Go ahead, set my teeth on edge


I'm tempted to hang it up on the wall, but out of love for the Holy Father, I won't. This certificate came in the mail a few days ago after I sent a few bucks to the Capuchin Friars in Pittsburgh. It was accompanied with a letter that said, "Please accept the enclosed Parchment Blessing and St. Anthony Novena booklet as our gifts to you."

That term "Parchment Blessing" seems to be a sloppy use of language, doesn't it? Obviously it's meant to refer to the bit of decorative -- well, at least, decorated memorabilia they sent me. I can see calling the thing a "blessing parchment", but not the other way around.

By the way, I don't mind a little religious kitsch here and there: it's part of popular piety and in that context, a good thing. I'm just disappointed at the seeming linguistic failure, as much as I'd be disappointed by a moral one.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been four weeks since my last confession. Since then, I have committed acts of solecism twice....

The bad part is that they even put this goofy term in the Pope's mouth: notice the text on the certificate itself:

In grateful appreciation for your generous support of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Augustine, I bestow my parchment blessing on Mr. Richard Chonak.
I really doubt the Pope ever signed any sentence containing the term "parchment blessing". Here, the term is supposed to refer to the blessing itself. Now, a blessing is a spiritual act, a prayer: what on earth would a "parchment blessing" be, then: a parchment prayer? It sounds as if Pope John Paul were being made to say: I bestow on you this (tacky) certificate. (I know, he has been apologizing a lot lately, hasn't he?)

No, no, dear Friars, if you're going to put words in the Pope's mouth, please let them make sense: he's giving us a blessing; you're giving out the parchments.

Back when I was coming into the Church, my old friend Meredith Gillespie Alcock summarized the image of the Franciscans as "dumb but holy". Maybe she was onto something.


Hmm, I thought that was the province of the Dominicans (Johann Tetzel)

Well, they did produce St. Bonaventure....

parchment is special, and if a blessing is written on it, it too is special. nitpicking when there are no nits.

thelrd in TEXAS

I would love it if my favorite human, who is a Franciscan priest would respond, but he is too holy. However if he did it could be in Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin or one of several other languages in which he is proficient.

Cool! By the way, there's no need to defend the Franciscans. Some of my best friends are....

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on May 27, 2004 11:06 PM.

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