I’m so Catholic I’m Goth
I was having a good laugh the other day, reading Lotus Rose's "I'm so Goth" page. One of the statements was "I'm so Goth I'm Catholic." Which of course, got me thinking.
I love to think.
Catholics are the original Goth Subculture. The original "left of center" underground society. Most people, even most Catholics, have forgotten that. Some are completely unaware. Like we popped, fully formed, right out of a box marked ‘Holy See.’
For over 300 years we hid in the darkness. Persecuted (and executed) by anyone who recognized us for what we were. Our celebrations - hidden among the festivities of others. Wearing dark clothes. Black and grey robes, the original garb of the penitent.
Our Savior? A convicted criminal sentenced to death and tortured. Many followed him willingly, having spend long hours contemplating death and longing for the crown of martyrdom. Torn apart by lions. Roasted on grills. Beheaded. Stoned to death. Riddled with arrows like a pin cushion. Hung, drawn, quartered and boiled alive.
While singing His praises!
Sanctuary candles. Incense. Gold cups. Robes in purple, black and rose. Feast Days. Things seen as decadent by the Puritans.
The original men in black! The Benedictines. St. Benedict wrote the original rule for monks in which he states one must contemplate death daily. The original women in black. Remember Nana in her Widow's Weeds?
Requiem Mass. Especially if you're a Spaniard like me. We're neck and neck with the Irish there. Visiting cemeteries, ah Joy!
The Rosary. A string of prayer beads that end with an effigy of our murdered Savior. Constantly in hand. Need I even say it? The Sorrowful Mysteries.
We were the first to use Sorrow as a name. Dolores. And pray for the intercession of Mater Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows.) Not to mention the multitude of Catholic children named after people who'd been brutally killed.
We value, and love to ponder, suffering. Books and websites devoted to suffering and its necessity in our lives. Some of our best work has been done when we're suffering. Ever read the section on prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? It's a thing of poetry and beauty written by a Byzantine Catholic while in prison for his faith.
Stations of the Cross. The Sacred Heart. The Immaculate Heart.
We are the people of the Stigmata. Over 300 scientifically verified (an unexplainable) cases of open bleeding wounds. Padre Pio, one of the coolest stigmatists ever!
We invented the Memento Mori (remember death).
We are constantly surrounded by the dead. Prayers for Holy Souls as we contemplate those in Purgatory. The Communion of Saints.
Relics! Who else do you know happily carries around body parts (a first class relic)? During the many time of our persecution, we were constantly sneaking in to execution yards to steal away with our dead. During the "Reformation" the King of England passed a law banning us from meeting in cemeteries.
Let's talk about The Incorruptibles. Catholics are fascinated with the biblical statement that God 'will not let his beloved know decay.' So we dig up our dead and take a peek, then put their incorrupt corpses under glass for all to see. How morbid is that? Many of our greatest cathedrals look like they have a minor exhibit from Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum.
Speaking of Cathedrals. Our most beautiful cathedrals are not works of Gothic architecture because they were built by Goths. No. They were dubbed Gothic as a way of picking on us. Calling us barbaric and morose. Always sitting in the chapel pondering death.
Not that I am knocking the Goths. They gave us one of our most striking bibles. Codex Argenteus. Silver ink on purple paper. A true work of art. And the Gothic (Mozarabic) Rite? Stunning! Still used in Spain.
Many non-Catholic Christians still think of us as witches. Even today you find some denominations will happily sidle up to an obvious Wiccan in an attempt to save their soul. Yet, they'll run screaming from anyone carrying a rosary, announcing with absolute certainty that we are damned for our evil ways.
Few people realize that the Burning Times were years of Protestant Reformation. Compare maps and times. They were burning Catholics. Elizabeth I was said to have burned 800 witches a year. While I think that may be an exaggeration, she did view Catholicism as witchery. She called priestly robes the garments of conjuring. A priest, such as Edmund Campion, if caught saying mass, would be tried for treason and executed on Tyburn Tree. But what of the nuns? Call them witches and burn them.
I mean really. Is there any other faith or race for that matter where "Bonfire Night" would be allowed? Remember Remember the 5th of November. Even today it's a big party in England where Catholics are still burned in effigy. God bless Guy Fawkes. He was the fall-Guy for anti-Catholic conspirators. My hero!
Which brings me to Anchoresses and Anchorites. All over Europe before the Reformation. Men and women dressed in black and grey who lived alone in solemn contemplation. The Requiem Mass was said and they were essentially, dead to the world. Some were walled up within a church. Some had access to gardens. Many just wandered out into the woods to live a solitary life, their minds constantly on death and the hereafter. Wiped out as heretics during the Reformation. Slowly returning today. Hundreds of years later.
We memorialize execution sites such as Golgotha and Tyburn Tree.
Long black communion veils (which are making a come back).
Washing in the Blood of Christ? Ok, non-Catholic Christians often do that too, but they don't eat the body and drink the blood!
Who else thinks fasting, penance, and martyrdom is cool?
The most obvious evidence? The Capuchin Bone Chapel in Rome.