Thursday, 4 August 2011

Is There a Career in Prayer?

Why should new agers be running a monopoly?
A priest friend of mine recently told me about a medieval man who would receive payment for his praying the office of the dead for the repose of souls. That was, literally, his job.

In Brighton we have quite a few palm readers and tarot readers and the like, in the city centre and on the beach. The question is, could a Catholic make a career out of prayer and challenge their monopoly of taking advantage of the vulnerable and superstitious?

You can imagine the scene. A Catholic sets up a small tent on the beach and becomes renowned as some kind of local 'mystic' or 'guru'. People approach the tent, where he is almost always on his knees and people ask him to pray for their dead grandmother, and for a fee of £4.99 (he takes Visa, American Express too) he promises the release of said grandmother's soul from Purgatory. He's a mystic, of course, so the Lord reveals to him whereabouts in Purgatory the grandmother is, so he can, if necessary, tell the client that the ascent to Heaven will be greatly helped by another £4.99 and grandmother is 'nearly out'.

It wouldn't just have to be prayers for the dead, either. Prayers and Novenas to the Saints could be offered for particular intentions because most in Brighton don't have the time that the 'guru' has to say the prayers. People could come along with a skin complaint and supplication could be made to St Bartholomew for healing. People with sore throats come and novenas are launched to St Blaise. I expect it would be more effective than those Chinese medical shops at any rate. He really is a mystic, of course, so it isn't necessarily fraud or deception, and because he is increasing in holiness because of his devout and penitential life, seeking only the Face of God and money, in five years time he really is telling people their futures, temporal and eternal, while levitating in ecstatic prayer. I can see the idea taking off, even in Brighton, because more or less everything takes off in Brighton. It is that kind of novelty-obsessed town.

Brighton, after all, is at the cutting edge of new age philosophy and bizarre alternative remedies. Check out, for instance, this place in the city centre, that is offering 45 minutes of enjoying a 'fish spa' for just £20. Basically, you stick your feet in a fish tank and the fish (apparently not piranhas) nibble all the dead, flaky skin off your feet. Poor fish! Morrissey must be going mad with rage at this flagrant attack on fish rights! People really are charging £20 so that you can put your feet in a tank and have your feet nibbled by fish.

There were two stalls on the beach yesterday selling, among other bracelets, those Catholic saints bracelets, made of wood and elastic. I asked how come they are selling them, as I didn't think Brighton was particularly Catholic. The guy responded that apparently they are all the rage at the moment because the winner of X Factor was wearing one! Welcome to Brighton, quite possibly the most superficial town in the United Kingdom!

1 comment:

Ben Whitworth said...

Morrissey would object to people eating fish, but I can't see why he would have a problem with fish eating people.

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