40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #35 Fish Fries

Leave it to us Catholics to turn a penance into (1) a fund-raiser and (2) a competition.

When the Church said we couldn’t eat meat on Friday the parish fish fry was born.  When it was decided that we only had to abstain on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays of Lent, we turned it into an art form.  For a lot of parishes, the annual fish fry season (aka Lent) became a major fund raiser.  After all, why shouldn’t we invite our neighbors, Catholic and nonCatholic alike, to join us in our annual penance and make a few bucks at the same time.  Running a Catholic church, especially one with a school ain’t cheap.  We need all the help we can get.

Since Lent is only six weeks long, the competition between parishes to lay claim to the title of “best” is fierce in some areas.  Some claim to have the best fish.  Some claim to have the best side dishes.  Some claim to have the best home-made deserts.  Then there’s the ambiance.  There’s live music. There are themed fish fries.  At least one local parish has a “Mexican Fish Fry.”  (It’s very good, by the way.)

A lot of people, my wife and I among them, spend the Fridays in Lent traveling to a different parish every week.  We have some favorites that we never miss but we also like to try at least a couple of new ones each year.  Local media run competitions, scoring free fish in the process.  Besides being a good way to raise funds (even though a good fish fry is a tremendous amount of work) it’s also very ecumenical.  Some folks who normally wouldn’t be caught within a hundred yards of a Catholic church have no problem enjoying a great plate of fried fish, french fries and cole slaw.  Who knows when one of them might decide to convert.  Hey, it could happen.

By the way, there’s nothing that says fish fries have to be Catholic.  VFW posts, Lion’s Clubs, Moose Lodges, and others can, and do, have great fish, some of them every Friday of the year.  But when it comes to the total package, there’s nothing quite like a good ol’ Catholic fish fry.

I won’t say where (mostly because I haven’t cleared it with my lovely wife yet), but we will be chowing down on some Catholic fish somewhere before this day is over.

Don’t forget, Peter, the first Pope, and several of the other Apostles were fisherman.

Catholic fish fries are definitely cool.

By the way, fish fries aren’t the only Catholic fund-raiser.  We’re also known for Bingo, trivia nights, mouse races, silent auctions, and a lot of other stuff.  None of these things are exclusively Catholic, but we do them and we do them well.  I think if you did a word-association test with random people on a street corner and you said the word Catholic, you’d get an awful lot of “fish fry” and “Bingo” responses.

Like I said earlier, most parishes, especially ones with schools, rely on fund raisers to survive.  Besides, it’s a lot of fun to get together with your fellow parishioners to put on a successful event.

OK, if you’re not a baseball fan this story may not mean much to you.  It was Game 3 of the National League Division Series when a squirrel came from out of nowhere, ran across home plate, and disappeared into the stands.  This shouldn’t be a big surprise.  Baseball is played outdoors (or, at least it should be) and outdoors is where you find squirrels.  This particular furry critter’s timing may have been exceptional, but a squirrel is a squirrel is a squirrel.  We have some very bright (in squirrel terms) squirrels at my church.  These guys come to the door of the rectory and beg for nuts.

Here’s the thing.  Saint Louis baseball fans have gone crazy over “Rally Squirrel”.  You’d be hard pressed to find a stuffed squirrel within a hundred miles of Saint Louis.  There are “Rally Squirrel” shirts and hats everywhere.  At last night’s game there was someone in a giant squirrel head wearing a
Cardinal uniform with “Rally Squirrel” across the back.  It’s a real phenomenon.  Major League Baseball has even edited their “Legends are born in October” ad campaign to include our furry friend.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A lot of the RS swag is being sold by charities as a way to raise money.  Some purists might argue that the game’s the thing.  Isn’t October baseball exciting enough without stuffed squirrels.  And, how does Fredbird feel about all this?  There are good arguments on both sides.

But I can’t help wondering, what if Jesus showed up at Bush Stadium?  Would he generate the same enthusiasm as a furry rodent with good PR?  After all, He did show up on earth once and got crucified.  Don’t think I’m comparing the Son of God to a squirrel, I’m not.  What I’m comparing is human reactions.  As Catholics we believe that Jesus shows up at every mass.  That’s not an act of a beast with a brain the size of my thumb.  It’s the work of God.  Would that most of us could work up even a tenth of the enthusiasm for the appearance of the Word made Flesh.

I’m just sayin’….  Where are the Jesus T-Shirts?  Where are the Jesus hats?  Doesn’t the Lord deserve more attention than a squirrel at a ball game?  Don’t forget, in 1999, the Pope, Jesus right-hand-man on earth helped the Rams win the Super Bowl.  Now THAT was a miracle.

Rally Squirrel

OK, if you’re not a baseball fan this story may not mean much to you.  It was Game 3 of the National League Division Series when a squirrel came from out of nowhere, ran across home plate, and disappeared into the stands.  This shouldn’t be a big surprise.  Baseball is played outdoors (or, at least it should be) and outdoors is where you find squirrels.  This particular furry critter’s timing may have been exceptional, but a squirrel is a squirrel is a squirrel.  We have some very bright (in squirrel terms) at my church.  These guys come to the door of the rectory and beg for nuts.

Here’s the thing.  Saint Louis baseball fans have gone crazy over “Rally Squirrel”.  You’d be hard pressed to find a stuffed squirrel within a hundred miles of Saint Louis.  There are “Rally Squirrel” shirts and hats everywhere.  At last night’s game there was someone in a giant squirrel head wearing a
Cardinal uniform with “Rally Squirrel” across the back.  It’s a real phenomenon.  Major League Baseball has even edited their “Legends are born in October” ad campaign to include our furry friend.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A lot of the RS swag is being sold by charities as a way to raise money.  Some purists might argue that the game’s the thing.  Isn’t October baseball exciting enough without stuffed squirrels.  And, how does Fredbird feel about all this?  There are good arguments on both sides.

But I can’t help wondering, what if Jesus showed up at Bush Stadium?  Would he generate the same enthusiasm as a furry rodent with good PR?  After all, He did show up on earth once and got crucified.  Don’t think I’m comparing the Son of God to a squirrel, I’m not.  What I’m comparing is human reactions.  As Catholics we believe that Jesus shows up at every mass.  That’s not an act of a beast with a brain the size of my thumb.  It’s the work of God.  Would that most of us could work up even a tenth of the enthusiasm for the appearance of the Word made Flesh.

I’m just sayin’….  Where are the Jesus T-Shirts?  Where are the Jesus hats?  Doesn’t the Lord deserve more attention than a squirrel at a ball game?  Don’t forget, in 1999, the Pope, Jesus right-hand-man on earth helped the Rams win the Super Bowl.  Now THAT was a miracle.

Death by Recliner?

I don’t want to cause a panic or anything, but I believe that recliner chairs are a major cause of death in the United States.  I have no statistical proof (more on that later) but anecdotal evidence has led me to this conclusion.  A little over a year ago my mother-in-law passed away.  We found her in her recliner, holding her rosary.

Just last week my wife ran into a friend from the same town in Illinois where her mother had lived.  This lady’s father recently passed away (you guessed it) in his recliner chair.  This got me thinking.  Some years ago a friend suffered the same fate.  La-Z-Boys may be hazardous to your health!

Before I’m accused of spreading panic, I’m going to go to the US Government and request a grant of $3 million to study this phenomenon.  Why $3 million?  I’m afraid if I ask for less they won’t take me seriously and if I ask for more they might turn me down as half of our elected employees in Washington are trying to reduce government spending.  But This amount of money is chump change in Washington.  Besides, I want to stay under the recliner chair lobby’s radar.  $3 million seems like the perfect amount.

Like I said, I think my research is going to lead to the discovery that these so-called pieces of furniture are actually death traps that should be outlawed, or at least should be required to come with seat belts and front and side air bags.  This may add a couple of hundred dollars to the cost of a Barcalounger, but isn’t safety our highest priority?

[Note that this piece is filed under the category “humor”.  Please, no angry emails.]