7 Quick Takes – Volume 7 (Scenes from an Italian Restaurant)

— 1 —

I decided to give up alcohol for Lent…which lasted for slightly over two days. I swear I’m not an alcoholic!

K and I had our delayed Valentines’ date last Friday. We went to a well known local Italian restaurant. (Who would have thought you could find good Italian food in small-town South Carolina?) Since we were looking at a half-hour wait, they suggested that we could get a drink at the bar. Completely forgetting what I had given up for Lent, I decided to have a beer while I passed the time.


But after paying $5.00 for what I am pretty sure is the Italian version of Budweiser, I’m pretty sure that still counts as a penance.

— 2 —

Which makes me wonder if I should be giving up alcohol for Lent anyway. I don’t miss it all that much, and I do find a beer or glass of wine makes an evening out go a lot smoother. Has anyone given up giving up something for Lent when it just doesn’t have any spiritual benefits or otherwise seems pointless?

Anyone have an experience with un-giving up something for Lent?

— 3 —

But if I give up giving up alcohol, I have to pick something up. I am thinking about going to Daily Mass once a week. I went on Ash Wednesday (who didn’t?) and I was also able to go yesterday.

The best times for me to go are on Wednesday at 8:30 AM at my daughters’ school OR at Thursday 5:15 PM at my home parish.

Either way, Daily Mass is a different experience than Sunday Mass. School masses are unique on their own. The students sit with their classes, except that the kindergartners sit with the fifth graders. The older students are role models to teach the little ones how to behave. It is this sense of community and service that is the biggest difference between Catholic school and public school.

Non-student masses, like at my home parish, have their own unique character. Daily Mass is in the old chapel, with it’s pre-Vatican II art and architecture. It has all the old “Catholic” stuff: Statues, stained glass, and iconographic stations of the cross on the walls. Sunday mass is in the utilitarian modernist Church building which has absolutely no redeeming aesthetic or spiritual value.

The Catholic Church once made her priests take an Oath Against Modernism. It is a shame she did not require the same from her architects.

By Let Ideas Compete. Some rights reserved.

The old chapel (1935). The new church (1979) is in the background on the left.

But what stands out the most about Daily Mass is that because it’s not an obligation, it has a very different feel than the “here comes everybody” that is Sunday worship. People are there because they want to be there (with the possible exception of some of the students). It’s not just the devout either: I’ve seen non-Catholics, “bad” Catholics (including myself), and people in all stages of their spiritual journey. Everyone is seeking something and, daily mass isn’t a bad place for seekers.

— 4 —

When we went out on our date at the Italian restaurant, I noticed that many of the patrons were enjoying the seafood specials or the many delicious meatless pasta dishes.

Which makes me wonder: Is this defeating the purpose of Lent? By eating better than we normally were if we were not supposed to be in a penitential season?

Or is this completely within the the spirit of Lent? That we make the best of what we have instead of bemoaning what is not available?

Put another way, is learning to appreciate what we have and making the most of it consistent with the sacrificial spirit of the season? I think so. Making the best of what’s around is how we avoid “fasting like the hypocrites”.

— 5 —

I got into a recent conflict online about Catholic homeschooling.

Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling can be a great option for some families. It can be the best option for some families. But I don’t see it as a substitute for good Catholic schools.

I recognize that many homeschooling parents want to be able to send their children to Catholic school, but have legitimate concerns about quality and especially cost. I understand, and I agree completely. I believe those responsible for the decline, especially the clergy, will have to account to God for what they have done with the Catholic school system. But I see “Catholic homeschooling” as a symptom of the problem—a reaction to what is wrong with the Catholic school system—rather than a true solution. To rebuild the Catholic Church will require rebuilding our Catholic schools.

— 6 —

On my twitter feed, I have noticed several people passing the hashtag #sellingsickness.


Basically, the United States health care system is a for-profit, fee for service model. Which means that there is a conflict of interest in the system between selling you healthcare and getting you well.

While I do understand the value of modern medicine, I am also aware of its limits. The body is a system, which means that if you take medicine to change the functioning of one system, you may be changing far more than you intended.

Personally, I have found that many kinds of medicine make me feel worse than the illness. Eating well, exercising, and living a psychologically healthy lifestyle will do far more for your health than taking the latest pill.

— 7 —

While most people are interested in who will be the next pope, I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the name he will choose.

My money is on Pope Paul VII. I don’t think we will see a Benedict XVII and it’s still a bit soon for a John Paul III. John XXIV is a long shot. Leo XIV is a good dark horse candidate. Of course, a Pius XIII would be sending a very strong message about the direction of the Church, which is why I doubt we will see one.

On that note, Pat Archibold at National Catholic Register has a bit of advice for the future Holy Father for a few names to avoid.


I don’t know, maybe a Pope Lando or a Pope Luke is just what the Church needs…

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


6 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes – Volume 7 (Scenes from an Italian Restaurant)

  1. Re: giving something up or not…uhhh, go see what I did. Or didn’t do.

    3. That church is so cute!!! It actually looks Episcopal, but perhaps it’s just the red door?

    4. I’ve had similar thoughts re: Lent and abstaining from meat. “BUT LOBSTER IS OK!!!!” Right.

    5. Yes. It’s just like people who say “there are so many problems with the Catholic Church today, so that’s why I don’t go to Mass anymore.” Looking at you, Mom and Dad. They left because of the sex scandals. Sigh.

    7. Lando would be pretty freaking awesome.

    • 5. Never thought about it that way, but that’s a good point.

      The homeschooling movement started in the evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant world and I see some of these same attitudes in the Catholic homeschooling movement. Let’s just say some people are so Catholic that they’ve become Protestant.

      7. I’m a bit partial to Pope Luke: A New Hope for the Church.

      But either way, the next Pope couldn’t go wrong by taking the name of someone who blew up a friggin’ Death Star.

  2. Depending on your location, Catholic School might not be an option so Catholic Homeschool becomes an option. On the flip side, you could send your child to at Catholic school that has more non Catholics than Catholics at in some locations.

    • Yes, sometimes homeschooling is the best option.

      As for the Catholic school having more non-Catholics, that’s not going to change if Catholics stay away.

      That being said, there is a difference between Parochial schools and private Catholic schools. The former is run by the diocese for Catholics in the diocese, the latter is just like any other private school.

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