Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst..."

Dear Readers,

Please accept our sincerest apologies for lately leaving you stranded, guideless on the road to rakedom. This time of year is always hectic for us. Those of you with whom I am close will already have known that I am a convert to the True Faith—the proverbial one lost sheep that pleased the shepherd upon his finding. Since my moment of epiphany, which came as the rather dramatic climax of a tempestuous bender long ago—the story of which I may yet tell you—I have held it a sacred duty to be shriven every year before Holy Week. As one might imagine, confessing even all the types of sin I have committed in a whole year—much less numbering the instances of their commission—is a trying ordeal to say the least, and often takes up to three hours. For the entire week leading up to the confession, I am in complete seclusion, compiling a catalogue of my iniquities; the nervous strain of such a project should be evident. Gaspard, having been raised in the Church, feels no such compunction, and in fact has not been to confession in nearly a decade. But regardless of his steadfast avoidance of reconciliation, Gaspard is far from immune to the emotional turmoil that comes with being a Catholic. He often tells me that half of the time, he drinks because of despair over the magnitude of human sin; the other half of the time, he drinks out of wondrous awe at the infinite power of God’s mercy. His is a life of deep profundity, my friends.

Thus, it is our custom to spend all of Holy Week in fervent prayer—after all, who is more in need of the redemption promised by Easter than two professional scoundrels and liars? From Palm Sunday onward, you may perhaps find us circumambulating the local cathedral on our knees, until our trousers are ripped and our knees bleeding. Or, we might engage in mystical contemplation for up to twenty hours at a stretch, in an unused maintenance closet temporarily converted into a Carthusian monastic cell. By the time the Holy Triduum rolls around, I at least am in a state of ecstasy, lost in a sea of intoned Latin and the motets of Allegri and Josquin.

Of course, though we are fundamentally devout men, we are physically incapable of going a week without alcohol, so we sample liberally from a stash of sacramental wine “appropriated” from an Archdiocese storehouse. We have even, after many years of experimentation, developed our own cocktail based on the stuff. After all, alcohol is often praised as a lubricant for conversation—why should this not be true of converse with God Himself? The recipe for this cocktail is below:

The Kiss of Judas

Take the metal chalice used for the Sacred Blood at the most recently celebrated Mass, and fill it two-thirds full with ice. Add four ounces of sacramental wine, a half-ounce of holy water, and two snorts of whatever whiskey Father Morrissey has laying around the sacristy. Take a censer with a lit cone of incense and place it over the baptismal font. Strain the drink through the censer into the basin, extinguishing the incense. Garnish with a vinegar-soaked sponge on a sprig of hyssop.

The ritual of consuming the Kiss of Judas is somewhat more complex than the making of it. Before mixing the drink, it is customary to deny that you know the recipe three times. Then, after finally accepting the responsibility of mixologist, it is appropriate to wash your hands thoroughly of what is about to happen. After the drink has been prepared, the toast of “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” is screamed before dunking your entire head in the font and drinking as deeply as possible. Drink one round for each Station of the Cross. After finishing all fourteen stations, it is traditional to strip naked and cast lots for your own clothes.

Although we can take credit for the latest incarnation for this drink, it is not without historical precedent. A similar libation was imbibed often and freely by the Czech Utraquists of the 15th century, who claimed it was the very drink Ste. Hildegarde von Bingen consumed to achieve her mystical visions.

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