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Intense debate over saint's sly posture

This is a story. Moses, Jesus and an old man are golfing. Moses tees off, but the ball lands in the water trap. So he parts the water and chips the ball onto the green.

Jesus hits the ball and he, too, lands in the water trap. He walks on the water and hits the ball onto the green.

The old man tees off. The ball is heading straight for the water trap, but in the nick of time a fish jumps up and grabs the ball in its mouth. As the fish is falling back into the water, an eagle swoops down, grabs the fish in its claws, flies over the green. At that precise moment a lightning bolt startles the eagle who drops the fish who drops the ball, which rolls for a hole in one.

Jesus turns to the old man: "Stop goofing around, Dad."

* * *

The following, according to Bill "Bookshelf" Graham, came from exam papers at Caldwell College where Graham teaches (but obviously not enough):

Covenant: home for nuns.
Circumcision: operation to the man which will not allow them to have kids.
Theist: one who is against something.
Resurrection: when you are pinned to a cross and left to die.
Gustavo Gutierrez: a novelist who received the PhD from Fordham University.
Mater et Magistra: that is the king and queen a ruling of a certain land.

* * *

Look closely and what do you see? No Sicperson. Here's why. Depending on what day you read this, there are between five and 10 billion people on Earth, and not a single one wrote to This Space to say Sicperson is cute, Sicperson is sassy, even Sicperson is a silly old geezer. Nothing. Dead silence. So Sicperson's feelings, such as they are, are hurt.

* * *

Gene Moore from Attleboro recalls that 1930s and '40s Catholics were discouraged from joining the YMCA on account of it being Protestant and you could get converted to the wrong god. But that, says Moore, is not what the Y was up to: "The principal function is, and has been, to spread athlete's foot throughout the world."

Good Catholics, if you ask Sic, stayed away to save their soles.

* * *

From cyberspace comes Luis T. Gutierrez with the E-mail address of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is where Cardinal Ratzinger hangs out, as follows: cdf@cfaith.va -- just in case you wish to send a message, which Gutierrez says is recommended by canon 212.3, which goes: "[Christ's faithful] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the church."

This information alone must be worth the price of your NCR.

* * *

Methinks I've read you skate now on a different rink," wrote Lurline Johnson after This Space hinted a change of clout on page 2 could mean trouble.

So she sent her cute note to the "Sic Gulag" -- where Sic received it. "If Sic should disappear I'll be mad and sad," she wrote. We have apprised you-know-who of this.

* * *

And Sr. Rose Tillemans of Minnesota wrote you-know-who directly and warned: "Don't abandon Sic. First things first."

In an unrelated happening Tillemans received a flyer in the mail with a nostalgic photo of clerics in their fiddle-back chasubles. "Let us pump pomp back into our lives by contributing to bucks for birettas," the flyer said.

We E-mailed this message to cdf@cfaith.va and the message that came back began, "At the recent Council of Trent ..."

* * *

And speaking of the good old days, we received a message signed "the June 13 Catholic Movement," to wit: "We are a new movement in Lincoln, Neb., in favor of doctrine and hierarchy and the loving use of excommunication."

Yes, and Satan is in favor of the loving use of hell.

* * *

Fr. Joe Gallagher of Baltimore sent us the picture of St. Patrick. According to Gallagher, St. Pat's expression says, "Is that a snake?"

We hesitate to disagree with Gallagher, a saint and scholar himself, but Sic, after diligent research, learned Patrick is just bending over to scratch his athlete's foot.

However, another document, the legendary Codex Hibernicus, may be more accurate when it claims St. P. is leaning toward his faithful vicar general and bodyguard, Giolla-Giolla, and whispering, "If people see me in this pointy hat, they'll never name all those high schools and holy wells after me."

* * *

These came in, we think, by fax, and are, we think, headlines that went awry:

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over
Eye Drops Off Shelf
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax

* * *

P.S. If you do send a message to cdf@etc., and if you happen to be discussing cardinals, consistories and stuff like that, you have our permission to mention that Sic would not look askance at a red hat.

National Catholic Reporter, September 5, 1997