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Was your nickname in college Rachel Moore-bid, or were you normal?

Inaugural November reflections on All Souls, the dark sense of humor in God's Divine Comedy, and Lucille Bluth in the bulletin

All Souls Day: that time of year when, as a Catholic, you get to tell that special someone, "memento mori."

Variations of my "Memento Mori" linocut print on newsprint. 2021.

My dad attends daily mass at St. Patrick's in New Orleans. Earlier today he flex-texted me: "Black vestments and ad orientem at St. Pat's today." I'm expecting my spiritual director will probably post a hastily-taken mirror selfie of himself wearing one of these beauties:

Hastily copied-and-pasted black vestments with skulls; "'tis-not-alone-my-inky cloak" vibes
"'tis-not-alone-my-inky cloak" vibes

Catholic melancholics everywhere are having a field day. Because you know what? These vestments are creepy. And you know why? Because Catholics are creepy. We just are. Even the cutest of us are creepy. y'all remember this absolutely messed up part of St. Therese's Story of a Soul?

"Throughout the whole of my life God has been pleased to surround me with love. My first memories are of smiles and loving caresses. He placed me in the midst of great love and He also put a similar love in my little heart and made it sensitive and affectionate. So I loved Daddy and Mummy very much and, as I was very openhearted, I showed my love in a thousand ways. Some of them were rather queer, as you can see from this extract from one of Mummy's letters: "Baby is a unique little imp. She has just been hugging me and wishing me dead! 'Oh, how I wish, darling Mummy, that you would die!' I scolded her. She said: 'It's so that you can go to heaven, for you say that one has to die to go there.' When she is overcome by love for her father, she wishes he were dead too. The little darling never wants to leave me. She always keeps near me and loves to go into the garden, but if I'm not there she won't stay and cries so much that she has to be brought to me."

How can you sleep at night knowing the Little Flower is...watching you...waiting...ready to shower you with roses?

Wants you dead, but like in a cute way

And how can you fall asleep to the Hallow app at night knowing that we are many parts, we are all one body? I'm talking about this interior design, people!

"All are Welcome" plays softly in the background here at the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

So this right here is a picture of one of the chapels from the The Capuchin Crypt, (link provided if ye dare check it out). Just when you think Franciscans are nothing but barefoot hippies frolicking around with cartoon woodland creatures a la' Snow White--BAM! They decorate a chapel wall with human bones! The inscription below the three skeletons who are supposedly the Barbereni children reads: "What you are now, we used to be. What we are now, you will be." Talk about pre-conciliar Church architecture!

(Still not as creepy as the clown faces you see in post-conciliar Church architecture, though).

You can't un-see that kind of chapel. When I can't un-see something, I have to create something about it. So here's a linoleum block print I carved of one of the friars featured in the Crypt. He holds a sythe and a scale and hangs on the ceiling, gazing down at the faithful as they gaze up at him. It's an awkward encounter, so if when you find yourself there, just go with it.

Anyway, the friars and Baby Therese have the same message here. Through His radiantly dark sense of humor, God invites us into another one of His mysteries. All this memento mori business has a consolation to it. The dead want what's good for you, even when what's good for you harrows you with fear and wonder. The dead are remembering you and praying for you, and we are called to remember them and pray for them, too.

Image of Purgatory taken from this article from the St. Paul Center. I appreciate how the licks of the flames here look like the bright and trembling autumn leaves of November.

One of the blessings of working for a Church parish is that you get to witness how the faithful measure their lives through participating in the sacraments--you see baptisms, weddings, and many, many funerals.

I type the parish bulletin, so I'm always thinking of dead people. That came out wrong.

I mean that documenting the rhythm of parish's life means recording the mass intentions. It means trying not to misspell the litany of folks who've gone before us. There are saints listed in the bulletin, and there are also people who really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really need our prayers. God's been waiting a long time for all of them.

Here's an example of what that list looks like. (You may notice that my dad sent in a stipend for masses to be said for Jessica Walter, the actress who played Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. She passed March 24, 2021. He didn't do this to be funny. He did it because he genuinely loves this actress and continues to think of her every time he watches Arrested Development. And I think of her too. And I think of all these folks. I know they think of me).

To all y'all, I say, "memento mori!" Just do a lot of remembering, whatever that means. Go grab a skull or something. Speaking of skulls, here's some wisdom from Hamlet:

Not a whit, we defy augury. There's special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man knows augt of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes?

The readiness is all.

And no one asked for this, but here's my opportunity to fan-girl over Jessica Walter.

^My puppy Casey, who gave off so many Lucille vibes. It's only fitting we lost Casey the same year we lost Ms. Walter.

Theologically problematic cheesecake depicting my dead dog as an angel. Yet another lesson that we must not rely on cheesecake to catechize us. Please do not show this cheesecake to your RCIA classes.

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