Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Catalog Season

Like children awaited the arrival of the Sears, JC Penney or Spiegel Christmas catalog in generations gone by, so do some of us love when October and November bring out the plethora of new church supply catalogs.  A few of them come from supply houses with whom we have done business and still maintain a relationship but others come without an invitation.  I am now looking at the stack waiting to be placed on the shelf in the office, last year's version removed for recycling and replaced with the 2010-2011 edition.

While CPH has a few pages devoted to church supplies, most of these catalogs are two handers.  They are big and thick and full color.  Their index is as large as some whole catalogs from other sources.  Chalices, cruets, altar linens, paraments, vestments of all kinds, books, trinkets, jewelry, hosts, wine, candles of all kinds, brassware, altars, pulpits, lecterns, ambos, fonts, thuribles, candelabra, processional torches and crosses, wall crosses, sanctuary size crucifixes, statues, ahhhhh, the list goes on and on and on...

You can find a simple but classic style stainless steel chalice for a mission setting or a full set of chasubles in every style (from simple to modern to brocade to gaudy) or a portable altar that folds up or a large size wooden rosary for teaching small children... The pages are filled with things expensive and cheap, priceless and discardable, heirloom and weird...  There is something for every taste -- on brassware alone there are pages upon pages of every different style and size of candlestick, cross, and missal stand.  Of the tabernacles, you can find Jesus a comfortable but small bungalow size one or a cathedral size sakrament haus that will set you back $50K and give Him ample room for every circumstance.  There are ornate and oversize monstrances which almost seem embarrassing to the One who preferred the title Son of Man and the simple little luna holder that seems more apropos to the Son of a carpenter.

We are in process of replacing the albs for the assisting ministers (some of them more than 20 years old and the most recent about a dozen).  In the process we looked at the albs used by the acolytes and came to the same conclusion:  they need to be updated, too.  So we cracked open the wish books to see what is offered and how much it costs.  Made a choice to go back to cassock and cotta for the acolytes (both aesthetic and practical reasons).  Almost forgot to look for the albs there was so much more eye candy for the Pastoral mind to distract us... Ahhhh, indeed.

I sometimes wonder if these things are all in stock or merely one off designs that will have to be constructed if you actually placed an order... Or are there religious elves who make these things in some remote mountain village where it is very cold and they keep churning them out while waiting for us to pick up the phone and call toll free or order over the internet (seems tacky to order a tabernacle over the internet... buying a house for Jesus deserves at least one personal conversation)... There are so many choices... Ahhh, but they must stay on the shelf so that I can do what I was called to do... maybe if I get all my work done for today, I will allow myself a little indulgence... literally!

How do YOU respond to the catalog season?


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Now I want to buy Jesus a bungalow - and one for Moses and Elijah... just in case.

Tim said...

Rev. Brown-

I'm torn between laughing and crying at your comment.