From the Pastor: My (Hateful?) New Year’s Resolutions
Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I, the pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord parish, wish to make public my New Year’s Resolutions, with the hope that I will be able to better keep them if the whole parish knows what they are. Unfortunately, even Church bulletins are often scrutinized for content in such a way that I had to “clean up” my resolutions so as to fit in with the norms of society and not get into hot water.
My first resolution was to lose weight. Notice that I said “was” instead of “is”. It seems that the mere typing of such four-letter words as “diet” or “fast” is considered to be body shaming. I didn’t know how evil “body shaming” is seen to be until it was explained to me by the Inquisitors. Indicating that a person, even if that person is myself, might be too heavy implies—no, rather, SHOUTS—that everyone who is that weight has something wrong with them. I was told that saying that I am going to lose weight is not only a form of self-abuse stemming from a low self-esteem but also shows that I despise and belittle others who weigh what I do. By stating that I want or need to lose weight I am, evidently, not pleased with just being me. I don’t accept myself as I am. I think I need fixing. I should be able to look into the mirror or at the bathroom scale and say to myself in a very affirming voice, “I am perfect. I am the exact right weight. I accept myself as I am.” Then I should expect everyone else to see me in that light as well. Should someone, say my doctor, tell me that I need to lose weight, I am fully entitled to pout and cry because he hurt my feelings (I use the masculine pronoun here because obviously a female or other-gendered doctor would never say something so despicable) and call 1-800-snowflake to get a lawyer who will get rich (ahem, I mean, fight for justice) putting Doctor Meanie out of business. Furthermore, if I fail to affirm my own exact amount of body fat and instead say that I am going to lose weight, then everyone who weighs the same or more than me can then accuse me of causing them to feel ashamed of their own body and hire that same lawyer to sue the cassock off of me (err... kindly correct me through the justice system). And once a lawyer brings a suit against a priest he also goes for the deep pockets of the diocese, the USCCB and the Vatican. Therefore, lawyers from multiple Church sources “asked” that I not write such a thoughtless or perhaps intentionally heartless resolution. Therefore, my first New Year’s Resolution became, in its second iteration, the resolution to remain exactly the weight that I am right now.
Wouldn’t you know it? That resolution caused an uproar as well. Legal letters came quickly, pointing out that by stating that I would retain my exact weight I was, in a roundabout way, insulting everyone who is not currently the same weight as I am. If my weight is said, by me, to be the weight which I wish to keep, then I am making the not so subtle derogatory statement that every other weight is less than perfect. I would wind up shaming both those who weigh more than me and also those who weigh less than me. Egads! I would be, in effect, condemning them for either their obesity or scrawniness. How cruel of me.
But the lawyers didn’t stop there. Once legal pit bulls gets ahold of something they won’t let go. So they started looking at everything I was writing in my Resolutions article and started seeing lawsuits waiting to happen in every angst-producing word. I was quickly told not to start with “Here today, on the Feast of the Epiphany” because, while the Feast happens this year to fall on the same day on both the Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin liturgical calendars, anyone realizing that in future years they might be attending a non-January 6 Epiphany Mass on the Sunday to which it was transferred might just get their feelings hurt as they assume that even now I am condemning them for not celebrating on the correct date. And if I assure them that, since it was our US Bishops who made that brilliant change I would certainly NOT be condemning the Catholic in the pew, then I would be destroying all of our ecumenical efforts to placate the Orthodox, for they never made what I just called a “brilliant” change, thus implying their dopiness in remaining traditional, should they not catch the sarcasm. (Interestingly, nobody cared if I insulted actual Catholics who follow the traditional date for Epiphany.) Then the lawyers jumped on my use of the word “pastor” because everyone knows that it means “shepherd” and so I was said to be doubly insulting the people by 1) calling them sheep and, 2) as shepherds are almost always pictured as males, implicitly excluding women priestettes from ministry. Needing to be erased next was the word “parish” for evidently Vatican II mandated a change to the word “community” because it sounds so much more soft and huggly. When the lawyers insisted that the not very politically correct “...of Our Lord” words modifying “Epiphany” had to go, I decided to just give up. That’s probably shaming those who persevere, though...
With prayers (or happy thoughts) for your holiness (or self-contentedness),
Rev. Fr. (Revoltingly Fearful) Edwin Palka