Sunday, December 14, 2008

St. Bud the Wiser

(Originally written and published September, 2000)

Perhaps you’re not familiar with Bud the Wiser. Well, let me tell you. He must have been quite a guy. Unlike other patron saints whose feastday is only celebrated once a year, St. Bud’s feastday is celebrated just about every week. On any given Sunday you can see his name plastered on banners tied to church fences.

Drive through the village and you’re sure to see enormous inflatable statues of this affable saint towering from the rooftops. Stop and join the fiesta and you’ll be handed a small, chilled St. Bud icon. The icons are unique in that they have a pop top and a nice fermented beverage can be found inside.

St. Bud is the patron saint of fiestas, every fiesta. Or at least that’s what it must look like to a non-Catholic who sees his coat of arms (logo) next to whatever real saint the village is honoring. Well you’re probably on to me by now. I have nothing against beer. But I do wonder about the propriety of emblazoning the logo of any commercial product, particularly an alcoholic one, to the same banner that salutes and honors a holy saint.

We’ve all seen the banners and those giant inflatable cans perched on the rooftops at every village fiesta. I’m a businessperson, so I can empathize with the sponsoring companies for wanting to get their brand names in front of the public at every opportunity. But again, it’s a question of propriety and a question of what the signs and inflatable statues actually say about our Catholic values.

For most of us seasoned Catholic fiesta-goer’s, the fact that a banner sports both a beer logo and the name of a patron saint is hardly noticeable. The question I propose though is what does it say to our non-Catholic neighbors? In case you haven’t noticed, the LDS’s, JW’s, SDA’s, and “born-again” churches of all kinds are having a field day on Guam. Our island has become a happy hunting ground for these folks and their scouts are bringing home more and more Catholic trophies every week. Perhaps some of your kids have already “lost their heads” to one of these roving bands.

I’ve been to some of these “spear-a-Catholic” churches, and parading a newly “saved” former Catholic out to witness about the evils of the Catholic Church is usually the highlight of the service. The Catholic Church, they say, is the “whore of Babylon”. The Pope is the “anti-Christ”. We are idolatrous worshippers of Mary and the saints. We are ignorant of the Scriptures. And Catholics are going to hell. Well, some may say it a little nicer than that, but it’s there.

Sadly, most of us are woefully inept at defending even the least precept of our faith. And given the dearth of any form of fellowship at most of our churches, many of us, especially our young, are “ripe-pickins” for the bible-thumpin’, fellowshipin’, pot-luckin’ Church of the Warm-Friendlies down the road.

Why so many of us are unable to defend or even explain our faith is another topic. Meanwhile, we need to be aware that most of these other churches are opposed to the consumption of alcohol and see it as a great evil. They laugh at the incongruity of our attempt to oppose casino gambling while we raise banners to brews on our church doorsteps.

I happen to believe that because we have the true faith and our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist that we don’t have to get all tied up in the moral scruples that other churches seem to impose for themselves. The proper ordering of our faith automatically puts what others may consider vices of great evil into proper and relative perspective. In other words, no problem with a beer or two.

But do we really need to mix the blood of martyrs with “a cold one” and fly it on the same flag? Doing so seems to hand even more bullets to those who already hold their anti-Catholic guns aimed and ready at our young. But perhaps losing our children to a church that doesn’t booze is still better than losing them altogether to the booze itself.

Still, we need to rethink if it’s really wiser to include Bud the Wiser in our calendar of feasts. I think it best we take down the signs and statues and just keep him in the cooler. I’m sure our feasts will not be any less festive.
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