Monday, June 07, 2010

From Rope Gives Carmelites

"From Rope Gives Carmelites." The speaker is a guide at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. My Polish-English dictionary translates: "look at this lovely braided cord, designed to go around the head of the portrait of the Madonna. It was a gift of the Carmelites." And I genuinely admire, not to say envy, the improvisational skill and raw nerve of a man who can just barrel his way through in a strange language, even more when (as this guy did) he actually makes himself understood. He was a priest; I think Pauline, I think he said his name is Carl. He was late because he had to catch the TV showing of the great beatification ceremony in Warsaw. He is a man of strong opinions:
Please (or "Pliz"). Is not black, madonna. Is a lie from Nazis. Look at this picture. Is from eastermediterranean, olive in color, is natural. Nazis call her schwartzemadonna to make her little, but is not black. Is like some people say "you look Russiasn, but no I am not Russisan, I am Pole. Black madonna in Germany, in Croatia, not here. *
Also a bit of a joker:
Why you wear sunglassses? In Poland we worship the sun. I get good weather from you. I call Jerusalem, from here is local call.
Also a man of faith:
You are Mormon? I go to Salt Lake City, they don't let me go to temple, I say why not, you come to my place I let you stand near Madonna, not afraid. The Mormons, they find your ancestors, on Sunday morning they baptize 20 times. But they not believing in Godinthreepersons, 20 times not valid, what a waste.
And efficient:
This is end of five star tour. Now I have mass, we have joke, priest never late for mass. Priest not there, you can read the lesson but not mass.
But in the end, a man of faith who blesses the souvenirs:
In the name of thefathertheson and holyspiritaman. Canon law, cannot sell, only give away, canon law.
But a man of compassion:
Holy water, don't need very much, we boil the hell out of it. Is a joke.

*For an unexpectedly good discussion, go here.

Addendum: I should have offered a thought about the experience as a whole. Suffice to say this was the most Catholic crowd I've seen since Claremont New Hampshire in 1955. Not all Polish either; in a queue I chatted with a lady here on pilgrimage from England. One woman holding on her lap an obviously impaired child almost as big as she was. Humble folks, but not nearly as shabby as Wal-Mart: no exposed butts and nowhere near as much flab. Lots more tobacco, though. Is no joke.

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