Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Vacation from Whipping Yourself

If you think the former Pope John Paul II took a vacation from whipping himself with a belt, the Associated Press will disabuse you of that particular misapprehension with a single paragraph:
Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading his sainthood case.
That's right. Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt -- even on vacation! He didn't let a trip to the beach, or Disneyland, or what have you, get in the way of his particular brand of self-abuse.

"Hey, Pope, slow down! Put the belt away! You're on vacation!"

"That doesn't mean I can't -- ouch! -- bring myself closer to Christian perfection -- ouch!"

The Polish prelate's book has the charmingly unambiguous title "Why He's a Saint," and the whipping himself and sleeping on the floor (hey! I do that too, sometimes!) are only two of the reasons why John Paul II should be sainted.
The book also reported for the first time that John Paul forgave his would-be assassin in the ambulance on the way to the hospital moments after he was shot on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. And it reported that he initially thought his attacker was a member of the Italian terrorist organization the Red Brigades.
This raises the question: Once he found out that it wasn't a member of the Italian terrorist organization, did the Pope retract his forgiveness?

But that's beside the point. We get a few more paragraphs down the AP story, and we're hit with this:
In the book, [Monsignor Slawomir] Oder wrote that John Paul frequently denied himself food — especially during the holy season of Lent — and "frequently spent the night on the bare floor," messing up his bed in the morning so he wouldn't draw attention to his act of penitence.
First of all, we're not told exactly how much food the Pope denied himself (I guess we have to buy the book to find out). If it was a lot of food, like a buffet, maybe I'd be impressed. Then again, I get grumpy when I don't get my nightly serving of foie gras. But check out the last bit of that quote. It turns out, there are no witnesses to the Pope's floor-sleeping! He messed up his sheets so as to not draw attention to the fact (?) that he'd slept on the floor all night.

And if he wasn't trying to draw attention to it -- how did anyone find out about it?

Maid: "Pope, your bed is so messy!"

Pope: "Uh, yeah... because I slept in it... I didn't sleep on the floor as an act of self-denial. I slept on the bed, and really messed it up."

If he really wanted to throw them off, he should have peed on the bed.

Come to think of it, why did anyone know about the Pope's self-whipping? Did he do that out in public? The sleeping on the floor is too much, I don't want to overwhelm everyone with my amazing self-sacrifice, I'll just pretend like I actually spent the night in my warn and downy-soft bed. But the whipping myself with a belt... that I can do at the beach.

By all means, saintify this man.


shampoo said...

woot! i've slept on the floor, too. yay, us and the pope!

but seriously, what does this say about homeless people?

the pope did seem to be a nice man.

Ricky Sprague said...

shampoo -- that's brilliant! How many homeless people should qualify for sainthood now?

shampoo said...

the life of a saint is difficult. the life of a homeless person is difficult + homeless. so, all of them?