Morning Offering, Queer Pirate Jesus and Bouncing Boy…

Over the past few days I was thinking of the “Morning Offering,” a prayer which I was taught I should start each day with.  For those reading this who are not Catholic, here are the words:

O Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, sufferings of this day,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart:
the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, the reunion of Christians;
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.

I had a sticker of this prayer affixed to the headboard of my bed when I was in grammar school.  I associate it (and used chewing gum) with that headboard and waking up each day when I was young.  Many of the particulars have fallen by the wayside for me over the years.  There is one line, though, which continues to stick with me, for myself and when I think of my students and my patrons at the Public Library.   It is the line which goes “I offer you my prayers, works, joys, sufferings of this day” — as long as I can remember, I interpreted this line more generally — and included “failings” or “flaws” as part of the offering.  I think one of the nuns who taught me said that this prayer meant that you were offering all of yourself, good and bad, to God.  It is a powerful statement — if we offer all of ourselves to God (the Universe, the Fellowship of Humanity), we are saying that we are not just offering our Dr. Jekyll side, but our Mr. Hyde side as well.  For me, personally, it has an added sense of going into the day with the person you are.  Parents often say that they were not ready for parenthood when they became parent, but they had to act as if they were.  I tell my students that though the authors of our text are classical scholars, and I have read quite a bit of classical material, they still have to make meaning with what they bring to the table.  It does them no good (nor the class) if they defer to some high muckety-muck.  They still have their voice to add to the choir, and the absence of their voice is a sad absence for them and others.  And I tell the older patrons who come to the library and are terrified about getting on a computer that some ability in this area is important in today’s world, and they are a part of that world, and not apart from that world.  So, they need to buck up and jump in. 

And this came rushing back to me yesterday when Rev. Thom Belote at Shawnee Mission UU Church spoke on Queer Pirate Jesus.  The overall point of the sermon is that there are schools of Christology that emphasize that Jesus stood with those who were the outsiders, and cut through the rules and regulations meant to keep us in line, to call us to living our lives.  Though I don’t recall him saying so — I got the sense from his sermon that he’d agree with the idea that we do a disservice to the spirit of Christ when we put up walls, and cast some outside those walls (the queer, the poor, those out of shape, and so on).  The hymn by the children’s choir also addressed misfits — Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and others.  In some ways, there is something potentially “Morning Offering” about UUism — we are called to bring ourselves and all our baggage to the table, and not set aside as unworthy for failure to meet some credal requirement.

And that brings me to Bouncing Boy, a particularly favorite superhero of mine.  Chuck Taine, of Earth, is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes in the 30th c. in the DC Universe.  Other heroes have great powers — there’s Lightning Lad (no explanation needed), Cosmic Boy (super-magnetism — but Cosmic Boy is a much cooler name), Supergirl and Superboy, et al.  Bouncing Boy’s power is that he can inflate himself and bounce around like a beach ball.  That’s it!  He got his power by mistaking some super-rubber formula for a bottle of soda pop (apparently Coke still exists in the 30th c., or at least their bottle is still in use).  So we got a poor shlub who’s somewhat lazy and out of shape, who gets a less than spectacular power by accident.  When he applies for membership in the Legion, the other members’ first reaction is one of disdain — what good is that power?  A technicality gets him in — at the time he joined, there were no members who could fly, and in fighting a villain whose power involved electricity, only Bouncing Boy could get off the ground, and therefore attack the high voltage menace with no ill effect.  Still, once in the group, he acts like he belongs (and he does belong) — that’s the attitude to take.  In fact, even when he loses his power (it seems to come and go), he is kept around as an honorary member, which suggests he has something else to offer. 

At any rate, it is Bouncing Boy’s great chutzpah and sense of belonging, coupled with a strong sense of that devotion evidenced in the “Morning Offering” that has me thinking and making me get off my lazy butt and do something with the day and do my part in spite of my doubts, or the doubts of others. 

One final note:  yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is, for many Latinos and Latinas, sort of a Valentine’s Day.  The miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe was that she covered a hillside with roses in Mexico in the middle of winter.  But equally noteworthy is that she chose to appear to Juan Diego, a Spanish-speaking Indian.  Poor and outcast, not part of the learned and Euro-centered clergy or ruling class, it was him she chose.  He had no super power, and no influence, and yet, because the lady asked him, he became her advocate for a church in Guadalupe.  Because of the magic and because it is a story involving the outsider, this feast day means a lot to me, and so, it was in 1992 that I first signed the book at May Memorial Unitarian Society (ask me the story about its name) in Syracuse NY on Dec. 12.  If I was going to become a Unitarian, it seemed important that I do it on a Catholic Feast Day, with genuine feelings, and not ironically.  And I chose a day when the main human character was a humble guy, not some high-falutin’ saint.  And I chose a day associated with a miracle, but a romantic and loving one.  And, ideally, those are the feelings I aspire to as a UU.

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