposed my religion and myself because, like many 20-somethings in New York, I am overly inclined to discuss my work. Right now, Catholicism is not just my faith, it’s my work too.

It’s an interesting experiment for me. When I was in school, I took classes on religion, read the Bible several times from …

April 6th, 2011

nomeat-flashEvery year during Lent I try really hard not to eat meat on Fridays, and every year I usually fail at least once.  Sometimes it’s intentional, like when I’m trying not to offend someone who’s cooked for me, and sometimes, despite a post-it note stuck to my computer clearly reading NO MEAT, I just forget what day it is.  Last week, I bought a lot of fish for dinner and prepared many pies and pastas — all very enjoyable.  However, I timed things badly, and we finished all of the fish before Friday.  A mild inconvenience.

So, in my kitchen last Friday, trying to figure out what dinner should be, my husband shared my lament at having finished off the fish we should have saved for later in the week.  After flipping through a few cookbooks, we found a recipe for a mushroom-based dish and he went out to buy the necessary fungi.

My husband isn’t Catholic.  He isn’t religious at all, actually, but he probably still falls under the category of agnostic.  He doesn’t need to give up meat on Fridays during Lent, but he does anyway.  If he’s the one cooking dinner that night, he makes …

April 1st, 2011

losingmayorships-insideI spent last weekend in Philadelphia at a friend’s house, where a group of my old friends and I convened to catch up on each others’ lives. It was a very 21st century sort of gathering: eight of us live across four states, and the weekend was organized through a combination of text messaging, emails, and Facebook. Somehow, despite confusion of train times and places, we all arrived at my friend’s apartment with enough spare blankets and more than enough food to go around.

The subject of Lent came up when, after a friendly reminder that it was Saturday, there was a sigh of relief that we could all eat chicken and pasta with prosciutto. A few of us in the group are Catholic, to varying degrees, and everyone tries to be adaptable.

Only one friend besides myself had made a Lenten sacrifice; she gave up using FourSquare for the forty days. For those who don’t know, FourSquare is a social media tool that has people “check-in” at different locations, usually restaurants and stores, on their smartphones. In addition to telling the world where you are, it also tells you who else is at the location at the same time …

March 26th, 2011

apology-flashAs a sometime Catholic, I often find myself apologizing. Primarily, I find myself apologizing to those more devout than myself for my negligence. This comes up most often having dinner at my parents’ house with the priests from their parish, who ask the perfectly innocent questions of why they haven’t seen me in a while or where I go to church in my neighborhood.

The other side of the coin is having to apologize for having religious convictions at all. As someone in my twenties living in an urban area and in a so-called creative profession, it’s generally assumed by my acquaintances and associates that I am either an atheist or subscribe to some kind of a New Age-y religion (possibly with the intention of annoying my more conventional parents).

I get a lot of surprised reactions when it comes out that I am Catholic, and I often have to run damage control; this ranges from assuring whomever I’m talking to that he or she hasn’t offended me with an off-handed comment, or telling someone else that my social philosophies aren’t that different than his or hers despite my faith.

I feel worse at these times about apologizing for my …

March 17th, 2011

laoflw-stpatrick-insideSt. Patrick’s Day has never been a holiday I paid much attention to. I don’t have any Irish heritage. I don’t like green beer. I’m not the biggest fan of corned beef, and am really not a fan of cabbage. I don’t really like parades either. It’s a bit lost on me. And, despite having lived in New York for most of my adult life, it never occurred to me to go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on St. Patrick’s Day. So today I ventured into midtown to do just that.

It was a little bit ironic that during Mass I could hear the drums and bagpipes from the parade marching down 5th Avenue, and that in order to even get into the church I had to wade through rowdy groups of people looking for a party in the afternoon who chose the Cathedral as a meeting point. I have to imagine this is one of the busier days of the year for St. Patrick’s, but it was still a very personal experience, even with crowds of tourists roaming through the Cathedral, looking on in wonder during Mass.

I do have a soft spot for Ireland and Irish culture, even …

March 14th, 2011

post1-flash-40I consider myself a part-time Catholic. My faith is solid, I observe every Church holiday, but I’m not so good about getting to church every single week. My parents are involved in their church, and I always come over when they’re having the priests for dinner. These same priests were present at my wedding to my agnostic husband.

Catholicism is part of who I am, even if it isn’t woven into the daily fabric of my life. Every year Lent is my chance to make up for my inattentiveness the rest of the year. I get my ashes every Ash Wednesday, I don’t eat meat on Fridays, and I always give something up for the 40 or so days.

If I have a bad habit (aside from the short attention span that often keeps me out of church), it’s definitely swearing. Despite my best efforts to control it, I am ultimately a product of my environment: My mother taught me to speak my mind, and my father taught me the vocabulary. Though I do my best to keep it in check in business meetings and around my elderly relatives, when left to my own devices it sounds like a very …

powered by the Paulists