Sunday, June 6, 2010

Partying: Catholic style

A new free magazine aimed at Catholic singles, Tobias, recently began distribution. As a single person who frequently feels invisible at family-centered Masses, I jumped on the opportunity to subscribe to a free magazine that focused on people like me. Some articles are uber-Catholic (i.e. an article that basically said the best sex is sex within marriage), but others have insight that is useful to all single Catholics, traditional and non-traditional.

One article this month, I suppose, was based on the assumption/stereotype that singles love to partay. It was called something like, "Catholics throw the best parties," and said how "Catholic" it is to throw big celebrations. Also, it mentioned that the Catholic church has built in days of celebration throughout the liturgical year and to have a boring party is to be very un-Catholic.

Although the author made some good points, one might argue that it was trying too hard to appeal to singles and perhaps missed the mark on what Catholic singles, particularly the ones who would read Tobias, actually care about. I don't know if the drunken, party-hard Catholics (or former Catholics) would pick up that magazine.

One point in that article I took issue with was when the author said weddings are supposed to be big. He used the wedding at Cana as an example. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine. According to the authour, Jesus' first miracle was about keeping the party going and celebrating. Firstly, I question if Jesus' intent really was to keep everyone partying and drunk or if turning water into wine had more to do with the Eucharist and the sacrifice he would be making later. Also, the author used the example of a "typical Southern Baptist" wedding as being un-Christian. According to him, in Southern Baptist weddings, the ceremony lasts only 20 minutes and then everyone goes to the church hall to have non-alcoholic beverages. The author felt that was totally "yawn." OK, that wasn't the author's wording, but that was the connotation.

I never went to a Southern Baptist wedding, but actually, that wedding description sounded way more Christian than some of the other weddings, Catholic or not, that people throw. The wedding at Cana might have been a big deal where everyone in Cana came, sure (I mean, what else was there to do?). But that was 33 A.D. There was no multi-million (perhaps multi-billion) dollar wedding industry telling brides they need to spend tens of thousands of dollars for their wedding to be special, to be perfect. Brides didn't have to go multiple times to the bridal shop to have their wedding dress fitted. Banquet halls and DJs didn't have to be rented. Brides in 33 A.D. didn't spend hours agonizing over what color the centerpieces on their table should be, how high heels to wear, what year of wine to serve. Today, couples get so wrapped up in all that pomp and circumstance of weddings that the actual sacrament gets forgotten, not to mention corporations eating up a couple's hard-earned money.

I agree that some Christians need to learn to "party more." However, first and foremost, a wedding is about a couple coming together in God's name, asking the community to bless their union. Many couples today are opting for smaller, cheaper, more intimate affairs (heavily influenced by today's economy), trying to spend under $10,000 on their wedding. That already sounds like too much to me, but anyway. We are supposed to celebrate seasons of the Church and seasons of our lives, but not at the expense of the original message, the original intent of the celebration.

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