A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On the Veneration of Chocolate

Those who've taken the time to read the description of this blog may have noticed that although I claim that "literature cum chocolate is the order of the day here at the The Crockery," I seldom do talk about chocolate. (What you may not realize is that that blurb actually means simply that I will be consuming chocolate whilst I consume literature. You should try it, too.)

Chocolate is indeed a most important substance, but I've not had the chance to talk about it, until now. Gaze on the object to the right. What does it resemble to you? I'll go first: to me, it resembles a statue of a bald eagle, with its head turned over its shoulder to look back. Or it looks a bit like one of the Maltese Falcon statuettes, but without the beak. The curve on the left resembles a wing to me, and the general shape of the object resembles the outline ascribed in popular artwork to birds of prey.

Other people think this delectable morsel resembles the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to an Associated Press writer, "Since the discovery Monday. . . employees [at the chocolatier's] have spent much of their time hovering over the tiny figure, praying and placing rose petals and candles around it."

Now, I'm all in favor of giving honor where honor is due, and I think honor is indeed due to chocolate, as a tasty food substance with unexpected health benefits. And I am definitely in favor of giving honor to the Mother of our Lord, whom all generations will call blessed. I'm not convinced, however, that honoring the piece of chocolate pictured above is really the most reasonable way of honoring Our Lady. Oh, I think she understands what her venerators are trying to do, and I think she appreciates their gestures. I don't believe that those rose petals and candles are wasted: I think that they are ultimately offered for the glory of God, through Our Lady's intercesion. No theological problem there for me.

It's just that I also think that at some point, Mary must be shaking her head and smiling wryly and saying "but that's not a miracle, and it's not an apparition of me! It's just a piece of chocolate twisted in an unusual way!" I don't believe that every burn in a piece of toast or every stain in a window which someone imagines resembles Mary really is a divine gift, unless it be the gift of an active imagination. And this image in particular is a good example: it doesn't actually resemble Mary. It has no face, no details, none of the symbols associated with Marian images. It resembles, rather, the general shape of a particular genre of religious statuary. I think if Our Lady were really going to appear in chococlate (and how more feminine can you get than that?), she'd do better than that.

Does it hurt people to see the image of Mary in chocolate, and offer respect? In most cases, no, probably not. Anything that points people back to the divine (and Mary always points us back to her son) is good for them. I, however, wince at the reports of these apparations, thinking, "Oh, yeah, that'll help the Catholic Church's image!" But perhaps that's just my pride. . . we are, after all, called to be fools for Christ.


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