Manners & Misdemeanors

On Holy Week Rituals and Vacations: A Glimpse Into the Truly Rich World

The realizations of someone who has experienced opposite ends of religious fervor.
ILLUSTRATOR SANDY ARANAS
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So I have this Truly Rich Friend, Mi-mi Moo, who, in the last three years has not kept up with her religious duties, most especially during Lent and specifically during its culmination, Holy Week.

Like most Truly Rich Families, she had an extremely religious upbringing: a private Catholic education run by Spanish priests, weekly confessions supervised by her mother, of course Sunday morning mass, regular retreats, all the important pilgrimages (Guadalupe, Lourdes, Jerusalem), the praying of the rosary during car rides, feeling very guilty about funny thoughts, and what she loved most, a serious collection of religious necklaces with pendants in solid gold (you would always know she was around because her saintly jewelry made the most delightful sound when she moved: the tinkling of money).

Lately, however, Mi-mi has opted out of the traditional rituals of the season.

In her childhood and all the way through young adulthood, her Lenten schedule had been set in stone, from the cross on the forehead on Ash Wednesday to the serious praying before the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, and all the quiet contemplation and sacrifices (no meat or cake) in between.  

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Later, with the freedom Mi-mi tasted during her college years in the most exciting city in the world, New York City, she opened up to other things... other pleasurable things. The regular praying of the rosary was replaced with the regular drinking of cocktails. Pilgrimages were nixed in favor of luxury escapes to private (and maybe nude) beaches.

Having experienced the opposite ends of religious fervor, she has come to realize a few things:

The Rituals Are Beautiful

First, Mi-mi would like to say that the rituals of religion are beautiful. The verses of prayers are poetic, the rhythms of Mass calming, and the songs, especially when sung by a competent choir, uplifting.

When she was a child, her most favorite moment of Lent was, surprisingly, not the search for the painted ostrich eggs during the private Easter Egg Hunt her mom organized for the clan, but, rather, that time when the priest asked the congregation to wave palm fronds in the air on Palm Sunday. The non-verbal exaltation expressed through a sea of shivering leaves had always felt glorious.

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Sometimes, Mi-mi still sheds a tear at the sight. It could be the dust from the fronds, but then again, she says certain feelings still bubble up during this and other religious exercises—serenity or sadness, a release or an acceptance (or just allergies). When you are dizzy from hunger, Lent has a funny way of turning into an accounting of life. How do you measure against the Big Man up there and all that He has done? 

The Beach is Also Beautiful

Now, let’s go on to say that right now it is very hot. Which makes it the perfect time to go to the beach. Aside from the sultriness of weather, it is the best time for diversions, because, for all those people who do work (Mi-mi barely does for she is a COO—Child of Owner, that is), it is the only chance to fully unplug. No one has the right to bother Mi-mi and her friends about a client’s meltdown because she is (supposedly) praying.

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Anyway, last year, Mi-mi did say a quick prayer when her plane made a painful screeching sound as it lifted off the tarmac. She promised God right there and then that she would be good! “Just please let this little plane sail safely across the sky.”

Also, she made sure that there was a chapel at the resort and a rosary in her toiletry kit—so all was good. Mi-mi wore her conservative maillot and touched the shell of a giant sea turtle that had made its way onto her stretch of private beach. She cried. This was wonderful.

Meeting in The Middle

Don’t tell my mom, I mean, Mi-mi Moo’s mom, but Mi-mi believes that leading a religious life today is no longer black or white, Bible or bikini, nun versus wild thing. Why can’t we have both or, at least, meet in the middle?

Human as she is, Mi-mi has grown tired of doing the extremes. The family doctor has confirmed that she does have an allergy to palm frond dust. The so-called exclusive beaches are not-so exclusive anymore (you might as well open the beach to everyone when you do half-off discounts). Her knees have become weak from kneeling. And bikini life has become unbearable when the weeks or months before the season require a diet of air and water.

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Mi-mi has decided she will be neutral this year, and she won't feel guilty about her non-participation in both prayer and party. She will stay home, turn on the air conditioner at full blast, and do a back-to-back marathon of The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ finished off with Girls Trip just to round it out.

Maybe (probably) she will put on her noisy gold necklaces and make an appearance during Easter Mass. Also, she wants to find the chocolate eggs again! She hears they will be as big as basketballs this year! Her nephews and nieces better pray Aunt Mi-mi doesn't find them before they do.

So okay, Mi-mi’s personal confessor and longtime family friend, Fr. John James John (J3 for short), will be disappointed to hear that she has been delinquent in her religious duties, so I’ve asked for a clarification from the woman herself: 

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“Si-si, in this time when, more than ever, you are free to do what you want (as long as you don’t break the law), what matters most, when it comes to faith, is how you act in your everyday life. How cordial are you with your personal butler at the resort? How often do you leave the last slice of cake for another guest? How good a friend are you to say that, ‘No, that bikini doesn’t do you any favors, Linda?’” 

I am not saying this is how we should all live, but it’s what works for me, mine, and thine right now. Faith is not so inflexible as not to see the good deeds you do while on vacation, right?

Nevertheless, I’ve had a long talk with mother (who called me after you told her that I was doing such and such) and will now do my very best to be a good Mi-mi and attend service more often. 

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P.S. I am really asking you about the matters above, and will be expecting a reply.” 

Uh-oh.

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About The Author
C.C. Coo
The Truly Rich Lady
C.C. Coo—also known as Town&Country’s Truly Rich Lady—is not a professional seeker of leisure as many people wrongly assume, for she has a real-life occupation: a SHE-EO of Important (Sub)Company of an Empire, for which she works very hard to make sure that the people in her care are not left wanting. She believes that manners are utterly important: “If society is like one of those costume jewelry pieces worn by Jackie O or Diana, manners would be the glue that keeps the veneer of a most beautiful thing from falling apart,” she says.
View Other Articles From C.C.
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